This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Linnea Chapman of Trumark Homes joins Greg and Kevin to discuss digital tools that every home builder should leverage to enhance customer experience from start to finish.
Linnea explains how important that first interaction with a customer is. She says, “We want to build that trust, front and center, from the first time a prospect starts interacting with our brand, our website that they can reach out to somebody get answers quickly. We just want to have that transparency and trust from the beginning, to set that tone for what they can expect during their home buying journey.”
Creating that enhanced customer experience begins with evaluating the whole process and then asking questions. Linnea says, “Just really looking at dissecting that whole experience, and how does the brand feel from start to finish? Where can we improve the brand?”
Understanding digital tools is essential. Linnea expounds, “How do we communicate the transparency and build trust with our prospects coming to our website and having them understand what we're doing with the data? Also then understanding what we need to be able to do to collect data in order to better show up in terms of our ads in front of our prospects. So, really understanding the shifts that are happening in the digital world right now, when it comes to advertising. How do we show up in front of our prospects, when we're entering into this cookieless world, and there's a whole bunch of data privacy concerns? How do we show up as a builder?”
Listen and learn more about how you can use digital tools to enhance customer experience.
About the Guest:
Linnea Chapman joined Trumark Homes in January of 2020 as the Director of Marketing for Northern California. Linnea holds her bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts with an Emphasis in Art History and Arts Management and a Minor in Graphic Design from the University of San Francisco. Before her position at Trumark Homes, she was the Marketing Director for DeNova Homes. She also lived in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and two daughters for six years. She started a social stationery company, Somersault Press, which was featured on Oprah's “The O List”. Over the past two years at Trumark Homes, Chapman has grown the Online Sales Divisions while also creating, managing, and executing the company’s marketing strategies.
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 are excited today to welcome Linnea Chapman, the Marketing Director at Trumark Homes to the show. Welcome. Thanks for joining us.
Linnea Chapman: Thanks guys. I'm happy to be here.
Greg Bray: Well, Linnea, for those who haven't met you yet, why don't you give us that quick introduction, help us to get to know a little bit more about you?
Linnea Chapman: Yeah. So, as you mentioned, I am the Marketing Director for Trumark Holmes. I've been with the company just short of two years. I live in Oakland, [00:01:00] California with my husband and two daughters who are ten and seven.
We have two dogs have Rhodesian Ridgeback, and a little Labradoodle puppy named Honey and a cat named Mcgonagall, and the cat and the dog were COVID additions. So, we were those people.
Greg Bray: Is there a Harry Potter fanship going on there?
Linnea Chapman: Yes, our house is a big Harry Potter fan club. Yes.
Greg Bray: So, have you been to Orlando yet to the Harry Potter park?
Linnea Chapman: We haven't, but my kids keep asking.
Greg Bray: Okay. I got to tell you, we went a few years ago and the butter beer bill was over the top. You just keep going back for more. So, I'm just saying, be prepared.
Kevin Weitzel: So, I'm just going to take a guess, are you into juggling blocks of cheese, and if that's not the case, tell us something interesting about yourself that is outside of the industry, that's just something that people will learn about you on our podcast.
Linnea Chapman: Outside the industry. So, let's see. Back in 2010, my husband and I, we moved from San Francisco to South [00:02:00] Africa, Cape Town, South Africa. My husband's South African. So, that's sort of why we moved that direction. We lived there for six years, had both our girls there, and while I was there, I started a little social stationery company called Somersault Press. Really what started that is after having my first daughter, I couldn't find a birth announcement sort of service anywhere.
So, I have a graphic design background and I decided to take that on myself and out of that, I got great feedback from people loving our birth announcement and not really seeing something like that before there. So, I decided that there was a need and I started Somersault Press. It was great. I learned so much about printers and paper and ink and supply chain and distribution.
That was the time where I really started to get into digital marketing. I had dabbled it in the past at other jobs and things like that, but nothing quite to this extent. I didn't have a storefront. My storefront was my [00:03:00] website. I built that from scratch. I started dabbling in social content and social and digital ads and to really get the word out. It was a great learning experience for me and I loved it. It was just a privilege to help these families announce their wedding engagements and birth announcements, and seeing these families grow through their holiday cards and their family photo calendar.
So, it was really a wonderful experience, but I had to close that down when we moved back to the states. It was a bit bittersweet.
Kevin Weitzel: That's a big difference from juggling cheese blocks. I was not expecting that to be honest with you.
Greg Bray: Well, then how do you go from announcements and cards into home building? What's that leap?
Linnea Chapman: Yeah. Before we moved to South Africa, I was working for a residential architectural firm as their marketing director, Hunt Hale Jones Architects in San Francisco. They designed homes for home builders, and so I was [00:04:00] involved with PWB and went to a lot of industry events and met a lot of industry people.
When I came back stateside from South Africa, Hunt Hale Jones were like, you want to come back? I was like, yes, I do, so I went back to Hunt Hale Jones and got back into the industry. A little short of a year being there, I ended up moving on the builder side and went over to DeNova. I was with DeNova for just about three years and got to be the Marketing Director for DeNova Homes.
Greg Bray: And today you're with Trumark. So, tell us a little bit more about Trumark and the kind of homes they build, and the areas that they serve.
Linnea Chapman: Yeah, so Trumark Homes is a west coast home builder. We have divisions in Northern California where I'm based out of, also in Southern California, and we recently launched our Colorado division, so that's very exciting.
About two years ago, we were acquired by Diawa House, which is Japan's largest home builder. They have been instrumental in our growth and have just been a [00:05:00] really wonderful partner for Trumark Homes. We build everything from single-family homes, detached homes, townhomes. We build for first-time home buyers, move up, second time move-up buyers. A few years ago we launched our first age qualified master plan community in Manteca called The Collective. So, that's also been exciting to add that to our portfolio as well.
Greg Bray: So, with Northern California, Southern California, now Colorado, how does that work from a marketing team structure? There's some differences in those markets I assume. I'm just going to go out on a limb. So, how do you guys put all that together and make that happen?
Linnea Chapman: It's actually been really exciting to be a part of this growth for Trumark Homes. Before Trumark really ran our two divisions, Northern California and Southern California, and we have sales and marketing teams in both those divisions. With the growth of our division in Colorado, we've really had to look at how you roll this [00:06:00] brand out into a different region and what is that going to look like. We do have a marketing team on the ground in Colorado, and we all sort of work in tandem together to make sure that announcement, that the transition, and the rollout of our brand in that market is seamless and on point.
Kevin Weitzel: The management team does know that Colorado is completely geographically detached from California, right? It's completely over Arizona and Nevada and Utah.
Linnea Chapman: Yes. Yeah. I just had the privilege of going out there and really seeing the lay of the land and everything, and it's such a beautiful, beautiful state.
Greg Bray: Always interesting on how you make those decisions of where to go next when you're trying to grow.
So, when you look at that team structure Linnea, and different areas and different needs, how much have you guys decided to kind of do in-house and grow your team there versus partner with agencies and other resources externally?
Linnea Chapman: Yeah, no, that's a great question, and it's something that we're really, really looking at right [00:07:00] now because of just the amount of growth and how fast we're growing, to really think about how we're gonna set ourselves up for success. We have some amazing partners that we work with who really have helped be our brand stewards if you will, to make sure that the Trumark brand is held together and packaged really nicely and beautifully.
As we grow, our needs are shifting and changing, and we're constantly re-evaluating just what we need to bring in-house versus a partner like an ad agency or something like that. When I came on board, we actually brought in all of our digital marketing in-house. That really allowed us to pivot and make quick, quick decisions fast. Which was great actually, because we were kind of teed up for the pandemic to be able to pivot quicker. So, those sorts of things we're definitely looking at I always want to have an outside perspective with resources in-house. So, we're looking at how is that going to shape up for us as we start growing and building our team [00:08:00] in-house here.
Greg Bray: Now the cards that you send your new homeowners saying, congratulations, your new home, are you doing those in house?
Linnea Chapman: Oh no. It's sometimes hard not to. I do still love doing that stuff. Yeah
Greg Bray: Okay. All right. Just checking to see where the cards were coming from. So, tell us then where digital fits in all of this. You talked about bringing digital marketing in-house. Obviously, to me, that says this is something important that we need control of, and we want to have the ability to adjust faster maybe than you felt you could with some other type of partner.
So, how does digital fit into your overall plan and take us through that a little bit.
Linnea Chapman: Yeah, so digital is everything to us right now. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, or actually right before, when I started with Trumark homes, we were just going through a website redesign.
It hadn't launched yet. We were at the tail end of that design. We were rolling out a new CRM system, and we didn't have an OSC [00:09:00] program onboard and we ramped all of that up. Pushed the website design to launch quickly after lockdown because we needed a more robust website and customer experience.
We actually ended up rolling out 16 new systems and processes in 2020. Part of it was a response to the pandemic, but also part of it was that we just didn't have these digital tools in our wheelhouse yet. So, it was a lot of rapid implementation and growth and strategizing on what was the best thing to implement and how were we going to roll these systems and processes out to our teams?
When I think about our digital toolbox and what are the most important things to us right now, I would say content is king. We are constantly looking at what content we're producing, the value that we're adding to our potential home buyers and to our current home buyers.
Then also our OSC program is extremely important to us. That establishes a really great customer experience, which is extremely [00:10:00] important to Trumark Homes. We want to build that trust, front and center, from the first time a prospect starts interacting with our brand, our website that they can reach out to somebody get answers quickly. We just want to have that transparency and trust from the beginning, to set that tone for what they can expect during their home buying journey.
Greg Bray: So, we'll make sure that your boss does not hear this podcast when I ask this next question, but do you recommend rolling out that many new things all in one year? I mean, that seems like an incredible amount of change to manage all at once.
Linnea Chapman: You know, it was. I don't recommend it at all, but it was absolutely needed. What I'm really proud of is just how our team rose to meet the challenge. We took advantage of lockdown with our sales team, the Northern California sales team, and Southern California sales team, we had almost daily meetings, where we were doing trainings [00:11:00] on the new CRM system and how to sell virtually. When things really paused here in California, we really took advantage of that time to come together as a team, to teach those new tools to show them why and what we're doing.
Kevin Weitzel: Greg, we absolutely need to have Linnea on again for another podcast solely on the subject of how to get salespeople to sit down and pay attention to CRM training.
You lock them down and don't let them go out.
Linnea Chapman: No, the team was great and they really embraced it. It was also just great to come together during that time. I think a lot of us had a lot of uncertainty. We weren't sure what was going to happen. Our sales offices were closed. We couldn't go into the corporate office. A lot of us were wondering what's next, and it was a great way to bring the team together. It was also a great training opportunity to your point, Kevin.
Greg Bray: So, Linnea, if I understood correctly, it sounded like you went from no online sales counselor position to [00:12:00] now having a full program. Tell us a little bit about that journey, how you pulled that off.
Linnea Chapman: You know, it was something that I really saw a need for when I joined Trumark Homes. Even in my interviewing process, it was something that I spoke to. I think it is absolutely essential to have this program in place. I think what really fast-tracked that coming onboard for Trumark was a lockdown.
Our executive team really saw, we need to have this in place now. So, lockdown happened and then the next day it was sort of like, okay, Linnea, make this program happen, go find our OSC. Finding the right person to be that OSC can sometimes be challenging, but our team is really fantastic. There's a lot of different things that they need to think about. We've definitely seen a shift in our customers' wants, and even just their interaction with the OSC team. I think before the pandemic, a lot of people were a bit hesitant to reach out or be as responsive as we're seeing [00:13:00] now.
One of my OSCs was managing over 500 leads a month before the pandemic, total A-player OSC. Then during the pandemic, you could definitely tell the team was getting burnt out. When I talked to a lot of people who manage OSC teams, they definitely echo that seniment, that a lot of their OSC teams were feeling a little bit under pressure.
When I addressed it with my A-player, I was like, Hey, so, before we were managing over 500 leads and now we have 500 leads, but what's the difference? She said, Linnea they are just so much more responsive. They want to talk to me. They don't want to get off the phone.
They're emailing back. They're calling back. There's no hesitancy in reaching out. Understanding that there is a shift, and I don't think that that shift is going anywhere. We're still seeing it. People got conditioned during the pandemic to reach out, to get answers before going to a store or to a sale center. So, we're definitely seeing the need to actually [00:14:00] build our OSC team even bigger because of that consumer shift in wanting that information and talking and getting as much as they can upfront before they actually go and walk one of our products.
Greg Bray: I love the fact they keep calling it the OSC team. There's still a lot of builders that consider an OSC, a singular person, that's just supposed to deal with all these contacts that come from the website. It's obvious that you take that to a whole other level when you actually use the word team and growing that team. That's terrific.
Linnea Chapman: Yeah, no, it's definitely a team effort, for sure. Not just the OSC team, but even the handoff process with our onsite sales team. It really is a team to make it successful. It does take a team.
Kevin Weitzel: How much input does your OSC have in the decision-making process for both sales process and marketing process?
Linnea Chapman: You know, right now, because our team is newer, they don't really have too much say in a lot of that stuff. [00:15:00] However, we meet on a weekly basis and we're constantly getting feedback from them about what they're hearing from our prospects in terms of what they need. We're constantly hearing about how the handoff process is going from their perspective, but we're also getting that perspective from our onsite team. We are constantly re-evaluating our systems and processes and making sure that they're working for everybody, not just our OSC team, our onsite team, but also our prospects.
Greg Bray: So, Linnea, when they get back to your 16 different systems in one year, something had to go wrong. One of them didn't go smooth. Tell us about something that didn't go the way it was supposed to, and you don't have to blame anybody, and how you worked through that and overcame the bumps.
Linnea Chapman: Well, I would say the biggest challenge was actually with our OSC team because of the amount of leads. At one point they were taking over a thousand leads a month. I mean, it was intense. We're rolling out new projects. We launched a lot of new communities last year. They were definitely feeling the [00:16:00] pressure. At one point, we lost a couple of our OSCs because of burnout.
Because of that, we actually took that time and said, you know what, we're going to put a pause on this program, which was really hard to make that decision and say, we've worked so hard to launch this program, and now we're going to put a pause on this program and we're going to reevaluate our structure, the team, everything, and just pull back for a minute.
I was really scared. I actually have to admit, I was actually very sad about it because I worked so hard to launch this program and then to say, okay, I think it's actually best that we put a pause on it right now, was a really tough decision, but looking back, we are better than ever now because we did that, because we took that time to really say, what is working, what isn't working.
Now we have a team in place that is amazing. They are just such a team. They're so great together. At the time, I didn't know how badly we needed that pause, and it was a really tough decision to do. Of course, I felt like I kind of failed a little bit,[00:17:00] but I tell my kids, you need a fail to understand, you know, to succeed in the next thing. So, I do feel that it was actually the right decision to make and we're better for it.
Greg Bray: I don't hear anything that sounds like failure and that story. It does take a lot of courage, especially when you're messing with the leads, right? Anything that touches the leads that you're messing around with always makes everybody nervous cause of the impact on future sales. So, as you look then at the things you've learned from this experience, what are you seeing from a customer expectation standpoint that's continuing to evolve? You talked about how they're more responsive now to the OSC and in those conversations. What things beyond that, are customers now expecting as normal that you didn't used to do or that you'll have to continue to do? Any thoughts there?
Linnea Chapman: Yeah, I think it goes back to content.
Our customers are really well-educated. There's so much content out there, just even from their research that they can do on platforms like Zillow and by just [00:18:00] going out and Googling Trumark Homes and learning about our projects before they ever actually enter into our own website.
So, I think for us really meeting our customers where they are by putting out content where they're looking in searching, you know, whether that be on YouTube or putting out blog posts that is adding value in terms of their home shopping experience. That's something we're really focused on.
The other thing I would say that we're extremely focused on right now is, especially being in California, I feel like the privacy changes have hit us first, of course. So, we've been thinking about this for awhile, but our biggest initiative this year is really pivoting to first party data collection, and what does that mean for us as a home builder? How do we communicate the transparency and build trust with our prospects coming to our website and having them understand what we're doing with the data? Also then understanding what we need to be able to do to collect data in [00:19:00] order to better show up in terms of our ads in front of our prospects.
So, really understanding the shifts that are happening in the digital world right now, when it comes to advertising. How do we show up in front of our prospects, when we're entering into this cookieless world, and there's a whole bunch of data privacy concerns? How do we show up as a builder?
Kevin Weitzel: Did you say cookieless world?
Linnea Chapman: Cookieless world. I know.
Kevin Weitzel: You're talking to a fat man here. Come on. Don't ever say scary things like cookieless world. It's like cakeless world or casseroleless this world. It's just not good. Hey, so I have a question for you, because I want to come back to this point, you implemented 16 different systems.
When you went through the selection process and the vetting of different vendors for platform A platform B, how did you factor in, or was it even a consideration of whether these different platforms could be interconnected with each other?[00:20:00]
Linnea Chapman: That's a great question. You know, I think when it came to like our website form fills and our CRM system, of course that's something that has to be connected. A lot of the systems and processes were in response to the pandemic. So, a lot of virtual selling tools, virtual reality for our communities and for our homes and things like that, Matterport tours, things like that, that we hadn't necessarily been focused on so much, really producing those kinds of systems.
Then really showing our sales team how to sell virtually. What does that look like? It's very different. You know, Kevin, when I think back to that time, it was a little bit of a blimp. It was like, we need this system, we need to have this tool, and I don't know if there was a lot of strategy when we were making those decisions, quite honestly. Sometimes it was troubleshooting and there are a few of those systems that we actually have pulled back on and are not using now. A lot of it was sort of this impulsive response to the pandemic, [00:21:00] but a lot of those systems are still in play and we're still using them now.
Back to that point of where are we seeing our customers and their needs? As much as we are seeing our customers going and showing up at our sales office, we are still getting a lot of requests for virtual appointments before they go to our projects. So, those systems, those processes, those tools are still in play. So, yes, we always are looking for systems that can talk and integrate with one another.
Kevin Weitzel: So, your OSCs were a pivotable change. Detrimental not to have them in place. Is there a digital tool that you implemented that now you can't live without? A widget, a gidget, a gadget, anything?
Linnea Chapman: A great question. Of course, our CRM system is something a marketer can't live without. We also implemented Google Data Studio. Even though I can go in and look at analytics and stuff, it's really great to just be able to get that quick snapshot of how things are working across the board from not only analytics, but also our Google ads and our Facebook [00:22:00] ads, CallRail, things like that.
So, that's actually a system that we're working to build out even more. Just being able to understand our analytics, understand our data, what's working, what's not working is critical.
Kevin Weitzel: There are times that I wished that this was video and not just podcast because you said something about Google and Greg just went all nerdy, like you've mentioned a cheeseburger to me. He was like, oh Google, what?
Greg Bray: I like cheeseburgers. No. Linnea, I'll be honest. I don't hear a lot of builders talk about Google Data Studio. Well, we'll be completely honest, you don't know how many builders I talk to who can't get me a login to their Google analytics because they can't find it. I mean, that's just a whole different episode.
So, to be able to actually talk about somebody who is pulling data from multiple sources and merging them together to get a better view. I mean, there are some doing it, but it is not common. So, I applaud you for that. It's not easy either. It [00:23:00] takes a little bit of work to get all those things connected.
So, sorry, Kevin, if I stole your cheeseburger line.
Kevin Weitzel: Maybe we don't need video for that, listening audit's did you just hear how goofy and fun we just dove into that? Oh, my goodness.
Greg Bray: All right. Enough about me. This is about Linnea. Well, we do appreciate the time you spent with us today. Just a few more questions as we kind of wrap up here. So, you were just attacking and plugging holes and trying to keep things moving forward. Now you've caught your breath. Maybe a couple things aren't quite as important as you thought they were going to be, so you're backing up. What are you looking at next? What's the next steps in your future of where we want to go?
Linnea Chapman: Yeah. We're at such an exciting time at Trumark Homes just with all the growth that is happening for us. It's a really exciting time, and with that growth, we're really, really examining our brand, our brand purpose, just every touch point across the way from the first time a customer [00:24:00] comes in to experience Trumark Home, all the way to even after getting their keys and moving into their home. Just really looking at dissecting that whole experience, and how does the brand feel from start to finish? Where can we improve the brand? Trumark, from when we started in 2008, to where we are now, we're are a much bigger home builder. And so it's just really understanding, well, what is our brand purpose today?
So, we are starting down that journey, which is quite exciting. Again, I go back to the changes that are happening with privacy, and sorry, Kevin, cookieless world that we're in. For me as a marketer, that's extremely important. Understanding where our customers are coming from, understanding our analytics. There is definitely a shift on the horizon for marketers, and I just want to try to be ahead of it. Those are the conversations we're having here at Trumark and trying to figure out our best strategy.
Kevin Weitzel: This one might be a little deep, but you have a ten and a seven year old you said?
Linnea Chapman: I sure do.
Kevin Weitzel: And they're [00:25:00] both girls?
Linnea Chapman: They are both girls. Yes.
Kevin Weitzel: All right. Here's what I want you to do. I want you to get into a time machine and I want you to fast forward. Let's say when they're graduating high school, and they want to get into sales and marketing and home building industry. What advice do you give your daughters? Not just women in general that want to get into this industry, but your daughters, what advice do you give them?
Linnea Chapman: They want to get into home building. They're always wearing my hard hat. They love walking the projects. They just think what mommy does is so cool. My husband's an accountant, so that's not so exciting for them.
Kevin Weitzel: Bean counters.
Yeah. If you ask them what they want to be, they want to be something within the home building world. So, the advice I would give them though, is to get under the hood, understand how things work and really reach out. Your network is so important to you.
Be curious. Don't ever stop learning. Not only look to what's happening in home building, but look what's happening outside of the industry as well. I'm constantly reading and listening to podcasts [00:26:00] that have nothing to do with home building, but yet it's relevant, especially looking at Ecommerce shifts and things like that.
So, constantly learning, reading. I like to tinker. I like to understand how things work. I like to get under the hood and really by me getting my hands dirty and understanding how things work, I have learned. I don't need to keep on tinkering with that one thing, but as long as I understand how something works, then I can communicate it or, help my team learn how something works.
I'm big into that. Really invest in the time and learn, and don't ever stop learning. There's always something else out there that you don't know. You never know it all.
Greg Bray: If somebody wants to connect with you and get in touch, what's the best way for them to get a hold of you?
Linnea Chapman: Yeah. The best way, I am on LinkedIn. I check that quite frequently. They can also email me at LChapman, C H A P M A N at Trumarkco. com.
Well, thank you, Linnea. We really appreciate you spending some time with us today and sharing your [00:27:00] thoughts and to accountants everywhere, if you just wear a hardhat, it'll make your job look better. So, it just saying. We want to thank everybody for listening today 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.
Linnea Chapman: Thanks guys.