Suzanne Shelton is the president and CEO of Shelton Group, the nation’s leading marketing communications agency focused exclusively on energy and the environment. She leads Shelton Group in creating a market advantage for the organizations that are creating a sustainable, responsible future.
At IBSx, Suzanne will present the session, Selling Health & Comfort: 3 Keys to Successfully Marketing the Homes Customers Now Demand. We caught up with her to get a sneak peek into the session and hear how her year has been.
NAHB: Without giving too much away, what will people learn at your session, Selling Health & Comfort: 3 Keys to Successfully Marketing the Homes Customers Now Demand?
SUZANNE: In light of how our experience of living has changed because of COVID-19, this session will reveal what really matters to today’s home buyers.
NAHB: The industry experienced some great challenges in 2020. What do you see as the biggest?
SUZANNE: Builders are faced with the very real challenge of obtaining supplies and finding and keeping qualified employees and contractors.
But from a marketing, communications and sales perspective, I think the biggest challenge is their mindset. Yes, people want beautiful homes, but they don’t only want beautiful homes. They also want homes to be beautiful and healthy and efficient and easy to control. Home buyers don’t often use words like, “green” or “indoor air quality.” That tends to give builders the idea that those things aren’t important to their buyers, even though they absolutely are. Builders need to shift their mindset by focusing on building better, higher-performing homes. Changing the mindset away from “the way we’ve always done things” is hard.
NAHB: What is one piece of practical advice you would give our industry for 2021?
SUZANNE: Build healthier homes—that are certified to Indoor Air Plus—and make that commitment central to your brand promise and marketing efforts.
NAHB: What’s been your favorite binge-watch this past year and why?
SUZANNE: Schitt’s Creek. This show gives us hope that people are redeemable and that even if you are in a bad situation, you can come out the other side. It mirrors our situation today. The Rose family is trapped in a small town in an old hotel, and we are trapped in our homes because of COVID-19 and cannot see all the people we love.
NAHB: What’s been a pleasant surprise that’s come out of social distancing/COVID-19 for you?
SUZANNE: I usually travel all over the country. Being home every night with my family has been fantastic!
NAHB: What’s in your refrigerator right now?
SUZANNE: You mean besides a bottle of Kim Crawford?
NAHB: What’s your secret talent that very few people know?
SUZANNE: I am a drummer! I don’t play regularly anymore, but I was in some fun bands in my teens, 20s and 30s.
NAHB: Did you pick up or refine a hobby this last year?
SUZANNE: I do a lot of home improvement projects on an on-going basis, and many of those were completed this past year. Projects included redoing my laundry room, basement and mudroom.
NAHB: Besides TP and cleaning products, what out-of-stock items were most surprising to see during the early weeks of quarantine?
SUZANNE: The Nestle Sugar-Free Hazelnut creamer I love!
NAHB: Do you have a quote to share?
SUZANNE: This isn’t a quote, but a saying. It’s one of my favorites and can certainly be applied to this past year: There is a reason we weren’t put on this earth one at a time.
In other words, we’re here to support each other, and we don’t have to suffer through anything alone or try to figure anything out all by ourselves.
NAHB: What is your prediction for the building industry in 2021?
SUZANNE: Homes matter more than ever, and we all see them—and what we want from them—with fresh eyes. What we’ve been through with COVID-19 will shape what we want and expect in a home for years to come. The builders that deeply understand those expectations and design and build homes that meet them will experience strong demand.
Selling Health & Comfort: 3 Keys to Successfully Marketing the Homes Customers Now Demand is a semi-session in the IBSx Sales & Marketing Track that will be held on Thursday, February 11 at 10:00 AM ET. Learn more about the 100+ IBSx education sessions.