|The Key to Real Estate Success: Marketing!
How did you get into real estate investing? Did you read a book on it? Was it a seminar? A
meeting of some sort with speakers selling courses? Did you get really, really jazzed and pumped up by
these simple ("not easy") concepts that were delivered to you in parable form from the stage
by a charismatic speaker?
Did you find yourself levitating to the back of the room, powerless but to slap down your
plastic to buy the kits that were being sold there? Like, "Yes Mr. Ker we do take traveler's
checks. Yes, cash is OK too. HEY BARNEY DO YOU HAVE CHANGE FOR A HUNDRED? There's your kit Mr. Ker. Good
I have to admit that's where I began. I attended a "conference" and dropped over
a grand in two days. What I ended up with was a very funny course about Paper (i.e. discounted mortgages)
and a more sober account of making a million five in eighteen months buying and rehabbing multi-units.
I listened to tapes for about four days straight, then went out and bought an HP12C
financial calculator. I loved paper (the units can wait a while). I really got my head around it. I
loved discounting on the calculator, I loved calculating yields. And the guy on these tapes was so
I spent a fun couple of weeks learning the courses and I knew more than most bankers
because the guy on the tapes told me so. I wanted to get started and get a note-closing-sweatshop going
just like he described. I knew this stuff inside and out.
Two deals a week would be OK with me you know, I'm not greedy. Now where was it in the
book that it showed how to find the deals. OK...here we go ... Look up names at the courthouse, call
Accountants, call Contractors, call Attorneys......hmmm.
To cut a long story short, I looked up five hundred names at the courthouse and sent
letters to them, I made about five hundred phone calls to Accountants and Lawyers (setting up my
"network"), and finally I found one note holder who was interested in selling. I made an
offer, he said "no", and I went home and went to bed for two weeks, too depressed to function.
All that work, and this guy just said "no".
That was my introduction to the wonderful world of real estate investing. From there, I
got into low income apartments and completely flushed myself down the toilet!
Five years later, after buying and giving back about 50 units, newly penniless, I
discovered this thing called creative real estate. Control without ownership, solving people problems,
use your brain to buy property - not your cash.
I had an acute appreciation for it, given my (expensive, and painful) landlording odyssey,
but it seemed even with all this wonderful knowledge, I was still in very much the same position I had
been in when I first got started.
The same position I stayed in, until I wised up, and the same position most real estate
investors struggle with year after year because they don't know any better.
That is: "I know all this stuff inside and out. I know 100 different creative ways to
buy a property. But I've got to suffer through things like lackluster advertising results, cold-calling,
talking to hundreds of testy uninterested people, and dead ends, before I even get the chance to talk
to someone who is half way motivated to sell."
This is a crossroads. The proverbial "brick wall" for most of us.
And this brings up an important point. Possibly the most important point to really
"get" here. Knowing how to find motivated sellers is far more important than knowing 100
different ways to buy a house. You see, your business (and therefore your life) is going to be
frustrating, stressful and unfulfilling unless you find a way to create a non-stop flow of motivated
sellers calling you, every day.
Now, that's obvious isn't it?
Well it can't be that obvious because not many people actually do it. You see, what I'm
trying to point out here that there is a mental shift that needs to occur in your mind, a paradigm
shift if you will, before you are going to make any serious money as a Real Estate Entrepreneur.
And what is this shift? It is:
Instead of being a real estate entrepreneur, you must become a marketer of your real estate
That's what it comes down to.
If you are in business, you need to make this shift in your thinking. Because no business
is going to prosper, or be successful without a lot of customers.
Making this shift in thinking, in orientation, about who you are, focuses you on the
singularly most important and financially rewarding aspect of business: marketing. The money is in
marketing the business, not in doing the business. It may take a while before you really absorb this.
You may have to think about it for a while before it really sinks in. Read it again. Take a minute.
Once you change your thinking to accept that you are a marketer first, and a Real Estate
Entrepreneur second, you'll finally be able to start making the kind of money you really want to make.
Accepting your role as a marketer is the thing that will move you out of the rut of
occasional mediocre deals and up into a level of sustained success that would not otherwise be possible
And this is true of anyone in any other business or industry. The person or company who
is most on top of their marketing, makes all the money, and dominates their market.
Look at Domino's. A marketing machine! Very average pizza. But aggressive marketers, and
they virtually own their market.
Look at Bill Gates (yes, I know, everyone cites BG). If you saw Accidental Empires though,
a PBS documentary by Robert Cringley, you'd know that Gates was just one of hundreds of fanatical
"techies" who were trying to make this computer thing work somehow. With his astute
positioning and relentless marketing he rode Microsoft up over IBM to the §80B company it is today.
Of course this doesn't mean you just market better and let your buying, negotiating and
selling skills go to pot. You've got to be the very best property buyer you can be and run your office
After all, your sellers and buyers deserve the very best treatment from you. But more
importantly, doing what you do so well that people can't resist telling others about you, is the purest
type of marketing in and of itself.
Remember, it doesn't matter how good you are if you have no Motivated Sellers to talk to.
Buying houses from Motivated Sellers with little or no money out of your pocket is the name
of the game, and marketing is the thing that brings in the Motivated Sellers.
OK, so, marketing. Really fabulous! But, what does it mean? So far it's just a word I've
said 10 or twenty times, right?
Well, there are two types of marketing people typically use.
The traditional approach which, for want of any better way to go, usually involves just
going out after randomly selected sellers. They haven't been screened or qualified in any way. We
just know they have a house to sell. We run up big phone and classified ad bills to get to talk to
them. In communicating with them we usually talk to them about our financing, and how great it is, and
if they will just sell to us their "problems" will go away. We do it manually; call by call,
door by door. We talk about us, rather than inquire about them. We chase, they run. When we stop,
the marketing stops. The cost per deal is very high, both financially and emotionally.
The second approach is the targeted, low-cost, systemized, response-oriented approach that,
through a variety of media (such as direct mail, lead generating classified ads, flyers, signs, radio,
cable TV) states or implies a benefit for the seller, calls for a response from them, and positions
you as "the solution" for the sellers who want that. The sellers step forward and select
you. The marketing is automated, and it is an operating system that works whether you are there or not.
I don't want to shock you, but we are not going with the first choice here.
Pick up just about any book or course about real estate investing or creative real estate
and you'll find the choice #1 approach to finding motivated sellers, if any.
What you won't find anywhere in those books or courses is the choice #2 approach, which is
direct response marketing.
Direct response marketing targets a specific group of most-desired prospects that you have
defined as those most likely to respond to your offer (e.g. out-of-state homeowners, or expired
listings), then it advertises for or delivers a message to only those people via a media (e.g.
personal-looking hand-addressed #10 envelope mailed first class) that will reach them and get their
attention. Once in front of the target, direct response delivers the following:
- A benefit-telegraphic headline
- A true marketing message
- An offer, or offers
- A reason to respond immediately
- Precise response instructions and mechanisms
With these five elements in place, you set yourself up to be called only by motivated,
partially pre-sold sellers, continually, day after day! So now you can be freed to do the most
productive thing possible for you as an investor: make offers to motivated sellers!
Hopefully you can see the picture here. Direct response marketing cuts your advertising
expense in half. It sifts, sorts and screens your prospects so that only the most qualified and most
motivated respond and get to talk to you. In short, it allows you to make more while working less,
with more predictability, consistency and control than anything else you could do to find deals.
Is that something you want? Think about it. Is there anyone you know of who is buying
and selling a boatload of houses every month?
They are still doing a ton of business. Now, why is that? They don't offer sellers
anything more outstanding than you, do they? They certainly don't offer sellers anything more creative
than you are capable of offering. They don't have any better phone manner than you.
Not at all. The only thing that very successful Real Estate Entrepreneurs do better than
anyone else is: Create a reliable, consistent flow of motivated sellers calling in each day! That's it!
That's the difference.
So did you get the message here? I hope so.
If you want to change your experience in real estate investing from one of anxiety,
frustration and disappointment to working less and making more, you'll make the change.
(c) 2000/2004 Power Marketing, Inc.
Ben Innes-Ker is a full time real estate investor and author of the
Motivated Seller Magnet - Automatic Lead
Generating System. He is constantly fine-tuning his marketing and business systems to make his
investing more profitable with less effort, so he can spend more time enjoying life with his wife and 2
y.o. daughter. He shares these unique profit making systems with his Power Marketing Members.
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