“Every customer is a potential reporter, and every employee is a potential spokesperson. Business has changed more in the past three years than in the prior 30. But it’s not a threat, it’s an opportunity. The NOW Revolution shows you how. This book isn’t about how to “do” social media. Instead, it outlines how you can retool your organization to capitalize on real-time business. Learn the seven shifts that make your company faster, smarter, and more social, each explained with case studies, useful tips, and actionable implementation advice.”
So, why are we telling you about this? Because the interview is full of awesomeness about us (not that we want to toot our own horn)! Here’s a snippet from the interview:
Mike: This is pretty mind-blowing. Talk to me about a story in particular, or a business that you discovered in the process of writing the book that might be doing this right. Is there any particular business that stood out in the process of crafting this book?
Jay: Almost every example in the book is of a small- or medium-sized business. I would say 90% to 95% of the examples in the book are purposely from small- and medium-sized businesses because we didn’t want to write a book for Ford or IBM.
One that I like best is Martell Home Builders. They’re in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. The owner is Pierre Martell, a young guy. They’ve been in the homebuilding business for four years, and while the Canadian homebuilding market hasn’t had the catastrophic declines that we’ve had in the U.S., it certainly hasn’t been an easy road.
When Martell first started out, they had to rely quite heavily on realtors to bring in prospects and help them drum up interest for their houses. That first year, 92% of all of their sales were through realtors, so they were paying commissions, and commissions in Canada are higher even than they are in the U.S.
Pierre decided that they ought to tell their own story, instead of having realtors tell their story. “He was prodded along by his brother, Dan Martell, who is actually the CTO of Flowtown, a company I think you’re familiar with, and some of your readers and listeners may be as well. Dan said, “You’ve got to get on this social media train,” and convinced him to do it.
Mike: Sure, the rationale was, “If we can sell a house without a commission, we just take most of that money and return it to the company,” right?
Jay: Precisely. They started telling stories about the organization in a really fantastic blog, and the blog isn’t really about them at all. It’s about winterizing tips and what you can do in New Brunswick, so it’s really fun marketing—it’s “unmarketing,” as Scott Stratten would call it. Pierre has a very successful Twitter account where he just talks about relevant issues and helps people and does it in a very authentic and natural way.
But then they do some crazy stuff. This is the one that really blew us away. Their foremen, who are actually out there helping customers and building houses, all have GPS tracking devices in their work trucks, so if you’re a customer of Martell’s and you ask, “Where is the guy? He’s supposed to come over here and fix my ceiling,” or whatever, you can dial up the web page and see where his truck is at any time.
They have completely adopted this 2.0, storytelling, authentic, executional approach, and two years later, they went from 92% of their deals through realtors to 12% of their deals through realtors and a 300% increase in sales.
Mike: Just so I understand, they decided to go ahead and blog and create outstanding content that was going to be really valuable to their community—their prospective buyers, if you will—and probably an even larger audience. A lot of people found great value in that, and some of them said, “I want to learn more about these guys,” and that’s how it got started as far as getting the word out?
Jay: Yes, everybody just comes directly to the company.
Mike: And then they employed some really cool full transparency: “If you want to know where we are, this is where we are.”
Jay: Yes, because you’re talking about a huge purchase, and the psychology of homebuying is you’re always nervous. So what they’ve done is humanize the company. They’ve reduced the perception of risk by putting together all these tracking mechanisms and date guarantees, and you can find your foreman, so they’ve created humanization.
As a result, what they have now are direct sales—people come in and say, “I don’t need to hear any more. I want to buy a house from you because I believe in your company.”
One of the success metrics they use is the time to close a sale. When you’re trying to sell a house, it can be hours and hours, and Pierre says that it used to take them three or four hours, sometimes as many as eight hours. He said their new record from somebody walking in the office to signing a house agreement is 35 minutes.
Mike: Their blog has probably enabled them to build a lot of trust with people before they even get to the point of purchase.
Jay: They’re already sold when they walk in the door.
How cool is that? Jay mentions our post Top 24 Things to Do to Get Your Home Ready for Winter in the interview, which got us wondering: which MHB blog post is your favourite? Leave a comment to let us know! Also, we would love to hear any requests you have for future blog posts!