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76 NAHB’s The Nationals: Every Home Builder Should Enter - Lisa Parrish

This week on the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Greg and Kevin were joined by Lisa Parrish of Team PMP. They discuss the upcoming application process for NAHB's Nationals Awards and tips and tricks on how to improve your company's application.

Established in 1982, The Nationals celebrates North America’s best new-home sales and marketing and recognizes outstanding achievements in categories that include:

— Homebuilders and communities
— Model homes
— Sales experience
— Architecture, interiors, and sales offices
— Landscaping
— Merchandising
— Individual sales professionals
— Councils and associates
— Logos, graphics, brochures, and signage
— Websites
— Special promotions
— Advertising and overall campaigns

Do you have a team member or project that deserves extra recognition? Apply HERE today!

Lisa Parrish Bio:

For nearly 30 years, Lisa Parrish has honed her skills in the management and production of industry events for every size group. Passionate about providing inspiration to others through a willingness to share knowledge and mentoring others in the Home Building Industry. Specialties include marketing, promotion, design, and sales. Lisa serves as the Chief Creative Chick or administrator and manager of NAHB’s The Nationals


Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody and welcome to today's episode of the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine 

Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. 

Greg Bray: We're excited today to welcome to the show Lisa Parrish, who calls herself the Chief Creative Chick with Team PMP. Welcome Lisa. Thanks for joining us. 

Lisa Parrish: Thank you so much for having me. 

Greg Bray: How did you decide on that title before we get too deep?

Lisa Parrish: You know, I get so many cute compliments and chuckles from that. It came very organically.

I had to sit there and come up with a great title [00:01:00] and I just felt like CEO or president just does not fit my personality. Chief creative chick really hit home and so I adopted it. 

Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, why don't we dive in Lisa and just tell us a little bit more about yourself, help us get to know you a little better. 

Lisa Parrish: I am the producer of extraordinary events for the home building industry.

What I say by that is extraordinary events from awards programs to conferences, to meetings, to just good old fashioned BIA events. We are happy to serve and to play a part in the extraordinary journey of BIAs, HBAs around this country. We love the home building industry and everything that comes with it.

Kevin Weitzel: Greg, you know where I'm going to come in with this? That was way too business, way too business. Lisa, I need some personal stuff. I need something that people will learn about you only on this podcast that has nothing to do with work. Like, are you a juggler? Do you play the flute? What have we got? 

Lisa Parrish: I am a pop culture junkie.

I spend way too much time traveling, so I watch a lot of TV. I am not going to lie to you, if you want to talk about [00:02:00] movies, television, music, anything like that, I will love to jump in with you. For sure, I love that. I'm a new grandma. I have a one-year-old grandson, very excited about that.

Greg Bray: That is a milestone for sure. Well, Lisa tell us how you kind of got into not just the events business, but specifically home builder events, because that's a specialty area there I'm guessing. So tell us more about that journey 

Lisa Parrish: Yeah, for sure. It's totally a niche as they would say.

Well, you know, I grew up in the industry. My dad was a publisher of Home Buyers Guide here in Southern California and he created the MAME Awards back in 1974. So I'm a child of the industry as I call myself. I started out as a trophy presenter at many, many award shows throughout my journey through school.

Then, in 1987, over 35 years ago, I joined the company and I started producing the events alongside my dad for all these years. Now not only that, but I've also tried to give back to the BIAs. I've served as the [00:03:00] president of The Sales and Marketing Council of LA Ventura and The Sales and Marketing Council of Southern California.

I've been a membership chair, the sponsorship chair, all those good things to work my way up to being president. I really enjoy spending time with the folks in our industry and being part of their journey. 

Greg Bray: Well, help us understand a little more about your company, Team PMP, and what those services are that you offer to the building industry.

Lisa Parrish: Yeah, absolutely. We're quite unique as we really focus and serve the home building industry solely. We work with associations across the country consulting and managing awards programs and events from the entry process to the judges and judging, from the sponsorship consultation and management to the production and direction of the events.

Currently we have ten local, three regional, and two international awards programs. So our job is to work as an outside agent for the HBA to manage those processes for them so that they don't have to have staff members. They have someone who eats sleeps, [00:04:00] drinks, breeds this content and can bring them the best of the best to their event.

Greg Bray: Are all these events marketing related or did you do some that are not specifically marketing related? 

Lisa Parrish: No. So three of them are actually design and planning competitions, The Golden Nugget Awards being the oldest and largest design competition in our country. It was started in 1963. We manage and do all of the materials for that since 1994, so I'm very proud of that and we do three others similar to that. So we see a lot of design and planning as well as sales and marketing. 

Kevin Weitzel: Now are they all positive awards shows, or do you have any like jive turkey award shows? Do you have any that are like, man have you did not put those renderings on your website?

Lisa Parrish: No. No, not currently, but you know that that could be a new opportunity. 

Kevin Weitzel: I'll judge it.

Lisa Parrish: I'll take you any day. 

Greg Bray: Well, I think the show that hopefully most of our listeners are familiar with if their local association doesn't have one would be The Nationals and you guys are the ones that organize and help NAHB [00:05:00] put The Nationals together.

So, I'd like to focus specifically on that one for a few minutes. Just tell us a little bit more about how that comes together and kind of what the goals that there are behind that program and how it's evolved over the years. 

Lisa Parrish: For sure. So The Nationals is NAHBs largest and most prestigious awards competition.

Each year we get anywhere from 800 to 1400 entries. It was established in 1982 as I said earlier, and it celebrates North America's best new home sales, marketing, and design. Recognizing outstanding achievements and categories such as home builders and communities, model complexes, sales experiences, architecture interiors and sales offices, landscaping, individual sales professionals, logos, graphics, brochures and signage, websites, special promotions, advertising, and overall campaigns. So it's really the whole breadth of everything that we do as an industry to bring a community to the consumer. It's [00:06:00] presented by The Sales and Marketing Council which is a council of NAHB and is presented with our partners Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

Realistically, what it is is it's the greatest collection of content from all the different areas in our country for you to come and be able to see the best practices and learn more and be inspired to do better work for the future. 

Greg Bray: On top of that, it's a chance to get dressed up. 

A very fancy formal event, for those of us who don't go to very many of those. 

Lisa Parrish: It is the Academy Awards of our industry. 

Greg Bray: So Lisa, take us behind the scenes? Give us some insights into what it really takes to put that show together that most of us probably don't even realize.

Lisa Parrish: Oh, for sure. So this is no small feat and I can assure you of that. We start out at the very beginning of the year by convening our advisory group and we sit down and we meet to go over categories, requirements and to make sure the program as a whole is relevant to the market and to our industry in this time.

The goal is to make sure that we can provide a competition to showcase the best practices of the [00:07:00]industry and to showcase those ideas, concepts, and designs to inspire others. Like I said, we receive anywhere between 800 to 1400 entries in 60 categories. Our team is tasked with choosing the finest judges to review those entries and a judging that takes anywhere from three to four days.

We go through the materials, we discuss them, we take the judges through the materials. They can see them and digest them and then make their selections. Then we take all of that content and formulate that Academy Award style event. So this is definitely a 11 month journey every year. It is definitely, it's touched week by week.

The idea of this is to really showcase them and shine the light on all those who out there in this industry who are doing incredible things, bringing home all of that great work. 

Kevin Weitzel: Pardon my ignorance, but on the main awards or The Nationals, for example, I assume those have to be NAHB members, or can they just be at large? Can they just be a builder, Carl the builder? 

Lisa Parrish: That is a [00:08:00] wonderful question because NAHB has it so there's a pricing structure. So if you are a member of The National Sales and Marketing Council, there is a price. If you are not a member of The Council, but you are an NAHB member, there is a price, and if you're not affiliated at all, you may absolutely enter, but there is a higher price. So it's price based on your memberships. Yes, anybody and everybody is welcome to submit. No matter what. 

Kevin Weitzel: You hear that Carl? You can enter.

Greg Bray: So Lisa, I think sometimes, and this has may just be my own personal thing in the past, I kind of looked at The Nationals as something that was really heavily focused on the marketing agencies and not maybe for the big builders that have almost an in-house agency, if you will. Is that a fair evaluation of what's going on, or am I kind of seeing that the wrong way? Are there a lot of individual builders that are just coming into this?

Lisa Parrish: Yes. I'm happy to tell you that two just weighed that perception that this is open to any builder developer and their [00:09:00] design partners, and sales and marketing professionals are invited to self-nominate as well. So yes, it's open to every size builder around the country. Matter of fact, I have tiny builders in Las Cruces, New Mexico to public builders in New York City.

So it is a wide breadth for everybody. It is open to all. 

Greg Bray: So then, why should a builder care? Why should they enter? What's the benefit of participating? 

Lisa Parrish: Well, here's the thing, these builders create some of the most incredible new communities. They've achieved impressive results along the way and nobody gets to hear about it. Okay. It's all just internal and having the opportunity to say you're an award-winning builder with an award-winning community or an award-winning design is always good news. It's just like the Academy Awards, that's why it was created, to share the excitement that this is something special.

It sets you apart. It also gets you exposure for the consumer and throughout the industry as well. It's a great recruitment tool for why someone should want to work for you. [00:10:00] It's also a way to recognize and thank those people who are making that success possible. It is a huge win for keeping those employees happy and really providing them with the opportunity to have that light of just being recognized for hard work. 

Kevin Weitzel: One of my personal pet peeves is when, any industry, home building could be one of them and just as an example, but when like a magazine will have an award and it's literally nothing more than who's bought the right ads. Or they turn into popularity contest to where can I get the most votes in, can everybody go to my popularity page and click the vote button. The Nationals aren't set up that way though, right? 

Lisa Parrish: 100% we are not The Peoples' Choice Awards. That is not it at all.

This is a true competition. You can know that when you submit your entries, that they are going to be peer reviewed by a group of folks just like yourself, your peers in the industry, a builder and an advertising agency, an interior [00:11:00] merchandiser, an architect, a VP of sales and marketing and others, who are going to gather in a room with a clear heart and a clear conscience to do what is right.

Most of the judges that we have throughout all of our awards programs has been entrance. They've been on the other side of the table, so they know what pain and sacrifice someone has gone through to put that entry in, and so they're sitting there and they're doing the best thing they can by reviewing it and making those decisions.

The other thing is they're not judging those entries against each other. They're judging the entry on what the intent of it was. So if you are a sales person selling a new home community in Denver, Colorado to an active adult buyer, they're looking at what you did based on that parameter, not the other person in that category who's selling to a first time home buyer in Boise. They're looking at them as unique and they're looking at them for professionalism and really who did the best. 

Greg Bray: It could be possibly though a little intimidating to think, gosh, I'm going to put my [00:12:00] stuff in front of these judges and they're going to rip it apart and tell everybody that it was terrible one hand.

On the other hand, I can also see some builders going, oh we just build nice homes, we aren't doing anything special. Any thoughts for those kinds of concerns that might stop somebody from taking a shot at this? 

Lisa Parrish: I always tell people, in 35 years I have seen so many fantastic entries come through and you really should not be intimidated. We have winners from every size market, every size company. What you do every day is fantastic. I always say there is not a builder in this country that does not have a person, a place, or a space worthy of recognition.

So, yes. Just go for it. Like I said, I've had rookie salespeople come from Las Cruces, New Mexico from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware from tiny little places, and it's realistically, it's the professionalism and the passion that shines through. It doesn't matter what size you are. 

Kevin Weitzel: [00:13:00] So what does it take to enter?

What does a home builder do, or what does a sales professional do to enter? 

Lisa Parrish: It's the story. It's really the story. Let's say for professional awards, it's really the story, the how, the what, the why. The story of what you did. Everybody has that. That's easy, and then a headshot. So that's easy.

This is not at all based on volume, it's based on professionalism and process. So I always say everybody has that. Tell us your story, and you're going to do great. Now, if you're going into the what I call the marketing or design awards, yeah, you need some photography. In the old days, that seemed like it was more daunting, but now we all have photography because we have to have it for our websites. We have to market ourselves. So yes, you have photography. It's all sitting right there. So if you've got your photography and you have your story, you package it together and you tell a story and why it was successful and how you did it and you're off on your way.

Our whole goal is to make sure that the entry process is as easy and as streamlined as possible. Matter of fact, I've always said if anybody where they [00:14:00] feel like they're stumbling over it and not really sure where to get started, give me a call. I'll go through it with you.

I'll send you sample entries from previous awards programs. Most of the time that lights everybody on fire and they're off on their way. 

Greg Bray: That's an amazing offer. Everybody hear that? If you want to see sample entries, reach out to Lisa and we'll give her your contact info at the end here.

I think that really can help overcome fear of what is it that I have to do, just seeing what some others have done. Now Lisa, last year I had the privilege of helping with some of the judging on some of the digital stuff which was a really eye-opening experience to see how much good stuff was out there, but I did see kind of a variety in just the quality of the entry. Not the materials that they were sharing, but how they had packaged them to put it in front of the judges. So I guess from my experience as a judge, there's a lot of entries, there's a lot to look at, there's a lot to digest in a relatively short amount of time.

You want to give everybody as much as you can, so you have to stand out even amongst the entries. Right? So what are some [00:15:00] mistakes you see, or some tips you have to help those entries maybe stand out a little bit more because you've seen probably way more than I have cause I only just saw a few.

Lisa Parrish: Oh yeah. Oh yes. So yes, it absolutely. So what I always tell people is simply follow the instructions. Do not wait until the last minute to try to put your homework together. Okay. We all remember that. Trying to do our homework the night before it's due. It's never going to turn out well. You're going to get a C for sure, because you just run yourself into the last minute.

You have to approach it as though you are approaching a presentation to a client. Okay. Give it some time, give it some energy, but simply people not following the instructions is the number one thing. When somebody puts their entry and they forget to give us a floor plan, if they forget to give us a front exterior for a design category. Super flowery statements to contain no content for the judges to be able to make any qualified decision of what they've just, there's this word, but they don't mean anything.

I always like to say, know your audience, the judges are members of the industry. Present that [00:16:00] material as though you're doing a marketing presentation, explain to them what the heck you did and why you did it. Directing it as a sales or consumer focused, that's when the judges normally tune out because they don't want to hear that this was an open concept floor plan with lots of storage.

Yeah. We can see that. Tell us why you did what you did. Okay. Yeah, I always just say think about it and then obviously, again, don't wait until the last minute. That's the number one thing that I think is the biggest Achilles heel to all of these entries. 

Greg Bray: Guilty.

So Lisa people have been listening. They're ready to go, like, we're going to do this. What's the first step? Where do they start? 

Lisa Parrish: First step, look at the categories. Make a determination about what you have and what you're going to be submitting for, decide what the requirements are and start to gather those materials.

That right there is like the biggest challenge is just starting and making that list. Once you do it and you get moving then give me a call and go, hey, listen, these are the five or 10 categories I'm going to be [00:17:00] submitting for. Can you send me some samples? Once you get that, what that's going to do is that's going to inspire you and then you're going to be off on your way.

Doing that the sooner, the better is the best. 

Greg Bray: Is there any restriction on how many categories the same builder can submit in? 

Lisa Parrish: Not at all. You can submit as many entries as you want. Matter of fact, I have one entrant that submits over a hundred entries per year. It is their end of year review that they do for their clients.

They submit and they look at it as a nice package so they can see what they did for the year. So no, you can submit as many as you want. What I always like to say, it's kind of like buying lottery tickets. You never know which one's going to be the one that judges like the most.

We've had it where we've seen an entry come in at the local and it wins. Then we see go to the nationals and the finals. Then we see the exact opposite where something didn't even final at the locals, but it goes on to win at nationals. It's any given judging any given. 

Greg Bray: What's the calendar schedule here for winter entries due for this year's nationals.

Lisa Parrish: October the 18th is our entry deadline for The Nationals this year. 

Greg Bray: All right. So we're going to make sure [00:18:00] that everybody has plenty of time to hear these tips before that's coming up so you're not blaming us for waiting till the last minute that's all on you, right?

Kevin Weitzel: How often do you change your amend categories?

Like, you know, obviously with all the tiny homes you have, and I'm talking tiny homes, like those little ones built on trailers. It doesn't really apply to our industry, but it is a legitimate contender now. Is that something that could be added or maybe, you know, really cool sideburns has that been considered as a category?

Lisa Parrish: Everything is up for discussion and yes, every year they are tweaked. Matter of fact, in the last years we had the additions of the best virtual sales process, the best virtual special events .We've had use of technology. So yes, everything that is coming in and is part of our industry is looked at at all times, especially with the square footages and the sales prices to make sure that we're relevant because that's just it, you want to make sure that the buckets are the right buckets for the entrance.

So yeah, for sure. Yeah. The sideburns that could, that could be up there for next year. 

Greg Bray: That's sideburns and home building. I don't think anybody should bother entering because Kevin will win best [00:19:00] sideburns, hands down. Nobody, nobody can touch Kevin's sideburns. Well, Lisa, we're really grateful for the amount of time you've spent with us today and for the insights.

I hope that somebody listening here has decided, you know what we should give that a try. We haven't done this before, let's put it out there and see what happens. You just never know. Never know. Any last thoughts or a piece of advice that you didn't get a chance to share yet that you wanted to leave with us today?

Lisa Parrish: Yeah, so here's what I always end my how to seminars with is, you can't win if you don't enter, so that's number one. Put yourself out there and don't be shy. Everybody's doing incredible work. Read and follow those instructions. It's going to save you so much time. We write them so that they're easy for you.

Like I said, at any time I'm available. Fall in love with what you're entering. Let it show in that marketing statement and the images. Make your product or the person the hero that they truly are. Double-check everything, your forms, your file formats, and have some proofread to make sure you're happy with that entry.

What I always like to say is, getting noticed it seems like it'd be an [00:20:00] uphill battle, but the more effort and more care you put into the submittal, the better chances that yours is going to be chosen, and you're going to be standing on stage holding that trophy and your life will be changed forever.

Greg Bray: I'm just stuck on follow the instructions. I think that's life's advice for everything right there. Right? Follow the instructions. Well, Lisa for those who do want to reach out to you, want to get some of those samples, what's the best way for them to get in touch?

Lisa Parrish: Absolutely. You can email me at lisa@thenationals.com or feel free to call me at 909-987-2758. I love, love, love, love to help and to guide people because I really feel like this is the way to give back to our industry. 

Greg Bray: And just to confirm the entry process is also at thenationals.com, right?

Lisa Parrish: thenationals.com. I even have a little tricks and tips that I can send to people. So yeah, feel free to take a peak at that and if you need any additional help, feel free to reach out. 

Greg Bray: We'll drop those links in the show notes for everybody as well, so you can find them there. [00:21:00]Well, Lisa, thank you so much again for your time today.

We really appreciate it. And thank you everybody for listening to the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine 

Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse. Thank you.

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