As real estate investors or people who work with real estate investors, we are all in a situation where we need to learn how to market effectively.
Throughout this article we are going to look at ways to make contact with potential customers, but we need to know what to do with them once we make contact, and that all rests in our ability to network. There are quite a few resources out there, a few you might consider include:
1. The Millionaire Real Estate Agent by Gary Keller
2. Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
3. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
4. Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham
5. Go to Google.com and search for business networking for 100’s of Free Resources
After brushing up on our networking skills, we need to take a look at our Marketing Message we want to send to our potential customers. In every avenue of our marketing we need to present a clear and concise message that is consist.
Our message should contain:
1. Who we are and how to get in touch with us.
2. What we do for our customer or what we sell to our customer.
3. Our value proposition to our customer – what can we do for them.
4. Call to action, what we want them to do now – call us, email us, visit a web site.
5. Keep the target market in mind.
Here at MAREI or any REIA there are many different kind of businesses, but the mechanics will be the same pretty much across the board, just the product and target market will vary. Let’s use a wholesale investor as our example in this article, but remember with a little imagination, this example will work for a realtor, a lender, an accountant, etc.
Lets meet our wholesale investor: Joe Wholesaler. Joe has read up on networking and is ready to put together his Marketing Message. He has a bunch of houses to sell and more seller leads coming in every day, but he needs to find people to buy his houses. As he primarily has fixer upper houses and tenant occupied properties to sell, he determines that his Target Market is going to be other real estate investor. Real Estate Investors seem to need to buy fixer upper houses or properties with tenants in them.
With his Target Market decided, he puts together his Marketing Message:
1. I am Joe Wholesalers with Houses R Us and I can be reached at www.HousesRus.com or 1-800-for-HRus.
2. I sell fixer upper and rental properties wholesale
3. I have a large inventory and if you are an investor looking for a rehab or a cash flow property, then I will have a property that you need, and our inventory is always changing.
4. We offer a free newsletter monthly with our current inventory of houses and also a hot list the with the our newest properties available. Please visit our web site or call us to let us know your contact info so we can sell you your next rehab project or cash flow property.
Joe Wholesaler can now use these four items to create just about any type of marketing that he wants. (Not a wholesaler? Think for a few minutes how you can create the same 4 sentences to fit your business and target customer)
Joe decides to first start with a business card. He wants to create a simple uncluttered business card that he can hand out to potential investor buyers as he meets them. The more you clutter up a card the harder it is to read and understand. Joe decides to put who he is and his contact information on the front and then utilize the back of the card for his value proposition and call to action.
With his business cards created, Joe is ready to start networking. So he starts looking for places that he can go where he will meet a lot of investor buyers. He decides that groups that meet to talk about buying houses for fix up or rental might be where he needs to be, so he makes plans to attend and join the local real estate investment association and the landlord groups in his area. If he can find the time to attend at least one meeting of each a month, he should be able to network with a lot of potential buyers to add to his list.
Joe figures that if he joins two groups and spends at least an hour networking a month with each group either at their normal meetings or any special networking events they might have, he should be able to meet at least 24 new people a month who might either be a buyer for one of his properties or might know a person who would be interested in buying his properties. He figures that by going to the networking and spending about 5 minutes per person, he can use his newly found networking skills to collect their contact information and then follow up with them the next few days after the meeting.
Over the next few months, Joe attends meetings and works the room and ads about 25 new people to his database as potential buyers monthly, but he still wants more. He has noticed that some people are able to have a table at the meetings and they have a sign up form where people stop by and voluntarily provide their name and contact information either for some FREE report the person at the table is giving away or for a FREE prize to be awarded at the end of the night.
So the next month he spends some time creating a FREE report that he can email out to everyone who signs up at his table. He wants to provide something that would benefit everyone who registers with him and he realizes that he has been building quite a list of people who would be good contacts for the new investor building a power team. So he decides to give away a FREE email report that lists his favorite service providers: Mortgage Lenders, Rehab Lenders, Contractors, Dumpster Providers, etc.
Joe contacts the local association and reserves a table for about $30. Prints his marketing message on a small banner to put on the front of his table for about $50. Makes a sign asking people to drop a business card in the basket to sign up for Joe Wholesaler’s Personal Service Provider List. He also makes another sign asking people to sign up to receive his list of houses periodically. The people at the meeting are real estate investors after all and they want to buy houses, so they will probably sign up. And he prints up a bunch of copies of his list of houses for sale.
He goes to the meeting – one at each group and his is amazed. For a little under $100 he has acquired a table at each meeting for the month, and next month, it will be under $60 as he can reuse his signage. Everyone coming into the room stops by to see what he has to offer and he gets more than his normal 12 or 13 new contacts. And is able to set up times to show several of his properties in the next few days.
Let’s step back from Joe’s story a moment – what if I am not wholesaling houses, what else could I have people sign up for so I can get their contact information:
1. Attorneys –a free FSBO contract kit with basic forms.
2. Accountant – a quarterly newsletter with timely tax saving tips
3. Mortgage Broker – a monthly newsletter with latest on rates and loan programs
4. Realtor – a free quarterly list of all the Bank Owned Homes for sale in the area
5. Contractor – a referral list of other subcontractors
So after reserving a table for several months at the meetings, following up with everyone who signs up and making sure they get their free list and then adding them into the system to get email notices of his houses for sale, Joe notices something. People all are getting to know him by name, he is making appointments to show more houses, and the regulars a the meeting are introducing the new people to him. “Hey, you have got to meet Joe. He’s the guy with all the houses for sale and if you need to buy a house, you need to sign up for his newsletter.” Joe realizes that he has become the groups expert at providing wholesale houses and people are referring him out.
About a week later one of the association leaders, Suzie calls to see how things are going with him. She is doing her part in network for the REIA, following up with her customer Joe. Joe tells Susie how great it is having a table at the meetings and how many new buyers he is working with. Suzie then tells him that the REIA office gets several calls each month from people who had been at the last meeting and picked up Joes Card. But because Joe had been really busy at the time, they were going to call him the next day rather than try to talk to him at the meeting. On the way home they lost Joes card and can’t find him in the newsletter or on the web site, so could the she tell them how to get in touch with wholesale guy. Suzie further tells him that while there are a bunch of people at the meetings, there are still about ½ the membership that does not make it to the meetings all the time, but do read the newsletters or visit the web site. She suggest to Joe he might look at putting an ad into the monthly newsletter and on the web site so when people loose his business card, they can still find his contact information.
So Joe goes back to his office the next day and works up a business card ad for the newsletter and puts together the information he wants to put on the web site. He calls up places his ads and pays for 6 months. He figures he might as well try it as 6 months of ads in the newsletter and on the web site are still way less than advertising in the local paper and his message is reaching only people in the association or people reading the associations newsletter so they more than likely will be investor buyers – his target market. And asks the editors to call him about month 5 to see if he wants to renew his ad or change it.
So the next week when his ad comes out on the web site, he decides to check it out see what it looks like. While he is there he browses around and looks at other vendors ads and notices something; a lot of the vendors have a little notices that say “10% Discount for Members of the Group” or “FREE application for members of the group”. He thinks to himself, I have my FREE Joe Wholesaler’s Personal Service Provider List and I send out a FREE list of houses for sale, I could offer that free on the web site for members and when people who do not go to the meetings see my ad online, they will go to my web site to get my FREE report. So he calls up the web site editor and has his listing adjusted.
Then the next week the newsletter comes out and while he has glanced at the newsletter before, he had never sat down and read it from front to back. He knew everything he needed to know about the wholesale business and landlording and was not really wanting to learn more about how to do his business. He had just joined to get buyers, so he didn’t think he needed to actually read the newsletter.
As he went through he saw a great article on 1031 Exchange from the accountant he had met at the group and decided he should learn more about 1031 and call the accountant. There was an article from the property manager he had met at a meeting explaining how a Section 8 inspection works and he wanted to call the property manager to see if he might be interested in managing a few properties for some of the out of state investors that purchased his already rented properties. Joe thought to himself “Wow, I met these guys at the meetings and collected their business cards, but I didn’t think too much about them. But after reading their articles, I can see they really know what they are doing and I am intrigued and want to call them for more information. Maybe I should do something like this. Maybe I could come up with a great article about rehabbing or being a landlord and give myself more credibility.”
So he set to work and created a few articles to send over to the newsletter editors and web masters of the associations to see if they might publish them. One group would publish for free and the other group wanted a small fee. But in the scheme of things, if the article netted him just one more buyer that purchased just one more house, he would make a few thousand dollars and if he worked his business correctly, he should be able to sell that same person at least 2 or 3 houses every year, so what was a small fee to place the article in the newsletter with a small ad in the corner. Plus he could save the newsletters to go into his brag book that he used to build credibility with his buyers, sellers, and his private lenders he worked with.
Then the next month when his first article was to be in the newsletter, Joe opens it up and sees the monthly calendar and notices that there are outside networking groups and classes that some of the other vendors at the meetings are hosting. The realtor who sells bank owned properties at the meeting is holds a monthly class explaining the process of buying a bank owned property. The Rehab Lender and one of the Mortgage Brokers in the group have teamed up to offer a monthly class explaining financing to the new investors and offering a free loan application for attendees at the class. And the guy that he met that buys houses through Short Sales was holding a monthly networking lunch at an area diner for other people wanting to learn more about Short Sales. There were several other groups, and events, but when he saw the Short Sale group, he had to call to find out more, why would someone want to have a networking group and offer to answer questions for new people about short sales when they would eventually become competition.
So being the networking guy he is, Joe calls up Sammy Shortseller to find out why in the world Sammy would be hosting an Intro to Short Sales Networking Event every month. Sammy explains that a lot of new investors want to try out short sales, but don’t have the expertise to do them, so they are happy to team up with him and split the profits. He also finds that after one or two deals, many new investors move on to another form of investing and don’t really want to mess with the short sales any more, so they are happy to pass the lead on to Sammy. So he holds his networking group and answers basic questions to get these contacts and to partner on a few deals. And as an added bonus just a small few of them who are very dedicated and really want to know how to do a short sale, well they pay him to train them in the process.
“But Sammy,” Joe says “You are sill training your competition!” Sammy explains that there are a lot of potential short sales and there is no way he can get all of them, and many of his newly trained competitors just don’t have the ability to do all the deals they get, so they again refer them over to Sammy or partner with him if the numbers are too big and Sammy makes more money.
Joe starts thinking and then goes back over his leads he has had in the past week for sellers and the light bulb goes off. There are 4 leads for people who are in foreclosure, who owe more that he is willing to pay for the house, and might be a candidate for a short sale. He was just going to toss them in the old “round file”, but as Sammy’s networking event is the next day, he decides to take the leads and go visit Sammy’s event. He brings up the basic details of each of the 4 leads and Sammy explains basically what he would do with them and what kind of profit he thinks he might be able to make. Sammy offers to partner with Joe on the deal: 50/50 on the money needed to do the deal, Sammy would negotiate the short sale with the seller and the lenders, and Joe would market to his huge network of buyers that he has build over the past few months.
They agree and put the partnerships together, and in the next month are able to buy and sell 2 of the 4 deals. Both Sammy and Joe have made a few thousand more than they would have if they had not been able to get together. And this from leads that Joe was just going to throw away. After his second profit check, Joe has another light bulb moment. “What if I could have a networking event and get a few newbies who don’t know what to do with their deals or don’t have the money to do a deal who want to partner with me. I could do a one or two more deals a month and not really have to do too much more work.”
He keeps thinking. . . “What if I could offer a group to the new landlords in the group and answer basic questions about tenants, landlord rules, section 8 and the like. Maybe I could develop one or two new solid buyers every few months who would buy their first few houses from me and build a relationship where they continue to purchase houses from me for the next 10 years.” Joe is basically seeing dollar signs rolling through his head at this moment.
So he contacts the diner in the area where most of his fixer upper houses and rentals are located. Could he bring in a group of 5 to 10 people once or twice a month for breakfast and take over the back one or two tables? They are happy for the extra business as it is a rather slow time for them. He then sends out an email blast to all of his contacts to announce he new landlord breakfast networking event. He invites everyone to attend and to forward the email to anyone new to landlording who might have questions. He also has the REIA post on their calendar and sends in an announcement to the local real estate paper as their calendar is free as space permits.
Then he does the same thing with another diner in an area only this time for lunch. He plans on inviting in new investors to learn about finding motivated sellers and to answer their basic questions on marketing, negotiating, contracts and more. The plan being that they will partner with him on their first few deals.
After a few months of holding his networking breakfast and lunch, Susie the leader of the REIA stops Joe at a meeting and asks, “You know Joe, we are looking for someone to help teach a class or two each quarter. Would you be interested in helping us with a class on effective landlording and one on finding motivated sellers? It does not pay much, but you will get a lot of FREE press when you teach the class. We announce the class in the newsletter, on the web site, and in the local papers and we also mention who is teaching, what their expertise is, and how to get in touch with them.” Joe thinks to himself, I can spend 4 hours each teaching a class once every 4 months and get my Marketing Message included in all the announcements for the class, get new students in my class who might buy houses from me or partner with me on their first deals. I can do more deals with less effort as my Target Market will be coming to me and my potential student partners will be brining me deals. What a great idea.
And Susie thinks she is getting a great deal as well, she leaned at her national networking event for association leaders that another group in another state was offering similar classes so their members could get a special certification. This other groups training program was so effective that the local housing court required violators to join the association and attend their certification classes. Susie thought this would be very good public relations for her association as the local paper was printing so many negative stories about real estate investors, landlords, and mortgage fraud. If she could get a successful certification program off the ground at her association, then she could get good public relation stories into the area newspapers, get more members attending the meetings, and find more new investor buyers for Joe’s houses, more seller’s who would find Sammie Shortseller to buy their houses in foreclosure, more investors that needed realtors, lenders, attorneys, accountants, contractors, etc. and everyone would be networking their way to their own profit.
Ok, so this story is a little corny, but I think you get the point. If you are a member of an association like MAREI, you can market and grow your business in several ways:
1. “Working the room” at events with business cards
2. Vendor Tables at the meetings
3. Ads in the newsletter or on the web site
4. Writing how to or inspirational stories for the web site and newsletter
5. Offering discounts to members
6. Hosting networking events
7. Teaching classes
8. And using each of these strategies, grow your database of potential customers that you can direct market via email, regular mail, fax, or phone.
And if you are really new and not in a position to be looking for customers yet, using all of these same steps from the other side of the table will help you get educated enough so you can take you first steps as a real estate investor.
Collect the business cards and find out what people do, these are the people that you will need to create your own power team that all the guru’s teach you to form. Talk to all the vendors at the meeting and get to know them, you may not be ready for a lender, attorney or accountant today, but you may need their services in the future, and being able to call them up as a person they know could save you money. Read the articles in the newsletter and on the web site, you might learn something and look for discounts for members in all the advertising. Attend as many of the networking events as you can as they are usually free . Participate and ask questions – this will be some of the best free training you will get. And when the association does offer classes for a fee or if they do have a certification program, be sure to make use of the service. You never know when the certification from and the ethics associated with the REIA might help you get a deal.
So if you have a marketing message you want to get out to the investor members of MAREI, please go to www.MAREI.org and click on advertising and click on the brochure links at the bottom.
And new members, be sure to utilize all your membership has to offer to give your real estate investing career a jump start. Please go to www.MAREI.org and click on Membership to view a brochure listing many of your benefits.