Letter from the President
Over the summer, I enjoyed the privilege of our company’s generous parental leave policy. I spent two blissful months with our son swimming, sailing, and getting lots of cuddles and hugs while he seemingly grew from an infant to a toddler right before my eyes. One reason this time was so easy to settle into and enjoy is the incredible team of leaders that runs Catalyst. You’ve been hearing from them in our letter on a bimonthly basis as they each have let you into a window of their leadership perspectives. Each of them takes their roles very seriously and plays an important part in running our tight ship.
Since I spent so much time sailing, I thought I’d share some insights from my time behind the helm (or at the tiller) that inspire me as a leader and highlight the winning traits in our talented crew.
One of the first lessons sailing will teach you is that your plan to get from origin to destination is rarely a straight line. The wind, waves, shoals, and other boats will inevitably find you tacking and jibbing to forge a zigzag pathway that ultimately gets you where you’re going but with a few extra adventures along the way. Sometimes you’ll know you’ll be tacking once or twice, but sometimes it’s a surprise. The key is to have an agile crew that doesn’t get too bent out of shape when it’s time to work the jib sheets and pivot at a moment’s notice.
Learning to read the wind and anticipate wind shifts is another mark of an excellent sailor. As you watch the surface of the water from a distances you can see the wind coming. If you sail on a lake surrounded by cliffs, like Lake Travis, you can learn the patterns of wind shifts in certain parts of the lake. As you sail in the shadow of a cliff, the winds die, so you want to sail just outside its shadow to keep your sails full until you pass that cliffside and can tack to go nearer shore and into the deeper waters. Studying the landscape, knowing the patterns, and preparing to tack in advance can shave time off your run and help you have a smoother time out on the water. The same is true in business — industries have cycles, the winds of revenue opportunities pick up and they die seasonally, and sometimes you just know how things are going to go in a certain environment, so you develop your strategy around the lessons of experience to find a win where others might be struggling to tack on time. This is the true sign of professionalism and expertise.
And finally, when you do reach your destination or finish the race, it’s to the crew that go the spoils of victory. The captain of any ship is there to serve and remind their crew of their key role in helping the entire team get where they are going. If you’ve trained your crew well, they scarcely need these reminders. And when it’s the captain’s turn to go below deck for a rest, you can be sure the crew you left on watch will keep the bow pointed high into the wind and the ship sailing smoothly.
My family is incredibly grateful for this crew and the progress we’ve made this year — it’s gold standard sailing around here.
By Daniel Russo, Technical Director
Two hungry little brains bounce around my house, probing the boundaries of patience and what’s allowed, experimenting with independence, and wrestling frustration. My ordinary and domestic is my kids’ strange and mysterious; they can’t help but be curious. They also can’t seem to help leaving glue and stickers on everything. Curiosity is the first key component to one of our core values at Catalyst: Intelligence.
We storm into the world helpless but full of determination to learn everything, driven by a combination of basic needs, endless questions, and FOMO. How can I reach that food? What does the cat do in that box? When do I get to swim without a lifejacket? For kids, the desire to acquire knowledge comes easy and doesn’t require much prodding. Grown-ups have a habit of getting too comfortable or too busy for curiosity.
The acquisition component of intelligence is where things can get messy. My kids often ask two main questions: Where do I start, and what happens if I don’t succeed? The mess arises because those questions are rarely verbalized so directly. Teaching them requires patient translation of their emotional responses.
Defeatist tantrums or bouts of procrastination mean they don’t know where to begin. We’ve all been there, but luckily, we all completely outgrow this as adults. All they really need is a decent process. Step one of learning to swim is getting your face wet without freaking out.
Young children primarily concern themselves with succeeding right away because they don’t have long training experiences to draw from. Similarly, as I begin to specialize in certain areas, I notice it’s easy to forget the teachable moments I’ve survived along the way. However, I have not forgotten what pavement feels like after losing control of a bicycle. My kids love to watch cooking shows. They see chefs cutting food into uniform pieces with terrifying speed and precision. What they don’t see are the scars on their fingers or the countless hours of practice slowly perfecting technique on celery sticks. Sharing my own struggles and celebrating the small wins along the way is an important motivator.
Bill Gates once said, “You don’t really start getting old until you stop learning.” Watching my kids grow and play is a great reminder of how I should approach problems, and how we should build our team culture to encourage intelligence as a process. We schedule time to explore when possible. We hold ourselves accountable, but failure is one step in the iteration to success. We also call each other out each week when we see great work.
A Deeper Dive
In February 2023, Quarters on Campus signed a three-month trial contract with Catalyst to begin promoting their communities on TikTok, centered around a general brand awareness strategy to increase familiarity with viewers in the market. Catalyst created two separate video ads for the trial that ran side by side in an A/B test format and garnered overall successful results for the campaign.
- 1,332,227 total impressions
- 8,316 clicks to the website
- 1.26% click-through rate
- 129,244 individual viewers
Welcome to the Team
Join us in welcoming our latest team member, Ben Koester! Ben joined the Catalyst team in May as Director of Digital Strategy and works remotely from Denver, Colorado. In his role, Ben leads the development and management of integrated digital media plans, working alongside our internal team and clients to consistently strategize and elevate performance. He brings with him several years of search, social, and digital marketing experience as well as a knowledge of the real estate space.
Our team had the opportunity to sit down with Ben during an episode of the Good Mood Marketing™ podcast to learn more about his agency experience, how he builds relationships while working remotely, and a few of his digital strategy hot takes.
Google Analytics 4
A NEW ERA OF DATA-DRIVEN MARKETING
Google Analytics has been an essential tool for digital marketers since its launch in 2005. The platform provides information about website visitors, user behavior, and interactions with the site. With the launch of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) in October 2020, Google took a major step forward in data-driven marketing.
Google Analytics 4 is the latest version of Google’s web analytics platform. It is designed to provide more comprehensive and accurate data insights to improve digital marketing strategies. GA4 tracks more user interactions than previous versions, such as clicks on buttons, downloads, and video views. It also provides more data about user behavior across multiple devices and platforms, such as mobile apps and websites.
Interested in learning more about the features of GA4 and what it means for the future of apartment marketing?
Good Mood Media™
Have you checked out our podcasts recently? Our shows are taking a quick break for the summer, but in the meantime, we invite you to hit play on a few of our latest episodes of the Good Mood Marketing™ podcast and The Lone Star Podcast.
The Good Mood Marketing™ Podcast
Opening the Door to a New Brand Identity
We’re excited to welcome back two very special guests to the Good Mood Marketing podcast: David Williams and Kristen Poteet of Entryway (formerly known as Shelters to Shutters). Entryway has been a longtime for-purpose partner with Catalyst, and our latest venture with the Entryway team has been working together on their rebrand. Kristen and David walk through the process of their rebrand efforts through their eyes alongside the Catalyst team, and speak to the power of their mission, vision, and purpose-driven branding.
The Art of Development
When it comes to building out a new brand, specifically for new community developments, timing is everything. From discovery to groundbreaking to grand opening, every milestone and marketing decision has value in achieving brand recognition and results before Presidium’s communities open their doors. We joined Presidium’s Director of Marketing and Training, Joanna Nosewicz, who shared her experience and strategies for building a strong identity (even when the building itself doesn’t exist yet).
The Lone Star Podcast
The Lifecycle of Turn Season
Turn season — one of the most important times of the year for anyone in the student housing industry. The amount of time and preparation that goes into making a resident’s new home away from home a seamless experience is one that no one takes lightly. The many layers of customer service, camaraderie, and strategy that go into the process requires the whole team to stand together to give residents the best move-in experience possible. But what more can be done for both residents and staff alike during turn season to ensure a smooth transition for all? Our host, Mark Renkens, shares his insight in the last episode of the season.
Good Mood Marketing™ Podcast
The Lone Star Podcast
A NEW WAY TO CONNECT AND CONVERSE
In early July, Meta made waves in the marketing and social media world by announcing Threads, their newest microblogging app. With a maximum character count of 500 and the ability to attach images and memes, this conversation-based platform allows users to have authentic conversations with individuals and brands alike — much like its long-standing competitor, Twitter. Users can also monitor and choose who can engage with their Threads in order to have productive and positive conversations, unlike Twitter’s structure that allows all users to reply.
One major differentiator for Threads is its seamless integration with Instagram. Users can download the app, log in with their Instagram password, and import users from their existing Instagram follower base, allowing them to avoid the tedious task of building an audience from scratch. However, many early adopters of the platform have discovered the downside to this integration: If a user wants to delete Threads, they also must delete their Instagram account.
At the time of this article, Threads is still fairly new and currently doesn’t allow for web browser access, integration with social media management tools, or commonly used scheduling platforms. There are already talks of upcoming updates, advertising integrations, and of course, potential lawsuits. Regardless, there’s no denying that Threads could be the start of a new standard for social media — and we’re excited to follow along as it evolves.
Catalyst team nominations
Good Mood Marketing™ comes from the Gold Standard
“Sending Melissa a nom this week! We’ve been teaming up on a few meetings with clients to present digital reporting and social content updates together. I don’t get to see the digital side of what we do often, and it’s been a great learning experience to watch her communicate what each data point means for SEM, SMM, SEO, and more (and how the digital side can also impact organic social). Thank you for all you do!”
“James is always delivering SEO sessions right on time. I appreciate the work and time that he puts into each session, answering questions and allowing our clients to see why this service is so important. Thank you, James!”
“Katie was my point of contact while I was OOO to help with coverage the past two weeks. Despite Katie’s busy schedule and the many hats she wears, she had no problem stepping in to help. Katie also jumped in to help complete the meta descriptions and monthly billing, had ongoing trainings, chased down collections, and answered many questions, just to name a few. Thanks for everything!”