Meet Our Speakers Series: Will Duderstadt

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Will Duderstadt is the Marketing and Development Manager of Web Platforms at M/I Homes, Inc.—one of the nation’s leading builders of single-family homes. He oversees online marketing campaigns, lead generation, SEO, PPC, social media and content strategy for 15 divisions in 11 states.

At the NAHB International Builders’ Show® (IBS) in January, Will is one of three speakers at the session, “Clash of the Titans: Marketing Megaminds Debate Today’s Hottest Topics.”

We caught up with Will to get a sneak peek into this session and a few fun tidbits, too.

NAHB: Without giving too much away, what will people learn at your IBS session?
WILL
: More than anything else, I hope my session with Kevin Oakley and Dennis O’Neil inspires others to productively share and debate opposing points of view. After all, marketing is partially an art. In many cases, there is not a right or wrong answer, so openly sharing points of view and respecting alternative perspectives is a great way to grow your own knowledge.

NAHB: Why should people come to the show to hear you speak?
WILL
: Old school debates are just plain fun! We plan on tackling some polarizing internet marketing topics, so if people want to hear both sides of the coin (and cheer on their favorite), this will be the place to be. Hopefully we’ll ignite everyone’s critical thinking muscles—and maybe change a few minds.

NAHB: Best memory from IBS last year …
WILL
: Selfishly, I was absolutely floored at the crowd that came out to hear “A Builder’s Guide to Killer Content.” Seeing so many builders gather to talk about my favorite subject was inspiring, and hearing so many success stories afterwards was an added bonus.

NAHB: Best hangout spot at IBS …
WILL
: Three years in a row, I’ve run into someone on the show floor that I didn’t even know was attending. Once, it was someone I hadn’t seen in nearly 15 years! So hangout everywhere. Be present, move around and occasionally set down your phone. Strike up a conversation with whoever is next to you, and wherever you are can become the best hangout spot.

NAHB: This industry has changed dramatically in the past five years. What have you seen from inside your company?
WILL
: The demands of our customers have evolved in a huge way. Our potential customers are also customers of companies, like Zappos and Uber, so when they receive exceptional experiences there, they expect it from home builders. Five years ago, calling a lead back within an hour or only posting two pictures of a home online might have been acceptable. Today, Uber can deliver a car to you in 5 minutes. Zappos has 30+ photos for every pair of shoes they sell. We see customers expecting fast responses and complete content for every home.

NAHB: Where do you think the changes will happen in the next five years?
WILL
: How we communicate with customers—before, during and after the transaction—is ripe for change. I expect those changes will be driven by the likes of Zillow, Facebook and Amazon. Most importantly, we need to embrace change and be ready for it. It’s been said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

NAHB: Last year, you mentioned that the industry trend that you were most excited about was content. Is that still the case?
WILL
: Yes! 100% yes! Content is one of those things that builders think they’ve done and call complete. But a full content marketing strategy is so deep and so complex, we will be reacting to the consumer’s need for more content in 2018 and beyond.

NAHB: Any random fact you could share with us?
WILL
: The United States celebrates National Waffle Day on August 24th, in honor of Cornelius Swartwout filing a patent for the first waffle iron.

NAHB: What do you work towards in your personal time?
WILL
: In the warmer months, you’ll find me in the garden. In 2017, I scaled up my tomato growing to a total of 40 plants, staggered to extend harvest into late October. As it gets colder, I’ll return to working on custom wooden beard combs and other woodworking projects. And I always make time to pet my cats.

NAHB: Favorite line from a movie?
WILL: With all due respect to Steve McQueen, the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair includes this gem that I try to remember: “Regret is usually a waste of time, as is gloating.”

NAHB: What book(s) are on your night stand?
WILL
: Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of your Head and Into the World by Tina Seelig, which came highly recommended by a creative friend as I bemoaned the difficulty of bringing ideas to fruition. Vlog Like A Boss: How to Kill It Online with Video Blogging by fellow Ohioan Amy Scmhittauer is a perfect guide for anyone looking to pump up their video marketing efforts. I am also reading Trees of Ohio Field Guide because although I am a proud Eagle Scout, my younger self didn’t spend as much time on forestry and plant science merit badges that my adult self wishes I had.

NAHB: If you could do another job just for one day, what would it be?
WILL
: I would absolutely love to be the guy who dreams up fake brands and products for use in the background of TV shows and movies—especially when they are accompanied with cheesy commercials or ads. That just seems like a next level of parody that I’d relish.

NAHB: If you could witness a historical event, what would you want to see?
WILL
: Great timing on this question. Two days before the Great American Solar Eclipse (August 21, 2017), I realized I couldn’t let such a historic moment pass by. So I invited my retired parents on a road trip to Nashville where we watched the total eclipse and ate fried chicken (in that order). It was totally an amazing experience that I recommend to everyone. Mark your calendars for 2024 and 2099—Ohio gets a front row seat to both events.

NAHB: In three words or less, describe your prediction of the building industry in 2018.
WILL
: Bigger, Better, Content.

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