Mike & Dylan O’Neil on Using Funnels to Generate 18,000+ Leads
In this episode, we’re going to talk about the overall funnel concept when it comes to sales and marketing. What is the funnel? Why does it matter? And how can you use this concept to grow your PM business?
Our chat clocks in at 100 minutes, but you will want to listen to every second of it as Mike and Dylan leave no stone unturned when sharing the exact process they have used to generate over 18,000 leads.
- (01:11) – Background
- (01:20) – Mike walks us through the evolution that led them to where they are today with Greek Real Estate Marketing.
- (04:24) – The differences in personality, vibe and culture between real estate and property management.
- (04:42) – The number one difference being the opposing perspective on sales.
- (07:36) – Top of Funnel
- (08:27) – Mike discusses the types of activities and tactics he advises for top of funnel.
- (08:27) – The costs of educating the casual consumer.
- (10:18) – The potentially short lifetime duration of a property management customer.
- (12:47) – Segmenting prospects according to temperature.
- (14:11) – The importance of setting realistic expectations about where people are in your funnel and how to convert them.
- (14:34) – Brand aware consumers.
- (14:56) – Solution aware consumers.
- (15:13) – Problem aware consumers.
- (15:23) – Unaware consumers. The largest and most lucrative category.
- (18:22) – Specific top of funnel activities.
- (19:13) – Being realistic about ‘social’ and what Facebook is actually able to do for a property management entrepreneur.
- (20:21) – Dylan discusses what they’ve seen work regarding social.
- (21:27) – The importance of understanding that Facebook is not specifically a commercial channel.
- (23:06) – Is posting to Facebook a wasted effort?
- (08:27) – Mike discusses the types of activities and tactics he advises for top of funnel.
- (27:18) – Middle of Funnel
- (27:33) – What middle of the funnel activities should be accomplishing.
- (27:48) – Building trust.
- (28:35) – Dylan explains the importance of ‘retargeting’.
- (30:10) – An educational perspective of offering value versus a ‘me’ focused approach.
- (31:56) – Contrasting pixel tracking with other types of paid advertisement available with Facebook.
- (34:44) – Commentary on a property management prospect’s life cycle.
- (35:30) – The most important thing in terms of content from Mike and Dylan’s perspective.
- (35:30) – Answering the questions that people are actually asking.
- (35:32) – Demonstrating expertise in an authentic way.
- (38:13) – Discussing the value of low-quality content.
- (39:56) – Where the focus on quality needs to be.
- On the information rather than the technical aspects.
- (41:27) – The value of lower quality content run at scale.
- (42:27) – “Content Shock”.
- (39:56) – Where the focus on quality needs to be.
- (43:46) – The importance of reviews and how they fit into a successful sales funnel strategy.
- (44:12) – Influencing consumer buying decisions.
- (46:02) – Reputation as a ‘hygiene factor’.
- (47:46) – Discussing the pros and cons of the different review channels.
- (50:59) – How Google uses Facebook to showcase your reviews online.
- (51:49) – The difference between ‘short list choice’ and ‘obvious choice’.
- (53:23) – Why you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of online reviews.
- (54:49) – How reviews ‘sell’ you before you ever speak with a prospect.
- (56:16) – Discussing negative reviews.
- (58:57) – The growing importance of online reviews related to Google’s perspective on them.
- (1:01:23) – The value of unofficial reviews.
- (1:02:26) – Trust is the issue at hand.
- (27:33) – What middle of the funnel activities should be accomplishing.
- (1:05:14) – Bottom of the Funnel
- (1:05:56) – Discussing the value of email automation.
- (1:07:36) – Demonstrating to prospects why you differ from your competitors.
- (1:08:16) – The value of offering a guarantee.
- (1:08:33) – Why you should consider a drip campaign that takes place after a sale is made.
- (1:10:10) – Breaking down the sales process into its various components.
- (1:10:32) – Initial contact.
- (1:10:48) – Discussing the importance of the first impression.
- (1:11:06) – The positive effect of rapid call back times.
- (1:15:39) – The value of ‘active listening’.
- (1:18:19) – Preparing for the obvious questions you can guarantee your prospect will ask you.
- (1:10:48) – Discussing the importance of the first impression.
- (1:21:48) – Discussing pricing with your prospects.
- (1:22:30) – Mike and Dylan answer the question: When is the right time to offer a discount on your services?
- (1:23:42) – Taking the time to explain your ‘fair’ pricing to your prospects.
- (1:26:21) – The considerations of meeting your prospects in person versus online.
- (1:27:12) – Practical considerations are the trump card.
- (1:28:37) – Using video content marketing to bridge the gap.
- (1:29:13) – How varying degrees of technical savviness comes into play.
- (1:10:32) – Initial contact.
- (1:31:35) – The Tech Stack
- (1:32:09) – The online software and platforms that Mike and Dylan recommend using.
- (1:33:58) – Considerations to make when choosing a customer relationship management platform.
- (1:35:34) – How much is too much to pay for a new property management contract?
- (1:37:30) – Who do you guys learn from?
- (1:44:29) – What’s the number one mistake you see property management entrepreneurs making when it comes to sales and marketing?
- (1:50:23) – Are entrepreneurs born or bred?
- Make It Ring (00:51) – Mike & Dylan’s newest book.
- Google AdWords (09:15) – Google’s advertising service.
- Eugene Schwartz, Breakthrough Advertising (14:21) – Copywriting resource Mike and Dylan recommend.
- Perry Marshall (21:58) – Online marketing strategist recommended by Mike and Dylan.
- Mark Schaefer (42:45) – “Content Shock”. Social media marketing consultant mentioned by Jordan.
- Yelp (44:55) – Online review channel recommended by Mike and Dylan.
- Ben White (46:02) – Property management icon who coined the term, “Hygiene factor”.
- Reputation.com (1:02:17) – Online reputation management company.
- Birdeye (1:03:14) – Online reputation management company.
- ‘The Me Monster’ Brian Regan (1:21:08) – Skit Jordan recommends that humorously illustrates the importance of listening to your prospects.
- Unbounce (1:32:18) – Landing page software recommended by Mike and Dylan.
- Drip (1:32:47) – Email automation software recommended by Mike and Dylan.
- Intercom (1:33:04) – Customer messaging platform Jordan uses for his businesses.
- LeadSimple (1:33:29) – Property management lead tracking software recommended by Mike and Dylan.
- Gary Halbert (1:42:30) – Copywriting and direct response marketing resource recommended by Mike.
- The Boron Letters, Gary Halbert (1:44:21) – Recommendation from Jordan.
- Dan Kennedy (1:40:38) – Contemporary direct response marketing resource recommended by Mike.
- No B.S. Guide, Dan Kennedy (1:44:17) – Recommendation from Jordan.
Where to learn more:
To learn more about what Mike and Dylan, to get in touch, or to purchase a copy of their book, head on over to their website GeekRealEstateMarketing.com.
Jordan: 0:00:02.6 Welcome closers, today we have another episode of the Profitable Property Management Podcast coming at you. Still in season one, focused on marketing and I’m your host Jordan Muela.
Every week I interview world class property management entrepreneurs and industry experts who share actionable insights to help you grow your property management empire.
Whether you manage 100 units or 1000, this broadcast is designed to help you see the big picture and give you the tools and tactics that you need to get to the next level.
0:00:32.6 Today, I’m talking with Mike and Dylan O’Neil. The guys behind Geek Real Estate. A marketing agency that focuses specifically on doing lead gen within the property management industry.
I’ve known these guys for awhile now, they’re the authors of the book, Make it Ring, 0:00:51.2 check it out on Amazon. And today we’re going to talk about the overall funnel concept when it comes to sales and marketing. What is the funnel? Why does it matter? What happens inside of it and how can you influence it?
0:01:05.9 Thanks for coming on the show guys, how are you doing?
Mike: 0:01:08.1 Doing great! Thanks for having us Jordan.
Jordan: 0:01:11.4 So guys, I want to start off here for those that don’t know. What do you guys do and how long have you been in the industry for?
Mike: 0:01:20.2 I’ll take this one Dylan. So we’ve – depends on when you want to count it. We’ve probably been doing this for somewhere between five and seven years. It evolved over time.
We started off as a client services business where we managed people’s ad campaigns and built websites and do all the stuff that lots of agencies do.
0:01:39.6 And then we evolved the business model a couple years ago to only doing lead generation. So we only sell leads at this point. Anything else you want to add Dylan?
Dylan: 0:01:50.8 No.
Jordan: 0:01:54.1 Alright, so that’s the basic formula. It’s a pay-per-lead model. Kind of a hybrid, because you do have a lot of depth of experience in terms of doing the functions that a lot of typical marketing agencies might provide.
0:02:07.8 How did you guys wind up here? Maybe here’s a better question. What was the background? What were the precursors that led you actually to winding up working within this industry?
Mike: 0:02:23.8 Well our story begins probably about, I’d say about ten or fifteen years ago. I’ve been a real estate broker now for pushing 28 years and I had a son. And he was young and technical and so I was – I grew up in the era of Tom Hopkins – put pumpkins in the back of the truck, go door to door, send the door hangers and do mailers and penny savers and things like that.
0:02:51.0 I noticed early in the 2000s that those things weren’t working well anymore, and my son was spending a lot of time on the computer and I said, “So help Mr. Wizard, what’s going on here?”
0:03:00.6 And so we started diving into that for my real estate brokerage business and some other investing that we were doing. And so that’s how our relationship started in this process.
0:03:10.5 Then as time went on, as everybody knows, things didn’t go perfectly in 2008, 2009, 2010. And so we were back on our rear ends just like everybody else trying to figure out what to do, and so we started doing a variety of online marketing things during that time.
And one of the things that ended up happening, basically by luck, ended up bumping into our broker who needed some help 0:03:35.9 [Inaudible]. And so we used our basic online marketing skills to try to get him some property management leads.
Now little did we know, we’d kind of fallen backwards into cherry pie at that point. Pretty much any idiot can get a property management lead when everyone’s upside down nationwide. We didn’t stop and think about that at the time. 0:03:55.7 We got like 100 leads in a month and we looked like geniuses. And so we thought, hey maybe we’ve got something going here.
0:04:01.3 And so we kept working on that. We eventually spread out and we tested 30 different cities to try to figure out if we had something real. And that took us a few years to get through that.
0:04:11.2 So, anyway that was basically how we evolved over time. We basically got lucky and then we just kept adding to it over time until we got something that actually a customer wanted to pay for.
Jordan: 0:04:24.5 So tell me this, because you’ve had experience on both sides. Real estate and property management. Two sides of the same coin, but pretty different.
What’s your perception on the basic difference? The vibe. The culture. The personality between real estate versus property management. I’d just be interested to hear your take.
Mike: 0:04:42.0 Well if I was going to pick one thing, it has to do with sales. The average property management company that I’ve had experience with doesn’t always view themselves as a sales first organization. And I don’t know any real estate brokers who don’t view themselves that way.
So it has to do with an identity. 0:05:03.8 Depends on where the property manager owner is coming from.
0:05:07.6 So for example, if the property management owner came from a different industry, like say they purchased a franchise, this is – that’s a little bit more of a normal situation where they’re not as comfortable selling. 0:05:18.7 They are looking at this as a business opportunity. They’ve got property managers that they expect to do the selling. That sort of things.
Whereas on the brokerage side, you basically are born and bred to sell. Everybody sells, it’s all about selling, it’s all about closing all the time. So I would say that’s the major difference I see between the two. 0:05:37.3
Jordan: 0:05:39.1 Yeah I think so. I mean you’re really putting it mildly there. The temperament and the disposition towards doing lead gen, hunting, having a sales first identity is pretty categoric versus an operations focused mentality. So I agree. I’d probably put even more emphasis on that. 0:05:56.0 [Edit Out] So what I want to talk about with you guys today, in terms of sales, in terms of marketing, in terms of growth, is the overall concept of the funnel. Now everybody knows what a sales funnel is. More or less. Right? There’s a lot of people that you talk to that don’t end up becoming clients so you have more prospects than people that actually convert. 0:06:17.7 So when we think about the top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel, and the bottom of the funnel, I want to kind of walk through, step-by-step, what activities are happening at each various stage. And before we transition into that, I just want to define what the buying cycle means. 0:06:36.5 So, when you guys think about what the buying – what that term ‘buying cycle’ refers to in the context of the consumer experience, what does that mean to you guys and how is that relevant for your clients? Or for any property management company?
Mike: 0:06:53.7 Well buying cycle, it’s a little bit – buying cycles are different by product and service that you sell. So if you are selling fitness, weight loss, financial services, anything where there’s like a long term interest in something. Do you want to ask that question again because?
Dylan: Yeah you cut out a little bit there Mike.
Jordan: Yup. Ok.
Mike: Can you give us the question again?
Jordan: Yeah, I can.
Mike: Sorry about that.
Jordan: It’s all right. We’re just going to skip that question all together. We’re going to go in a different direction. 0:07:36.2 [Edit Out]
0:07:36.8 Alright, so guys let’s go and dive in and talk about the overall marketing and sales funnel. Let’s start at the top. The top of the funnel is where we’re trying to generate awareness. We’re just trying to get people to know that we even exist.
And to do this, we need eyeballs. And the best way to generate eyeballs is to do things that are broadly interesting to the types of consumers that we’re interested in working with.
Regardless of whether or not they’re actually ready to buy now. As long as they fit the right customer profile, those are the kinds of eyeballs and people that we want awareness from.
So when you guys think about the top of the funnel, what sorts of activities do you think about, and what sorts of tactics do you advise your clients towards.
Mike: 0:08:27.9 Well, there’s a couple of considerations. I’ll start off with one that’s near and dear to everybody’s heart, and that’s money. So, talking about people really high in the funnel is a luxury for people that have access to those people at a relatively inexpensive level.
Because it’s expensive to educate people. It’s expensive to nurture people. When it costs you money to get them. And if they’re not really ready to buy.
So, I think the tricky part is to be able to try to focus on people at a spot in the funnel that you can afford. You can look at and evaluate and say, “Ok, in a reasonable period of time, these folks are going to become a customer.”
0:09:15.0 Here’s what I mean by that. So for example, let’s say you ran an AdWords campaign and you just ran something general where you were just trying to get people top of funnel that really weren’t that serious.
Or, maybe a – probably a better example might be in Facebook or a display campaign where people really aren’t actually looking for property management, they are out there just kind of wandering around and you’re interrupting them and telling them.
0:09:39.2 Unless you are doing a very good job of filtering, you are going to break your budget doing things that way. Because those folks are very casual, they’re not very interested.
It doesn’t mean they never would become a property management customer, but you have to have a budget and you really need to know what your lifetime value of a customer is and be prepared to go somewhat negative to nurture those people.
0:09:57.6 Further complicating that, is in the property management business, it’s a little different kind of a service than some industries.
So for example, if you acquire a customer in the diet and fitness industry, the person who consumes your initial free report or whatever could be a customer for life. They could continue to be interested for a long period of time. Years and years and years.
0:10:18.0 On the other hand, in the property management industry, when somebody’s interested in property management, they probably fade in and fade out. It’s not like people want to know about property management for the rest of their life.
They may only want to know about it for 30 days now and two years from now, 30 days. And they’re really not dying to know a ton in the interim.
0:10:35.2 So, you have to be thoughtful about that as you approach this funnel thing, because if you get too carried away, it’s going to get to just be very expensive. The numbers aren’t going to work for you. Does that make sense?
Jordan: 0:10:43.2 Yeah, that certainly does make sense. Although, I would not that — I think it’s also expensive to not engage in any kind of top of funnel activities. When you say that, you’re talking about the expectations that go along with writing that cheque.
0:10:58.8 When most small business owners write that cheque, they want accountable results. And more specifically, they want to know what converted, how long is it going to take them, and often times, they have unrealistic expectations.
They want to take that same thinking and experience that relates to what is was like to generating business through referrals and have continuity when they go into paid advertising, even though it’s too completely different experiences.
0:11:25.2 So I’m all for accountability. I’m all for clear expectations. I’m all for clear tracking and going in with your eyes open. At the same time, we know there’s this dichotomy between the idea of renting a lead gen source – and this is fundamentally what pay-per-click or any form of paid advertising would be versus owning a lead gen source. And you have these mitigating factors.
Because on one hand it takes much, much more time, effort, money, insight, fore site, strategy to build a – let’s say, an organic presence. An SEO campaign, etc. 0:12:04.2 But once you actually have it in place, it’s something that you own.
So where I”m going with this – is this, Mike, if you were starting a property management company, and if you actually care about having a brand presence, having relationships in your community, doing the real business sorts of things that any entrepreneur should, how do you balance on one hand, hoping to see some fruit come from those activities while on the other hand, wanting to have near-term results and accountability with any form of paid marketing? Do you see what I’m getting at with the dichotomy here?
Mike: 0:12:42.2 I do, and that is I think understanding the –
Dylan: 0:12:47.6 Going in with your eyes open and understanding the different temperature of people in different sources. So temperature of leads is a common concept people talk about. These are hot leads, these are cold leads. Cold calling.
And I think on a certain level, you go in and knowing that top of funnel people – let’s say referral people are very hot. They are in the bottom and they are on thinking, “I’m going to get something from you and soon because my friend said so and I was asking them about it.”
Now if they’re researching, it’s a lot different than a temperature thing. So if they’re typing ‘property management’ into Google, they’re sort of warm because they have what we like to say, ‘clear intent’.
They’re actually looking for property management, so you showing them something about property management is very much what they want to learn more about.
0:13:39.8 And then things like Facebook or general branding stuff, it’s a lot colder. They might not even want to hear about property management. Some of those people are and you’re trying to get them to raise their hand. And so I think part of that is you are – need to go into those things and understand where those people are going to be at at different spaces. If that makes any sense.
Jordan: 0:14:08.9 – 0:14:09.5 [Edit out – cross talk]
Mike: 0:14:11.3 You have to have realistic expectations about where people are in the funnel and how hard it is going to be to convert them. And you may have to invest. So let me give you an illustration. Eugene Schwartz 0:14:21.6 is a very famous copywriter and he broke the world of – you have to understand that the person that comes to you has a certain amount of knowledge about the product or service that you’re offering.
And so this is basically how he broke it down. 0:14:34.8 You’ve got people on one end – imagine a kind of a sliding scale from the left to the right. To the left are people that are brand aware. They know who you are. And so they’re just searching for your company, they already know a ton about you. Those people are relatively easy to have a conversation with.
0:14:52.0 And it changes the message that you might bring to them at various stages in that – in their experience with you.
0:14:56.0 Next over would be people that are solution aware. They understand people – these people understand that there’s property management as a service. They may not be familiar with the particular company, but they know that that’s something they can go out and solicit somebody and get some help on.
0:15:13.2 The next people over are problem aware. Those people are – they don’t really understand much about property management and so this would be a large, maybe a large population of the 0:15:21.2 for rent by owners, for example.
0:15:23.2 All – some of those would fall into the next category, which is the biggest category, the most lucrative category, long term – maybe something you’re talking about Jordan, and those are people that are unaware.
0:15:33.2 So for example, roughly 80% of the non-owner, residential properties in the United States are managed on a for rent by owner basis. Which is roughly true.
0:15:44.8 So the question is how do you get access to those people when they’re not – when a lot of them aren’t even aware that there is such a thing as property management. Which is hard to believe, but it seems to be true.
So, those people are very expensive to reach, whereas people on the other end of the spectrum, the brand aware folks, and the solution aware folks, those folks are – management – 0:16:06.3 [Inaudible – audio glitch] – further down the funnel.
So all those things play into – if you’re going to attack people on the right hand side, the for rent by owners, the people that are unaware, you just have to buckle up and be ready to spend some money.
0:16:16.5 Now, what you’re saying is, for example, if you get a post card mailing around the geo that you operate in, that would be maybe for example of a for rent by owner for people that are unaware. But you probably also would not be competing with anybody there.
And you could nurture that long-term relationship that you’re talking about. But you just have to have your eyes wide open. We do have customers that are doing some of this stuff and they’re seeing some success. 0:16:38.1
Dylan: 0:16:39.0 It’s not necessarily that they’re more expensive. I mean sometimes that can be the case, but sometimes people are fighting over the stuff that’s lower in the funnel – but the thing that is true about those things, is that they take more work and more nuance to turn into customers.
And so, you sort of have to count the cost. You know, it’s easy to move someone from, as Mike was saying like, solution aware to a customer.
But it’s a lot harder and takes a lot more time and a lot more effort and a lot more – you have to have a structured system to handle it to move someone from unaware in a cost effective way to a customer. 0:17:20.1 And so part of that …
Jordan: 0:17:20.1 Well said. I’ll stop you right there, my man, because I couldn’t agree with you more. And let’s note that the folks that are participating in that category, the folks that are really scaling up those top of funnel activities tend to have already have things figured out down funnel and now they’re trying to get maximal leverage out of what’s working down funnel by selectively moving higher, higher, higher up in the funnel.
0:17:44.5 And what I mean by that is this, if you start really high funnel, if you start with that infographic, if you start with that one-time mailer campaign, you can have success, you can win the battle but still lose the war, right?
You can get somebody on the hook and interested, but you have step one out of a ten step process completed. If you drop the ball on steps two through ten, you’ve effectively wasted your money.
0:18:09.0 So I agree that not only the nuance, but also the discipline and the effort to pull people all the way through that process is also a very much a part of going in eyes wide open.
0:18:22.1 Nonetheless, let’s get into some of these specifics about some of the activities that can be done top of funnel. We talked a little bit about pay-per-click, SEO, I want to talk a little bit about social.
0:18:33.4 Which is either, depending on who you talk to, either the hot thing of the moment or the whipping boy. For me it tends to be more of the whipping boy, because I’ve yet to work with a client that I’ve seen use it effectively and generate meaningful ROI. However, I know that you guys have some chops and familiarity. 0:18:53.1 With social, you divide paid versus organic.
Tell me what you guys are seeing out there with what folks are doing with social specifically with top of funnel. If it has any hope, is it down funnel? Or have you seen anybody do anything useful with social on the top of funnel level?
Mike: 0:19:13.1 Let me make one quick comment and then I’ll let Dylan kind of take this over because he’s done a lot of the testing. One of the things that I will say, is I think people are wildly unrealistic in terms of what they think Mark Zuckerberg and others are going to do for them on the organic free side.
People will be disappointed to know that – let’s say you had 1000 like your Facebook profile and you make a post. Sad to report that of those 1000, maybe only 60 of those people will actually only physically even see the post.
0:19:43.8 So, what Facebook is doing, and I’m sure other platforms as well, although frankly, Facebook is the big player here, is they’re basically forcing you to pay to play.
And so if you think that you’re going to do anything in this strictly organic method like you probably could do effectively four or five years ago, you’re probably 0:20:05.5 [Inaudible]. Most are posting content and nobody is seeing it. Period. It’s not that they’re seeing it and ignoring it, they’re just never seeing it. So, that’s the major point that I’d like to make.
Dylan, why don’t you jump in and talk about some of the things that you’ve done in terms of being able to work on social.
Dylan: 0:20:21.1 Yeah, I think part of it is – we were talking about expectations and I think there’s a big jump in expectations on a few levels with social.
0:20:32.3 One is that people are used to AdWords where you can very easily target somebody that’s interested. It’s not hard to figure out that I need a certain – 0:20:42.9 [Inaudible] talking about property management.
But there’s no setting like that in Facebook and so it’s – you’re going to have to get a lot more creative about how you handle targeting people.
0:20:55.9 And the other thing that I would say is sort of along those lines, a little bit different, is that AdWords works much better out of the box, or SEO or anything, because there’s a very specific question that somebody’s asking and they’re already trying to get an answer to it when they type in ‘Property Management Seattle’.
0:21:17.2 And so, it’s not very hard to understand what to offer those people to get them to raise their hands in the beginning of the funnel. At least at a very basic level.
0:21:27.6 Now when you go into Facebook, you’re not just competing with all the other property management companies that are trying to show up for that search, you’re competing with not caring and a cat video, and all this sorts of stuff and so you have to test a lot more things and people don’t have the patience or discipline to stick with things and try – someone we follow, his name is Perry Marshall 0:21:58.1 [Resource].
We talk to him about Facebook stuff. He says the payoff is a lot bigger on Facebook but it takes you ten times as long, or ten times as many trials and things to try in order to find something that strikes the mark. 0:22:16.2 [Edit out] And so I think 0:22:18.5 [Edit out]
I think if you go in with this expectation of you might lose some money at the beginning and you have to put a lot of work in to try to figure out, ok what’s the thing that is going to really get people engaged in that top of funnel.
0:22:33.0 And it’s somewhere between, ‘buy property management services’, ‘get a free quote’ and ‘here’s a free cat video’. You have to find the sweet spot of something that gets somebody to raise their hand and say, “I’m kind of thinking about that, that’s interesting. I didn’t think about property management or even just renting out my house.”
Or something that will get them into the funnel, but also is not too aggressive. 0:22:56.1 Because they don’t know you, they’re not looking and it’s not that – it’s just not going to get more attention. That’s the problem here.
Mike: 0:23:06.2 One of the things that I think for people to get in mind is that a place like Facebook and social is not the kiddy pool. It seems like it is because it’s free. I talk to a lot of property management owners, “Oh I should be posting more of my videos on my Facebook page”, “I should be writing another blog article to post on my Facebook or Twitter”, and I’m just here to tell you that most of that effort, unfortunately is wasted.
0:23:31.0 Nobody’s reading it, they’re not getting any clients from it, most people try to make themselves feel good and say, “I’m doing brand building.” Maybe. But for the most part, the amount of effort that’s going in there is not going to be rewarded.
Another thing to keep in mind is, we’re talking about a long-term project. 0:23:49.3 We’re really talking about faith. You’ve got to have faith in this process because you’re going to spend a lot of money, and a lot of time, and most of its not going to work.
So, that’s why I’m with you Jordan. I would say for the normal property management owner, this is a bridge too far and a mountain too high. Most of the effort that’s put in there is not going to pay off. I’m not saying it’s not fertile ground and couldn’t be mined, I’m just saying, wow I don’t know if that’d be the first place I’d start given a return on investment both in time and money.
Jordan: 0:24:23.8 So you’re not saying ‘can’t’, you’re not saying, ‘shouldn’t’, you’re just saying, “most likely won’t in light of the context, the overall landscape.”
And Dylan as you stated, it is a non-commercial, non-commerce context. People do not go onto Facebook to buy things. They go there to be entertained. So it’s a mismatch of context.
0:24:44.6 So to get any results whatsoever, you’re appealing to things that are way up funnel, very far away from commercial intent. Meaning that you’re at the intersection of entertainment and topical relevancy. Not brand relevancy, because talking about yourself is way off the mark. But topical relevancy.
So if you can find a way to entertain people in the context of talking about something to do with real estate investing, etc., that’s kind of the angle that you’re forced to take.
0:25:14.4 You did identify the carrot. The motivation here is that if you can figure it out, you can scale it. The world is your oyster. Particularly if you’re a multi-market. Right? If you’re selling – if you’re B2C, if you’re business to consumer and you’re selling something that can be shipped, the entire universe is now up for grabs for you.
For most of our clients, they’re focused on one specific market. So that’s the first limitation. The second limitation is their ability and willingness to put on that mediapreneur hat. Very few have that and to the extent that they do, they miss the mark when it comes to distribution or how to actually get value from the content.
0:25:55.5 So the intent was right, the guilt trip was kind of sort of right, because the guilt trip, if you spin it properly as something along the lines of, “I have the domain knowledge. I am the expert and I want to communicate and add value for my clients and I’m inclined to do that in the format of vlogging, blogging, writing an article”, whatever it may be.
That makes sense to me, but where things fall short, is bridging the gap between actually creating that content and getting value from it. Part of that could be failure to recycle the content. Part of that could be failure to put it in the right place period.
You had a video that in one context you could have gotten value from. Maybe you created a great video and it would have given you value had you made it part of a drip email campaign and now it was going to be reused for the next five years to nurture leads. 0:26:53.8 And that’s where you were going to get the maximum ROI. But instead, it was a one-time post on Facebook and it got buried and you no longer get value from it.
0:27:00.6 So you’re right, there are a lot of disciplines associated with actually getting value at scale in any of these mediums. I agree with all of that.
I’m going to come back to social once we talk about the paid conversation which will be a little bit down funnel. 0:27:18.0 Let’s across the board, move down to the middle section of the funnel. Some people say TOFU, MOFU, BOFU, standing for Top of Funnel, Middle Funnel, Bottom Funnel. Let’s move to the MOFU section. Dylan, middle of the funnel, what are we trying to accomplish here in the middle of the funnel?
Dylan: 0:27:33.9 Well so if we think of the top of the funnel as getting someone’s attention. Getting them to recognize that you are a thing. Whether that’s someone who read an article or someone that showed up in a search result.
27:48 The next level is trying to get them to trust you and to like you and to be interested in buying from you. And so this is – things that fall into this category are educating people, your reviews – anything that moves them from, “I know you now” to, “I’m ready to call you.” Let’s put it like that.
And so, just quickly going back to Facebook a little bit. One thing that we’ve seen a lot of good come out of Facebook, and this I think it works because it narrows down some of the problems that you’re dealing with in Facebook, is retargeting.
0:28:35.0 And retargeting for people that don’t know what retargeting is, is someone comes to your site, your landing page, from a pay-per-click ad, your website, from SEO, something along those lines, and then you – they somehow get added to this invisible list that you can them show them ads for.
0:28:57.4 Now, that means that you can actually show them Facebook ads. You only show Facebook ads to people that have already visited your stuff. So you know that they’re interested in property management.
So that’s one hurdle in the social stuff that you’ve overcome by marketing to them. 0:29:17.0 A big thing that I believe in, in terms of the whole middle funnel thing is you’re trying to be genuinely helpful to somebody and educate them. It’s not about cutting price, it’s not about – offers are important, but it’s not just about offers. You want to try to be genuinely helpful to somebody and educate them on the process.
0:29:35.4 And so, when I think about retargeting and this would apply for email or anything like that that you would – it’s like following up with somebody that’s already engaged with you, is you want to try to educate them in a way that’s meaningful to them. That gives value to them.
0:29:52.3 And so, a lot of what I see when people do retargeting or email, is like very ‘them’ focused. Is, “What can a renter engage with us for a reason that’s good for the company that’s advertising?”
Jordan: 0:30:08.8 Me, me, me, me, me, me, me.
Dylan: 0:30:10.7 Exactly. So if you go out more from an educational perspective of, “You probably have these pressures.” People don’t know – even if they’re searching for property management, a lot of people don’t even know what that entails. They just know that they – they’re trying to figure out what that looks like.
And so, if you can educate people on the process, on how the pricing works, all these sorts of things, on a general level, you’re going to build trust with them. 0:30:36.3 You’re giving them something for free.
Now obviously it makes sense to try and do it in a way that aligns their education with your – with what you bring to the table as a company.
So, let’s say for example that your tenant screening is like top notch. One of your core differentiators from your competition. Or you might want to talk about an article, why it’s really important to screen your tenants and why that helps you get the most out your property, have long-term people – then they don’t feel like you’re taking from them, they feel like you’re giving to them, and you’re building good will with them.
Jordan: 0:31:21.7 Yup, so focusing on what people actually want. Aligning incentives, and to some degree playing a long game. Leaning in, creating way more value than you’re actually capturing, and having the strategic patience when it comes to actually capturing that value.
0:31:38.1 I want to go back with focusing on what you talked about with Facebook. What you described in brief was pixel tracking. Something with a Facebook pixel on the properties that you own, and then waiting for folks to come back at some point later on in time and doing display ads on Facebook.
0:31:56.5 Can you contrast that versus the other types of paid advertising that you can do on Facebook?
Dylan: 0:32:02.7 Yeah, that’s a great question. So, if you think about Facebook, you are talking about audiences. So to compare it to Google, an audience would be like a keyword that you’re typing in. Someone types in “property management Seattle” they want to show you ads to those people.
Facebook – you build audiences based on information you have about these people. So, you can do it by – typical things are demographic stuff like gender or age or location or interests. Stuff like that.
0:32:34.6 Well, retargeting is a way of creating an audience around people that have already engaged with you. And so, when you’re showing ads to them, you’re showing ads to people that already know you.
So there’s a much – we were talking about temperature earlier – the reason that retargeting works much better than general Facebook advertising, is the audience that you’re targeting with your ads is much hotter. They know you, they already have some experience with you and so they’re much more interested in learning more about you and about property management.
Jordan: 0:33:14.4 Define ‘much better’ for me. What’s the common wisdom on the conversion boost that someone may expect for advertising against a group – a list of folks that are retargeted versus not.
Dylan: 0:33:24.0 Well I mean, if you think about it, you already know that they’re looking of property management. If you think about why somebody got on your retargeting list, they already typed in ‘property management Seattle’ probably.
They showed up at your website, they showed up at your landing page, and so you know that they’re much more likely to buy property management services than they 0:33:47.3 [Inaudible – Jordan talking over] just retarget people that own a home that live in Orlando or something like that.
And so, what’s going to happen is that 0:33:56.6 [Inaudible – Jordan talking over] much more likely to turn into a conversion because you’re walking somebody that’s already started the process of researching property management. And you’re going to see a lot better prices on leads, a lot better conversion rates.
Jordan: 0:34:15.8 Just to qualify that. In both cases, we’re talking about people that are interested in property management right? You’re never going to target people that aren’t interested in property management period.
But in the other case, they’ve actually had some level of brand exposure. It’s an important differentiation.
Mike, can you talk to me about some of the educational considerations at this stage of the funnel? When we think about education, content, adding value, what kind of content might appear at the top of the funnel versus in the middle of the funnel.
Mike: 0:34:44.2 Well just let me make a general comment about the property management prospect’s life cycle. So the difference between the top and the bottom of the funnel may not be that much time. Realistically.
Between somebody saying, “You know, I should pay attention to this” and, “I’m actually going to buy this thing.” It’s not like a house where they’re thinking, “Oh gosh, I’ll buy a house sometime next year.”
0:35:07.3 The whole thing start to finish is maybe 30 days. It can be longer, but it can also be extremely short.
So that’s something to think about that people can bounce between these various funnel spots pretty fast. Back and forth.
35:30 So the most important thing in terms of content from our perspective is to just simply answer the questions that people are actually asking. 0:35:32.5 To make it about them and not about you. To demonstrate your expertise in a way that doesn’t come across as stuffy and distant, but is personal and addresses them and makes them like you. Show a little bit of personality. Address questions.
0:35:49.4 There’s some pretty universal types of questions. People do not understand very much about property management period. They just don’t. And so any area of your business really – is potentially fertile for content.
People don’t understand the screening process. They don’t understand what can go wrong, for example. 0:36:07.6 All you have to do is do a Google search about ‘tenants gone wrong with AirBnB” for crying out loud. There’s some nightmares there.
0:36:16.6 So talk about how you’re tenant’s screening process will prevent those sorts of things and explain all of the different nuances there.
Now what you’re doing, is you’re helping the customer understand why you’re different. You’re also demonstrating your expertise to the customer which makes them feel comfortable. And all the time, they are learning more about the service that they’re going to consume.
0:36:37.1 So I would say any service that you’re going to provide, eviction services, screening – you know some are more interesting than others. People are very concerned about screening, people are very concerned about paying attention to their home and what kinds of things you do to inspect the home.
People are very concerned about pricing. They don’t understand how it works. 0:36:54.5 They don’t understand why they should pay more.
If you don’t help them understand why they should pay more, what the potential risks are do you not pay attention to their home, they’re gonna just hammer you on price, because they don’t know any better. And you need to help them understand.
0:37:08.9 You don’t – “You do not want me to be the cheapest option. You don’t want the cheapest brain surgeon, and I’m telling you right now, this house is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to you. Do you really want somebody who is not going to pay attention? No, you don’t.” And you want to help the person walk through that conversation.
0:37:28.0 And so any content that’s around basic common sense kinds of questions about your products, your services, I think are great, in terms of attracting people’s interest to where they are. I wouldn’t get too cute about it, because frankly, talking about the future of the property management industry and all of that sort of thing. I don’t think the average person is all that interested to be honest with you. I would keep it more meat and potatoes, nuts and bolts. Things that you know something about. 0:37:52.1 And put it in relatable terms.
Jordan: 0:37:56.5 Discount brain surgery. I like that. Nice little thing to anchor against. Yeah, I think Ben Franklin has a quote as well, something to the effect that there’s nothing more expensive than discount services.
0:38:13.6 So yeah, I’m with you on all of that – I do want to dive into the quality threshold though. Because as you articulated, it’s a box that people want to check. It’s a guilt trip they’re giving themselves, “I’ve got to be producing content.”
Is checking the box and doing – is something better than nothing? Doing any form of content, even if it’s – I don’t want to say low-quality, but if it is not a really sincere, heartfelt effort, it really is just that: checking a box.
0:38:40.5 Is that better than nothing? If not, where does the quality threshold exist in your mind for somebody to actually get value from this? And I would just – let me give one more bit of context, and that is: the more competitive the landscape, naturally that bar goes up. It’s a fairly noncompetitive landscape here, but does that excuse lower quality content? How do you guys think about that?
Dylan: 0:39:09.2 I mean, I think that people have high expectations of content. Whether it’s industry-wide or not. People are going through a lot of content. And so, they’re going to naturally compare your content against other content they’ve seen.
Even if it’s not like they have other property management content to compare it to, they know what a polished business’ content looks like. There’s a reason why people are trying to get a nice looking website in the property management sphere.
Certainly, if you’re going to put out content it’s a quality signal to people on a certain level. And if you have medium quality stuff and they expect a higher level of content, then you might do yourself a disservice.
Mike: 0:39:56.1 The place where I think the focus probably needs to rest is – I’ve been to the people that I’ve — “Hey this is commercial quality stuff.” So they focus on the technical, the video aspect of it.
I would put more of the focus, 80% of the focus on the quality of the information that’s being promoted. People can forgive technical issues.
There’s even some times where a 0:40:18.7 [Inaudible] format people – feels more real to people, and not so slick and polished. I’m not suggesting being sloppy for sloppy’s sake, but I would be much more concerned about thinking through, “I’m going to give somebody a real quality answer here.”
0:40:34.1 I’m going to let my personality shine through a little bit to make this not wooden, and whether or not it’s the slickest – whether it’s got an intro and an outro and buffer music and all that stuff, I personally think most of that stuff is overrated from the consumer standpoint.
0:40:50.4 If you can do it, fine. There’s nothing wrong with being commercially up to date and all that stuff, but the expenses start rising at that point. And if you’re just sitting down at your microphone and you’re just riffing or writing something because you should, and it’s kind of lame and it’s kind of like everything else, you have to ask yourself, “If you don’t care, why should anybody else care about the content?” Right?
0:41:16.1 I think there needs to be something that you’re passionate about, something that you feel you’re an expert in, something that’s really delivering value. That’s where I would spend my attention.
Jordan: 0:41:27.0 Yeah, I agree. So my thoughts on that are, if you’re going with checking off the box, then you need to check that box off pretty frequently. I very much am of the opinion that lower quality content can still make an impact if it is done at scale.
That’s not how I would want to run my business, it isn’t how I run my business, but nonetheless, in a given market, if you’re talking about one low-quality post that is of zero value. Ten low-quality posts, probably of zero value. 100 low-quality posts?
Over time, this is an evergreen asset, you’re going to get some level of value out of that. So in that regard, there still is a caveat about something being better than nothing, but that is the caveat that I would give.
0:42:10.7 In terms of quality, my disposition would absolutely be to think about it – think about this pool of all this content that you can do, I would rather scoop together some of those resources and create a smaller number of higher impact, higher quality resources.
0:42:27.1 And I just want to reference that this concept of ‘content shock’ and content shock is when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it. And
I’m quoting Mark Schaefer there 0:42:45.0 [Resource] who actually coined this concept. But I think we’re well past the point where we went from radio to television to the internet and we were no where near the point of saturation. I think now we’re at the point of saturation.
People are not going to consume more content overall, globally, just to view yours. 0:43:06.9 Your content is going to be viewed as one slice of the overall content they’re going to look at. It is a zero-sum game. They’re going to be some winners and some losers.
I would rather err on the side of meeting a higher-quality bar to increase the overall odds that A: somebody pays attention. B: They get value. And C: that they actually take action as a by-product of having seen that content.
0:43:31.9 I think we’re more or less on the same page there. So that kind of covers the overall look at the education type piece. We briefly glossed over reviews. Dylan, I think you mentioned that early on.
0:43:46.5 Guys, talk to me about the place that reviews fit in. They clearly fit in at this section of the buying piece, but as the reviews eco-system has become more robust, as consumer’s expectations have matured and evolved, how are you guys thinking about how reviews influence the buying decision and when they come into play these days?
Dylan: 0:44:12.0 Well, one thing we like to think about is: these are people searching. Right? So put yourself – a good exercise to do is put yourself in the mind of someone that you’re trying to take from let’s say from TOFU down to the BOFU. 0:44:30.3 From the top to the bottom of the funnel. What’s that process look like for the average person?
Well, a lot of times, it’s easy to imagine if you do that, when someone clicks on an advertisement or clicks on your website they see, “Ok this person’s sort of on my list, but I”m going to go back, I’m not going to request a quote from them yet, because I don’t know that much about them.”
0:44:48.6 And then they go and they see your Google reviews and they Google your company, and then your Yelp profile shows up, so they 0:44:55.7 click on your Yelp profile, and they go look at your Yelp reviews, and if your Yelp reviews are bad, they may never contact you.
And so we like to think of the reviews as you’re either sending them further towards you or it can potentially be a roadblock. 0:45:11.8 If you think about what is the customer going to come into contact with as they’re researching. As they’re going throughout the research process to decide whether or not – even if 0:45:20.6 [Inaudible] or somebody else makes the short list or not.
And so we’ve been – obviously different review sites have different importance, but we’ve been very much on the Google train for awhile, but we’re coming to the point where we really believe in Yelp and Better Business Bureau as things that you need to focus on more, because people are going to interact with that.
And if they see that you have good Google reviews, but you have bad Yelp reviews and you have a bad BBB rating, then they’re conflicted. And you don’t want them to be conflicted. You want to be an obvious choice where all three of them you have the highest marks. 0:45:58.5 And so it’s like, “Wow, these guys have it really figured out.”
Jordan: 0:46:02.3 So Dylan, the way I hear you frame that is, you’re framing reviews and reputation as a ‘hygiene factor’. And this term is actually somewhat new to me.
This term came to me from Ben White. He talks about it in one of his books. And the idea of the hygiene factor is, if you’re going on a date with someone, if as you sit down for dinner, you realize that this person is omitting a profuse, foul odour, the date is over.
So it’s really a starter to even get in the game. 0:46:34.7 If I’m thinking about having a conversation with you and I notice you have horrible reviews, the conversation is over. The other non-hygiene factors might be if I’m on a date, does this person – are they attractive, are they intelligent, do they have a good job. XYZ.
0:46:52.3 And correlating that on the side of property management company, it could be, “Do they have advanced technology? Are they friendly? Am I getting the right chemistry from the service rep that I’m dealing with?” Etc.
But on the hygiene factor level, it really is a pass or fail type metric. I agree with you guys on that. You’re talking about expanding from Google over to Yelp over to BBB. Hey, people would love to have reviews everywhere.
But strategically, when you talk about influencing these different mediums, how would you rate the level of difficulty? Now if I through one unit of time, money and effort at trying to impact the reviews on Google versus Yelp versus BBB, what’s the ROI that I’m going to get? What’s the landscape look like for influencing these different mediums?
Mike: 0:47:46.2 Sure. We just recently became a Yelp agency. And we’ve been a Google partner for a long time. So we’ve got a little bit of insights, some of it is not available to the general public.
I would say that on your own, the average property manager goes through an evolution as far as reviews are concerned.
You’ve got the initial, “I shouldn’t have to worry about this. It’s not that big of a deal.” Some property managers over the years, especially in the last five, have really gotten on board. But there’s still quite a divide between the two.
0:48:23.5 And the challenge there, of course, is that our backyards don’t fill up with flowers, they fill up with weeds. So if you, in this business, do not pay attention to your reputation, you are going to find that renters are going to fill your profile up with garbage.
It’s easier to fix that in Google, because Google’s reviews stick better. That’s fact. The average property management company has a poor Yelp profile. I would say eight out of ten. It’s also more difficult to try to fix, once that happens.
There’s lots of different theories as to why. Let’s just put it this way, it’s just – whatever their algorithm is, it is harder to get reviews to stick in Yelp. And so I know lots of property management owners that tear their hair out.
0:49:11.6 As far as BBB is concerned, to be honest with you, once you sign – if you pay to be an accredited BBB account, you will find that your profile looks pretty good actually. Most of the time. You don’t need that many reviews, if any. I’ve seen people with no positive reviews have an A+ profile. 0:49:30.6 on Better Business Bureau.
And that’s an important platform for people in the over 50 crowd. The younger crowed under 50 are going to look a lot more at Google and Yelp than – people want to dismiss Yelp and I would just encourage them to think in these terms. Probably, roughly two-thirds of searches online fall somewhere in the Google world. Specifically you’re talking about desktop primarily. Some mobile.
0:50:00.0 But when you start moving into the world of mobile and outside of Google, you’ll find that roughly about a third of searches online are being done on Yahoo, and Bing.
And then, you also have the Apple platform, which dominates on the mobile side of things. 0:50:19.8 Well, you’re not going to see a Google review pulled up on the Apple platform. No one at Yahoo, no one at Bing. Those are all Yelp.
So, if somebody, and it depends actually – it does vary by geography. If you’re on the west or east coast, you’re more likely to have a Google browser. And if you’re in the south, you’re more likely to search on Bing. 0:50:40.3 Interestingly.
But when you do that, somebody is searching for your reputation, they’re going to see your Yelp profile, so if your Yelp profile sucks, you don’t know how many people are not going to come to your business because your Yelp profile doesn’t look correct. Those are the three that are worth your energy.
0:50:59.3 The only other one I would toss in there for a little bit of effort, sometimes is that Google will pull Facebook. And so if you got – if you want to open up your Facebook profile for a little while and get some reviews, get you know five reviews, four or five stars and then shut it down and let it sit there, Google will continue to pull.
The reason that matters is if someone does a brand search, like property management whatever, you’re going to see a little box on the right hand side that displays your business. It will show your Google review but right underneath that, Google will scrape other review profiles and if your Facebook profile is terrible it will show right underneath there, and that’s not something that you want.
0:51:35.9 So those would be the profiles that we would suggest you focus on. You’re going to get most bang for your buck out of Google and then second of all, unfortunately, even though it’s a lot of work, I think yelp is probably the place where most property management companies ought to invest some energy.
Dylan: 0:51:49.0 And there’s something we like to talk about around here called ‘short list choice’ or ‘obvious choice’. Those are two different things.
So, short list choice is: I have a good enough review profile to put myself on the person’s researching short list. 0:52:05.0 If they’re just to look at reviews, I see like I’m not up near the top of the pack, an obvious choice is, “Wow, they are clearly a top runner, they’ve got five stars and they’ve got 300 reviews, like clearly they are dominating.”
And so the way that we would probably talk about it in terms of distribution, because I think, Jordan, that is sort of what are you asking, like where you want to focus and how do you judge the importance of getting reviews up on different platforms.
0:52:34.9 To me, the first priority would be a short list choice on all of the platforms. You want to remove any conversion roadblocks in the process. So if someone’s researching your company, you don’t want them to see one good thing and then one really bad thing, because that’s going to maybe make them second guess things. 0:52:51.3 So, you want to try to get yourself up to a short list choice on all the platforms.
0:52:57.7 And then probably after that, I would go for a obvious choice on Google. So you’re on the short list for Yelp, but then pour everything you got left into Google and you try to get 2X the amount of reviews as your next competitor while still maintaining a high star rating.
And then, when somebody searches for you and they see you next to your competitors, they’re like, “Wow, that’s a big difference.”
Mike: 0:53:23.3 One other thing I want to comment about is, I think that the average property management owner really is underestimating the importance of what we’re talking about here. I’m not saying they don’t think reviews are important, I think people do think that. I just don’t know if they know how important it is to every phase of their business.
0:53:39.8 Because as we talk about top, middle and bottom of funnel, ultimately you’re talking about out of every ten people, how many are going to become customers.
You are going to find that the conversion rate increases as your review profile goes up. 0:53:52.9 People are bouncing around.
Amazon has changed the game in terms of how people evaluate product. If anybody questions that, I just say, “When’s the last time you bought an amazon product that had three starts or below?”
Jordan: 0:54:06.0 Never. In an era of ubiquity of choice? Never. It would be insanity to do so.
Mike: 0:54:14.3 And so what ends up happening is – it’s actually changed our business model. We recently have been able to offer a guarantee that our leads will close, which is something that’s insane on the surface.
You know, we’re not just passing a lead along, but we’re saying, “Hey, one out of four, one out of five of our leads are going to turn into an actual door.”
And in order to do that, we had to dig into this and ask ourselves, “What are the factors that are influencing conversion here? What are the things we can really hang our hats on?”
And one of the things we kept circling back around to, was this review profiles, particularly in Google and Yelp.
0:54:49.3 Those were the key drivers because not only does a customer feel comfortable, they also do a certain amount of pre-selling of themselves. So, when they come to you via your profile, they feel like, “I’ve done my research.” I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked to prospects that say, “Oh yeah, I’ve looked at your review profile.” So they’re already half convinced.
As long as you take that process from there, you’re just confirming their already good judgement in picking you on the short list.
0:55:19.7 Because when the average prospect comes to an ad, or they come to your profile, the first the question they’re asking is not about the amazing services, they’re asking, “Gosh, I just don’t want to get screwed over. I don’t understand that much, I’m a little bit nervous. I really don’t understand property management. I want to be comfortable and feel like I’m not going to get cheated in some way or waste my time. And I also don’t want to call six companies. I probably only want to call two.”
The majority of people only want to call one company. So, if I can be a superior review profile, I’m going to get a disproportionate number of the phone calls, and those people that do call are already going to have this warm, positive feeling about me. Half convinced.
0:56:00.4 So about half my job is done. You are going to find that all of your various steps are going to work a lot better, your conversion rates are going to be a lot higher, if that’s supported by strong review profile, particularly in Google and Yelp. 0:56:11.6 – 0:56:15.0 [Edit out – cross talk]
Jordan: 0:56:16.0 Well, I was just going to say a flip side of that. Because I completely agree with what you’re saying, it’s a disproportionate edge that you receive, but can we also just kind of pause and talk about the disproportionate negative inertia that comes from negative reviews?
I want to get your all’s take on this. Do you guys think that if you already have a negative set of reviews that that in and of itself creates a level of inertia that is harder to overcome than if you were starting from scratch?
Mike: 0:56:49.6 Do you mean from the property management owners perspective?
Jordan: Correct. As a property management owner, now I care. Now I care about influencing my reviews and I have two sets of scenarios. I’m either starting with 20 1-star reviews, or I’m starting with a blank slate. In terms of the impact that those existing negative reviews are going to have, do you believe that that negative inertia makes it a lot harder to overcome.
And I guess what I’m getting at, in the same way that somebody could have that positive disposition, somebody that sees those negative 1-star reviews, particularly the worse they are, is going be feel even more empowered to leave you another negative review. To pile on right?
Mike: 0:57:37.4 Oh sure, sure, I see what you’re saying. 57:37 Well, it’s also hard from the property management owner’s perspective to right? They’re discouraged. And feeling like, “Gosh, I’ve got a mountain to climb.”
So, yes. If you don’t touch it, you’re right. You’re probably going to – I mean, even if they’re not more inclined, I’m just telling you, renters are going to leave bad reviews. Disproportionately. They just are.
And you’re right, they probably will pile on over time. 0:58:03.8 So, it’s one of those situations where you kind of just have to buckle up if your profile’s not good, you just have to get moving and take responsibility for it. I do see some owners not wanting to own this to their detriment.
0:58:18.5 So they’re like — yeah, I’ve heard them belly ache about all the renters. I agree with them. Renters are never going to get it though.
So you’re either going to say, “Ok, the truth is that renters are never going to get us. They’re always going to blame us for situations that we really can’t control.” That is a fact of life in this business. Right?
And so, if you can own that and say, “Ok that’s going to be the case.” So instead of bellyaching about ten bad reviews, go get 40 good ones.
So the math is, is that the bad ones get buried and they don’t even get noticed. And that’s really the only solution that we’ve seen that actually work over time.
0:58:57.8 And frankly, we went into owners that just don’t want to take responsibility about this. And they’re forever – and by the way, this is an arms race. Your online reputation is an asset. And I guarantee you that five years from now, it will be more valuable than it is even now.
Because Google is on a mission to give consumers what they want. And consumers want relevancy. And one of the things that’s relevant to the consumer is your reputation.
0:59:24.6 So Google’s testing all sorts of things like putting start ratings in your ads. So do you want to be the only person not showing your star ratings in your ads because you’re embarrassed about your star ratings? Pretty soon it’s going to start impacting all your areas of advertising potentially.
So, I’m telling you, if this is an area that you’re not on board with, you’ve got to get on board and just play the long game, start getting some good reviews.
0:59:46.7 And the other thing is, honestly, sometimes you deserve some bad reviews. So improve your internal processes. It’s not on accident that you’re getting – if you’ve got 30 reviews and your star rating is 1.7, you probably deserve it. So you probably should fix some things before you go out and try to solicit a bunch of reviews. Fix some internal processes. Find out what the heck is going on.
Jordan: 1:00:11.0 that’s going to make you a popular guy.
Mike: 1:00:13.5 I’m just telling you those are the facts man.
Dylan: 1:00:15.3 We’ve actually, so it’s funny, we’ve done some review profile help for some of our customers and one time we were – the way we were sending them out is we were sending it out by property manager. So the customers of a particular property manager were getting reviews and we were tracking which the property manager was for the customer.
1:00:38.9 And so, one of the property managers got a bunch of complaints when we were using our review gathering system. And I mean, these weren’t put into the profile, we kind of filtered them off, but it helped the property management owner see, “Well, this employee needs at least a talking to.”
You can find, like as you dig into this process, you can find like, “Oh, there’s some maybe some reasons why I’m getting bad reviews, I need to fix it.” And there’s maybe deeper issues like Mike was saying underneath why these things exist.
Jordan: 1:01:13.8 Sure. I mean it’s got to be a corollary to an NPS score in that regard. Certainly something to pay attention to on the operations side. Last question on reviews and then we’ll move on.
1:01:23.1 How do you guys think the value of unofficial reviews – obviously when we think about the ways that people try to influence their reviews, there’s the very popular methodology, regardless of what tech solution or what platform, the basic methodology is to aggressively solicit the reviews and when you get a positive – in indicator that somebody is happy, send them over to Yelp, send them over to Google.
1:01:48.7 If you get an indication that somebody is happy, send them over to an area where they can leave a review that will not reflect in those areas. That’s basically an internal review. That’s the basic methodology, how do you guys think about the value of those unofficial reviews?
Aside from the value that methodology is being a shield from getting those negative ones on your side. If you have a lot of unofficial 5-star reviews coming from somewhere like 1:02:17.6 Reputation.com, do you think there’s value in that?
Mike & Dylan: 1:02:22.6 No.
Mike: 1:02:26.8 Let me expand upon my answer.
Dylan: I think part of it is why would they trust anonymous reviews on your site. Maybe they’re not anonymous but they’re like, there’s no picture, there’s no last name. It’s just Bob leaving this review on this platform that they don’t know.
1:02:47.7 So the whole part of reviews is to try to get them to trust you. And if they don’t trust the platform that is giving the reviews to them, then they’re not going to trust you further because they don’t trust the system. And so – what were you going to say?
Mike: 1:03:00.7 I was just going to say that the challenge that you’ve got is people have already decided that they trust Google and Yelp. Whether they should or not is beside the point. They’ve already they’re “legit”. There’s nothing wrong with Reputation.com or 1:03:14.7 Birdeye.
We’re a Birdeye partner, you know, we’re not against them. We’re not against reputation.com or Yakudos ((?)) or any of those platforms that people tend to use.
1:03:22.2 The challenge is, the consumer doesn’t know who they are, so it looks a little gamed. And people – whether people admit it or not, we’re bombarded with so much information that we are filtering machines.
And we pick up on super subtle differentiators in order to just save time and be able to filter through the thousands of messages that we get. And one of those things is, “Do I recognize this?” 1:03:48.3
So if they see a review on Google, they figure that Google has done something to protect those reviews, likewise Yelp.
1:03:52.2 On the other hand, if it’s on your site and it looks, it kind of looks good, but the average person – it’s a little bit like when you just do a random search online and somebody says, “Hey they had all these reviews there on their website, do you really believe all of them? You know?” I don’t. I do a lot of online searching and it’s kind of like, “Yeah I don’t know that doesn’t seem that credible.” And I think it goes into that same bucket. I’m not saying – it’s better than nothing, I suppose, but frankly, you’re better of just going straight to the source and making sure that your Google and Yelp reviews, in terms of energy is concerned.
Dylan: 1:04:29.9 I mean, that’s my biggest problem with all of it. And it feels like when you’re reaching out to reviews to your current customers, you have a certain amount that you can ask of them.
Now if you ask them to leave a review on a platform that is not as significant to you, then that’s good will that you’re taking down that you can use to get a review on Google or on Yelp, which I think is a much more strategic decision.
Jordan: 1:04:59.0 That makes sense. So low overall ROI on positive reviews that are not on an official medium. Some value on having 1-star reviews that you are able to not get on those official 1:05:12.3 [Inaudible]. That makes sense to me.
1:05:14.2 Let’s move on now to talk about the bottom of the funnel. And now we’re more or less entering where the conversation typically starts, where most property management owners and brokers want to start the conversation. Is at the money. I want that qualified lead. I want that hot, motivated person that’s ready to sign the cheque.
So this is where people tend to have the strongest opinions. Both in terms of just what they’ve dealt with. I mean gutturally, if you’re running a property management shop, you’ve dealt – most of your experience is at the bottom of the funnel. Having one-off sales conversations etc.
1:05:56.9 But it’s also the area that people are most eager to influence. Because most people are not minded towards the long game. And I want to start here. I want to talk about email. We skipped over marketing automation in the MOFU section.
With marketing automation, the opportunity is to streamline and optimize your systematic communications with prospects. Both to get them on the list and then nurture them once they’re on the list.
1:06:27.0 So I guess I should just ask, do you guys see a significant place for email and marketing automation in the middle of the funnel? Or if you guys were in the shoes of the property manager, would you be primarily leveraging that in the bottom of the funnel?
Mike: 1:06:44.0 I mean to me they sort of run together. Talking about education like we did previously, I don’t think just because somebody reaches out to you they’re done being educated.
So I think that there’s – I’ll break down the marketing automation thing into – you’re trying to sell them on the idea of 1:07:02.9 [Inaudible] and help them and gain trust with them. And then you’re also trying to push the sales conversation forward.
And so I think there’s a place for both of those. 1:07:16.0 You know, we said we skipped over MOFU, I think that there – in the same way that we’re talking about retargeting, I think of it as retargeting too. They reach out to you, but you should be educating them with the same stuff you’re educating them with elsewhere throughout that process. 1:07:34.5
Mike: 1:07:36.3 I just wanted to say, you’re trying to help this consumer understand what it is you do and why you’re a good choice. So, higher in the funnel, maybe a bit more content, more authority positioning, like, “These guys seem to know what they’re doing” sort of thing.
As they get closer to the finish line, it’s a little bit more, “This is how we compare to your other choices” because that’s the natural thought process that a consumer goes through.
1:08:03.5 Like, well I’ve got these choices in front of me, why should I pick you instead of these other companies. So you’re communications at that point probably should be more around those sorts of things. And kinds of guarantees you offer because people are very risk averse.
1:08:16.1 And so, “Gosh, what if I make the wrong choice?” “Well here’s the thing, you can leave anytime and we’ll refund you up to 90 days. Those are the kinds of things, and you don’t want to make them in a big clump, you want to drip them out to people so they can consume and savour each piece as you go on.
1:08:33.3 Even add one more thing and this is moving beyond bottom of the funnel to getting people to react and that is, I think there should be a drip campaign going on after someone signs the contract. To help them feel good about their decision.
The follow up, aren’t you glad you bought our car sort of thing. And just letting people know the things you’re doing for them. We’re doing quarterly inspections and we just wanted you to know. Here’s some things – we’re taking all your phone calls so you can have more free time.
1:09:04.6 Just something small to remind them, because people are going to – they’re going to sign that lease and then make another buying decision. And if you want lifetime value of your customers to extend out to four or five or six years, they have to continue to feel good about working with you. So your sales process is never done is what I’m saying. 1:09:21.5 Even if you get people to sign the first time.
Jordan: 1:09:25.4 Well said. So the point here is that marketing automation, in terms of scope, applies to the entire lifecycle. You push it up as early as you can right? You get that lead captured. You gate that lead magnet.
You get somebody on your list and then you educate them until they’re sufficiently motivated that now they’re a prime target. They’ve engaged with the educational content. They’ve silently raised their hand and indicated that they would now be ripe for some additional more sales oriented, company oriented type communications.
1:09:58.6 And then you have the strategic offer. Whether or not that is the free rental price analysis or some kind of a discount, whatever it may be, that’s when the sales conversation begins.
1:10:10.2 So let’s kind of break down the various pieces of the sales process. With these folks that we’re talking about now, we’re talking about leads. We’ve graduated from the prospect up to a lead. Somebody that is ready to buy in the near term. They have a near term buying need, and the very first thing that happens is initial contact.
1:10:32.8 Somebody calls you, they fill out a contact form. Mike, I know you have some opinions, you’ve seen this first hand, you’ve dealt with calls coming in, talk to me about the importance of managing first impressions in that first touch.
Mike: 1:10:48.2 Well, I’ll just – we’ll put our money where our mouth is. I’ll tell you some of things that we’re testing on our own leads. Because we believe in it so much. So, we’ve experienced very uneven results in terms of people actually following up on leads as quickly as we think they should.
1:11:06.3 And so the question we’ve asked ourselves is, “How can we help our customers do a better job, because life happens.” The property manager 1:11:13.6 [Inaudible] so one of the things we’re testing right now is as soon as you strap in, you’re sent to a thank you page that tells you exactly what’s going to happen. And you receive a text and you receive an email in your inbox. All within the first 15 seconds.
1:11:28.1 Because our belief is, as soon as that person clicks the submit or whatever button and says, “Hey, why don’t you contact me?” the job interview process has started. They’re trying to decide if they’re going to give you their multi-hundred thousand dollar asset to take care of for them and they want to know that you’re on the ball.
And so if the first thing – the first impression you give them is, “Oh my gosh, these guys are all over it,” that’s a good signal. That’s what you want to send people.
1:11:56.1 On the other hand, if you don’t call them back for 48 hours, they’re like, “God, this is the first date, it’s only going to get worse from here, holy smokes.” Right? So it’s crucial from our perspective that people are all over the first contacts. That they contact them on the first day.
But we’re even trying with some automated stuff to give people the impression, “Boom” it’s like within 15 seconds. We’re working on this thing as soon as you contact us.
Jordan: 1:12:25.7 So you got to pick up the phone and call people back. If you can’t call somebody back, and this is a piece of advice that I give all the time and would love to hear your commentary, my advice is, of course you want to have the most qualified person within your organization call that lead back, pick up the phone initially, but if they can’t, what is the utility of stair-stepping down your organization to where at the very end you have your front desk person – whoever the least qualified or least trained person in your organization, it’s better to have that person call a lead back within 15 seconds versus having the right person call back in an hour, six hours, a day later, etc. True or false?
Mike: 1:13:09.7 Definitely true. I mean, for example, another test we’ve got queued up is what happens if once you opt in, what happens if an assistance will call you – let’s say Jordan you run a property management service and I call you within one minute and say, “Hey this is Mike, I’m XYZ’s assistant. XYZ is in an appointment, I just wanted to let you know we’re on this, we’re working on it, I wanted to confirm all your information and just let you know that he or she is going to be back in touch with you within the next eight hours or six hours or whatever.”
1:13:42.4 What does that feel like inside? To have somebody boom, on top of it. Do you understand what I mean?
Jordan: 1:13:48.1 Yeah, absolutely. So in a LeadSimple paradigm, which is the one that I happen to live in, I’m imagining even using a third-party service. Let’s say you took it a step further. You’ve got yourself as the primary contact – somebody fills out a contact form, LeadSimple calls you first, you’re unavailable. Call rolls over, call somebody else. Call somebody else, they’re unavailable.
Even if we have a third-party, external service, a VA, whoever, calling that person back, as long as the call back is still happening within 30 seconds, we’re still getting the warm fuzzies. We’re still leveraging the ‘wow moment’.
1:14:20.7 That’s what I talk about a lot. You call somebody back within 30 seconds after filling out a contact form, it’s a wow moment. You call somebody back, you’re just doing your job. You call somebody back, you’re officially late. Big opportunity there.
1:14:35.6 Past the initial contact, when we start engaging in the actual conversation, we’re having the conversation, in your mind what is the right way to approach that conversation that is effectively happening over, and over, and over again. 1:14:52.4 Common objections, issues, concerns. We’re getting into the soft side of the things. 1:14:57.2 [Inaudible – glitch] would you make when you think about navigating through an initial sales call?
Mike: 1:15:04.0 Well I’ve had the benefit of listening to literally thousands of these. We’ve generated 18,000 leads in the time we’ve been doing business in the property management space. And this 1:15:15.4 [Inaudible – poor quality recording] to him, and I’ve also taken a number of them myself. Sometimes they bounce back to us. And so I’ve got some first hand experience in this. I will tell you the most important thing if I was going to say, “Hey make sure and do this thing” is you actually have to be a decent human being and actually listen. 1:15:31.1 I realize that’s going to sound – I don’t know what that’s going to sound like to the person listening to the podcast.
Jordan: 1:15:38.7 [Inaudible – cross talk/laughter] if they don’t.
Mike: 1:15:39.5 Well, here’s the thing. The average person comes in from – they’re frustrated or they’re busy or wherever, they want to know that you get them. They want to know that you heard what they had to say.
So, just listen carefully. You don’t launch into your speech. You listen carefully, and then without sounding cheesy, you repeat back to them. Make sure you got what they want.
1:16:03.5 And I realize that sounds like elementary 101 stuff, but I will tell you, it is routinely ignored. And if you don’t do that, the prospect is sitting there thinking, “They don’t get me. They don’t get me.” And that’s what’s on their mind. “Yes, but. Yes, But. Yes, but.”
But if you can hear them out, listen to — “Oh yeah, so it sounds to me like you want to know about what we’re going to charge. You want to know what services we offer and it sounds like your last experience you were frustrated because the property wasn’t inspected frequently enough. Did I get all of that right?” That’s what the – and the prospect will either say yes or no, they’ll say, “Well yes, and there’s one more thing.” Great. So and then you just summarize it again.
1:16:43.4 That also gives you the opportunity to not launch into the price conversation that most people lead with, “Yeah that’s what we charge.” I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard somebody say that, “Well what do you charge?” “Well we charge 8%” “Ok, thank you bye.” Literally the phone – the conversation is over in 20 seconds. 1:17:00.5 That was 1:17:01.4 [Inaudible].
Jordan: 1:17:02.6 It’s transactional. You’re just running a cash register at that point.
Mike: 1:17:06.9 So instead of that, what about something like, “Ok, so what I hear from you is that you’re really concerned about price. Did I get that right? I will definitely address that.”
And then you want to be able to bridge into some other conversations and not just talk about price. Because that person should be concerned more about something else than just price, because it’s not just price. We all know that. Right? 1:17:27.2 “Yeah, it’s a dollar.” “A dollar for what?” Right?
They need more information. What they’re really telling you if that’s all they ask is, “I don’t know what else to ask, I’m nervous, this whole process makes me nervous” so you have to bridge in people in there.
Jordan: 1:17:44.1 I like where you’re coming from. I just want to pause on that. I like where you’re coming from Mike, because you’re not blaming them. You’re saying they don’t know what to ask, they’re an uneducated, undiscriminating consumer, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just where they’re at.
So rather than blaming them and saying, “Whoop, red flag. They’re a tire kicker, they’re just asking about price, they want the lowest price.”
1:18:07.6 Rather than projecting that on to someone in the absence of asking a bunch of qualifying questions, start off with the most optimistic assumption, which is they simply don’t know what to ask. I love that advice. Keep going.
Mike: 1:18:19.8 Well, the other thing that I see happen over and over again, is people just aren’t ready for the obvious questions they’re going to be asked.
So, if you are taking a property management phone call, you’re going to get asked what you charge. It’s going to happen nine out of ten times. You’re going to be asked what services do you provide? How does the process work?
I mean, I can tell you almost 98% of the time when I take a call, those subjects come up. 1:18:48.1 So you better have a good answer. Right? Don’t just shoot from the hip. Think it through.
And when I say think it through, not just think it through like here’s an answer, but also think in terms of the prospect. I think to have a quick way of saying this that’s engaging – a metaphor, an illustration, a quick story, something that will engage people, because you’re going to get asked, 80% of the time you’re going to get asked the same things over and over again.
1:19:16.5 Is it a script? It kind of is actually. Should it sound like a script? No. It shouldn’t sound like a script because then people feel – the magic is broken, you’re not engaging with them as a human being. Which is primary because it brings trust.
You need to be comfortable enough in your own skin, understand your product well enough, to be able to help people visualize and understand because what you’re asking them to do is to understand an abstract service that they haven’t received.
1:19:44.7 Somehow you’ve got to make that real enough for people to get it. I’m not saying endless stories, ten minutes worth of extemporary speaking, I’m just saying something quick, something that gets to the point and then quickly circling around and saying, “Does that make sense? Is that cause more questions? What’s on your mind?” Or, “Can we set an appointment to talk more in depth?” Whatever seems to be appropriate.
But you need to be ready with that basic stuff. 1:20:11.3 Because no matter how much you empathize and connect with them on the initial phone call, sooner or later they want to know if you know anything. Right? I mean you have to know something about property management. You have to know how your company is different than companies A, B and C. If they talk about 1:20:25.4 [Inaudible].
Jordan: 1:20:25.7 Well said. Getting you pitch dialed in right? So you’re doing a little dance here right? And if you know you’re going to get danced over and over and over, and over hundreds of times a year, every time you either just going to intuit out this little awkward shuffle, or you’re going to have practiced in this thing that is massively important. Hundreds of times a year.
When you get asked to get dance, why not be practiced to the point where you can whip out your salsa, bachata, merengue, whatever you’re into, be prepared for the money question that you know is going to come over and over again. Very good advice.
1:21:01.2 when you talk about listening, I’m reminded of the skit of The Me Monster from Brian Regan 1:21:08.0 [Resource]. Have you guys come across that?
Mike: No I haven’t.
Jordan: 1:21:12.1 Well go Google it. If you’re listening to this right now in the audience, go Google ‘Me + Monster + Brian Regan’. I’ll link it up in the show notes. It’s a hilarious exaggeration of this idea of focusing on “We’re number one”, “Here’s our awards”, “We’re Fortune 500”, etc. All of those things matter to some degree, but they’re not primary.
1:21:32.8 What’s primary is that I have a specific problem and I’m trying to figure out whether or not you can understand it, which in part means you’ve got to listen and regurgitate it back to me. And if you can’t do that, everything else is just going to be dressing – window dressing around the top.
1:21:48.2 So, we talked about that initial conversation, that dialogue. Handling that conversation. Now let’s talk about pricing. Discounts. Fees. When you get that client on the other end of the phone that you believe is purely motivated by price, you’re either going to hang up and say, “Not qualified” or you’re going to stand your ground or you’re going to cave on pricing.
And unfortunately, extreme discounting, especially for early, younger companies that don’t feel like they have the credibility or the leg to stand on, is pretty common.
1:22:19.3 In your mind, what is the right time and context in which to leverage discounts to actually close a deal?
Mike: 1:22:28.7 Dylan, you got an opinion about that?
Dylan: 1:22:30.7 Well, I mean I think that sometimes there can be a way to – I mean, we want to keep it related to the process right? Obviously, if they’re not going to – you don’t have to offer any kind of discount you don’t want to.
Let’s say, for example, that you have your initial phone conversation with somebody, you sent them some follow up information, 1:22:56.6 [Inaudible – glitch] or don’t want to engage necessarily, but they’re further along in the process and you just need something to get them over the edge.
1:23:03.2 That’s when I think that offering them something for free to maybe re-engage with you, to get off the fence, might be something that would be worth considering.
Mike: 1:23:15.9 Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. Because then – the number of people you offer discounts to, A it’s a very small pool, and B, you’re not publicly advertising it. And sending that signal out there that we’re open for wheeling and dealing.
1:23:29.2 It’s not a good way to run a business from my perspective. Really, if you keep getting – if all you can 1:23:34.1 [Inaudible] that’s your entire model. Right? Unless you’re like 1:23:38.0 [Inaudible] and that’s what we’re going to lead with, fine. That’s your entire model.
1:23:42.0 For most property management companies, that’s not the way. They are offering a discount as a concession, as a way to get business in the door. And I would say, if you consistently are getting that objection, you either A, where you take a look at the competition is in your marketplace and reframe your entire model.
Because if you’re charging 10% and everybody in the market is 6%, then you do have a serious competitive problem. 1:24:02.8 But most of the time, it’s not that situation. It’s just that the consumer doesn’t get why you should pay more.
My wife sells women’s clothes and if you don’t understand the difference between high-quality fabrics and low-quality fabrics, you’re not going to understand why she’s going to charge you $1000 for a dress. 1:24:19.8 It’s just not going to make any sense to you.
You have to understand the difference in fabrics, and it’s her job as a sales person to point out, this isn’t just your normal cotton, this is pima cotton from the mountains of Chile, or wherever the heck or whatever you’re talking about.
You need to give a good answer to the consumer and say, “You know something, we charge a fair price.” And I think that’s actually a really good word to anchor around.
Because I hear people say, “Well, we’re not the cheapest.” 1:24:48.9 I think that immediately sends the consumer into an “Oh my God, I’d better in defensive mode or they’re going to take money from me.”
All you’re really thinking is, “Hey, we charge a fair price and here’s why that should matter to you. Let me explain why you want to work with a company that charges a fair price.
1:25:03.7 Because you don’t get something for nothing. If you – if we charge you nothing up front, we can’t afford to pay attention in your home. Do you want us to ignore your home? You don’t do you?” I wouldn’t want somebody to ignore my home and yet the companies that charge bottom basement fees, they’re forced to.
Because they don’t have – they don’t have the time and attention because they’re out making money. They’re bringing the next customer in. It’s an endless cycle. So you want to pay at a fair price, because you want your home taken care of. 1:25:33.8 There’s worse things than “overpaying” by ten dollars a month. The worst thing is getting $50,000 worth of damage to your home because we weren’t paying attention and doing our job.
Jordan: 1:25:43.6 Well said. And it’s worth noting that your branding and marketing positioning either supports or detracts from that claim. Anybody can say, “Yeah, we charge a lot because we provide a high-quality service.”
But everything about – everything from the aesthetic of your design to the copy that is on your website to all of the interactions that you’ve had up to that point, either add to that claim making sense, or there being even more incongruency. “Well hey, everything I’ve seen up to this point looks like a B-level company, but you’re charging me A+ level rates. That really doesn’t make sense.”
1:26:21.0 I have one last question on the sales process and that is, meeting in person versus online. I got really divided opinions. The default is meeting in person. It’s the comfortable thing to do. Some – if you’re really committed in that route, you can always lay claim to belly-to-belly, in-person sales. I get the value of that, particularly in the context of closing.
On the flip side, for smaller operators, broker owner, it’s a one-man show, he’s thinking about windshield time. How much driving am I going to be doing?
1:26:56.4 And even if you have a couple of BDMs, you’re still thinking about windshield time, because that’s cost and money that’s going out the door. 1:27:03.9 Do you guys have any strong opinions on in-person versus online pitching?
Mike: 1:27:12.2 Well, to me it really boils down to certain practical considerations. There’s never going to be a substitute for a three-dimensional sales person with a human touch.
So, people that favour in-person, they’re right on that level, because that’s why we have meals with our family and we talk to our friends face to face instead of over the phone all the time. 1:27:38.1 Right? So there’s definite benefit there.
1:27:40.8 The question is not whether it’s superior, because it probably is superior, the question is whether it’s practical. And whether you can really do it at scale. Whether it’s – the incremental benefit is worth it versus other options that you have, because we’ve got customers that – 50% of the customers are outside of the area, so it’s not even a consideration. 1:28:00.5 Can’t even be done. And especially…
Dylan: 1:28:02.9 I’ll throw something in there too. It’s not just phone call, they never see your face in a meeting. There’s in-between solutions that we’ve seen people do.
There’s obviously like, you know – we’ve seen people that they have services where they can send a pre-recorded video to your email. And so then at least you’re getting some sort of, ‘they know your face’ – they’ve still talked to you, they’ve seen who you are.
1:28:31.8 So there’s definitely ways to do in-between solutions that you should consider as well in all of this.
Mike: 1:28:37.4 And I think that’s part of what we’re talking about with various content options in terms of sharing stuff with folks. I think it’s highly effective to shoot a quick video of yourself answering some of these questions.
Because there’s things you can communicate through your facial expressions and your tone that you can’t necessarily always communicate and be 1:28:58.5 [Inaudible – glitch] and not everybody’s a good writer anyway.
1:29:01.0 But everybody can just sit there and talk. And I think a series of small, short videos that address ongoing questions could be valuable and a kind of an in-between thing as well.
1:29:13.8 I don’t know – I’ve thought about times of things like, “Oh gosh, well we’ll do a live Skype session and do face-to-face.” I kind of think that’s overwhelming to the average person and probably not going to be very effective.
1:29:28.0 So I don’t know if you can go that route unless somebody’s relatively sophisticated or you’re working on a hardware that’s expected. Maybe in Austin, Texas you could do that, or Seattle or The Bay Area, where people assume that sort of thing a little bit more.
1:29:42.0 But I think the average person probably usually has really good phone skills. I mean honestly, I think that’s going to cover most situations. Unless in your particular area, you’re servicing a 30 mile territory around your office, it’s undoubtably true that the majority of customers feel more comfortable when the property management company is close to their property.
1:30:03.8 Whether that should be true or not, they do. They feel like you’re going to be more Johnny on the Spot. So, you’re going to have more success with that personalized touch closer to your office, but I just don’t know how well that scales, practically speaking.
1:30:21.3 If I was running a company, I would probably employ a mix. Frankly. If it was easy and close by the office, I’d do that. But for the most part, I’d probably would assume that we couldn’t meet face-to-face. And so all my processes need to operate without that additional advantage, so to speak.
Jordan: 1:30:41.9 Fair enough. And the bottom line is you have to account for both anyway. You’re going to have out of state, overseas investors.
You do bring up a good point, about the online meeting being a little bit of a tech hassle. I’m thinking about everything we had to do 1:30:55.6 [inaudible – laughter] I’m thinking about having done hundreds of pitches myself via Join.me, online tools, etc. Every tenth one, there’s just some nuclear blow up with people just not being able to figure out the technology.
And if I was segmenting that and saying, the subset of my audience that is more or less technologically savvy, I’d probably alter my approach. Plenty of considerations there. Appreciate the feedback.
1:31:22.9 I want to move on now to the rapid-fire section of the interview. A couple things. One thing I want to get out of the way before we do that, is to talk about your tech stack. 1:31:35.6 We talked about top of funnel, middle of funnel, bottom of funnel.
We did not talk about on-boarding, we did not talk about client retention, and we did not talk about generating referrals. Maybe food for thought for another show. We’ll have to see. But before we move to the rapid-fire section, I want to just talk briefly about the tech stack.
1:31:54.7 What do you guys use in your day-to-day tech stack? What do you advise for clients when it comes to CRM, landing pages, email marketing, heck, online meetings. Give me some names.
Mike: Dylan, this is you baby.
Dylan: 1:32:09.4 So problem is I’d probably recommend different things for our customers than I would for us. But let’s say for landing pages, I really like Unbounce 1:32:18.5 [resource]. They also offer some overlay options as part of it.
So, overlays are if somebody’s leaving your site, you can offer them something if they’re bouncing. So you have lots of flexibility. It’s really easy to use. They have lots of designs that are already in there. 1:32:40.6 Terms of marketing automation and followup long term, we use Drip 1:32:47.5 [Resource]. We find that really easy to use and very affordable.
Jordan: 1:32:55.0 Shout out to Rob Walling with Drip, great product. We’re making the switch over from ActiveCampaign. Right now we’re split between MailChimp, ActiveCampaign and Intercom 1:33:04.2 [Resource]. Can’t ditch Intercom, but we’re trying to ditch ActiveCampaign and MailChimp and move over to Drip. But I would note that it’s definitely for – it is a little bit more of a power user.
Dylan: 1:33:15.1 Agreed. Agreed.
Jordan: …situation to get the most of the value. The other categories.
Mike: 1:33:21.3 CRM. I can jump in there. This is going to sound like we’re trying to suck up, but it’s LeadSimple 1:33:29.2 [Resource] and nobody else. And we’re saying that.
We’ve actually built it into our on-boarding process now because we’re trying to guarantee close rate on our leads, we have to know if the lead’s close. 1:33:43.6 And so we need a feedback loop. And so we’re working with our customers to get on LeadSimple. There’s just not another choice. We see people try to cobble together some stuff.
Dylan: 1:33:55.2 [Inaudible – talk over] make a custom solution. Please don’t.
Mike: 1:33:58.1 Yeah, don’t. I mean, it’s affordable and you can’t know how fast you’re responding to your calls, and the other solution, that’s one thing you can’t find anywhere else.
1:34:08.6 You’re also not going to find anything that’s specifically for property management. There’s just not another option. And so, when you purchase a CRM, it’s an investment in the future. Because you’re not going to just switch CRMs willy-nilly.
1:34:27.0 Once you’ve got your data in there, it’s a pain in the neck once you’ve trained people. So you have to ask yourself, not only which features do I like, but also what’s the future of this company in this industry. 1:34:35.1 Will they innovate? Will they continue to keep up with what’s going on? What if things change? That’s the part that I don’t think people fully evaluate when they look at software. You have the company itself.
For example, LeadSimple. 1:34:48.0 You’re going to see it at the NARPM conferences, they’re going to be accountable in that way to the industry. They’re going to constantly be getting feedback.
And so if something changes in the property management industry in two years, you can bet that sooner or later that feature, if it’s important, is going to show up somewhere in LeadSimple.
1:35:03.3 So I just think it’s not a hard decision to make and I’m not making any money by making that recommendation today.
Jordan: 1:35:13.6 Well Mike you’re going to make me blush. I appreciate the feedback on that. That answers the question about the tech stack. And now we’re going to jump right into the rapid-fire section of this interview. And the point here is I just want to get guttural answers from you guys on questions that I think are important.
1:35:34.0 And the very first question is, how much is too much to pay for a new property management contract? I’m talking about customer acquisition cost. And we’re not factoring in sales labour. Just on the marketing dollars that went out the door. How much is too much to pay for a new property management contract?
Mike: 1:35:56.0 The guttural answer is it will vary by company. But if you wanted some broad guidelines, we were on the podcast, your podcast the other day with Renters Warehouse and they’ll pay between $500 and $2500 dollars. Right? And so.
Jordan: 1:36:13.2 That’s obviously an acquisition.
Mike: 1:36:17.3 I understand. I understand. But it’s a relative benchmark that you can look at and say – it sounds insane. How can they offer so much?
And I think the reality gets down to, you have to know how long a customer is sticking around, and how much you’re making. You have to know the lifetime value of your customer in order to actually answer that question.
Because I’ve heard people answer $300. $900. $1000. $700. $500. I mean, people are very passionate. “I can’t make a nickel if it’s over, you know if it’s $600 a paid contract.”
So the answer is, it will vary depending on your model and how long you can retain a customer. Most of my customers that I talk to anecdotally seem to be able live with somewhere between $300 and $700 bucks. That seems to be fairly standard.
Some have come to me and said $1000 works for them. They’re willing to buy portfolio stuff at $1000. So, that’s the range and I know if somebody says $100 or $200 that they’re not going to be long in the land, because you cannot find – you can’t really scale much. What you’re really saying is, I’m going to take only referral business at that point. And not even pay a realtor for that. 1:37:27.3 A realtor referral costs more than that. So.
Jordan: 1:37:30.2 I like that commentary on the low end. I think that makes a lot of sense. Dylan, next question is directed at you. Who do you guys learn from? Give me some names on some key influences.
Dylan: 1:37:43.5 If I could step back to that last question and through something else in there really quick and then I’ll get to your next question.
Jordan: Hit it man.
Dylan: 1:37:51.7 This is sort of a side issue with this, but obviously when you’re talking about cost-per-close deal, you’re going to be looking at it on different sources.
So maybe you’re looking at it – if you’re sophisticated, you’re looking at AdWords, you’re looking at Yelp, you’re looking for a website. LeadSimple helps to track all of this, but the overall arching conversation that we’re having here is that the funnel is swiggly((?)). It’s a technical word we like to use.
1:38:24.1 So someone clicks on your AdWords ad. They click on that, they go to your Yelp profile, they go to your website and then they convert to a customer. There’s a fancy word called attribution. Like how you figure out, you know, what’s responsible for that.
1:38:39.0 The main real point is that you want to be careful when trying to attribute certain things, especially if they’re higher in the funnel to a price for closed contracts.
1:38:52.1 So, for example, let’s take AdWords. Let’s say that your close for – a cost per closed contract is $600 and you’re really looking at a $400. That’s what you were aiming for. Well, part of the issue might be that some of that traffic is bleeding down, further down the funnel without getting attached to AdWords.
And so if you turn off AdWords, you’re going to turn down – turn off stuff that’s further down the funnel. So that’s just a word of caution for people as you’re trying to judge what’s my cost per closed contract and what’s responsible for that amount and just so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot and realize, “Oh crap, I’m getting half of the closed deals that I thought I was because I turned off this thing.” You know, Yelp is crazy good in terms of their cost-per-close deal, and AdWords sucks, but maybe they’re working together.
Jordan: Good thoughts.
Dylan: 1:39:49.4 [Edit out] Sorry, can you remind me of the question.
Jordan: Yeah, the other question was, who do you guys learn from? 1:39:53.4 [Edit out]
Dylan: 1:39:53.7 So one of our core influences I would say is, a guy named Perry Marshal 1:40:03.0 Resource]. And the reason we learn so much from him is he’s both on a technical marketing level – that’s kind of how he started, so if you’re trying to do DIY AdWords, which – you know, good luck.
But if you’re trying to get a good how-to beginners guide, his book is really the best you can go with. 1:40:24.6 [Inaudible] too technical and focuses on higher level things.
He’s transitioned to more of a strategic thinking. I know that you are a big fan of 80/20, Jordan, and so he – and so he’s really focused a lot of his stuff to there. And so it helps with strategic decisions, how do you move forward and pick the – if you’re unfamiliar with the 80/20 principal, it’s 20% of your efforts, 80% of your results, so you can really leverage every part of your business from marketing to sales to operations, by doing that. Mike, who would you throw in there in terms of people that we really follow and learn from?
Mike: 1:41:10.2 Well, the challenge with us is that we get into some pretty wonky, technical stuff that I don’t think would be generally applicable. I will say that there’s another side to the – if you’re going to do your own marketing or be concerned with your own marketing, there’s the technical side of, “How do you set up an AdWords campaign” or, “How do you do SEO in your website.”
But there’s also – you’re always, when you’re dealing with online marketing, you’re always dealing with two audiences. You’re dealing with the human being and then you’re dealing with whatever technology system you’re a part of.
So in the instance of Google, you’re dealing with GoogleBot. 1:41:47.9 And being able to satisfy what’s essentially just a little miniature electronic robot. And you have to address both sides of things because if you don’t have a good AdWords campaign that structurally works, or you don’t have a website that ranks organically, you’re never going to get seen.
1:42:05.2 The flip side of that is, when the human being gets there, if they don’t understand what you’re talking about, if your offer doesn’t resonate with people, if the copy on your landing page doesn’t connect with them, then you’ve wasted your time anyway.
1:42:18.8 So I would say on the flip side of the conversation, beyond the technical aspects of it, there’s some copywriters that I think are worthy of paying attention to. Gary Halbert 1:42:30.0 would be one of them. Eugene Schwartz 1:42:31.0 is another copywriter. These are all old school guys. Another person that I think is really good is Dan Kennedy. He’s more contemporary.
1:42:38.2 These are all people that understand the fundamentals of direct response marketing. Which for most property management companies, you should forget about building your brand and you should focus simply on direct response marketing.
And those sources will all point you in the right direction in general. 1:42:58.3 Direct response marketing, if you were going to summarize it, is accountable advertising. You expect a result. You see how things go. You spend X you get Y return, and you evaluate it and you tweak and you improve as you go on. So all of those people would be worthwhile in terms of copywriting, in terms of ad testing, all that sort of thing.
Jordan: 1:43:20.7 Aw man, you’re speaking my language. Direct response. That’s not a topic that gets brought up a lot. It is an old topic. It’s an old theme, because it came from the traditional mediums of mail, for example. Mail, direct mail, being the primary medium.
You sent out all this physical mail and you’re not – 20, 30 years ago, you’re not trying to get people on the email list, you’re just trying to get that cheque. You have to be able to say, X number of dollars went out and X number of orders came in.
And the implicit accountability in the medium developed a school of thought that was really focused on analyzing the consumer, the emotions, the mindset that the consumer goes through and figuring out how to actually persuade and influence it.
Everybody that you mentioned I would vouch for. 1:44:14.3 I’m thinking about the No BS Guides from Dan Kennedy 1:44:17.8. I’m thinking about The Boron Letters 1:44:21.8. There’s a lot of great books out there within the direct marketing world, and I will go ahead and link to some of those in the show notes.
1:44:29.8 My next question is this. For both you guys, what’s the number one mistake you see property management entrepreneurs making when it comes to sales and marketing? I’m sure we could all come up with a long list of things, but if you had to boil it down just to one thing each, what would it be.
Mike: 1:44:44.9 [Edit out] Dylan?
Dylan: 1:44:50.3 I gotta take a second to think about it, you go ahead.
Mike: 1:44:50.3 1:44:44.9 Edit out. 1:44:52.4 To me, it’s know your numbers. I’m still surprised every day. I probably talked to 30 owners in the last two weeks. I’m always surprised by how fuzzy the numbers are.
How they don’t really have an idea of what their cost per door is. And in fact, I just wrote a NARPM article that’s going to come out here in a couple months on this. I think every owner needs to know what their cost per door is, and they need to know what their lifetime value of a customer is.
1:45:23.5 Because I don’t know how you set up a meaningful marketing campaign without knowing those two pieces of information.
Sure, you want to know what the price per lead is and your conversion rate and all that stuff, but ultimately, your business is – you can’t deposit conversion rate in the bank, you can only deposit money, and money comes from signed management contracts.
So, that’s to me a focus. And then you need to know, “Ok, how much can I afford to pay for that management contract?” And people are always, “Well, as cheap as I can!” “Really? Not really”. I don’t agree with that.
Because different channels are going to produce a door at a different price. So if you know that you’re going to make $2000 or let’s say $3000 in net profit over the lifetime value of a customer, how much should you be willing to pay for a new door? 1:46:16.7 Some of them say, “Oh, only $500.” “Really, you wouldn’t do it for $600, not for $700? Not for $1000?”
And so that’s why it’s so critical that you understand how much each customer’s worth to you, because then you can decide, “Well, this channel, which is not as profitable.” But everybody’s like, “Oh, well I want more referrals.” “Ok great, well let’s try to scale that.” “Well I want to grow.” “Well you can’t scale with referrals probably, ok?” “Where am I going to go from there?” “Well, every channel gets more expensive.”
People talk a lot about Renters Warehouse. “Oh my gosh, how can they afford to be on radio?” Well, the answer is they know the lifetime value of a customer. They’ve figured it out. And maybe they do pay. I have no idea what they pay, but let’s pretend they pay $1500.
Well, as long as they’re making five, three, four, five grand for every customer they bring in, they can afford to pay $1500. And, they have the entire radio market to themselves. Nationwide. And that’s because they know their numbers.
Now I’m not saying those are the actual numbers. I’m just saying on a theoretical basis, that’s how it would work. 1:47:13.2 and every channel’s going to be a little bit different price wise. And you need to be able to afford to do business in as many channels as possible if you really want to scale and grow and dominate a market.
Jordan: 1:47:24.7 Dylan, your thoughts.
Dylan: 1:47:26.6 Yeah, I think that people – property management companies, they have processes built into the operations side of their business. Because they have to. But I think a lot of times – we touched on it today is that there’s not a system, there’s not a process for their marketing.
1:47:44.5 They have an AdWords campaign, and they hired someone else to do – and you know, somebody takes the phone, maybe it’s the secretary or it goes to voicemail. The sales person probably goes off the cuff, they have maybe something they send. There’s no continued automation, there’s no way of taking people from high in the funnel to low in the funnel. And so it’s thinking through these.
You know, they’re not super complicated necessarily, some of them. But there needs to be a process around them. A process that you can measure.
Going back to the numbers, obviously the core dollars is important, but you know, understanding where the sales process is broken is also super important Of like, ok using – actually using something like LeadSimple to figure, “Ok, how fast are we calling people back” and actually listening to your sales people’s phone calls.
I mean, that’s something that we’ve said, “Hey you should listen to this sales call here that your employee did” and they can’t listen to the whole thing because it’s too painful.
And so, part of what you do is you get in there and you figure it out and you develop a system. And so that you can know that it’s going to be happening the way that you want it to and you’re tracking what’s happening that way.
1:49:04.9 But then, you’re not just ignoring it, you’re delegating it. The difference there is one, you’re just letting it do its thing in whatever form it takes and not worrying about it, and the other is, “I have figured this out and I’m moving on to something else now and I have things in place to make sure that’s happening.”
Jordan: 1:49:27.9 I like that. So here’s how I would translate that. I would translate that as taking fundamental ownership, which would be reflected in a significant and meaningful operational focus in the areas of sales and marketing.
Rather than thinking about them as a ‘nice to have’, a part-time add on, versus placing tenants, doing evictions, collecting rent, updating owners. Rather than thinking of those things are the core, primary service and sales and marketing are some additional bolt-on.
Bringing the sales and marketing piece in-house as a – putting it on equal footing. Having a dedicated business function in those areas and then allowing the process, the attention, the accountability, to flow out of it. 1:50:20.6 I agree with both points that you guys brought up. Well said,
1:50:23.3 Last question of the day, and this interview has gone long. This is probably going to get the award for being the longest interview yet, but it was worth it, but the last question of the day is a one word answer. That’s because the last few times I’ve asked it, I’ve had people kind of hem and haw and be a little non-committal. So I need a one word answer from you guys on this one. For each of you, 1:50:53.4 The question is this, Mike, Dylan, in your estimation, are entrepreneurs born or bred? Mike, I’ll let you go first.
Mike: 1:51:05.3 Born.
Dylan: 1:51:10.3 Bred.
Jordan: 1:51:13.4 Oh man, that is – I predicted those answers ahead of time, we’re not going to illuminate, we’re just going to move right on. Folks, you take it for what it is. Guys, this was great, I really enjoyed it. Thanks for the time. If folks want to hear more about what you guys are up to, what’s the best place for them to go to?
Mike: 1:51:37.8 Website. They can go to GeekRealEstateMarketing.com and they can find out all about us, they can find out about the book there.
Jordan: 1:51:46.3 Alright, I do recommend the book. It’s called, Make It Ring, you can find it on Amazon. Great resource. Hey guys, it’s been a blast. We’ll stay in tune and catch up later.