August Marketing Pro of the Month Pat SommerAugust 4, 2020
How are we already in August? I’m actually thrilled because it means that I get to introduce you to an all-new Marketing Pro of the Month! Her candor in this interview, especially as it related to her successes and mistakes and how she has learned from both is something I believe we can all not only appreciate but also learn from. Don’t miss August’s Marketing Pro of the Month, Pat Sommer of Fischer & Frichtel Homes!
Tell us about your builder – market, product type, average units sold per year, average sales volume per year
Fischer & Frichtel Homes is a single-market production builder in the St. Louis, Missouri metropolitan area. Our prices range from the low $200s for base-priced free-standing villas or cottages to $1M+ for luxury estates on large lots, and everything in between. While the pandemic has made predicting the future very difficult, our current year sales along with our substantial backlog coming into the year have our closing volume for 2020 currently at 152 homes. That’s better than we did last year!
What is your exact title and how long have you been in the position? How did you get your start in home builder marketing?
I’m the director of marketing, and I’ve been in this position for about 3.5 years. I previously worked as a marketing consultant for companies in the real estate and banking industries. Before that, I was the Director of Marketing for a real estate development & construction company in Baltimore. I have also worked in the marketing departments of two international consumer goods companies, and for a marketing services firm.
Let’s talk responsibilities: what are yours on a day-to-day basis when it comes to marketing.
I spend my time interacting with my vendors and my marketing coordinator, keeping track of our website, advertising, social media, brochures, signage, and endless other creative projects. I also spend time reviewing analytics and customer behavior, generating ideas for new campaigns, and preparing reports for the leadership team. I spend a lot of time writing, proofing, and editing copy, as well as some design work. And…I’m always learning and networking. There’s no end to what we can learn about our market, our customers, our products, the building industry, and marketing in general.
What is your favorite social media platform to use?
Although we try to maintain a presence on them all social media platforms, I have to say Facebook is my favorite because it is the favorite of our target audience, which tends to be a little older. It also allows us the most flexibility with links, photos, etc.
What does the average Monday look like for you personally and professionally?
It has been looking a lot different since we’ve been in quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic. I don’t miss my 35-minute commute, but it sure was nice to see my coworkers and hear about their weekends on Monday mornings. The work is the same, however, since most of what I do is electronic anyway—looking at traffic and sales from the weekend, pulling together my list of things to do, and diving right in.
How do you see your role evolving over the next few years?
I see myself becoming more and more informed and experienced in digital and virtual marketing. New tools and apps are developed every day, and I expect that I may be using many more new ones than I’m using today. I think the biggest changes will take place in the social media realm, as new laws continue to limit advertisers’ access to consumers.
What is a question you’re frequently asked in your role? (Maybe it drives you crazy, maybe it doesn’t!)
Why haven’t my signs been installed yet? Yes, it drives me crazy because it is almost always asked during a time when we can’t move forward due to circumstances beyond my control. Or 10 seconds after those circumstances have been resolved.
What is a big success you’ve had in your current role?
Since website traffic can be seen as an indicator of the success of all our marketing, I like to point to improvements in the traffic on our website since I joined the company. In November 2016, which was the month I joined, there were approximately 9K sessions and 5.6K visitors on our website. In January 2018, there were approximately 14.7K sessions and 7K visitors. In January 2019, there were approximately 21K sessions and 11K visitors. Meredith is in the process of building us a new website now, so I’m excited for what’s yet to come!
I have to tell you about one more success because this is my favorite. In 2017, I developed a campaign that stimulated enough votes for Fischer & Frichtel to win the Post-Dispatch Reader’s Choice “Best Home Builder” award. This award had previously been held by another local builder for the previous 11 straight years in a row. The campaign consisted of mostly emails and social media posts, with a few print and internet ads mixed in. We won the award again last year. Needless to say, the other builder is not happy about this!
When it comes to marketing, we all learn from our mistakes. Care to share a time you learned from a marketing mistake?
This happened ages ago, but it still resonates with me today. I was working for a consumer goods company. One of my responsibilities was to work with an ad agency on the ongoing design and printing of the company’s catalog. One of the product managers gave me information and pricing to add new product line to one of the sections. When the final proofs came in, I distributed them for review and signatures to her and all of the other product managers and other appropriate personnel. After a million of these catalogs were printed and delivered, the product manager with the new line pointed out to our boss that the pricing on her products had been printed incorrectly. I showed him her signature of approval on those pages of the proof, and he said it didn’t matter—that the catalog was my project and I was ultimately responsible for making sure that everything in it was correct. It cost me a bonus trip. As much as I hated to admit it, he was right. Ever since then, I’ve been fanatical about proofreading and fact-checking anything that will be seen by prospects or customers. It drives my employees and co-workers crazy, but I’ve explained to them that this is the way it has to be.
Marketing tends to be very experimental. What do you love about that and what do you hate about it?
I love being able to express my creativity in marketing materials and campaigns. And because marketing is experimental, it gives us a reason to network with our fellow marketers, sharing ideas and advice with one another. I feel so fortunate to be able to enjoy that wonderful feeling of community that you don’t see as much in other professions.
What I hate is when linear thinkers become irritated when they don’t see immediate, physical results from a campaign, and I’m unable to quantify the incidental results.
What are you currently reading or listening to? Work and personal.
I read a lot of online news and I can very easily go down a rabbit hole online on Pocket. I’m also reading a book that was assigned to my 17-year old son in his English class called Educated, by Tara Westover. Fascinating!
What is your favorite app or tool to use for work-related tasks? Personal tasks?
I use Outlook for work-related tasks, and I have a habit of keeping notes about projects, pricing, etc. in Outlook contacts. When I want to refer back to something, I just go to the related person’s or vendor’s card instead of searching through old emails or through a sea of documents. I know it’s unconventional, but it works really well for me!
I also use Trello, the project management website, for projects I assign to my marketing and sign agencies. For personal tasks, I love iPhone reminders.
Are you team taco or team pizza? Or team other?
I love both. But I have to go with Team Pizza because I’m a St. Louisan, and we’re famous for our cracker-thin, St. Louis-style crust!
If you had a Friday off of work, what would you do with it?
I would go shopping. As Meredith would say, “Life is short. Buy the shoes.” YES I DO! (Meredith here!)