September 8, 2023
Meet the Talent Vanessa Houston, Copywriting Manager
In just four years, Copywriting Manager Vanessa Houston has witnessed an evolution of The Studio. Based out of Sarasota, she went from hands-on collaboration in the office with fellow colleagues to a swift shift of managing her own team remotely.
Precise attention to detail and versatility are key to Vanessa’s success as the copy team guru of stats and style guide rules. She wrangles details and data with moxie (and for MoxiWorks®).
Vanessa is all about making life easier for Anywhere Real Estate’s brands, brokerages and agents through the copywriting projects she oversees. I spent a delightful time chatting with Vanessa about her experience on The Studio team, and how she hopes the programs she manages will further benefit the clients we serve.
When did you start with The Studio and in your role as copywriting manager?
I started four years ago as a copywriter. I was doing a little bit of everything – some of it was production work, some of it was writing fresh copy. I wrote many of the online blog articles that we later turned into editorials for the magazine. I was also doing a lot of what Design Concierge is doing now. It was a completely different setup back then, and it changed quickly over time.
I was promoted to copy manager in early 2020, just before we started working from home during the pandemic. It’s been an interesting role because I never had the opportunity to manage people in person and then suddenly was leading a team virtually, but it’s worked out great because I have such a fabulous team. It’s nice that we’re so adaptable as we shifted the team and things changed and evolved.
How would you describe what you do at The Studio?
I regulate the jobs that come to my team and try to boil them down to what’s being asked of us. I clarify things as best as we can before jobs get too far along. We are on a tight schedule and want to keep things moving. You have to be proactive and message people and email them and get a group together to collaborate, because sometimes it really does help to talk things through when you’re working virtually.
I oversee the style guide and keep that up to date for everybody to stay on top of changes to our policies and our rules. I keep everyone informed about changes that are made and then make the updates, so nothing is forgotten or falls between the cracks because it’s so important that our work for clients is compliant with brand and legal rules.
Coldwell Banker Realty’s market share updates also fall under my purview. My team and I collaborate to maintain statistics on all of the company’s number-one claims. We have to take the lead on updating stats for each market as well – whether it’s updating videos, postcards, HTMLs or social assets.
It definitely takes attention to detail. We dig through a lot of data.
What do you think is the most interesting or challenging aspect of copywriting for real estate agents?
The most interesting and challenging aspect is trying to make things as easy for the agents as possible. With all the new products and programs launching, we always emphasize that their brand is here to make their lives simpler.
We really have to pay attention to what they need and the things that are most important to them, and through what we do, show them that we are here to help. We want them to feel really supported by their brand and brokerage. It’s good to be part of that.
Tell me about your favorite project so far and why it was your favorite.
Clients For Life. It’s kind of my baby.
I feel like that’s one of the things that I really own, and it’s because Clients For Life was brand new when I started. Which made it really fun because the Clients For Life team had a lot of input. We’re always focused on showing agents how easy it is, and how agents are seeing big results from the program.
Aside from the Clients For Life program itself, a favorite project was working on the campaign to promote it. It was our first chance to really say to agents: This is what Clients For Life is all about, and you’re going to be a better agent if you really use it; and if you’re already using it, you’ll get so much more out of it if you follow up with clients. It was fun being on a creative brief project, where I was really part of the process.
Of the projects you oversee, which one takes the most effort to produce and why?
VIEW, which is a printed ad supplement that gets inserted into newspapers and magazines in six of Coldwell Banker Realty’s markets, showcasing agent listings, and then my team also writes feature stories, community and property profiles and a letter from the local president. It’s really like a small magazine that gets inserted into other publications.
To create an effective editorial calendar, we created and sent a survey out to field marketing managers to gain their input on its content. I don’t think they’ve ever been asked before. They really wanted to see more about all the exciting products and programs that Coldwell Banker is launching that will help agents in their business. So, we used that input to build the editorial calendar and incorporate more profiles on programs like RealVitalize® and RealSure®.
Where do you find inspiration?
I keep my eyes open when I’m reading magazines and on social media, and with any ads I see, whether it’s for real estate or maybe a completely different industry. Sometimes I’ll see something and think, we could take a similar approach. I look for ways to have a fresh perspective, whether it’s something a bit funny, clever or just shows a different angle. Really, inspiration can come from anywhere!