Stephanie McCarty of Taylor Morrison joins Greg and Kevin on this week’s episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast to discuss the significance of understanding what consumers expect and want when it comes to the home buying online process.
Customers have so many more choices and information than they ever have before, and home builders must figure out how to navigate that. Stephanie explains, “Gone are the days where you can just be decent, good, or very good at your service. Consumers have a lot of choice today, even in our industry, but certainly in every other industry. If you're in a master-planned community with seven other builders and your plans are roughly the same and your average selling price is roughly the same, how do you stand out? How do you differentiate? A lot of that comes down to what consumers care about and that conscious consumer choice of, well, how do they treat the earth? How do they treat their people? What do they prioritize as a brand? I have gone toe-to-toe with several home building executives in argument that that stuff really matters. It is not a, if you build it, they will come world anymore.”
Consumers want more online buying options. Stephanie says, “You can almost find anything about absolutely anything online. You can't resist that level of consumer change in behavior, and they're so used to shopping that way for everything else in life. There is no reason why purchasing a home needs to be any different.”
All home builders need to recognize this dramatic change in shift and get onboard together. Stephanie relates, “Consumer adoption is our biggest X factor here. The more all builders begin to play in this space meaningfully, the more consumers will feel comfortable doing it. Do we want to have the best experience? Yes. Do we enjoy having a lead in some of this and paving the way for the industry? Absolutely, but at the end of the day, the more builders who embrace this and also catch on and dedicate time and resources to it, the better that we all will be.”
Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about customer expectations and home buying online.
About the Guest:
Stephanie McCarty joined Taylor Morrison as the Vice President of Corporate Communications in 2015 and was promoted to Chief Marketing and Communications Officer in 2018 after transforming the company culture and branding position nationwide. In her role, Ms. McCarty leads brand marketing, employee, customer and shareholder communications, media relations and PR, ESG initiatives and reporting, and crisis and issues management. In the last year, she has implemented an online customer experience strategy that includes innovative, industry-leading customer acquisition tools and products—establishing Taylor Morrison as a differentiated, progressive brand and helping to move the future of home shopping forward.
Throughout her career, Ms. McCarty has had a history of success leading communications functions for the University of Phoenix, Insight, ON Semiconductor, and McMurry, Inc. She holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and currently sits on the Advisory Board for Zillow Group, Inc.
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 Stephanie McCarty, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Taylor Morrison. Welcome Stephanie. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Stephanie McCarty: Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Greg Bray: Well, Stephanie, why don't we start with a quick introduction so we can get to know you a little better and help everybody know what you've been doing.
Stephanie McCarty: Yeah, my pleasure. I'm Stephanie McCarty had [00:01:00] been at Taylor Morrison just under seven years. I don't know how it went by so fast.
I'm not a home builder, so I'll just put that up there right at the beginning. I have kind of a hodgepodge background in marketing communications starting in the semiconductor industry, moving into IT, and then I spent a little over five years in the higher education space before making my way into home building.
I do love it. My father owned a construction company, so I've always felt very comfortable on job sites and in hard hats, and my dad actually wore the bunny suits, but I actually remember at a young age watching my dad and all of his colleagues around the water cooler.
Naturally, getting a journalism degree and spending a lot of time learning how to create human connection through stories, found my way into marketing and it's true if you love what you do, it never feels like work and I'm fortunate to have found a deep passion for my craft. Luckily, I'm able to complement that with an organization that I also love and have a deep [00:02:00] passion for.
Kevin Weitzel: So that's the business side of you.
Number one, where'd you get your degree, and number two, let us know some little interesting personal tidbit about you. That isn't home building, that isn't work-related. Something that we can learn about Stephanie on our podcast.
Stephanie McCarty: Yeah. It's funny. I pour so much of me into work. I try not to identify myself that way. I went to Arizona State University at the Walter Cronkite School for Journalism and Mass Communication. Go Devils. Born and bred native of Arizona, so I'm super cultured when it comes to seasons, and I'm a mother and that is probably my favorite job title. I have a six-year-old daughter named Hazel, an almost four-year-old son named Wesley, and a six-month-old beautiful baby girl named Vera.
So, between work and my three babies, I don't have many hobbies anymore. I did have a full-ride scholarship to ASU. I was a collegiate athlete. I was a diver. So, my path before [00:03:00] journalism was to be a diving coach, but once I got into school, I realized that dream was probably not as applicable in real life. So, quickly turned to focus on my studies and I'm glad I did too cause that ended up, painting well for me.
Kevin Weitzel: So, springboard, platform, all of the above?
Stephanie McCarty: All of the above.
Kevin Weitzel: And being that you went to ASU, that means you also went to some dive bars.
Stephanie McCarty: Lots of diving and dive bars, and it kind of went hand in hand a little bit. Known for what it's known for and there's no denying that.
Greg Bray: I'm just having this memory the ads I've seen recently from the NCAA about how 98% of our athletes go pro in something other than sports or something like that.
Stephanie McCarty: Yeah. Right. Perfect. I'm living proof of that.
Greg Bray: So, how do you decide I'm going to go to school for journalism, and then that puts you in home building? Was that what you were like, oh, I want to be a home builder journalist?
Stephanie McCarty: My husband has often asked me where did that [00:04:00] drive and that ambition really come from? You know, we can get into that long debate of nature versus nurture. I had a sister who was 15 years older than me, who didn't go to college, so it was never this, you must go to college. You must be successful. I didn't have that really beaten into me by my parents. They just wanted me to be happy, but at a very young age, I was super nosy, asked lots of questions, challenged things.
So, my mom was like, you're either going to be a journalist or a lawyer or something and by the time I got into high school, I was editor of my newspaper and very keen on wanting to know what was going on around me and then turning that into stories at a young age. I was pretty good at embellishing. I think the ethical side of storytelling came a little bit later as I matured, but I have always found that expression through words to be very powerful. My goal in college was to work at a newspaper. I did a few internships, both in print and broadcast journalism, [00:05:00] and found that the style of writing that I enjoyed, the length of writing that I enjoyed, just wouldn't really be able to be showcased in that manner.
So, I actually had a news assistant manager spotlight my work and say, maybe you should look into media relations or PR of some sort here at the station. I think you're writing is fantastic and you might enjoy that. So, I took him up on that offer, and the next semester I did another internship but on the media relations side and I enjoyed it.
My first big girl job out of school was in a publishing house where I ran a small PR team. Did that for about a year and realized I hated pretending to know everything about several clients. I definitely had a favorite and it showed. So, I decided to go in house and I woke up one day and found myself at a semiconductor. Had a really great boss, but I think being 21, confident enough in my ability to tell a [00:06:00] great stories, I found myself in an employee communications role, assisting the CEO in telling stories around their growth initiatives. In my first 15 months at this semiconductor, which is headquartered here in Phoenix, we went through global acquisitions, divestitures, lots of layoffs because it ended up being in 2008, so we were going through furloughs, layoffs.
I had a seasoned engineer who was not very good at telling stories, not very good at having his now 15,000 employees follow him on this path, and trust him because every time he stood up to talk, he looked down at the floor. So, I knew he needed me, and I helped him bridge the gaps that he didn't have to help people believe and have a connection to the company in which they work for and where they go every day and leave their families. I found that to be very exhilarating and powerful, and they always say what the experience is wasted on the young. I found [00:07:00] myself traveling to the Czech Republic and Belgium and doing really cool things that I look back and I'm like, oh my gosh, at 22, you had no idea of what kind of amazing life experiences those were. If I could go back in time, I probably would've stayed in Belgium a lot longer than I did. So, it was great.
Over time that ability to tell stories and impact key stakeholders for each organization grew. You know, I was in charge of employee communications and then, eventually found myself also, you know, handling PR and the media and government affairs, and then shareholders and writing IR scripts.
I think if you're really good at your craft, it's just a tweak. It's an alteration of the message based on who you're talking to and if you can tailor your message appropriately, I'll be honest, I've only been in a true marketing role for the last almost four years. [00:08:00] Everything before that has been more on the communication side of the house, but I've been doing internal marketing or internal branding, if you will, now for 17 years. I don't want to offend any seasoned marketers out there, but I feel like the marketing side of it comes a heck of a lot easier if all your other stakeholders believe in what you're doing. I think it's an inside out approach, not an outside in. You know, if your employees believe it and everyone else on the inside does, it's a lot easier for the consumer and the public and those other audiences to believe it too.
So, not a traditional path maybe, but mine and one that I'm very proud of and I think it worked out for the better, at least for Taylor Morrison. So, no regrets, right? That's the mantra out there.
Kevin Weitzel: Out of curiosity, do you find being that you have a heavy writing background, do you find that it's easier to write about the lifestyle aspect versus how hard is it to write for how interesting our drywall use is or that we use nails to hold things together?
Stephanie McCarty: I [00:09:00] don't write about that ever, you know, and I don't know that I'd want to, so maybe that works, but growing up more in the corporate business side, I find that there's always some sort of business twist to it or spin. Lifestyle is certainly easy, easier to write about. The how to build a home, you know, luckily none of our team is in that. There's experts there, but where we get to put the creative spin on that is our YouTube channel, in the videos we get to create to help visually explain what goes into building a house, why new construction over resale. So, some of those I think are more creative, but don't really need a ton of copy.
Greg Bray: So, Stephanie, I'm pretty sure everybody knows Taylor Morrison, but just give us that quick highlight of where you guys are focused from building and then what your demographic target buyer is.
Stephanie McCarty: Yeah. So, Taylor Morrison is now the fifth largest builder in the United States. I think we're close to [00:10:00] $10 billion in revenue next year. When I started, we were between two and three billion. I think we've had six acquisitions since I started. So, we were on a very quick growth trajectory, which also made for amazing stories along the way.
We operate primarily in those sunshine, sunbelt states, the smile line, but we're coast to coast now through those acquisitions and integrations from Pacific Northwest, California, Arizona, Texas, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida. We serve our first-time affordable all the way through luxury. Your affordable active adult through luxury active adult and all the move-ups in between. So, we're not a niche builder. We have a little bit of something for everyone and we serve almost every demographic out there along the way. So, lots of different product choices depending on, obviously, the geography and your current demographic, but we build a hell of a house and we [00:11:00] have a tremendous culture. So, I'm very proud to be part of the Taylor Morrison family.
Greg Bray: I do know that your culture is something that you guys do a good job of making part of your message for sure. I've also seen on your website especially this America's most trusted award that you are pretty proud of. Why is trust and culture so important to the message as opposed to where the home is located or how it's put together or the lifestyle that goes with it?
Stephanie McCarty: So, this is the millennial executive coming out, right? I think it's 2021, almost 2022. Gone are the days where you can just be decent, good, or very good at your service. Consumers have a lot of choice today, even in our industry, but certainly in every other industry. If you're in a master planned community with seven other builders and your plans are roughly the same and your average selling price is roughly the same, how do you stand out? How do you differentiate? A [00:12:00] lot of that comes down to what consumers care about and that conscious consumer choice of, well, how do they treat the earth? How do they treat their people? What do they prioritize as a brand? I have gone toe-to-toe with several home building executives in argument that that stuff really matters. It is not a, if you build it, they will come world anymore.
Yes. Location and price and knowing your demographic that you're planning to serve before you start building is very important, but that's just smart business, and I assume that the operators I'm in the room with are doing that. They've been doing this for decades, and they're very good at it. Where my expertise comes in at is really telling the story behind the brand and why a consumer should consider Taylor Morrison, and a lot of that stems from these tenants and principles that I think consumers care about today.
Building a good home and home building is price of entry. They assume that if you're showing up and [00:13:00] you've got the land and you're in that community, whether you're sharing it with other builders or if it's all your own, I think the baseline assumption is that you're going to build me a good product, but why should I spend this much money, this large of an investment with you? Like I said, I've been at Taylor Morrison just under seven years in the first three and a half years with establishing the brand on the inside. What do we want to be known for? How do we want to treat our people? How do we get them to believe in at first and then from a pure PR maybe media play and how do we get people to know who we are and care. So that was really my focus for my first, good three-plus years at Taylor Morrison before taking on completely the marketing arm.
Kevin Weitzel: Greg, is it just me, or did you think she was going to go with wacky inflatable, flailing two-arm man as a differentiating factor with those other six other builders in the neighborhood? I'm just kidding.
Stephanie McCarty: If your audience is six-year-olds, man, my daughter, she's the first one to pull that one and be like, let's go there, but I do think [00:14:00] that the man is no longer the deciding factor in a home purchase, but I'm not quite convinced that it's the six-year-olds in the house yet either.
Greg Bray: How do you start to then communicate that kind of message digitally when the attention spans are so short? You know, this idea of getting across a message of culture and trust and things there. What are some of the ways that you guys approach that?
Stephanie McCarty: There's a sequencing of messaging. It's knowing your audience well enough to know that depending on how they got to you and when they got to, when do you serve that up? If you're in your high-level discovery phase, I think that's where you have more of an opportunity to talk brand and not be pushing product or be pushing inventory homes or specific communities. So, we have a paid media strategy, a social strategy. We look at all of our different channels and tactics and decide when do we want to serve up those messages about the brand versus specific product. I think it's all depending on where they are in the [00:15:00] funnel. We probably do it, I think more so than some of our competitors at various stages of the funnel because we just think it's that important.
I remember when Uber was not a household name and people weren't always riding in Ubers. I think it was like the second Uber I ever got into, in the pocket of the seat in front of me, there was a newsletter in it, and it was actually an employee newsletter from Uber that they strategically printed out and made available for Uber drivers to put in their car. They've got a captive audience if you will, and now they're putting out messages around their holiday parties, for their charitable giving and many people would be like, what a miss. You got your consumer in the car with you, talk about something else, and I think that was actually very strategic for the brand. People care about how you treat your people. They want to engage with brands who are doing good beyond the product or service they sell. So, I think we've been pretty strategic in finding opportunities to tell the story.
I know [00:16:00] Sheryl Palmer is a big part of our brand being the only female CEO in public home building, and when I first got to Taylor Morrison, she did not want to own the woman card. She did not want to be the female CEO in home building, and I remember having a very candid conversation with her, and I said, but you are and that's amazing, and we need to own it and embrace it and then get past it because you're much more than your gender. You allow people to see themselves in a way that some of our other competitors and peers don't and that special So, we've moved past the woman card. She embraces it. She knows that that's what she is. You know you'll see that 35, 40% of our executive team is women. Our peers don't have that large of a percentage. You know, a majority of our board is female. We've put an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion in our brand too, which is, I think, in this era, also table [00:17:00] stakes, but unfortunately the bar is low in home building.
So, I just think that the conscious consumer cares much more. It's hard to be a brand that can stay relevant today when the news cycle changes overnight every night. So, you have to be able to move fast and have a lot of content and brand differentiators at your fingertips to deploy when necessary and at the right time.
Greg Bray: So, how do you then take all these messages and balance the corporate level brand message? You've got communities everywhere. You've got different demographics you're trying to reach. You've got local needs. How do you start to balance the corporate versus local types of opportunities?
Stephanie McCarty: Great question and something I'm really passionate about. There's not one way to do it. When I stepped into the marketing role we had, you know, at the time, 15 or so divisions, I think we're like 21 now, and they all had a lot of [00:18:00] control. They got to say what campaign went where. They controlled the destiny with their agency. Our agencies were creating the same campaign and the same collateral 18 different ways.
If you looked at a national experience with our brand, if you bought a home in California and then maybe you had to relocate your family a couple of years later to Austin. I couldn't tell you with any conviction that you were going to get the same experience with the brand.
So, we talked a lot when I first came onboard about McDonald's and what it meant to run a franchise and when corporate says it's McRib time, it's McRib time. You don't get to say it isn't. You don't get to add bacon to your McRib. You're going to serve that McRib because it's tried, it's proven, it's cost-effective and you're controlling an experience.
We had to remind our local marketing folks in the field that you're a lot bigger than just Austin. There's so much more beyond those four walls, and we owe [00:19:00] it to our consumers to deliver a consistent, repeatable, scalable experience. So, we centralized a lot of our marketing services at corporate. We centralized our entire digital strategy, all of our media, whether that's paid or organic or social, we run from our brand marketing and communications team. We built a creative studio in-house, so we don't outsource that. We want consistent control branding, both from the national level and consistently throughout the field. So, community logos, community experiences, templates shelves, all of that's created by our central creative studios.
I think that's because we care very deeply about what the brand experience is because little inconsistencies, I think, can add up as a consumer. If you're seeing small things, maybe, you know, it's an attention to detail thing and maybe most consumers wouldn't even notice it, but if you're not going to be consistent or care [00:20:00] about the way you're representing the brand, man, are you really going to make sure that all my four corners line up when you build my house? You can't really be an attention to detail business if you're not an attention to detail business.
That became the cornerstone of creating our brand marketing and communications function centrally about four years ago. It was a shift, right? We were moving people's cheese and nobody likes it when you move their cheese, but I'd say now, the pain of that as long behind us and there's a clear delineation between how the brand's team can support field local execution. Our local marketing folks are the best, right? They know that gorilla tactic marketing. They know how to get consumers into their models and into their communities.
To be honest, we have just as much skin in the game as they do. Whereas before, without us providing that level of service to them, we really didn't from a corporate perspective. So it's been [00:21:00] exciting to grow our capabilities. It's a marriage. You know, you've got to have solid execution at the local level, but without that overlaying national strategy for the brand, I think you'd have a big miss from the larger experience.
Greg Bray: So, Stephanie, I know one area that you guys at Taylor Morrison have gone on a record with is that you are seriously investing in the whole buy online concepts and trying to move the transaction piece of the process. Is there some insights there that you can share with us on why that's important to you and how that's going?
Stephanie McCarty: Yes, it is extremely important to us. It's a big part of how I spend most of my days. I would say three years ago, pre-pandemic, we launched a new website and it was a long time coming and way overdue. We said we're going to build in certain key functionality or templates that will allow us to scale in the future some [00:22:00] Ecommerce capabilities because that is where the consumer is going. We had no idea six to nine months, we'd all be going home and we'd be in this new world that we're in, but what it did is it accelerated that vision. We then took that roadmap that was probably 24 to 36 months and took what are the three or four things we can do immediately that will allow our business to remain open and allow for consumers to engage with us in a safe way, but also in a way that they really wanted to anyway.
I'm not trying to sound trite or like I know better than folks who've been in the industry for a really long time, because I don't feel that way, but I do believe that our consumers have been hinting that we don't make it easy for consumers to engage in the new home construction process. I think there was an unspoken philosophy that a new home construction website needed to be seductive only. We [00:23:00] want to give you just enough to entice you to come into the community and nothing more. So, there was lots of philosophies around don't get them price, don't give them any detail.
Oh yeah, when we get you in the model, we've designed intentionally this sales trap so that you can not get into the model without being attacked, so to speak, by salespeople. Even then people would do whatever they could to run as fast as they could away from the salespeople, just to see the model to get enough information, to make a decision. Why? What are we doing that for?
We want to put everything we possibly can about our homes and communities online. Let the consumer educate themselves so that when they come into the sales center, they're prepared. They know what they want, but let's expand on that. Let's actually allow them to schedule an appointment with us. Why make them go through hoops to just have a dedicated one-on-one time with a sales associate. You can book your oil change online and [00:24:00] expect that appointment be kept. There's no reason why that can't be done at home building.
Chatbots. That's kind of an easy thing that most all retail industries utilize, so we wanted to do that. Self-guided tours a big thing with COVID. I think a lot of our peers use them on their models. We were like, let's skip the models. We've got a lot of inventory home to move. Let's put it on a completed home. That was a huge benefit for us at the beginning of COVID.
Now, we're at the place where we want people to be able to reserve a home. We want to create urgency online for our inventory homes. So, we allow consumers to reserve them and take them off the market for 24 hours while they connect to the CSM. Beyond that we've created a platform that allows a consumer to select their floorplan, their lot, and maybe even their elevation, and reserve that combination. That was just the beginning phases though. We're onto some really big things next year, that we'll launch that is truly kind of an end to [00:25:00] forever experience for our Taylor Morrison consumer. Lots of enhancements coming to the discovery part of our website. Getting people to those homes and communities that they want faster.
So, advanced search more akin to resale. That's our largest competitor, right? So, we need to operate more in that fashion. Then people want to personalize their home. Similar to how you build a Tesla online. That's fun. It's simple. There's no reason that we can't take this complicated process that we've created and make it simple and make it fun and engaging. There's so much great technology out there today from visualizers. You've got these great interior packages through Canvas where you can take this fun quiz and it spits out like, Hey, this is your style, and then we're going to actually apply it to the kitchen of the floorplan that you've selected, so you can see how it comes to life in the floorplan you're looking at it.
All the way to, let's put a hundred dollars down to reserve this combination and [00:26:00] reserve your home. I do think that buy now button and a purchase agreement populating for completed homes is only months away for Taylor Morrison. That's truly converting your website from a lead generator to one that's completing sales for you.
We've done so much research on what the consumer wants, both within our industry and out. We just went through another round of research on the tools that we have created, what's intuitive, what isn't. We had our own kind of ideas on where we were missing the mark, but when you've got a research group actually interviewing these folks who've gone through it, they are very honest about where the breakdowns are.
The language our industry uses that is not consumer-friendly. I always get on myself if I don't trust my gut and there's a lot of, I think, language, which for me, I'm a language person, I trusted that they knew better because they were home builders. Through this research, I can emphatically say we are using language that means nothing to consumers. [00:27:00] Now, I can turn and look at those folks internally and say, we're not using that word on the website anymore because our consumers said it means nothing to them. It's confusing them. We're not in the business of making it harder for ourselves. We're in the business of helping our consumers find their next home and making it easy.
We're also in this weird shift, Greg, of this realtor, right? Trying to find this new role that they play in consumers. You brought up our trust award. We've won the America's Most Trusted Home Builder Award six years running and that is not a survey we do internally. It's hosted by Life Story Research, and that's not on buyers, it's on shoppers. It's 30 to 40,000 shoppers within a given year that are asked about the home building brands that they're shopping and what feeling they get when they're with their sales folks, or they're online trying to get the information they need to make a decision for their future, for their family and loved ones.
Trust is not something you can [00:28:00] create easily, in most instances very easily. So, there is something that we are doing right on how we talk to consumers about our product, about the level of information we provide without expectation so that they can make these decisions. Again, when you go to that consumer conscious of choice, we want to always be in their psyche as we're helpful in this process. We're not here to trap you. We want to be a partner.
Going back to that research, we have found because we do offer a lot of models that are unmanned, right? We don't have sales folks in there, we allow them to enter using the self-guided tour technology. Nine out of ten, they are just like over the moon excited that we offer a no-pressure environment where they can go in, they can do the research, they can see, feel, touch to the degree that they need to. Not every consumer needs to, but there will always be some that do and to provide that environment for them to do so in a way that matters to them.
Are we going out on a limb? [00:29:00] Will we lose a sale here or there because we don't have that hunter-gatherer salesperson hook them? I think that gone are the days where consumers need that. Hello, Google. You can almost find anything about absolutely anything online. You can't resist that level of consumer change in behavior, and they're so used to shopping that way for everything else in life. There is no reason why purchasing a home needs to be any different. To be honest through the pandemic, we had more than 1000 sales in a matter of six months come through sight unseen. They bought a home, they never entered a sales or a community, whether that be through the website or FaceTime or whatever tools that we had available. We had a lot of sales that way and I don't see us regressing. We're not going to go back.
Greg Bray: Wow, Stephanie, that was so much good stuff there.
Stephanie McCarty: I am very passionate about it.
Greg Bray: Can you tell us one of those words that we need to stop using?
Stephanie McCarty: Can I share two?
Greg Bray: Sure.
Kevin Weitzel: Yes.
Stephanie McCarty: Okay. The first one homesite. It's not intuitive. I think as home [00:30:00] builders, we tell ourselves it is, but everywhere else it's a lot and that makes sense. You've got a lot, you've got a lot size, you've got a lot premium and then we're like, Hey, do you want this home site and they're like, well, does that lot come with the home?
You know, there's just no reason to make it hard, and then elevation. That's the second one. That means zilch to a consumer. Certainly online, without context. Elevation, does that mean multiple floor plan? Does that mean how high the ceiling is? Most people until they see photos with different pictures of different looking homes on the outside, have no idea that what we're talking about is the exterior makeup of the home. They really have no idea.
Kevin Weitzel: Stephanie, I can confidently tell you that there are people in our industry that don't know what the hell that means.
They're going to hire us to do renderings for them and we say we need your CAD files, we need your floorplan, four-sided elevations and they're like, for which of our plans? Were like, [00:31:00] for whatever plans you were sending our way. All four sides of the elevations of the home. Yeah. It's an a roof plan, of course, but yeah, it's funny that you mentioned the home site because so many builders are going away from lot to homesite thinking that it's a more friendly term because it incorporates the term home.
Stephanie McCarty: You know, it's funny, we went through an exercise when we were launching self-guided tours and we have very brilliant people in our organization in all disciplines and they're like, what should we call and I'm like, well, what do you mean? Well, we need to call it something. I'm like, well, they do these in museums. What do they call it in museums? A self-guided tour. There's no reason to get cutesy. You can be creative and be cute in 90% of your marketing. This isn't it. There's this new term, I think Gartner and some of our other research partners are using it's customer effort and that customer effort needs to be on the big scale as small as you can make it. You need to make it so [00:32:00] easy. Customers have a consideration phase of five seconds and if you make it hard for them to find what they want, when they want it, and how they want to get it, they are over it.
Kevin Weitzel: You can get cutesy with your name of a product, enter now, but what is enter now selling? You're selling self-guided tours.
Stephanie McCarty: We've learned the hard way, right? It's hard to break that. You know, we've got salespeople that are like, oh, well, what are we going to call this new program? I'm like, we don't need to call it anything.
So, we're looking at sales in three ways. I'd say we've got our traditional high touch sale. That's the model that's always existed. You've got a model. It's staffed with your best salespeople and you've got a consumer that wants to be handheld all the way through it.
Then we know we have consumers who if you give them the option to make all of their choices online, to assemble their to be built future home, both their exterior selections, their interior selections. You allow them to do their structural options on home. You've put that onto my shopping cart. You [00:33:00] itemize. I can see what everything costs. Yes. What everything costs. You're going to show him that breakdown. It's going to calculate it at the bottom. Kind of like TurboTax. As you add things in, you're going to see that total payment, the total cost of the home go up. You're going to have your mortgage calculator down there. You're going to be that transparent. There are consumers that are going to want to do that, and maybe there's a live chat component. You get stuck and they want a concierge service to help them. Maybe they're about to push the button, but they really just need someone to tell them it's okay to push that button.
Then I really do think there's going to be this hybrid model for awhile where, you know, in some communities you're just going to need a model, even though I think we're going to need less models in the future because of, you know, panotours and visualizers. You know, you don't even need a model to create a Matterport. You can create these wonderful experiences online from CAD files, without having to actually bear the cost of constructing that model.
Kevin Weitzel: We do it every day.
Stephanie McCarty: Do you need [00:34:00] salespeople there? Can it be unmanned? Can you have a digital experience within a model using QR codes and maybe it's Siri or Alexa talking about finishes or options without the pressure. They're doing it in multi-family. It's called self-leasing. They literally go through the whole process all by themselves. I understand the pushback always is well home building's different. This is really hard. This is an expensive purchase and it is, but consumers are already doing it, so let's just make it easier.
Greg Bray: Stephanie, we could talk about this for another three hours I think, but you've been very generous with your time today, so we want to respect that,so maybe we'll have to have a part two sometime or something cause this is great stuff. The fact that you guys are doing so much research around it and not just guessing and not just saying, well, what would I like, which happens so many times, I think is terrific, and your willingness to share that too with others, as opposed to trying to keep it so close because of [00:35:00] the work. I applaud you for that. So thank you.
Stephanie McCarty: Well, and the only thing I'd say to that Greg, is, I'm going to butcher the saying, I'm not good at that, but when all boats rise, right? Consumer adoption is our biggest X factor here. The more all builders begin to play in this space meaningfully, the more consumers will feel comfortable doing it. Do we want to have the best experience? Yes. Do we enjoy having a lead in some of this and paving the way for the industry? Absolutely, but at the end of the day, the more builders who embrace this and also catch on and dedicate time and resources to it, the better that we all will be.
Greg Bray: Well, and I think that also recognizes that every builder's number one competitor is resales, not the other builder down the street. So, together we need to fight off that resale competitor. So, is there any last pieces of advice things you didn't get a chance to touch on today that you'd like to share with us?
Stephanie McCarty: Words of advice I think that don't necessarily apply to home building or marketers, but just in general for [00:36:00] business is to challenge the norm. If something doesn't feel right, ask a lot of questions. I didn't make a lot of friends coming in and asking some questions, but at this point in my tenure with Taylor Morrison, I hope some level of credibility and respect that, you know, We are going to do our due diligence. We're going to fail, but we're going to pick back up and we're going to try again. You know, I'm very proud of the team that I work on and we've tried a lot of different things. We've pushed the organization to think about how we do business differently.
There were a lot of people who emphatically disagreed and said that this would never happen and here we are, and we have a lot of positive momentum and results. We took a small chunk of the business, 10% of our communities and said, we're going to put it on this platform. We're not going to heavily promote it. We're going to put a small amount of maybe media dollars behind it and just see. Let's just see. My beg to the organization was, let me prove it out and if I fall flat on my face, great, [00:37:00] but at least give me a chance and our results surprised me too. I guess words of wisdom for any business person, whether it's home building or somewhere else is keep trying and if it feels right, eventually you'll fall right where you need to, but trial and error, that's how you get there.
Greg Bray: Awesome advice for sure. If somebody wants to reach out and connect with you and continue the conversation, what's the best way for them to get in touch?
Stephanie McCarty: Probably LinkedIn. Eventually late at night, probably in the middle of the night nursing session or feeding or diaper change. I can't help the notifications on my phone. If I see them, they have to go away.
Greg Bray: All right. Well, thank you again for spending so much time with us today 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.