Using Podcasts to promote an architectural remodeling business

If you’re in the kitchen renovation business and have a green or eco-friendly approach to remodeling kitchens, then this podcast is for you! In it, Katharine Macphail, from the Talking Kitchen Renovations with the House Maven podcast will share her top tips on how to market your sustainability services and engage with your local audience to grow your kitchen design business.


Topics discussed on the podcast about renovating classic architecture with envirnmentally sustainable practices.

  • How to engage with the comunity via podcasts
  • Becoming an authority in the community by enaging in public events
  • How to define and target your perfect customer
  • Adding in arcetectural elements to your kitchen design offerings
  • much more
More about this podcast
Audio Transcript

Hi, this is Mike Goldstein the host of hte Crushing it with kitchen remodeling podcast and we have have with us today Katherine, from the Renovating your kitchen podcast.  Katharine, I appreciate you coming on the podcast with us today to talk a little bit about the success of the both the architectural firm and the and the podcast itself. Um so what we wanted really just to kind of get an idea for it is kind of how you’ve grown, you know, the architectural firm and how you’ve, you know, I used it to leverage kitchen remodeling and it’s home renovations as well as kind of how your podcast itself has helped grow the business. Okay, so Well I started my firm about 26 years ago um right out of architecture school actually it turns out I was pregnant and people don’t really like to hire pregnant women to start working. So I had to, I had to start my own firm to get my health insurance so that I could have the baby and everything. So that’s how it kind of, that, that is the unglamorous beginnings of my firm, but I always knew that I would be an architect um and So then most of the people, you know, I do residential work and people usually want to conclude their kitchen in that design, you know, so I spent about 20 six years working on the kitchen within the bigger project, you know? So um Yeah and my podcast I started about in 2019 and originally just started as a way to get my clients to have more information like in a library of um basic home renovation information that they would need, you know, so there’s the, I was originally just thinking it would be a way for me to send clients to those things. So I’d interview experts and then I would say oh if you want to know more about doors and windows, you can go listen to this episode and then strangely enough, just more people have been listening to it, which I always find amazing when I realized that people around the world are listening, I feel like why, why are you listening over there in um africa or where, you know Afghanistan, it’s just amazing how you know, we we started a podcast just to kind of talk, you know to our local audience and then, you know, you go on the internet and you have itunes and you have amazon you have google and it just kind of gets picked up pretty much, you know, across across the board. Um so with that said, I mean, I I presume that the podcast is really a good way also for you to reach your local clientele though and to really educate them and to create that kind of authority that you are in the space, you know, versus you know, the and I don’t like to meet another other people rather than just the, the handyman down the street. Right? Well of course I design the spaces, I don’t build them so much. Um but yeah, it does end up making me um kind of an authority on certain things that people trust me because they have heard my podcast or they like um my guests or the information that I’ve given them, so they feel like they have a relationship with me. So in terms of marketing, that, that definitely helps, but I am not exactly the people who might listen to my, my podcast aren’t really my ideal clients, so maybe that was kind of a mistake in setting all that up, but I also feel like because I charge a lot of money for what I do, I feel like a little bit like I can give back to people um and give them information that they can use for, you know, that hopefully they can go do something with for no outlay from them. So it’s kind of my way in a, in a way it’s it’s my way of um helping people. Um it also is getting my interests out there, so I am interested in sustainability and how we can do um some sustainable actions in each renovation for example, you know, because I feel like that’s people are either on or off with that, like no, I’m not interested but there are so many, there’s so many things that we could do that are just taking a little bit of a step that way, you know, I don’t have to be an all or nothing sort of situation. So anyway, interviewing people like about restoring windows and old houses or deconstructing instead of demolition and stuff like that, so it gets these concepts that people might not think about out there. So that’s my, one of my missions now, you know, and it’s interesting because depending on the, you know, the area of the country that you’re in sustainability, you know, just tsg overall environmental issues um it’s kind of, I find it kind of hit or miss and we run, you know, a marketing agency that tailors to kitchen and bathroom modeling companies and I find and when we’re working with somebody in New England and you have all that historical colonial aspects to it, you know, people are very concerned then when we work with, you know, our remodelers down in Dallas texas. Uh you know, they they don’t, you know, they they drive the big SUVs and they pretty much have, you know, whatever it is they have, they want what they want and you know, the environment be damned. And it’s it really is interesting, you know, as I talk to people across the country, how different those views are. Um so you know, and I also think a lot of it has to do with some kind of where you know, where you, where you get started from, you know, when when you, you know when you’re brought up in an area, I was brought up in Salem massachusetts very historical inside and all that, you know, I mean, I I’m really into all of it, but I think you know, if I probably was brought up in New Mexico or out in the desert of Arizona maybe, maybe it wouldn’t, you don’t care as much. So it it definitely does come into play. Um but you had said something a few minutes ago that that’s interesting as you said, so you have this podcast, but it’s really not what grew the business, it doesn’t really speak to your perfect avatar. Um so what what is it like when you’re when you’re trying to, when you’re marketing the company and you’re marketing your, you know your architectural services, Who is it that you market to and who is it that really, you know, will help build your business? Well, as I said, I’ve been in business for a while, so it has kind of fluctuated sometimes I just need the work depending on the economy and sometimes like right now I am so busy that I um I can barely keep up with everything so I don’t take everything that comes along because I can’t and um it like my ideal client would be somebody who values there the like maybe the historic aspects or noteworthy aspects of their home. Like I um it’s no secret if anybody listens to my podcast that I really like walls, like the whole idea of just blowing open a historic house just makes me sad. I feel like we can open them up a little bit without completely blowing them open, you know, so there’s a balance there. Anyway, so my ideal client is somebody whose main the driving value of the project isn’t the budget right? Isn’t it’s more like what I really want is to be as sustainable as possible or what I really want is to maintain the character of my house or you know, so that there, I mean of course everybody has a budget and we try to stick within the budget. But anyway, my ideal client is somebody who just wants to do the best thing for their house and the environment essentially. Right? So how do you position yourself, how is it that what is the message that that you put out there? So that that’s who you’re pulling in, that those are the kind of the people who come to you. Yeah, that’s a big question, isn’t it? So um I mean I think uh I thought a lot of different ways of marketing because of course there’s the marketing in magazines, which doesn’t work for me. I mean it’s too expensive, this is just from my own experience, but for me it’s too expensive and I don’t get any return out of it. So it’s kind of like, I can feel good about myself that I’m in a glossy magazine, but um in terms like networking, I think is the best way um to get clients, because the thing is it’s a two way relationship really. So if if I get to know people, if I’m working on a committee or if I’m working on um you know, with clients and they refer me referrals are important, networking is important, so that people know what you do, and kind of that’s why the podcast is a little bit helpful in that way, because people um as I said, feel like they know me because they’ve listened to me, but it’s it’s I mean that’s the big question, isn’t it? That’s like the million dollar question, how do you get how do you get your ideal clients to come to you, but you need to get in front of them somehow and whether, like, I’m moving to a new area of ST I’m moving down to the South Coast. Mhm. Near New Bedford. And so I kind of have to start over again down there with um getting to know people. So I’m starting to think like where are the people that I want to work for? Right. So these will be people who would be interested in, let’s say conservation of Buzzards Bay, Right. And I’m also interested in conservation of Buzzards Bay. So I’m following those, I’m going to get involved with those organizations, you know, so I might be on the beach cleanup and meet people or you know, so I just get out there and people I get to know people and they might say, hey I have a friend who wants to do X, y and z. Do you think you could help that person? And you know, so that’s kind of the best way but it’s not easy way. It takes a lot of time to do that networking and also you can’t be fake about it. Like you can’t I think you have an interest in it because you’re spending time cleaning the beach. Yeah, I think people can see right through it when you do that. Yeah, it’s interesting to say so I I’ve worked with a couple um kind of green real green companies in terms of uh there was actually when we got the first got started I worked with this company called Green Maids who was a basically our house cleaning company. And they only use sustainable, environmentally friendly cleaning products. And you know, one of the big things that they did was the beach cleanup is, you know, every year they went up to ports smith and they still didn’t go up to Portsmouth new Hampshire and they go to the beach um during Earth Day and they bring their entire crew to, you know, to help, to help out. And when you do things like that, I think when you engage with the community, you, you become really well known and people want to work with you because at the end of the day, I mean we people who will hire us are those who like us who know us and to trust us and you’re not, you know that there’s no better way to gain that, to gain that trust and and really to get people to to know you than than to be engaged. So with that in mind, I mean, yes, the, you know, the being in person is a big, certainly is a big thing. Do you, have you done any kind of like social media outreach when you engage with the community using this, this new thing I’ve heard about Tiktok everyone’s on Tiktok now, you know, I think, have you used that to kind of speak to the community and say, listen, this is what’s going on? Did you know about, you know this or that? Yeah, I’ve done that. I had, I guess it was probably about three months when I was getting into Tiktok until I found myself spending most of my day making these things and editing them and then bring the like I and then I just like, okay, this is not good for my brain. I am spending way too much time on this. And so and also my 17 year old daughter was like mom, you know, little embarrassed that I was on Tiktok and I really couldn’t believe it. I do. I, I am still on Tiktok. Like I look at Tiktok all the time. I think it’s a great resource for anything you want to learn. I mean it’s amazing how many people are sharing their knowledge on there, you know. But um yeah, I got that. But yeah, it’s a rabbit hole, It is a rabbit hole. But um, it’s an, it’s an interesting rabbit hole. I used to have this thing when I was a kid that was like 18 50 for set of encyclopedias called the Miscellany of useless knowledge and it was just random stuff and so that’s kind of what Tiktok is like, but it happens to be in video form. But if you, but you know something that you actually can digest, you know, watching you know an hour and a half video any longer. But have you, have you found that putting that video content out there has helped drive business to you? Um, you know, and kind of the second part of that is how do you get people to, to find you, you know, on those video sharing sites, whether it’s Tiktok, whether it’s Youtube facebook, um, you know that you can organically try and get found, but oftentimes it does involve putting some budget behind it and actually advertising. Yeah. Well, I think the Tiktok um, building the podcast business was more related to Tiktok. Right? So, and if I look at my podcast, it’s a different business than my architecture business. And the idea would be sponsors, sponsors. Well, listeners and then sponsors will come out of how many listeners I have. But you know, it’s pretty niche. My, my podcast is pretty niche and it’s difficult to get, um, sponsors based on listeners, you know, because I might have engaged listeners or people who really like the show, but there might only be, you know, there might only be, I don’t know how many of them and it’s hard to know, even right. So Trying to make money off the podcast through sponsors isn’t. Um, I finally made $400, think. which is, you know, not nothing. But no, but I, I think with the podcast, it really opens up the, the avenue though again, to become the authority in your space and you know, when you’re talking to people and you’re going to events and you’re on facebook or instagram or whatever you, whatever your social platform of, of choices or I should say social platform to shore really because it changes, you know, it gives you that outlet that you say, hey, check this out, check that out. And it does allow you to kind of branch out and become, you know, organically without putting in, you know, 50 or $100 a day ad spend budget extent. Um, so what, what, what I am kind of curious about. So when, when you do meet people, um, are you Catherine or you the housemaid? Catherine? I don’t really call myself a house maven, but you know, who knows? Maybe it’ll maybe it’ll get to me someday and I’ll just go around telling people in the house. Maybe it was just kind of like a, I’m, I’m a little bit less, I don’t even want to say I’m a little less serious than a lot of architects, but maybe I am. I mean I feel like there are a lot of things to think about in. There’s a lot of fun to be had in life. So why not have a little fun. I mean that’s so that’s why no, I never have introduced myself as the housemaid, but it does have a ring to it. I love the concept. I mean I’ve seen like a little character and building into into the logos and insurance and all of that, yep, definitely well I, I have another podcast that is um about small firm architecture, so the business of architecture basically. So we’re talking mostly to small firm architects and we talk a lot about marketing in that and so there’s been all sorts of things like building your audience type things with like Pat Flynn and those sorts of approaches. And then um we just interviewed Michael Porter who wrote content based marketing. Um you know, so that’s always interesting and of course, since I already have a podcast, I mean you have a podcast, it’s it’s a beautiful way to be able to talk to somebody that you want to connect with, you know, so like I can reach out to somebody and say, hey, I saw this article about you and I mean it’s true too, I saw this article about you about how you had difficulty getting your house um made into an all electric house and I would love to talk to you about that because I really would like to know about his situation, but it’s so much easier to do that if you already have the content in place like the receptor, you know, well the platform to, I mean, you know, I can tell you, you know that we, we were down in Orlando at the National Kitchen Bath Association conference in february and, and I heard a couple of people speaking and they pretty heavy hitters out there and I said, you know, jeez, this is something that I think my audience would love and I approached him and I said, you know, you can Andrew four line was was one of these guys, I said, you know, can we get you on the podcast? I think people love here Andrew is at the very forefront of the most hi tech modern appliances and how to really turn your kitchen into basically what you saw that Jackson is growing up and it’s amazing stuff actually does exist now, It is amazing, I don’t think, I mean, yeah, I could have talked to him at the conference for, you know, for 30 or 45 seconds, but I mean what better way you get half an hour with someone who really build a relationship with them that way, you know, so I do think that, you know, it is a, it’s a great way to help build the, to build the business and to build your authority as well as just, you know, from a personal standpoint, you know, you get some face time with with some people who can really teach you something Yeah. And then if you’re building your audience or building your fans And another thing too, we were looking at was jesse, um jesse cole from the savannah bananas, do you know that guy, So he’s just um just his whole, his whole way of looking at the customer experience, I thought was really valuable too, because then when they do come in, like how can you create the best experience for your clients that they will say like I have the best experience doing my kitchen over, you know, it was like they did this and this and this over and above what they needed to do, you know, So what does it look like from the client’s point of view? So um, just creating these relationships that are going to result in people raving about you somehow Or at least recommending you enthusiastically. So I think that’s, that’s kind of the key because I’ve tried like putting inserts in newspapers over the last 25 years, we put in certain newspapers, we tried like home at the time it was service magic. But you know, home advisor, which I give that a big thumbs down because it’s just a bunch of fire, a bunch of like tire kickers who aren’t even there when you show up and then I feel like I am getting zero. Yeah, it doesn’t, you know, with, with someone like that, it just becomes who it’s a race to, who can get to the phone first and who can have the absolute cheapest price, who, who’s willing to lose the most money for sure. It really is. I’ve actually been published a couple of times, um, on articles I wrote about the importance of exclusively and what you don’t want. You don’t want to buy shares leads. You know, it’s one thing to, you know, to go with, you know, with the lead generation coming, who can help you, you know, get the quality leads and get you the quantity that you need, But if but if you’re competing with six other people and it’s just, you know, it’s just becomes what will, you know, joe down the street says, you know, he can he can do my cabinets for $15,000, you know, and you’re telling me 17,000, can you do 14 5? I mean, that’s not that’s not where you want to be. I mean, you know, I’m an architect, but we’re always saying to each other, do we want to be the cheapest architect in town? Not not really. I mean, that’s not a good way to be known just because but if you do have 66 people answering the same lead, then it’s kind of important to be able to communicate your value. So we spend a lot of time thinking about how, what is my value and how can I communicate that to people, You know, because they’re not all equal. The bids are not all equal, even though people are not right? I find with with shared leads and those kind of sites, the people who you’re talking to don’t often care about what they don’t care they care about, you know, how cheap are you? And you know, Yeah, so they’re not ideal clients, Right? So why are we even talking to them? So house is a similar thing. Did house for a while? Yeah, I find that I think, you know, your, your best lead is generally somebody who’s going to find your google business profile, they’re searching for, you know, an architect near me, They, they look at the business pro they start reading reviews, you know, have you worked with, you know, 15 2030 people in their neighborhood versus, you know, does nobody, no one even heard of you, You know, and, and again, google business profile now, it gives so much information, um, gives so much engagement with the community and honestly there’s no better, you know, waiting to get someone to trust you than to say, hey, this is what your neighbors say about me, because who cares what I say about me? I’m really, I’m gonna be biased, right? I’m gonna, I’m gonna tell you I’m the best of everything. Well, you know what, maybe I’m not, but you know, if your neighbor down the street says, well, you know, look, look, look at the lighting in our kitchen now after, you know, the skylight was put in after this wall was moved here after whatever, it might be a lot more attention, I think. Oh definitely, yeah, that’s that’s goes back to the referrals from people who, who people, you know, mutual friends and connections. So have you, have you kind of put together any kind of initiatives to generate more review online reviews or Google testimonial like that. Well, I mean, I don’t have that many clients a year. So I might have 30 projects a year. So it’s not like, um I can’t just directly ask them. Right. So when the project ends, the thing is I do work for some contractors, some of my work are probably, half of my work is from generated from contractors. So I worked for them as a sub. So I don’t get to ask those clients for reviews. So they’re really only the ones that worked with me directly and I haven’t done it lately because I just get embarrassed asking like, hey, will you write for when I had the house pro account? I did because you get, you get a certain amount of um best of house stickers if you have certain number of reviews and you know, I’m a sucker for like gold star type thing. So I wanted the stickers or whatever they are the little icons you can put on your website. But so I asked my, um I asked them for reviews, I’m supposed to do it supposedly supposed to do it also for my podcast guests and I just, I don’t know, I just feel like I’m already asking enough for people are these people just paid me a ton of money and then I’m gonna say, so can you review me and which is, I guess standard. Right. But so what I do is I ask them. Yeah, but what I find a lot of my, my clients like to do is, you know, during the walk through the final one, they say, hey, would you mind if we videotape this? We just, we love to get people’s reactions when they see the final product and just give us a couple of words that we can share with our team. Um, and you know, that that’s actually really helped a lot. Um, and particularly, you know, in today’s digital age, you know, that that video and that, or even just in the image, I think with, you know, with a couple of sentences goes so far because again, it goes to show that you have real people, you have real customers talking about. And that’s a big, you know, a big part of all of our, our campaigns all revolve around review generation and reputation management because you, you can have the fanciest website, you can have the slickest ads, you can have the, you know, the greatest offers, no payments for three years, you know, that’s fine. All well and dandy. But people still want to know, hey, you’re coming into my home, what are you gonna do? You know, it’s important. Yeah. And again, I that comes back down to relationships and how you treated other people and how they then tell other people how you treated them and everything else. So, Um, I mean, I think 11 important thing about marketing is understanding where you’re going, so having an idea of your goals, and you know, my goal now might be, I’d like to have three pretty sizable projects a year and that’s it. I don’t want to be working on 20 projects at the same time, just because of my own quality of life, I’d rather work and really dedicate myself and focus on one project at a time, let’s say, or 1.5. So, since I want that, that means I’m going for a different kind of projects, so I’m not doing all of the, like, only a kitchen remodel, let’s say, or just a bathroom. Um just because it takes a lot of my energy and focus, even though it’s a small project, you know, so, so now if I only wanna have three projects and I want them to be in historic houses and I want them to involve some kind of sustainability. So now that that’s as Michael Porter calls it, like you’re read my red rope policy, so, anybody who’s doing that can get beyond and we’ll just have talks beyond that. But other than that, I just, I’m saying no, I I can’t do it. So, um knowing that I want those, how how does that get my marketing Focused on getting those three projects a year? Yeah, that’s and I think that that’s where it becomes a very selective how do you know, where are the customers, you know, where, where where are your people hanging out whether it’s online whether it’s offline, you just need to be what they are and that’s hard to know where they are all the time. It is and I mean the nice things, you’ve been in the business for a while, you know, you’ve got, you’ve got a reputation, even if it’s not New Bedford, you’ve got a reputation in massachusetts, New England, you know, you have a portfolio show, Let me ask you, so what would you say to like someone, a new architecture or someone just getting into the kitchen design, spaceman, what what advice, what? No golden nugget of knowledge. Did you drop on them to help them kind of flourish? So you’re looking for a golden nugget? Well, I mean, I think I keep saying the same thing which is to develop relationships, but with, let’s say, um real estate professionals maybe go to open houses of the houses you would like to work in, you know, so that you can get to know who’s marketing those and understand maybe list of what people are talking about. I love all of the jets and technology with the appliances and um I mean it’s just fun. I just love going to the various showrooms and seeing what’s out there now and then if that’s something that you’re into, I mean, I would assume that people are interested in the whole industry because they’re in it, right? So then just go and share your enthusiasm um with the people who are selling the appliances or just get to know everything you can about um what you’re actually putting into the, into the spaces and decide like what you’re gonna stand for and then have that kind of, that’s kind of a way of um, snitching down I guess and really focusing on a specialty that that you might do. So yeah, so I don’t know, that wasn’t like one golden nugget, but that’s that’s a couple actually. That’s great nuggets. Yeah. So, um, one thing I didn’t want to ask you here is, you know, as we’re coming to the, to the end of our 30 minutes here, people uh you know what, I’m sure like what you had to say, you talked about a couple of different podcasts. So where would they find, where do they hear you on each of these different podcasts? Okay, well, my home renovation podcast is talking home renovations with the house maven and you can look that up on the website or anywhere. You get podcasts and there’s a wide variety of subjects in there. So people who just like to listen to other people’s stories about their home renovations. We have a lot of those two. And then um, my other podcast is context and clarity with Jeff Echols and Kathryn McPhail and that is about if you’re starting up your own business, you might actually be interested. There’s a lot of a lot of talk. That’s what we talked about it, like, how to, how to market your business, how to start your business business systems, all that. That’s that’s fantastic. And then of course you have the actual architectural firm itself. Yeah, I do that. I occasionally work at that. Yeah. And that’s that’s de Moines Architects. Yeah, The Meows Architects is supposed to mean that’s okay. It’s supposed to mean, you know, having to do with people. We started that my husband and I years ago and we had a storefront with art and things like, you know, but then the name kind of carries on. But I am interested in people. So I guess that’s still appropriate. But that’s fantastic. And if somebody wanted to get in touch with you directly, um, how would they do that? Is there is there a phone number, email, anything that you would have people reach out to? Um yeah, on both of those. Um, if you go to both of those websites, it has various ways of getting in touch with me, probably um, emails the best way. And I’m happy to answer any questions or anything and helping uh, I do like to help people. So fantastic. Well, I want to thank you for coming on the show today. It was, it was really quite a pleasure to have you and have you, you too, and to share some of this information and like I said, I mean it’s great for people who are getting started to kind of listen to someone who’s who’s been there has been able to grow a business, been able to create a couple of different podcasts and different outlets um and, and hopefully, you know, our listeners will take from this, you know, at least one or two actual steps that they can, they can use. So, alright, well, again, this was Michael Goldstein. It is Kathryn McPhail on the crushing with kitchen Marlene podcast. Thank you so much for listening and we will talk to everybody again next friday. Alright, bye bye.

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