On this week’s episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Will Duderstadt of M/I Homes shares his wealth of knowledge and experience as he joins Greg and Kevin to discuss the three main categories or “buckets” that are important to buyers and how builders can appeal to these buckets through messaging and implementation.
Will describes the three buckets that home buyers connect with as being, “One, it impacts their bottom line. It costs more or it costs less to live or have a certain thing in their home…Two, they're going to be more comfortable in their home…Three, you feel some responsibility to others and the people around you…”
He continues, “I'm going to appeal to one of those three things that are going to be important to you, but none of them matter if you don't understand how I get from quote, normal or average, to better. Right? Now, we might only spend a hot second on it…but you got to cover it at some point. Then you have a conversation about one of those three things that are more emotional.”
Listen to this episode to gain other valuable insights on how your home builder business can be better.
About the Guest:
Will Duderstadt is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at M/I Homes, one of the nation's leading builders of single-family homes, having delivered over 130,000 homes. He oversees digital and tradition marketing campaigns and strategy for 15 divisions in 11 states. Will provides insight and leadership for M/I Homes' Internet Sales program and trains the team in best practices for lead creation and management.
• Selected to Professional Builder’s 40 Under 40 in 2017
• Joined the Zillow Group (ZG) New Construction Advisory Board in 2016
• 5-time speaker at NAHB International Builders’ Show (2015 - 2019)
• Awarded Corporate Excellence Award at M/I Homes in 2013
Previously, Will was a founding partner of MCLA The Lax Mag, a print magazine covering college lacrosse that was acquired by InsideLacrosse (an ESPN affiliate) in December 2011. Will also served in various positions at Apple for five years and was featured as a spotlight speaker on apple.com.
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: And we are excited today to welcome to the show Will Duderstadt, the Chief Marketing Officer at M/I Homes. Welcome Will. Thanks for joining us.
Will Duderstadt: Hey guys, it's a blast to finally be here.
Greg Bray: We have to confess Will, we've been chasing you for a little while cause we're excited to talk to you, but for those who don't know you, why don't you spend just a second and give us that quick introduction helps get to know better.
Will Duderstadt: Absolutely. It always feels good to be chased, ,
as you said, I'm the [00:01:00] Chief Marketing Officer at M/I Homes. We're headquartered out here in Columbus, Ohio. We are primarily a single-family builder. We do a couple townhomes here and there. I get the pleasure of marketing those homes, or working with our individual divisions to market those homes. Primarily these days digitally, but really across all channels.
It's a blast to create content and talk to potential home buyers about homes, about housing, right? This is one of the last handcrafted, made in America, kind of things that exist. You could be a marketer of a ton of different things, right? You can be a marketer of a widget, trying to sell your widget, but this is one of those things that just feels good to be able to market.
It's really exciting, incredibly emotional, and M/I is a fantastic company. We build a fantastic home and truly, every day working with this group of people, doing this kind of work is truly a blessing.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, that is amazing. However, [00:02:00] if you haven't listened to enough of these, the next question is I need to hear something interesting about you that people will only learn about on this podcast.
Not business-related just something in the world of Will.
Will Duderstadt: Gosh, that implies that I have good knowledge of what everyone knows about me. As a marketer, I haven't done any market research, so I don't know what the brand awareness or sentiment is. I love cats, but I think anyone who follows me on Instagram is going to know that. I love the outdoors.
I probably grew 30 to 40 tomato plants this past year in my garden. I talk about that on Twitter. Something people don't know. Man, see you guys stumped me right out of the gates, right?
Kevin Weitzel: Right out of the gate.
Greg Bray: You're an open book. Everybody knows everything. It sounds like.
Will Duderstadt: Yeah, yeah. I would say the thing that maybe not a lot of people know, that I have openly talked about, I come from a family of home builders, and unlike maybe some others that have remained in the family business, I'm not. Right? Obviously, I'm with a different company, but in the late [00:03:00] 1950s, my great-grandfather started a custom home building company back in Pittsburgh, and he worked closely at that point with Ed Ryan before Ryan Homes was a thing.
Their are two careers diverged, right? Ed made some business decisions to go a little bit more production, affordable housing route. My great-grandfather decided he wanted to build fewer bigger, more awesome homes. As we all now know, there's not a huge market for big homes, right?
So, his company ended up looking a lot different. He built a fantastic home. It really touches me to see his homes on the resale market still listed as a home built by WJ Blumenshein. Forty, fifty years later, that still means something back in the Pittsburgh market, so not a lot of people know that.
Kevin Weitzel: That's super cool.
Greg Bray: I have a totally different question though. What'd you do with all the tomatoes? That's a lot of tomatoes.
Will Duderstadt: It is a lot of tomatoes. Okay. First, just because I have 40ish plants doesn't [00:04:00] mean they all performed.
Greg Bray: Okay. Alright. Fair enough. Fair enough. We got some good performers and some low performers.
Will Duderstadt: I tried a new variety this year. It was called the Abe Lincoln. I didn't do my research. I just saw the name was Abe Lincoln. That must mean this is like a ramrod straight tomato plant that's just going to grow perfectly. It's called Abe Lincoln because it was cultivated in Illinois, which is where Abe Lincoln is from.
So, that was like a disappointment, and as I learned that, I gave that plan a little less love, because my perception was...
Kevin Weitzel: So, you slowly murdered it?
Will Duderstadt: Yeah, a little bit. There was a stretch there where I was traveling. I probably didn't go to the garden for a week or two. So, a couple of tomatoes fell off, did that thing.
Otherwise, I eat them all. Tabouli, little salsa, pico de gallo, or slice it up, with just some mozzarella.
Greg Bray: Okay. So, there's no like Will's veggie stand out there on the side of the highway anywhere?
Will Duderstadt: My accountant might think that there is, so that I can read it off as a hobby farm, but...
Kevin Weitzel: Well, you live in an area, cause I'm originally from Michigan myself, where you'll just be driving down a country road and there'll be just a table on the side of the road with [00:05:00] bushels of tomatoes or corn.
Will Duderstadt: That's right.
Kevin Weitzel: They just have a bucket out there, a little coffee can, and you just shove the money in the coffee can, and you grab some tomatoes and you head on down the road.
Will Duderstadt: That's right.
Greg Bray: You mentioned you've got home building in your DNA, but I know you haven't always been in building in your career, so how did that kind of you know, leave the family business, come back to the industry type of thing. Tell us more about that journey.
Will Duderstadt: Yeah. Yeah. I do think it's in my blood a little bit, even though I didn't really get to swing a hammer or anything as a youngin'. I was just surrounded by it, saw it constantly. My dad, he's now a retired wood shop teacher. Everyone else in the family got those kinds of talents. I cannot create things physically in that way, but I can make stuff with computers.
So, I appreciated that I was surrounded by this. I was drawn to it. Wasn't my jam. Went out and really spent a lot of time getting really good at computers. Did a five-year stint at Apple, which was absolutely humbling and phenomenal and terrifying, like all at the same time.
I started at Apple, by the way, [00:06:00] before the iPod, before the iPhone. Everybody thought I was crazy because that company was going out of business. Any day now they were going to be bankrupt. Spoiler alert. They're not.
Greg Bray: Did you keep your one share that you got?
Will Duderstadt: It's more than one.
It has a cost basis of 80 cents. It was a great time to join the company. The terrifying part is that I had loved Apple as a brand and I had loved Apple products. I still do. I'm on an iPad right now, but I had this moment where I was like, am I a good marketer, or do I just really like this company?
So, I had to force myself to get out of my comfort zone, and I left Apple after five years. I took a job with a thermal analytical instrument measurement company, and they make dilatometers and glass viscometers, testing, just basically material science attributes. The polar opposite in terms of coolness from Apple, and that was a test. That was a test.
Could I market stuff? Did I understand marketing? I did okay. I'm not patting myself on the [00:07:00] back. It was brutal, because nobody buys dilatometers for their girlfriends. Right? That's just not a thing. So, I accepted marketing, was doing okay, now, it was about finding the right fit, and I probably had a period of time where I was a little lost. Did some side project things. Went on tour with a couple of rock bands, made some documentary films, started a lacrosse print magazine with a good friend of mine. We ended up selling it to ESPN, which was fascinating to see an actual exit of a startup business, and then Kevin's raising his hand cause he just needs to interrrupt.
Kevin Weitzel: How did I stump you with the first question? You just gave us three landmines of awesomeness of just interesting things.
Will Duderstadt: Everyone knows that. Okay. So, you guys don't know that.
Kevin Weitzel: I only know two of those things.
Will Duderstadt: So, I told you, I didn't do my market research. I don't know what people don't know. Which one surprised you the most?
Kevin Weitzel: You know, honestly, the meters and the research gadgets, because I've dabbled in a little bit of that, and it is a rough market because you were [00:08:00] selling product and putting your product out there to literally like nerds that don't do anything social.
Will Duderstadt: That's right.
Kevin Weitzel: So, good luck. Have fun with that one.
Will Duderstadt: Yeah. Yep. Yep. It was tough for a couple reasons. B2B always tough. So, that was a challenge. The nerds that maybe aren't as wild by traditional marketing kind of things. That was tough, and then I had no clue about material science. So, I had to educate myself on how all these things operated and what were features and benefits.
Not only are we better than the competition, but then trying to articulate how we were better than the competition. It was probably maybe a three or four year stint. It was a massive education.
Kevin Weitzel: So, that actually brings us up to something interesting. You said, are we better than competition?
Everybody knows M/I Homes, but do you feel that you, in your marketing message, that you have to illustrate that you're better than, or just that you build an outstanding product?
Will Duderstadt: Yeah, I absolutely think we need to express that we're better, and that's [00:09:00] seen all the way back to our brand's tagline today, which is, "Welcome to better." There are, and I hope I don't misstate this fact, that there's over 30,000 licensed home builders in this country, and the guy at the bottom of that list is like a pickup truck kind of builder. He's going to build a home or two this year and he might rip you off.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.
Will Duderstadt: I know nobody wants to hear that, but it's way too easy to get into this industry to claim that you're a home builder, to claim that you're building a quality home. So, yeah, I do think we need to express the word better, because there are a lot of promises that are being made by a lot of people.
The fact that we've built over 130,000 homes for the past 40 years, I think is a testament to better, but how we actually construct and getting people engaged in the construction science, what's the difference between a two by four and a two by six wall, what are raised heel trusses in your roof, and what's the benefit of pex versus copper plumbing? That allows people to not just hear that I'm better, but also agree, once they [00:10:00] have learned we are better.
Greg Bray: That's a great comment. Also, tied back to Kevin's nerd, as one of those, but there's kind of two ways to approach messaging, right? There's the more technical, like feature type, you know, approaches, and then there's the emotional connection, where you're talking about visualizing the benefits of how this product works. Certain people connect more with the feature type of things and others connect more with the emotional piece, and you just rattled off some more technical types of things that make you quote "better." So, how do you mix that in with the more emotional connection in your messaging? Does my question make sense? I hope it makes sense.
Will Duderstadt: Makes total sense. Let me use something like energy efficiency as an example. Energy efficiency is a term that gets tossed around a lot. People need to first understand what factors are being defined under that umbrella of energy efficiency, but then they're really going to care for three reasons. In most features, most technical things can be [00:11:00] boiled down to three reasons. One, it impacts their bottom line. It costs more or it costs less to live or have a certain thing in their home.
Energy efficiency is going to give them a lower energy bill. They're going to spend less money. They like that. Right? Two, they're going to be more comfortable in their home. Obviously, a home that has better HVAC, that's balanced, walls that are better insulated. We'll make it so you don't have that 14 degree difference when you go up to the second floor, and you're sweating while everyone downstairs is freezing, so it's just more comfortable.
Three, you feel some responsibility to others and the people around you, and in the case of energy efficiency, that's Mother Earth, right? That's exactly why we see hybrid stickers on the back of cars. They're not always the most energy efficient, but you're playing a role in solving this bigger problem, and you have some care and concern for the people around you.
So, I can tell you about energy efficiency. I'm going to appeal to one of those three things that are going to be important to [00:12:00] you, but none of them matter if you don't understand how I get from quote, normal or average, to better. Right? Now, we might only spend a hot second on it. Say I got more installation. Say we spend more time balancing the HVAC or being really specific about where we put it, but you got to cover it at some point. Then you have a conversation about one of those three things that are more emotional.
Greg Bray: That's great that you've got those categories already clear cause I'm sure that comes out as you're figuring out how to message and everything. I think too, a lot of people miss the opportunity to be a little more emotional with that on the digital side earlier in the process. It's great when you're talking to them, but how do we communicate that on the website, for example, or in a small little Facebook ad, or something along those lines, to capture that. Any thoughts there on how you move that emotion into the digital space?
Will Duderstadt: Yeah, one of my favorite things, and we'll stay on the energy efficiency topic. You got those three buckets. You're doing all these things to accomplish it for your buyers. I love going from that macro level, [00:13:00] like all the way down to the ground, a really specific story that you can tell. Whether it's a testimonial about somebody that really values those attributes and they're explaining why it's important to them, or you really build out how you got there, or how you made that decision. Air quality is a good example. We can explain to our buyers that building code has changed over the years that results in a tighter home. The end result is now we have to change out air in our homes more frequently. The benefit to you is, man fresh air in your house, right?
You don't get that stuffy kind of gross feeling in some of those back bedrooms because we're circulating this air through your house so constant because this home is so tight, right? That becomes a singular, very small example, that usually prompts people to start asking other questions.
They're like, wow, you thought a lot about that, right? That was a very intentional thing that you're doing. What about this over here? What about that over there? You start to hear the things that are [00:14:00] important to that person. Doing it digitally is really just telling that story digitally. It's often a narrative, sometimes a testimonial, information that can be conveyed pretty easily with animation in videos, 15, 30, second kind of video snippets.
Kevin Weitzel: When you're trying to send this message out. You guys are all over the country. When you have divisions all over the place and you have marketing managers in different markets, how do you ensure that they're getting and spreading your expressed message, the message that you want to make sure that they're drilling home to their clients.
Will Duderstadt: Well, I think that the beauty is really what I just described. Those three factors don't change, right? Like the world is flat. People care about themselves, their money, or other people. It doesn't change from Tampa to Minneapolis. How you tell that story also probably doesn't change, right, testimonials, video narratives, et cetera. It's only once you're like way into the weeds where I need to tell you if I have 14 inches of blown insulation in the attic, or 18, that [00:15:00] it becomes local. That now it's really specific to that area. So, if we get people amped up and excited about the three buckets, the broad things we do to solve it, everyone picks up from there and starts to weave in the specific things that they're doing.
I was in Austin a number of years ago and walking through one of our inventory homes and having a conversation with our marketing manager about developing content online, and she was struggling a little bit. I don't know what to talk about in here, cause this is an inventory home. It's not yet really complete. It's hard to paint this picture of what this home is going to look like, and we just stumbled across the fireplace surround that had just been installed, solid stone. This is really nice. She's like, oh yeah, that actually comes from a quarry four miles down the road.
That's what you talk about, right? Now that's local sourcing. That means something to people. It's a support the local [00:16:00] economy. That definitely means something when we are a large public company, we're able to say, look, we're engaging in Austin with these small businesses and companies, and it's just plain cool, right? Something came out of earth and now it's your fireplace surround. That's craftsmanship at its best. Let's talk about that.
Greg Bray: So, that was kind of an accident that you stumbled into that as a topic, is there a process you guys go through to find those a little more systematically, those opportunities?
Will Duderstadt: I want one, now that you've asked me if I have one.
Greg Bray: I don't think it's wrong or bad. I'm just curious.
Will Duderstadt: No, I don't think there's a process as much as there is a culture of being inquisitive. My friend Ted Lasso, I think probably said it best. You guys watch Ted Lasso?
Kevin Weitzel: It's a good show.
Will Duderstadt: Yes. Yes. Be curious, not judgmental, and it's that curious part that really means something. Nobody knows everything. So, walk around and just ask a bunch of [00:17:00] questions, and keep asking questions, and stuff like the fireplace surround is always going to come out.
Kevin Weitzel: So, in our industry, we are plagued with builders that are reactive, not necessarily proactive.
Obviously, M/I Homes is the exact opposite of that. You tend to be more proactive, especially on the digital front. You guys have a virtual tours, you have true 3D model renderings, you have interactive floorplans. You have the gamut that you've thrown at it, what do you look at out there in the digital world as far as what's the next thing? What do you have to have? Is it integration? I don't want to load your lips, but what do you have in your bucket that you're looking at next?
Will Duderstadt: I'm not going to share too much, but what I will tell you, I love looking at other industries, right? Ecommerce is fascinating to watch. Ecommerce is like the laboratory. That's where they're trying all sorts of stuff. They're figuring out new metrics, new ways of shifting people's behavior. The car industry is relatively aligned with real estate and home building, so I look there. I watch [00:18:00] real estate agents mostly to put on my list of things not to do, especially when it comes to social media.
Specific to technology, I think one of the things that's really important, I definitely observe a lot of home builders missing the mark here. We're going to go on a ride. I hope you guys are okay with this. You've heard of the concept liquid expectations, right?
It's this idea that your customer is also the customer of a lot of other industries that are not at all related to you. My buyers, people that are looking at it at M/I Homes, are also Apple customers, and Uber customers, and Target customers. So, all those other companies that are definitely more technologically advanced than us, are priming our customers to do certain things. As a home builder, we need to be doing it like not ahead of some of those other companies, but really once the customer is starting to be ready for some of these things, right? So, you called out VR, or virtual tours. We did a pretty cool [00:19:00] VR campaign. We had tried VR campaigns multiple times in the past. It had been a buzz word in our industry for awhile. It's almost like home builders were trying to be early adopters of this technology.
It wasn't out there being used by other companies. It wasn't something customers engaged with prior and then their home builder experience was the second or the third time. So, truly the skill there is saying no until the time is right, and the time was right, obviously during COVID for us with some of our VR stuff, because we didn't carry the burden of explaining to customers what VR is or how to use it. Somebody else did that heavy lifting and we took advantage of that. I see a lot of builders rushing to push new things out the door that carries the burden of teaching the customer, explaining to the customer why they need to use this technology, and then convincing them to use the technology. The skill is in waiting just a little bit.
Then Kevin, I love your opinion that we were ahead of some [00:20:00] things, like interactive floor plans or these virtual tours. The reality is, we waited until the time was right, and then it looked very well-timed.
Kevin Weitzel: Honestly, sometimes it does come down to perception, just like what you're saying with the early adoption, people have expectations out there, you know. As much of a hater of the big evil empire of Amazon that I am, they do it right.
You can research your products there. You can price shop your products there. You can find out everything you want to know about it. You can even catalog, and then they go buy it locally if you want to, but they're doing it right, and that is what the consumer is expecting. There is that level of expectation.
Will Duderstadt: Great example of Amazon, right? They talked about drone deliveries how many years ago? Never came to fruition, but there was this conversation, not within our walls, but in other walls that I heard about, how can we be using drones? Can we deliver stuff via drone? It's like timeout. Amazon made a concept video. Let them go do stuff for five years and figure it [00:21:00] out, and get over that hurdle of like customers being freaked out that there's a drone landing in their front yard. Then start the conversation about how you can use that technology. Don't get swept up in some of the hype that's out there.
Greg Bray: So, you guys are not putting drone landing pads on roofs as part of your homes?
Will Duderstadt: I can neither confirm, nor deny.
Kevin Weitzel: Amazon approved neighborhood.
Greg Bray: Or maybe, I think it should be like a video game where they have to drop it in the chimney, and have target practice. We use the phrase sometimes, I think that kind of captures what you're going at, the difference between the cutting edge and the bleeding edge. Being out on the bleeding edge is really hard and really expensive. Let some others take care of that. The ones with the deeper pockets, but you want to be on the leading edge there, the cutting edge, as best you can by not being totally left behind. So, when you look at some of those things, are there specific expectations from buyers, that you've been going, Hey, you know what, they're expecting X, and so we've got to meet that because they're seeing it with Apple or Amazon, or with their new car purchase experience [00:22:00] or whatever it is.
Will Duderstadt: Yeah, absolutely, and it's not any of the really exciting, fancy stuff that tends to get coverage.
We all got mobile phones, launch the Uber app, press one button, and the person shows up in front of you within 5 to 10 minutes, maybe a little bit more in New York right now, but just think about that concept for a second. Press a button, person appears, and we can't answer the phone within five days, right, or respond to a lead. That's that expectation thing that really needs to fall in line. If a whole car and a whole person can come to me, I better be able to pick up the phone, or respond to an email, or answer questions lickety split.
Greg Bray: Great example for sure. So, of those technologies that you've been working on, is there one that kind of went, gosh, we totally got here too early, put it back on the shelf, we're too out in front?
Will Duderstadt: The second stump of the podcast. That's a [00:23:00] tough question, man. That's a really tough.
Kevin Weitzel: Let me rephrase it. How about this? Have you made the decision personally to move forward with a digital concept or a digital implementation that just completely missed the mark?
Will Duderstadt: Maybe it humanizes me, but it is hard to talk about those things. M/I Homes is absent from TikTok right now. I almost said noticeably absent, but I really don't think anyone would notice. We explored it. We thought about it. We looked at a lot of different ways to do things. We considered the risk if we do it poorly, the benefit if we do it really well.
I would say as a whole, that project went a little further than I probably should have let it because there is not a clear way to win for a home builder right now on a platform like TikTok. Luckily, nothing went out the door. I feel way better about that, but I think that was a miss, and I call that a miss because resources were involved, time, energy, some money, et cetera. Lesson learned, and I'm a okay having paid for that education, [00:24:00] but that was a miss.
Greg Bray: Not trying to totally humanize you, cause we know you've had lots of hits, but what's one of the home runs that you're just like, man, if we had only done this like a year ago or two years ago instead?
Will Duderstadt: Something that I am proud of and feel like we had some great performance, but feel like maybe we could've had more had we been two or three years earlier, was our use of BuzzFeed style quizzes to engage with people very early in their shopping or buying journey? This goes back a number of years, but I was approached by Homes.com who had just bought the .homes TLD, and that was a space that was pretty ,interesting, right?
Amazon had bought .shop for several million dollars and I think Google bought .search or something. They were proud that they had picked up .homes. They asked me if I wanted to partner with something to highlight that new TLD, and a quiz was born out of that. After doing it, and our first quiz was a New versus [00:25:00] Used Quiz that we put out to prospective shoppers to help them understand if a new home or used home was going to be better for them, and we were terribly slanted towards new. We did not speak favorably of used in this quiz. That spawned off some even more successful quizzes.
Like our Community Crush Quiz series, where locally, we use it as a way to get people very hyped and engaged about Houston, or Austin, or Columbus. I look at the success of that entire campaign and say, man, we should have done that three or four years prior? Not that they're fading right now, but they certainly had their heyday before we got there.
Greg Bray: It's fascinating to me though, Will, you're not saying, oh, we ran this campaign on Facebook, or we got interactive floor plans or whatever, these are things that most people I'm not even sure have on their to do list. Builders that are saying, should we experiment with TikTok or not?
There's a whole lot of builders that haven't even gotten past Facebook and Instagram to even spell TikTok, let alone put together an experiment. I'm saying that as a compliment, right? You've [00:26:00] got a portfolio that's got you out here on these edges that others are not even dreaming about yet.
Will Duderstadt: Thank you. That's kind. I think one of the things that allows us to do that is we are always looking to take a thing, whatever the thing is and make a rock solid plan for it, and move it from experimental to rock solid, so that you can pick up the next experiment. Man, if there's builders out there that haven't cracked their code on Facebook or Instagram yet, stop doing everything else.
Make that a thing, right? Yes, it's going to evolve and change, but you can, automate is not the right word, but you can build a practice around it that is 90% done and understood, so that there's not guessing, or question, or fear, or risk, and now you're just doing that thing at a certain level.
You know what to expect, you know what to spend, and you can take some amount of time and money, and go experiment with the next thing. My philosophy is build a practice around as many as possible and test as [00:27:00] few things as possible at any given time.
Greg Bray: I love the word practice. That's great.
Kevin Weitzel: And also, that he mentions that things are gonna change. A lot of builders are fearful of change, which is silly.
Will Duderstadt: There's two constants, right? There's two constants.
Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.
Will Duderstadt: Change is one of them.
Kevin Weitzel: Exactly. So, obviously, there's no secret that you are a sought after for tidbits of information.
Obviously, your whole team has been riddled with awards at The Nationals. It is something to be proud of, and there's also no secret that your name gets mentioned on our podcast, by our guests over and over again. There's no scientific spreadsheet data that supports this, but I can tell you that your name has been mentioned more than anybody else on our podcasts.
So, that being said, with all these industry experts that are looking to you for some advice, for some tidbits, for some little nuggets of knowledge, where are you looking?
Will Duderstadt: Often back at the same people that might've mentioned my name. I've listened to your podcast and I know a few of them that have called it out. Those are [00:28:00] people that inspire me. People that push me to be better. Thanking somebody, as some people have thanked me, drives me to just be that much better cause I would never want to disappoint somebody. So, it's almost like this cycle that just continues to fuel in it.
I don't do any of this for shout out, but that's certainly driving things. After that, I think I mentioned looking outside the industry at other industries. Every industry has a Mike Lion, or a Jeff Shore, or a Myers Barnes, right? We don't know who they are until you spend a little bit of time looking.
So, I do that, and I follow a number of them. Your listeners have to go do their homework. I'm not going to give them those names. I think it's always fair to give a little bit of brain to the Gary Vee's of the world. You don't need to buy in and drink the Gary Vee Kool-Aid 40 hours a week, but be aware of what he's saying, what he's talking about. Be ready to say no to a lot of things. Home builders don't need to get into NFTs [00:29:00] and garage sale flipping, but he has a huge audience and the things he talks about really influence how other people that are marketers are going to approach things.
So, it's really good to be aware of that. Then there's a huge number of people that are out there doing really great things that don't talk about the things they're doing. Wendy's social media is probably a good example. They happen to be here in Columbus, right? You don't know who runs Wendy's social media.
You very rarely see interviews with those people, but somebody does it. I follow them on Twitter. The people who run it not just Wendy's. So, you really need to seek those people out that aren't necessarily doing podcasts or winning awards, and then listen a lot.
Greg Bray: That's some great insight. I have to put a warning out there. I set up the follow Gary Vee on LinkedIn and he just overflowed my feed. I had to step back. I couldn't see anything else. There was so much there. He's a fountain of information. So, it's a fire hose of information.
Will Duderstadt: Hey, once a month or so, see what he's [00:30:00] up to? Is he selling wine or sneakers this month and then move on.
Greg Bray: He's definitely got some great ideas for sure. This has been a fantastic discussion. I know we've gone in some different directions than maybe we thought we were going to, which is terrific. Is there any one last piece of a home builder marketing advice that you'd like to drop on us today before we wrap up?
Will Duderstadt: See, I wanted to ask you guys questions.
Greg Bray: Go for it. You can ask us some questions.
Will Duderstadt: Is that allowed, because that's not really advice?
Greg Bray: No. That's allowed.
Will Duderstadt: That's turning the tables. You guys are both in positions where you influence a lot of people's behavior, right? You can choose to cover or not cover a technology or a type of campaign on your podcast, or talk about it with your network. How do you guys feel about some of the things that are on the horizon and how that should be impacting home building?
Kevin Weitzel: I just had a conversation about this with Bosco. He does an Australian podcast, and we were talking about just nature. You actually alluded to it, and the fact that [00:31:00] we aren't treating Mother Nature as well as we should. We know where a lot of the homebuilders align and they're going to say, man, that Kevin is a tree hugger. I love our planet. There's no crime in that, but I think that the natural resources are rapidly becoming an issue, and I'm not talking about building materials.
I'm talking about water. We're down here in the Southwest with OutHouse. Here in Arizona, and New Mexico, and Nevada, and obviously, California, water is becoming a huge issue. Not just for whether you can build a golf course or not, but whether people will have enough clean drinking water for the population of the people that want to live there. So, how can you build more homes when the natural resources aren't going to support it? Those are the things that keep me up at night. If you asked me that question, I know I just landed a little heavier than we were probably looking for, but those are very important things.
Will Duderstadt: I will happily go hug trees with you.
Kevin Weitzel: Done. Done. Let's do it.
Will Duderstadt: Okay. That's good.
Greg Bray: I would say in that type of vein, I think affordable housing is one that I think we need to be a little more aware of, because we're always chasing the margin, and the [00:32:00] margin goes up as that price level goes up.
There's a lot of opportunity as far as, available buyers out there that, because of the way our economic engine turns, they just can't quite get enough to have that down payment. Home ownership is still such a core of that lifetime wealth building opportunity for so many people, but you've got to get started.
When, you know, you've got one group where their parents can give them the down payment or whatever, and they can start out, and this other group that doesn't have that access and it's really a challenge there to figure out how we build more homes that work for a different demographic.
The next big one of course is the online home buying process. That's near and dear to my heart. Blue Tangerine works with Ecommerce retailers as well as home builders, and figuring out how we bring that together is something that we're doing a lot of studying and a lot of talking about, and I think we're going to see a lot more of that using the website to support the process in more detail over the next few years, for sure.
Will Duderstadt: Those are [00:33:00] some heavy items. So, my advice, my true advice, my little stick it in a tweet and share it on social is really just to be a sponge.
Everyone, no matter the age, no matter the rank, just be a sponge. Soak it all in. Get it from all directions. You don't always have to act on all the advice that you get, or all the things that people are telling you. You don't have to mimic everybody else's behavior, but you got to soak it in.
You got to understand it. You gotta make a decision whether or not you want to listen to it or act on it, and if you put up walls, or if you think your sponges full and you can't accept anymore, then you're in trouble. So, put yourself out there, exposed to all the different ideas, all the different ways of thinking about challenges or problems or upcoming technologies, and then do something with that. Don't put up walls.
Greg Bray: Awesome.
Kevin Weitzel: Greg, I just want to point this out. Will, not only is the most mentioned professional on our podcast, [00:34:00] but now he's the first official person to turn tables on Greg and Kevin. The first. So, now, the third, the trifecta, will Will's podcast episode be the most listened to?
Greg Bray: Oh, definitely. We already promised him that. We already promised that.
As long as he gets all his friends to listen, cause he's got more friends than we do. So, there we go. No. Thank you so much for spending a few minutes with us today. It's been a great conversation. Great to get a little more insight into how you guys do things at M/I Homes and we really appreciate your time.
Will Duderstadt: This has been cool, and I'm sure I'll be back in 2023 or 2024.
Greg Bray: There you go. There you go. We'd love it. Thank you 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.