A Healthy Home Is More Than A New Buzz-Term. It Is Important.

As Americans, we spend 90% of our time indoors. That includes time at home, in the office, at school, and in our cars. Yet historically, the impact of our indoor environmental quality, and its effect on our health and productivity, has not been a focus on how our homes are designed, built, and maintained.

Now add in the pandemic factor.

We are all aware, painfully aware, that COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work, play, and interact with others on a daily basis. We mask up in public, wash our hands frequently, fist-bump greetings, and press the crosswalk button with our elbows. Then we go back home and bring with us everything we were exposed to us. We bring it right into our home. Our sanctuary. Our safe haven.

This why having a healthy home is important.

Let’s break this down by looking at three important points that will make it to connect to dots and understand why, now more than ever, we expect more out of our home.

  • According to a Harvard study published in 2015, nearly 4 years before COVID-19, poor ventilation and exposure to indoor pollutants adversely affect cognitive function. This includes crisis response, strategic thinking, and information usage.
  • According to the CDC, more than 25 million Americans suffer from asthma. That’s 1 in 13 Americans.
  • Germs and viruses are easily spread across and cultivate on surfaces such as countertops, faucets, toilets, hardware, appliances, and other highly used surfaces.

“concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher

than typical outdoor concentrations.”  EPA Indoor Air study

What’s so important about these 3 examples? Because according to the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, of which 69% is in a residence. Your home. Your sanctuary. Your safe haven. This is why having a healthy home is important. And why taking control of your health includes taking control of your home’s health.

A healthy home filters and flushes out indoor pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), moisture, and combustion leftovers. A healthy home controls indoor comfort is incredibly quiet and fights against germs and viruses via anti-microbial technology. A healthy home is designed and outfitted with the technology and flexibility to incorporate future healthy features and opportunities. A healthy home is your sanctuary. A healthy home is your safe haven.

We shape our homes and then our homes shape us.

~Winston Churchill

Want to learn more about healthy homes? Visit http://www.urhealthyhome.org/

Hello Virtual Events… We’re Looking Forward to Working With You.

Thank you and goodbye 2020.  You were beyond challenging and really knocked us about! But we learned to adjust and adapt. And now, we are equipped to ride your ‘virtual’ wake!

For now, gone is a majority of our face-to-face meetings, conferences, events and networking. We quickly pivoted and survived awkward Zoom calls, GoToMeetings gone wrong, and webinars that were better off being canceled.  Harsh but true. And we’ve learned and have perfected the pivot we had to make. The most evident growth, Virtual Events.

With the initial urgency of pivoting to virtual events behind us, the expectations for virtual events in 2021 are high, very high. So, what are the key elements you need to consider when designing and developing a virtual event? So glad you asked. Here’s a checklist we’ve put together to help you execute a successful virtual event.

  • The Plan: It is always important to have an event plan but with a virtual event, it’s crucial. The purpose, promotion and how you’ll measure success are only part of the plan. With a virtual event, there are additional challenges due to physical distance and the lack of a physical location.
    • Everything and everyone will be virtual. Speakers, attendees, event staff, sponsors, etc. are all participating from their own corner of the world. This also means they will be dealing with their physical surroundings while participating virtually.
    • Your event plan will need to have clear “what if” versions in order to address anything that could go wrong or needs to be adjusted to increase participation and engagement.
    • There will need to be sufficient staff on-hand with clearly defined roles to address every issue. Cutting corners is not going to cut it when it comes to a successful virtual event.


  • Create a Community: Once you’ve got your online virtual event platform secured and launched, utilize it as a pre-and post-event resource hub.
    • Upload and share materials that will get attendees excited and potential attendees to commit.
    • Use your speakers, presenters, and sponsors for pre-event discussions and surveys, as well as post-event follow-up and feedback.
    • Utilize the platform for attendee networking, post-seminar breakout sessions, post-event engagement, and the like.
    • Incorporate flexibility in the Community so those who are attending can have individualized/personal meetups in group settings that are sponsor branded or reserved for a fee.
    • Need to find a virtual event platform? Here are some recently reviewed: Virtual Event Platform Comparison: The Best of 2020


  • Engagement: In the virtual world, the potentials for distraction are virtually endless, so engagement and interaction are critical. Add a little fun to the sessions:
  • Incorporating live questions asked by the speakers during their individual sessions or even during the introduction period prior to the session starting.
  • Create contests that take place throughout the event where attendees can earn points, prizes or give-a-ways for attending sessions, participating in breakout sessions, and networking opportunities. For instance, create Game Night or themed Happy Hours where the winner(s) receive a private or semi-private session with one of the speakers, sponsors or industry leaders. A bit of fun with a lot of rewards!


  • Social Media: Don’t skimp on the social media aspect of interaction, especially during a virtual event. With everyone attending via their computer or mobile device, access to their social media platforms is right at their fingertips!
  • Create an event hashtag, virtual photo booth activities, design a photo frame that attendees can use during the event along with a library of messages or postcards that can easily be personalized and shared on various social platforms.
  • Incorporate sketch artists as part of your event to illustrate various sessions, happy hours, and social media conversation chains that can be shared by the attendees and included with the seminar notes.
  • Be sure to have a team monitoring each platform to interact with attendees and address any issues, questions, or concerns that may arise are addressed quickly and precisely.

There are so many details that need to be considered when putting together any kind of event, however; with a virtual event, these are the areas needing the most improvement. As we were saying, expectations are going to be high with virtual and hybrid events for 2021 and beyond. #HelloVirtual

The All-Electric “Elephant” in the Room.

We all know it’s there and we all know that no one wants to talk about it. The all-electric “elephant” in the room. Or more specifically, the home. We are about to rip-off the band-aid and address the belief that it costs more to have all-electric appliances than gas or duel-fuel appliances.

For purposes of this discussion, we’ll be focusing specifically on the incorporation of electric cooktop, heat-pump water heater, HVAC, and heat pump -=clothes dryer in both single-family and multi-family California residents*.  (Climate Zone 9: Los Angeles, Pasadena, Burbank & Pomona)

Myth: It is more expensive to build a home with all-electric appliances.

Reality: The savings of switching from mixed-fuel appliances to all-electric appliances is significant on both the cost of the appliances as well as the infrastructure.

  • The appliance savings on a 2-story, 2,700 sq. ft. single-family home is $3,282 per home, and a multi-family, 2-story, 6,980 sq. ft. 8-plex is $2,650/unit.
  • The infrastructure savings that can be obtained by switching to all-electric home construction, based on Southern California Edison CPUC Rule 16, is approximately $1,400 per single-family detached and $1,000 -$2,500 per multi-family attached building.
  • Reach Codes, local enhancements to state codes, typically act to the benefit of all-electric construction. Under the reach codes, mixed-fuel homes must meet additional requirements which will add to the cost of construction, whereas all-electric homes have no additional

Myth: Buyers will not settle for an all-electric home. They won’t settle for an electric stove/range nor do they want a heat pump water heater, HVAC heat pump, or electric clothes dryer.

Reality: According to a recent study conducted by Meyers Research, health and wellness features are the new premium elements desired in a new home, with the second most desired feature being Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). What does this have to do with making the switch to all-electric appliances?

  • Gas stoves are a primary source of combustion (burning) pollution inside the home. Cooking on gas can spike emissions of nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide making the IAQ up to 5-times more polluted than outside air pollution.

“There are clearly climate and economic arguments for electrifying buildings, but there is also a profound health imperative. A new RMI report highlights the impact of gas stoves on air pollution and public health. “  Rocky Mountain Institute

  • Researchers in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health have released a report focused on the impacts of residential natural gas appliances on indoor and outdoor air quality, human health, and potential benefits of widespread residential electrification. Although the study focused on California, indoor, and outdoor air pollution from gas appliances can be expected everywhere.
  • Indoor air pollutants can lead to a wide range of illnesses, in both children and adults, including asthma, heart problems, lung cancer, poisonings, musculoskeletal injuries, and accidents.
  • The EPA lists indoor air pollutants as one of the top 5 environmental dangers. With people spend 90% of their time inside (plus the coronavirus pandemic), healthy indoor air quality has become increasingly important.
  • Recent research has also demonstrated that poor indoor air quality has effects on productivity, decision-making, and well-being.

Myth: Electric appliances are inefficient, ugly, or both!

Reality: Appliance manufacturers have done a great job keeping up with modern technology to design and develop safe, efficient, affordable, and space-saving, smart, and environmentally responsible appliances. which accounts for more than 10% of the US carbon emissions. The new electric induction cooktops are not your grandmother’s coil range tops.

 Induction cooktops/ranges are safe, as there is no open flame. They are efficient, “no other cooking technology that we’ve tested is faster than the fastest induction elements.” They also maintain a consistent and precise temperature, unlike gas which fluxgates and uses more energy (gas) to maintain the desired temperature.

“I am a big fan of the control, efficiency & consistency I have with an induction cooking.”

Travis Swikard, Chef/Owner of Callie Restaurant.

 Home heating is the largest direct use of fossil fuel. Using heat pump versus a gas furnace, will significantly reduce carbon emissions, and is 2 – 4.5 much more efficient than Energy Star gas furnace (even in cold climates), delivers 2-4 times more heating energy than the electricity it consumes, and lowers monthly utility bills.

  • Gas water heaters are another fossil fuel using appliance affecting IAQ in homes. Using a heat pump water heater, which is typically cheaper to install than a gas system, will have a positive impact on the environment and be more cost-effective for the consumer, but it will also be beneficial for developers and contractors through the rebates made available by electric utilities and governing bodies in an effort to achieve their carbon goals.

It’s Your Brand. And It Has Purpose.

At Engage Marketing we work with companies needing to define or further define their brand, their purpose, and ultimately why they exist. This includes outlining the company’s foundational elements, clarifying cultural expectations, and developing the brand voice for both internal and external messaging. All of this comes together in the format of a Brand Platform and strategic Marketing Plan developed to achieve the company’s long and short-term goals. And, it’s meant to be used. 

When your growing and things are chaotic, rely on it, don’t abandon it.  

When challenged with a conflict or tough decision, reference it, don’t ignore it.

Through thick and thin, be your brand’s adversary, not its enemy.

Your brand is your company DNA and what you do with it will make or break the strength of its purpose, the value of its differentiation and elevate the commitment of its brand advocates.

Don’t just put it on a shelf, put it to work.  You’ve defined your brand, outlined internal expectations and established your marketing strategy – now share it!

  • Provide copies to your employees. Your employees are an extension of your brand and need to understand what is expected of them, why the company exists and its plans for the future.
  • Share the messaging publicly. Existing and potential clients, partners and media outlets need to know what makes you different and how you stand out in the competitive set. 
  • Own it.Whether it’s in an interview, blog, social media outreach, or day-to-day dealings, use your brand voice with the confidence and conviction of the expert you are.

As you grow, it grows.  All things change or adjust as they grow and diversify.  So should your Brand Platform and Marketing Strategy.

  • It’s a living document, And as your business grows, staffing increases and responsibilities change, there may be a need to reevaluate certain functional or procedural aspects of your brand.
  • Diversification is not departure. Growth often opens new doors and avenues. When those opportunities arise, evaluate how and if, they fold into your existing brand position and goal. New isn’t always timely.

Assess your asset.  Evaluate the progress toward your goals, both long and short term, on an annual basis as well as when milestones are achieved.

  • Go the road.  Your brand strategy is a road map to reaching your goals. Don’t be afraid of the path, you designed it, did you follow it?
  • Celebrate the wins. Reaching your goals should be celebrated but also evaluated. How they were achieved? Can it be done better next time?  
  • Evaluate the misses. The same must be done with the goals that fall short. Many great lessons can be learned from loses and positively influence changes.

At the end of the day – it is your brand. Create it. Know it. Share it. Grow it. 

And most of all – Be Proud Of It.

The Hidden Cost of Branding

What the Internet has accomplished is the ability for marketers, large and small, to get their brands in front of the public. So, whether it is recognized or not, this has increased the need for effective branding.

What is Branding?

While you can find different definitions, for the sake of this discussion, I will simplify it to say branding is the package of elements to represent a particular product or service to consumers in the marketplace. If done effectively, the branding will be so unique that consumers will identify the brand and not confuse it for another. Proper branding will be achieved in advertising, logo, content, online, font, brand voice, elevator pitch and much more.

While large brands with equally large budgets spend millions of dollars developing and protecting their brands, it is equally important to small brands too. Because it’s so easy to get a message in front of the public today, I believe branding is important than it ever has been. Branding works because it establishes and reinforces what your brand represents. The more time it gets in front of your audience, the higher the probability your brand will be remembered.

The hidden cost of branding occurs when there is no consistency. It may not have a direct impact on your bottom-line like advertising, public relations, or a new piece of collateral, but there is a cost.

Each time your brand comes in contact with a consumer an investment was made to achieve that impression. If done well your message is reinforced with every engagement. But so often what happens, marketers focus on the key message (i.e. sign up today, lower costs, new and improved) and the branding becomes not even secondary, but an afterthought. If a company spends $30k for an online campaign and the branding is focused energy-efficiency, a lasting impression is made on the consumer. If the next campaign’s branding is a similar investment promoting a low-cost position, the company is pushing a different messaging, instead of building off of the original one. While it’s fuzzy math, the company gets two different $30k campaigns with little added to the bottom line.

Branding gets expensive when you have different messaging in the market place. When you consider that each consumer engagement has a cost associated with it, a company wants to build on its investment. If you are a home developer and your messages are about custom homes, sustainability, affordable, or quality, what is your target audience supposed to think?

In a recent branding assignment for a nonprofit, there were ten of us sitting in rooms over months, slogging through numerous meetings. We dissected the organization’s mission statement, goals, brand personality, name, colors, logo, font, clients, competition, as well as many other details. In the end, we revised the brand to be more relevant in today’s world. But the truth is branding is just as important to major corporations as it is all the way to small businesses.