Larry Webb, Chief Executive Officer and Joan Marcus Colvin, Chief Marketing Officer for The New Home Company came together at the ULI OC/IE’s Leaders & Managers Program to present the last class of the series. The leaders of The New Home Company focused on branding the company from the inside out, including branding to their leadership, employees, vendor partners and consumers. The New Home Company is a national award-winning, publicly traded (NYSE-NWHM) community and home building company, building throughout Southern California and the west.
Mr. Webb introduced the program, emphasizing that it would be about people, and how he focused on team building and how potential new hires fit into the corporate culture. Passionate and Proud are the resounding characteristics of The New Homes Company culture. Mr. Webb shared that from the outset, when he was searching for capital, he pitched Customer Care as a central motivator for the new company. At the time, Customer Care was considered unimportant, so he made it a key component of the company philosophy and brand. He believes that their branding, positioning and culture are what set them apart as a company today. Much of the credit for this, he stated, goes to Joan Marcus-Colvin.
Ms. Marcus-Colvin serves as Chief Marketing Officer for The New Home Company. She joined NEW HOME not long after the company was founded in 2009 and since that time has played an integral role in establishing the company’s brand through a commitment to architectural excellence, award-wining buyer experience, customer service and innovative, technology forward marketing programs.
Ms. Marcus-Colvin set the tone for her presentation with The New Home Company’s brand tagline, ‘Build A Better Life.” She also said that from the outset of the company’s formation, the compelling opportunity was to brand themselves in a new way – it had to be different. Her familiarity with other companies comes from her career history where she made connections and worked with some of the most highly respected homebuilders and professionals in the business. These included Laing Luxury, Brookfield Homes, Taylor Woodrow and Signature Homes. Much of her early career focused on the Design Center, increasing profitability wherever she went.
Upon joining The New Home Company, Ms. Marcus-Colvin developed the homebuyer Design Center experience, making it transactional, experiential and accessible at the model location, a critical part of making it successful, she said. Because Mr. Webb supported the ideals of superior a customer experience and customer care, The New Home Company was able to distinguish The New Home Company’s Design Center approach as specific to their brand. Ms. Marcus-Colvin made sure it became a team priority, involving designers, sales associates, construction supervisors, customer care specialists – any and everyone who interacts with the buyer. She later moved into the Organization/Structure and Evolution of the company, developing the fabric of the story and controlling every aspect of the brand.
At that point, she shifted class-takers attention to trends in customer preferences, creating teams who care and work across the product spectrum. As CMO, Ms. Marcus-Colvin oversees NEW HOME’s strategic approach to market research, identifying buyer trends and preferences and applying that knowledge to product development efforts. Using focus group study, the company has gained deep and detailed information about buyer’s lifestyles and new home preferences. She shed light on different buyer profiles, from Boomers to Millenials. Interestingly, she shared a tid bit the team uncovered. Boomer men, she reported, find it easier to let go of a larger home and move into an empty nest situation, whether the home is in the $700,000 category of $2 Million.
On company branding, Ms. Marcus-Colvin stressed that everything has to tie together. She mentioned terms that connect within The New Home Company, creating sub-brands such as Built With Heart, Gen Now, All In Design, Green Life, Balance Living, Living Gardens and Life Space (multi-gen). Ms. Marcus-Colvin also spoke about Giant Media, Social Media and the returns on Facebook advertising. She mentioned that video campaigns are currently gaining strength.
Moving on to her industry involvement over the years, Ms. Marcus-Colvin stressed the importance of keeping current, take advantage of leadership opportunities and networking for women’s leadership. She currently serves as President of the California Homebuilding Foundation Board of Trustees, and in 2015, she served as President of the BIA/OC Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Greater Sales & Marketing Council Board of Directors. In 2015, she received the Max C. Tipton Memorial Award, which for more than 40 years has recognized the most influential thought leaders in the Southern California homebuilding industry for marketing excellence. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of California, Los Angeles.
Engaging the audience, she talked about the importance of giving back, which she did as BIA SoCal President and helping to promote complete streets initiative to improve access to the cities throughout Orange County. She also spoke about her involvement in strengthening women’s’ roles within the industry. She helped shape initiatives for ULI OC/IE after encouraging a look at chapters nationwide. She is active in California Homebuilding Foundation, the education arm of the industry, with the goal of drawing young talent into the industry through scholarships.
Ms. Marcus-Colvin is most proud of her involvement in the BIA and the unique relationships she has made through business, and the incredible support she’s received throughout her career. In summing up, Ms. Marcus-Colvin took questions about such topics as focusing on Customer Satisfaction and the Customer Experience. Mr. Webb added that that is his passion and he still reviews every survey personally. Care is part of their DNA.
They also answered questions about The New Homes Company’s potential expansion into the Inland Empire and possibly Portland and Seattle and discussed, again, about the importance of research and listening to the market.
On another topic, asked how they decide on their option packages, they spoke of collaborating with teams, listening with focus groups and packaging choices in levels or by different styles to prevent overwhelming buyers with too many choices.
The final Industry Leaders & Managers Class was capped with Ms. Marcus-Colvin’s overview of professional life, offering relatable stories that the class takers easily related to. Through her associations, relationships and constant study of customer preferences, behaviors and desire for engagement, she ably offered insights to inspire others in the industry.