Professional Builder Article: "What to Know About Selling Homes Online"
Join Greg Bray and Kevin Weitzel for this week's episode of the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, featuring Kevin Oakley from Do You Convert. They discuss a wide variety of topics including tips and tricks to navigating the home buy online experience. If you want to sell homes on your website, this is the episode to listen to.
Kevin Oakley is the Managing Partner at Do You Convert and has over 17 years of experience in new home marketing. While working as a builder, he was intimately involved with the development, marketing, and sale of over two billion new homes across Ohio & Pennsylvania.
He is also the author of Presale Without Fail: The Secret to Launching New Communities with Maximum Results. He is also Contributing Editor for Professional Builder Magazine, and the host of the Market Proof Marketing podcast.
Greg Bray: Hello everybody and welcome to today's episode of The Homebuilder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine
Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.
Greg Bray: Today we are excited to welcome Kevin Oakley from Do You Convert to the show. Welcome, Kevin. Thanks for joining us.
Kevin Oakley: Hey, thanks so much for having me here.
I cannot think of a better way to end the week. I've got my cup with a beverage. Got the lights turned down low. Hanging out.
Kevin Weitzel: Is that Barry White in the background?
Yeah. We're going to talk a little tech, a little marketing. Let's go. This is amazing.
Greg Bray: This is a milestone for us where we've got two Kevin's on the podcast at the same time, so we're going to try not to confuse everybody with who we're talking to, but Kevin Oakley, why don't you give us that quick introduction, help us get to know you a little better. I know a lot of people already know you, but I'm sure there's a couple that still need to meet you.
Kevin Oakley: Yeah. I've been in homebuilding since 2003.
So I'm officially an elder statesman in the industry. Started out working for a $2 billion private company where I learned everything not to do. They shall not be named. No. They've tremendously grown since I left them, but at the time it was a bit of a mess. Went to work for a small family-owned company.
Then as soon as we sold our house and got a washer and dryer in our rental townhome, the great recession hit. I thought for sure everything was just going to fall apart, but we ended up growing market share by 20% every year during the great recession while reducing the budget by over a million dollars on the marketing end.
By the end of it, NVR said, if you can't build and buy them or beat them, buy them. So we were acquired by them and I ran two humbling divisions for NVR for around two years and did the integration of those two organizations, which is not something I would recommend.
Integrating from a semi-custom builder where everything is stick framed on-site to a production builder and all the systems and 200 homes in the backlog waiting to be finished the old way and the new way, and two different accounting systems, two different ways of marketing, two different ways of everything.
Then Mike Lyon had been chasing me for three years to come work with him. Finally my wife I should have given more credit for on a recent social post said, "Look, everyone keeps calling you up and asking you to do things, or what do you want to do next and you keep telling them no, so just tell him yes." I was like, we have four kids, and a 32, and this seems like too big of a risk. She's like, you don't care about the price of drywall, you don't care about construction schedules. You're a sales and marketing person and you need to go give it a shot.
Since then been Do You Convert with Mike and grown the team and just really like talking about everything we're going to talk about over the next 20 minutes or so.
Kevin Weitzel: Our regular listeners know that this is the time in our podcast that I say, well, that's the business you, but I want to actually flip this a little bit today.
I admire that you are one of the human individuals that practices what you preach. Can you just mention the charity that you work with?
Kevin Oakley: Yeah, absolutely. STC Guatemala is an organization that they run four different feeding centers in different portions of the country. My family has been down there now three times, or actually, as breaking news on the podcast, we're going to try to bring down anyone from the building industry that would like to go next year, which is crazy.
Like that's a lot of responsibility I feel like, to bring an owner of a building company down. It'd be awesome to get them more involved, but if they break down in the middle of a hut in remote Guatemala, I'm not sure I'm prepared to pick up all the pieces emotionally, but yeah. I'm a big believer that you should try to find as a career goal, 10% of your time in what you're good at.
So now it's pivoting from just stuff to, hey, let's get him a CRM system. Let's help them fix their website. Let's do what we do with builders. Time to commitment for that trip?
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.
Kevin Oakley: It'll be a week. Yeah.
Kevin Weitzel: I'm in.
Kevin Oakley: Yeah. Well, there you go. Wow. Two Kevin's in Guatemala, that should be a money series.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, we actually have a client in Guatemala.
Kevin Oakley: Get out.
Kevin Weitzel: It was funny because they invited, they said, oh, we would like you to come to visit us.
Kevin Oakley: I know you're talking about. Every single builder show they say, the next time you come down, you should stop over and see us.
Kevin Weitzel: I'm looking at this overall map. I'm like, okay, so where should I start planning places to go? They go, don't go anywhere, but right here.
Kevin Oakley: Just this little zone that we build in. That's right.
Kevin Weitzel: This is the area that you want to visit, the rest of it, you don't want to go to. It's just not safe, or it's just downtrodden.
Kevin Oakley: I'll talk quickly to safety and then we can move on so we don't lose all the audience, but the safety part is as long as you are to where you want to stay for the night by like 4:30 in the afternoon, you're good.
All of the men who a lot of them are alcoholics, or have substance issues because of such a hard life that they live, they're out working like all day long. So what you do is you go and there's just women and kids left and you get out before they get back from their shifts. We've never had any safety concerns at all.
Greg Bray: That's awesome that you found something like that to be a part of ongoing. So often we do kind of just a one-time thing cause somebody asks, or we write a check or throw a donation at something.
Kevin Oakley: Thank you guys for bringing that up. I just have to say one more thing quickly, which is don't do yourself the disservice of setting charitable donations on auto-pay, or just typing in something in Venmo and letting it go. Part of the selfish thing in all this is we get to enjoy the benefit of what's happening and go back regularly and see it.
That reenergizes us every time to continue to be involved and to let more people know about it, and that's okay. We don't want to brag from the rooftops about what we do charitably. I understand that, but it's okay to selfishly get rewarded, that good feeling is built into us to encourage more of that behavior.
It doesn't all have to be like those, what was that movie where the monks like hurt themselves? Shoot Tom Hanks.
Kevin Weitzel: Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Greg Bray: DaVinci Code, maybe?
Kevin Oakley: Yeah. DaVinci Code. You're right. We don't have to be like that. We can actually get enjoyment from the good things we do.
Greg Bray: That's terrific Kevin.
So tell us a little bit more about Do You Convert and the services you guys offer? I think everybody knows a little bit about it, but you probably do more than we than we recognize.
Kevin Oakley: Again, very, very gracious of you and I'm not very good at selling or talking about myself, so I'm sweating profusely and I'll calm down once we get back to marketing talk.
Do You Convert, we're just here to help builders, really at any level of involvement that they need. So everyone knows that we do training and coaching, and we also do turnkey service, but our goal is to try to build up the internal teams over time. Because if you wanted to work with as many companies as we work with the old-fashioned way, we would have to have like 40 employees and I've had 80 employees before.
I don't desire that. So the way that we try to leverage is by finding builders who want to grow internal teams and resources, so that as we fix the plane and improve the results we can, at their discretion, remove ourselves from the equation. That lets us work with more people on a continual basis without having to be a hundred percent responsible for everything that's going on.
Kevin Weitzel: So you're teaching to fish not just providing a meal.
Kevin Oakley: Correct. Yep. We want to make sure you've got meals while you're learning.
Kevin Weitzel: There we go.
Greg Bray: Great analogy. Well, Kevin, of course, there's a lot of different topics that we could touch on being in this home builder marketing world together, but specifically, one of the things I wanted to get into with you today is really diving into this buy online concept. You just recently, for those who haven't seen it yet, you put out this great article in Professional Builder discussing some of the challenges.
I know that it's a hot topic right now that a lot of people have different definitions and different ideas. So really looking forward to kind of diving in a little bit deeper there. What is it about buy online that you think has everybody's so interested right now?
Kevin Oakley: For sales and marketing individuals it's the FUD factor I call it. The fear, uncertainty and doubt of not wanting to be left behind, not being the dinosaur that goes extinct. For operational folks and leaders, it's all about profit margin efficiency, and can we get rid of these annoying humans that we have to have on our team that require love, investment, and vacation days?
Can we just make it so that people can just click the button and then we deliver the service? So that's part of it is, we've not clearly defined, why are we doing this? Well, so many people are chasing it because consumers are telling us this is what they want. I think there's some confusion around that.
I don't have hard research, but I think when people say, why can't buying a home be like shopping on Amazon, or Tesla, or Apple. What they're talking about is not getting a house delivered in a box, like a Casper mattress. They're saying I want certainty, transparency, and authenticity in this relationship and I want more control and knowledge about it than I currently have.
It's still too opaque. I still don't understand what are my options? What can I and can I not do? What is the timeframe? Will Duderstadt, I have to give him credit for this, he said we shouldn't be bragging about the way that the transaction happens. Buy online is just describing how you give money.
That's not exciting to the customer. That's not really what they're asking for, except for in the pandemic. I'm just so desperate to give anything. Please let me give you my money electronically to reserve a home, but that's not what we're really talking about when we're talking about buy online.
Kevin Weitzel: Even if you dumb down the process of literally having a buy now button, like you could do with like an apartment. You can get rent an apartment with a buy now button. Even if dumb down the process, we have a lot more interconnected tools, as you mentioned in your article, we have CRM, we have ERP, we have a financing companies, all these different platforms. None of them talk to each other.
Kevin Oakley: I thought you were bringing the sarcasm when you said interconnected tools because they're like always partially connected.
Kevin Weitzel: You got it. You can partially do something. You can get the pricing on there, but you can't push that to a contract all on the same platform.
Kevin Oakley: Also, since we're just three guys talking. It always comes with the asterix of, but we're really working hard on full implementation and interconnectedness, and that'll be out in about two weeks. Then you check in and two weeks later and it's another two weeks. It's forever is what it feels like at this point.
Really Greg, the reason this all took off was because of the nuclear bomb that happened. She's a great person. Taylor Morrison is a great company, but when Cheryl Palmer from Taylor Morrison went on CNBC and announced to the world that they had solved this problem, and we're the first to do it at scale, that was the nuclear explosion where everyone said, holy crap, did this really just happen?
Spoiler alert. It didn't. They're still working on it. I've shopped them many times. I've reserved many homesites with the system. I even, you can bleep this out if it gets any of us in trouble, but I was told recently with some of that I have confidence in, that someone was fired over the implementation of that system.
Again, it goes back to that fear, uncertainty, and doubt that's driving this. Well, we have to figure it out. So when that nuclear explosion happened, part of why we're stuck where we are right now, and need to talk about this is, every CEO turned to their marketing person or to their IT department and said, you've got 90 days.
Make it happen. Figure this out. The same conversation happened at the beginning of the pandemic too, when all the model homes shut down and everyone said, oh my gosh. Same conversations happened. You've got 60 days. You've got 90 days. A lot of builders we work with the CMO came and were like, they said, I have 60 days.
I'm like, there is no way, one that you're going to do this 60 days, two they will forget it and they'll never bring it up again. Which they did as soon as sales came back. Right now, it we're all kind of like, are they doing? Are they not doing it? Are we behind? Are we not behind? There's so much fear and just lack of knowledge.
That's why I was excited to talk more about this with you because when we talked about this last week at our event, the biggest feedback was, thank you. Thank you for giving me something that can truly explain to my boss why this is hard because they don't understand. Like if a pizza company can tell me when my pizza is being rolled out and cooked in the oven and inserted into the box, why can't we do the same thing with a house?
Greg Bray: I think that's a great point. Part of the problem is everybody's just lumping every builder and their process together into one big, we all do it the same way, right? The type of home that you're building, the audience that you're after, the location that you're in, all of that comes into play, let alone the systems. We'll probably talk systems here in a minute, that go into play there, but it may not even be the right thing for your audience .
Kevin Weitzel: What do we mean by buy online? I think we should define, I think for the purpose of the next couple of minutes, what we're talking about is adding something to a cart and checking out and securing a transaction is what we're talking about.
I even had people email me back when the article got published in Professional Builder, and they said, well, we've been doing buy online for 10 years with our website. I don't know what you're talking about. We have 45 floor plans. We don't need to simplify the offerings to make this work.
I go on their website. I'm like, you need to talk to Kevin at OutHouse because you still have black and white renderings. We're not talking about having a website. That's not buy online. Or having a website that just has a button that says buy online. What we're talking about, creating a true transaction and the ability to make selections personalized. That's what everyone wants to get to.
Greg Bray: I think that you're absolutely right because that term can mean a lot of different things to different people. I think that the full process of being able to select the lot, select the model, pick your elevation, get into the configuration choices of what comes in that home, the whole design center experience if you will, all of that on the website, mortgage applications, payments, the works.
That's one version, right? Or just save your lot for a hundred bucks. That's a whole different version of buy online and people will put the same words on the button, regardless of which of those two extremes we're talking about.
Kevin Oakley: Yes.
Greg Bray: It's confusing. If you're envisioning one and I'm envisioning the other, it's a very confusing and different conversation.
Kevin Oakley: A generational problem, it's the elephant in the room and it's my new favorite thing to talk a little bit about.
Then we can get back to the hard tech part of it. The generational issue is, the next time I vote for a president, I do not care if they're on the right or the left. My only question will be, can you install and uninstall an app on your device without the help of a child or grandchild? If you cannot do that, it's not ageism, it's technoism. I don't know what the word is, but we have some individuals leading organizations who think that letting you reserve a home site on the website is mind blowing and amazing. Kevin, what you guys do at OutHouse and visualization, it might be the same visualization style or tool that you've used for several years or longer, but there's people look at that and their minds are blown and they think this is incredibly impressive.
Meanwhile, gen X-er millennial, gen Z is like, that's all it does? This is not impressive at all.
Greg Bray: This is not nearly like my video game.
Kevin Oakley: Or any experience in my life from any other company, brand, or system. It's underwhelming. What we have to do, to your point Greg, is remember that it's all about expectation setting and messaging with the consumer.
Remember of the initial moment of truth that everyone talked about at every conference forever from Google for like six years in a row. Well we're forgetting about the ultimate moment of truth is when the customer says what their experience was, and it informs that initial moment of truth when they do the next search.
So I don't think we're understanding the amount of frustration and confusion that we're building into what is still a limited amount of people who want a new construction home. That number and supply is not unlimited. For every one person that says, oh, this is great, I bought my house online and it was amazing. There's hundreds of people who say this wasn't at all like what you promised me. Now I'm skeptical about everything else that you're telling me.
Kevin Weitzel: Let me ask you this. How much thought have you put behind, in your article writing, the fact that home builders, all of them in their own tiny bubbles, they all have their own CRM. They all have their own processes, internally and externally, and how they talk to their vendors, and even that there beholden to their vendors.
People say, oh, well, you could buy a Chevy online. I'm like, yeah, but when Chevy invests the millions of dollars that it takes to do to create that system, they roll it out to every Chevy dealer there is. A matter of fact, they've mandated. It's part of being a dealer you have to.
When, let's just say a Taylor Morrison, when they invest heavily in the system, that doesn't get rolled out to anybody else. Now DRHorton and Lennar and Carl, the builder, they all have to do that same investment to a completely different system, a completely unattached system that functions completely different, so you don't have that repetition factor.
Kevin Oakley: A hundred percent and I first want to go back to Taylor Morrison. The problem is not what they did. It was the position of what they did both to the consumer and the press. It was the same thing as what happened with Pokemon GO, when that came out. All of a sudden, we can't calculate the amount of lost time and energy that was spent by everyone trying to figure out how to take this new software by Nintendo on the iPhone and figure out how to sell homes with it.
It was a complete waste of time and a misdirect. By Taylor Morrison saying in that interview, we've figured it out, we've solved the problem. It's doing the same thing. It's spinning a lot of wheels without bringing the industry forward, but it's good thing that they're pushing forward and that they're trying to make this system.
They bumbled the way that they announced it and rolled it out. Still best wishes to them. You're absolutely right Kevin. There's not enough consistency. As someone who's worked with many different home building organizations as an employee, I mean, at Heartland, when we wanted to change a process or a system, we had a particular flooring vendor who is an amazing partner, had been with the company since the beginning and would never change any process at all for us.
We'd always joke, like we think this guy is running our company and he's our flooring vendor. He's not going to make any changes. He does what he wants. He changes prices when he wants, but customers love the end result, no warranty issues. So when someone wants to change functionality of their website and part of that occurring means I have to hit the eject button on two key vendors who don't want to change, live in real time while I have 300 customers in backlog who need that vendor to complete their home.
Yeah. That's why some of the companies doing this have just started new divisions. New essential small home-building organizations, saying, we're going to go about this a new way, with a new customer, with new expectations set from the beginning. Kind of trying to eat themselves a hole by letting this new startup which other companies have done, right? I don't know the brand names off the top of my head, but most of these new insurance companies are owned by some other grandma, grandpa company that has been around for 150 years, but their new online division is a different brand, speaking a different voice, with different expectations.
Greg Bray: Let's go back to your comment about the customers want this or the buyers want this.
Do you believe that first of all, and what is it about it that they want?
Kevin Oakley: I don't think they want to add a home to a cart and purchase it. Anytime we've looked at this with someone who's trying to develop a system. The test is, when it goes from $0 to make this happen, to I need a $10,000 of good funds now.
I promise you, the conversion rate is going to drop dramatically, like non-refundable 10 grand coming out of your account right now. That's why we can tell what they don't want. What they do want is Redfin's data where they've said for years now, at first it was 25 to 35, now it's I think over 45% of people have made an offer without seeing the home, but the offer in the print says contingent upon seeing the home.
So again, what they want is certainty and control and information. They don't want to give us 10 grand nonrefundable. That's why I think we're missing out on what they really want. What they do want is the ability to mess around with a tool and see what happens if I slide this wall over this way or change this countertop, and I would like some pricing information.
We're going through this again. I love the company that's building our home. You're doing a fantastic job. My wife is livid and sure we're being screwed every, restocking fee this. She's like, there is no restocking fee. I'm like, honey, there's this pandemic, they've ordered the flooring like six months ago, so we would have it. It's here.
Well, but they have it in their showroom. No, they have a sample in their showroom, hun, and that sample just means that they can order it. Which they did, so if you want to change your mind, there is a restocking, you know. No, we're getting screwed. It's just been a reminder going through that process again, that if you don't understand the complexity of what's happening behind it, and we're not doing ourselves any favors as an industry by sometimes portraying how easy it is.
Quick tangent. One of the things I do not recommend that most builders do is, here's our three-step simple, easy process to building a home. Are you kidding? Like, that's the expectation. You pick your home site, you pick your elevation, and then you magically move in. That's not good expectation setting.
We need to explain that we're going to do the right thing. We're going to hold your hand through the process as much as possible. Sometimes oversimplifying it doesn't help either.
Greg Bray: The 6,433 a step process that can be overwhelming.
Kevin Oakley: Obviously you would never start it, right? It would be overwhelming. Yeah, exactly.
Kevin Weitzel: I think there's two camps. I fall in the older generation camp versus Greg. So let's look at cars. Greg loves the concept of what's that buy online place you like?
Greg Bray: Carvana.
Kevin Oakley: Carvana. Yeah.
Greg Bray: I'm a Carvana fan.
Kevin Weitzel: He loves Carvana. Personally, it makes me sick to my stomach because I want to talk to a salesperson. Now what the average person has a disdain for with talking with salespeople is, they don't want the smarmy salespeople. They don't want it to sit down with the FNI guy that's going to basically pillage them when they're signing the final contracts.
That's what they don't want, but they do want the guy that says you know Kevin, not you Kevin, me Kevin. Having to deal with the two Kevin's here. You know, Mr. Wietzel, Mr. Sideburns, you're kind of fat. You're not really going to fit in this car very well because of how it's built. Let me show you this model over here.
That is the kind of direction that people want from sales. They want that information that is a tenable and real and tangible that affects them, but what they don't want it, they want the guy saying, what kind of payment would you like? They don't want to deal with the little four square box that you have to go through when you sit down with a salesperson.
Kevin Oakley: That's why we have to rethink what sales is doing. Not even rethink, but just redefine. Part of what's happened during the pandemic is that the lines of everything have blurred because on-site salespeople became hybrid virtual salespeople and online sales people and marketing's job became putting people on wait lists. It's not marketing as normal job.
So quick redefine if I can toss it out here is that advertising's job is to get people's attention and convert it into interest. Marketing's job is to create certainty through content, having a website, having renderings, putting the price on there, as much content as you can provide, provides more certainty of this is something that I really want.
Then sale's job, to your point Kevin, is you want that in interaction with a salesperson, but in today's world, that's only after you're pretty sure you already know what you want. Now it's the human factor of helping someone get through the change that they want to make, because I just need some reassurance. I need some handholding.
I need someone to say, Kevin, you're too fat for that car. Just make sure that you've got the correct lenses on to see the product as closely as it can. As we get better at marketing and creating more certainty and content, I think salespeople will become more valuable. I just don't think we'll need as many of them because we'll be able to set more appointments for whatever the customer wants to be there.
We'll have UTour or NterNow to get free access to them, but the salesperson's job will be less about, it already is, it's less about feature dumping and benefit dumping, as it is helping them through the change that they're already pretty sure they want to make.
Kevin Weitzel: Wait a minute. So you're telling me that if we automate this process and reduce the amount of work that the salespeople have to make, that we don't have to pay 6% real estate commissions anymore. Is that what you're saying?
Kevin Oakley: I think the government is working on that.
Kevin Weitzel: They sure are.
Kevin Oakley: That's where again, deficiencies will come. If you're an owner listening to this and you're focused on buy online and the improvement of this process for cost savings, if we wanted to save costs and make this system better, we just hire a bunch of more people.
The Chick-fil-A drive through is the most amazing thing ever. They have 2009 era technology in their hands, in an iPad, and they walk around with smiles on their faces and they make that drive-thru run better than any other system on the planet. That's not that expensive, but people don't want employees. They love this panacea idea of just creating.
I mean, four years ago, I had a super regional builder, not jokingly. I thought it was a joke at first and I mistakenly was incorrect about that. He said, my owner wants to know if there's any robotic salesperson systems out there that we can look at. Four years ago.
Greg Bray: Well, and I completely agree with about Chick-fil-A and now I'm hungry, so we're going to have to wrap up, but Kevin, I think what we talk about the buy online, one of the things when I talk to people about it, is the initial vision that they have is the unassisted self-service purchase. What I'm hearing you saying, and I completely agree with you, is that that is not the vision that we see of this in the future.
Rather it is a technology enhanced purchase process that still has a human element that will touch base, but then they can go home and finish certain tasks on their own, or they can take action in the moment when they're excited about it and not have to wait until the sales centers open tomorrow to kind of move forward.
The idea that it is unassisted by a sales counselor of some type, I don't think that's what I see happening, at least in the vast majority of cases. What are your thoughts on that?
Kevin Oakley: Yeah. Just think about any time a company has told you, well, we're not set up to work that way, so you have to go do this instead.
We always hate that. That's a ridiculous thing for a company to say. There's a famous restauranteur who is based out of Columbus. He wrote a book called Yes is the Answer. Now What is the Question? Cameron Mitchell. Mitchell's Fish Market. Just ton of really well-known restaurant chains around the US. It all started because he went to a really nice restaurant and he asked if he could get his kid a chocolate milkshake and they said, no, sir, we don't have chocolate milkshakes. he said, well, I see you have chocolate pie alamode, so I'll take the chocolate pie, get rid of the pie, just give you the ice cream. I see you have chocolate milk on the menu. Add the chocolate milk to the ice cream, bring it out, make me a milkshake.
The idea of creating this system where you must do all of these things unassisted is lunacy because what the customer wants and deserves to have the right to do in a transaction is at any point in the entire customer journey, they should be able to say, I don't want to talk to a person right now or I do.
If we're building up this buy online system, as the only way that we can do it, people are going to riot and they're not gonna put up with it and they're going to go find someone who's going to give them a good experience and allow that flexibility. So, hybrid is the new black here.
We have to be thinking about throughout the entire process at any point in time, we're not trying to convince the non convincible. We're just trying to make sure that whenever someone raises their hand, you say, it's as easy as a slip and slide. Just reduce all the friction.
I bought a Jeep a month and a half ago. I truly didn't need the salesperson, but I still wanted to visit the dealership. They only had one of what I wanted. The sales rep was watching Netflix with AirPods in, and didn't say hello, and stepped up and he goes, okay, I got this one right here and I've got two others that are smaller.
I go, nope, this one's good, and he's like, do you want to take a test drive? I was like, nope, we're good. I still had to wait three hours to do the paperwork. The hybrid part of my process was I did all my research online for like six months. Finally decided to pull the trigger, went to the dealership to touch the car and smell it and do all those things.
Then I would have opted to say, now please leave me alone. I would like to do the rest of this electronically. The problem with the Carvana method right now too, is we shouldn't be chasing that cause they're highly unprofitable, like highly improbable. Rocket mortgage just said, they're going to start a Carvana like service, and they already know everything about all of their folks who have refinanced and done mortgages. They're just gonna create a marketplace where any dealership who wants to can combine the cars that they have with everything that Rocket Mortgage knows about the customer, and they will deliver the cars to your door.
Unlike Carvana, they're never going to have to buy inventory. That's a smarter way to do business. Carvana had the right idea, but they're saying this is the one and only way you do it. That's ultimately not going to be the best option.
Greg Bray: Kevin, we appreciate your time. We want to be respectful and mindful of that, but I do have a couple more questions before we wrap up because I love the idea of buy online. I'd love more transactions and people having more opportunities to interact, but I'm also a little surprised at some of the builders I hear asking about this when I look at what they've got today.
So can we just take one more minute and talk about these folks that if your website's still 10 years old, you have no business talking about buy online until you do blank. What do you put in the blank? I have my opinions, but I want to hear yours.
Kevin Oakley: I think the one that's most unavoidable today is that content has to be something that just happens ,and that's not saying that it's simple and easy to do. That I think would probably be from the marketing side of the room at our event would be people's number one takeaway was okay for the last three years, I've drank the Kool-Aid, I've created an amazing amount of content, but then I forget that I took a picture of that house already and I sent a photographer out to take another one.
I don't reuse my content. I can't sort through it. It's just a big, huge junk pile in the closet that I have to sort through and it takes hours. So they're realizing that they have to have a human again to help them organize and curate content and preproduce, produce, script write. Be strategic about creating new content and sure you have to have a good functional website.
I don't feel sorry for you if you don't, at this point, right? So it's about what's inside.
Kevin Weitzel: Can you say that again?
Kevin Oakley: I don't feel sorry for you.
Kevin Weitzel: Oh, okay. Just making sure. I'm right there with you. I'm in your camp, Kevin.
Kevin Oakley: Yeah. So the content on it because we know all about the privacy changes, we know how marketing automation has some challenges as much as we'd like for it to be better.
SEO and content creation are going to continue to be a huge opportunity. Especially for the smaller builders, because a large national builder who we do not work with, based out of Charlotte, told me they were spending $22,000 a month on paid search in 2019, with 27 communities, just $22,000 a month on Google.
So extrapolating that out, they're probably spending 60 grand a month in a single market. That was 2019, before the pandemic proved to everyone that they didn't need billboards, radio, television, et cetera. So what do you think that same builder is willing to spend in 2022 if it gets tough on Google? Forty, fifty, whatever the number is.
So how are you going to outmaneuver the folks who have more resources than you? You're going to create better content around each home community and offering that you have. I think that's probably if you made me pick one thing what I would still tripled down on. I'm curious now, what what's one or two things that you would say, Greg?
Greg Bray: Again, content and I was thinking of content, not just from a SEO standpoint, but from the connection with the customer. The visuals, the tours, the data. one of my team members was talking to a builder the other day who does not want their inventory prices on the website.
Kevin Oakley: Pricing is content everyone.
Greg Bray: But yet the pricing's on Zillow for these same homes. I'm really confused by that, but people want the information. You've got to put it out there and you've got to help them visualize what it is because yes, they may come and visit right before they buy, but to narrow down who they're going to visit, they're not going to visit everybody. That's the content that gets you eliminated or not for the visit. Then maybe they visit and then they go home and make the final click about oaky, this is the one I want now that I've walked through it and seen it and they still won't talk to the salesperson there and make the final decision because they don't want to feel the pressure. So they go back home and look one more time, and then do it there. So it doesn't mean that there's no help. It doesn't mean they never visit.
Kevin Oakley: Advertising job is to grab that attention and converts it to interest. Then marketing has to bride certainty through the content, and that's where everyone who is trying to use content as gatekeeping or content as a way to get control over the consumer, if the consumer doesn't get that certainty from you, they are not going to reach out. They're not going to visit.
Greg Bray: I would say the other one is you can't manage your price sheets in Excel anymore. I'm just saying. You got to have some back office systems to support these things and heading in that direction, or sticky notes, I guess there's the sticky note on the truck dashboard method too.
Well, Kevin, you've been more than generous with your time today. I want to give you a chance though, any last piece of advice, last thoughts you want to share before we wrap up?
Kevin Oakley: You know, I thought it was interesting one of the things Jeff said in his keynote was that what if your worst prospect in 2021 was your best prospect in 2022?
I just want to challenge all the marketers out there. There's a little bit too much malaise, a little bit too much hey, it's late summer, we've got our backlog pre-sold and even a little bit of animosity about they want to know why homes aren't selling. Well, I'll tell you why they're not selling.
It's not marketing is those homes are too much. We did the CMA and they're just kind of crossing their arms and like we'll prove it to you. Just go to work every day and get better. The most important thing for a marketer to do is not just say, well, it's too expensive.
It's to prove that as too expensive by creating enough attention to show that interest and say still nothing's happening. Just a word of caution. I mean, marketers, you did help us get through the pandemic, but you did not solve all the problems and you also can't solve every problem, so that's another talk track of mine right now.
Marketing can't solve every problem. Advertising, especially can't solve every problem. So not just stay in your lane, but stay in your lane. If you don't have the street credibility or the authority in your organization to address those other things. You have to prove that you're bringing value every day and every week.
Right now there's too many people coasting. This is going to be a great opportunity over the next year or two to prove what you can do and don't waste it.
Greg Bray: Awesome.
Kevin Weitzel: On that note, two things, one, I a hundred percent agree with you because as I'm selling content that people were literally coming to me for, they're like, COVID hit, we have to go virtual. We need this, this and this. I'm like, not a problem here's the costs. I'm like not a problem, we're gonna go ahead and go. And Then they ghost me and then I go, well, hey, what happened? They're like, we're selling homes so fast we don't need it. It's like, wow, you are solidly coasting with that kind of philosophy.
Number two, I 100% appreciate your valuable insight and input today, and I want to just extend you an offer to please come back on here again.
Kevin Oakley: Anytime. Could I sell for you real quick? Let me sell for OutHouse and Greg, websites or content.
What if someone wanted to do a hundred renderings and they wanted to pay you $20,000 to do that, which is probably too much. Okay. Kevin, I need those all tomorrow, but I'll pay a million dollars. You can't deliver that, and that's just like, whatever you want to talk about today in pandemic world, post-pandemic world, whatever we are in. It's all out of stock.
It's all in short supply. So if you don't start working on content or websites or whatever, there is no amount of money that can make it happen tomorrow. That's how much urgency there will be whenever the market changes, because right now, every builder is building 2000 inventory homes that are unsold, unpriced, and not available to purchase until they're done.
So at some point you're going to wish you hadn't waited until tomorrow to make that call.
Greg Bray: Great point. Well, Kevin, if somebody wants to connect with you, learn more about Do You Convert? What's the best way for them to get in touch?
Kevin Oakley: Text me 412-779-8758. That's my real number.
It's not some weird text service. Just please don't do it at two in the morning. I have had some drunk texts and drunk voicemails left. That's confusing for the wife. So just avoid that, but just shoot me a text or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Bray: Thank you so much, Kevin, for being here with us today and for sharing so much information 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.