What was the scope of their involvement?
We met with James [Principal of Studio Sanderson] and his team, and they began with a series of questions and interviews for some of our suppliers and partners. That process took three or four months. They came back with two or three iterations. They let us know what they heard and what they thought our strategic niche was. When we all agreed on the next step, we asked them to move forward in directing all of our digital presence in trying to overlay that brand theme around our digital strategy. Then they put that into practice and they completely redid our website.
We had a website before, and we thought it was great. It had beautiful images and fantastic copy, and we were very proud of it. But then as we began to talk about the fact that our goal was to develop an audience and ultimately attract buyers, we realized our website wasn’t delivering on that. It was more static than anything. James opened our eyes to the fact that the content has to be fresh, contemporaneous and constantly updated. We hired an internal marketing and communications director and James began to work with her on our Instagram feed and our Facebook presence in addition to our website. Every time I go to the site, I see something new. I see a new journal post or more Instagram photos. It’s a place you want to go back to. It’s not the static version that we had originally. We have also gotten into Google Analytics. We have monthly calls about what we are learning about our audience. It’s an evolving process and I really couldn’t be more pleased with James’ leadership.
We are continuing to move out the latest part of the contract. We’re getting more into Google AdWords and looking at target markets outside a 250-mile radius. Later this week we’re going to talk about some of the lessons learned with our AdWords strategy. We are doing some testing on different messages and seeing how that translates back to our traffic on our website and also in people requesting meetings and signing up for our newsletter.
Michelle Hannah [Head of Marketing and Operations] also worked with us, primarily with our marketing and communications director. Both she and James have been terrific.
How did you come to work with Studio Sanderson?
We found Sanderson through a mutual contact, the developer on Hudson Woods, which is in upstate New York. He had used James in the same capacity. We saw our development was very similar in concept. We were about the same size. We had the same timeline for our build-out. We both wanted modern homes and architecture was very much the important unifying concept. The Hudson Woods developer is also our architect, and it was on his recommendation that we brought James in. I wasn’t so sure we needed someone in New York since we are in Mississippi; I thought I could probably find someone locally. But then as we started our initial conversation with them, it became clear that James had the talent and the expertise to drive our branding and marketing. Hudson Woods is still a consultant with us, but my contract is directly with James, and it has morphed into a really great working relationship. James actually came to our site in Mississippi. We interviewed a number of folks that might be ancillary players.
How much have you invested with Studio Sanderson?
We have spent more than $100,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with them in February 2016, and the site went live in November 2016. We continue to work with them.