Many of us are working harder than ever these days, on the grind from early morning until well into the evening.
But, are we being more productive than ever?
And are we just on a hamster wheel, or are we actually working towards a day when we’ll be able to step away from our business a little bit, but still see it march on?
And, just as importantly, is there a vast discrepancy between how we think we spend our time and how we actually invest our professional hours?
This is not your typical time management blog
There are plenty of blogs, articles, and guides that give you advice about time management. This isn’t that.
Instead, my goal is to share my own personal experience with an experiment I recently conducted, a Time Audit.
A month ago, I was faced with a unique situation: I had more clients than ever before and even got to the point where I even had to turn down potential new clients. I feel extremely blessed and thankful to have that abundance of clients but, since I’m a lone wolf, I actually have to do all of the work every day!
In the past, I’ve worked 60 hours per week with 25%-50% less clients, so how the hell will I keep up now?
I decided to perform a Time Audit to see exactly how I was spending my time and how I might become more efficient.
I broke this time audit into 3 steps:
Step 1: Document EVERY activity and how long it takes.
When you start a financial budget, the first thing they’ll ask you to do is sit down and account for how every single dollar is spent over days, weeks, and a month.
I decided to do the same thing with my time. So, over three weeks, I recorded every single work task I performed. I did this on a simple spreadsheet with the activity and then the time block it took. I round up to the nearest 5 minutes to account for transitions.
I used a simple Excel spreadsheet and just kept adding to it each day, separating days with a new column.
I’m not going to lie – this was a pain in the ass at first. But, after the first day or so, it was second nature and actually made me more conscious of what I was doing.
Step 2: Organize, categorize, and add it up
After each week, I went through and added up these activities based on certain categories or tasks that I regularly perform.
For me, these were:
Ok, maybe I’ll leave the last one off.
Once my time audit concluded, I took the weekly tally for each of these categories (in minutes) and averaged them per week.
I also could see the average number of hours I worked each week in total.
Next, I created this spiffy-looking pie chart with a percentage of each task or activity in relation to my total hours. So, if I worked a 40-hour week or 60-hour week, the percentage I spent on each task would be roughly the same.
Step 3: Identify the results…and opportunities for change
With all of these numbers in front of me, I had new insight as to how I was actually spending my time.
Next, I looked at the bottom 20% of 25% of the tasks I did, which were mostly administrative or low-skilled activities.
Those are the areas I could hire someone or outsource, saving me 20-25% of my time each week.
Sure, I’d have to add a few hours to hire, train, and manage that person, but that amounts to trading a few bucks to recapture invaluable hours.
Remember that most people do the opposite, trading their time for money, which is NOT how you want to run a business. (I’m guilty of doing the same!)
I also highlighted the half of my activities from the right side of the chart. Those highlighted activities represent your highest and best use as a professional.
You’re never wasting your time or energy doing those things, and that’s what you should be trying to immerse yourself into more, not less.
Not coincidentally, those are also your most profitable activities. It’s why you get paid the big bucks (and where you’ll get paid bigger bucks if you invest more time in those activities.)
If you’re doing it right, you’re spending the most time on those tasks and activities that you’re great at.
Now that my time audit was done, what did I learn?
Many times, I was actually reenergized after spending time at work because I really believed in the client, the mission, or what I could do to help.
Basically, my perception of time was warped on a continuum by the kind of energy and emotions I felt about the work I was doing.
Why is this time audit so important?
After performing this audit, I know where my time is going, where it’s best allocated, and what tasks I should prioritize. I can also slow down and do a better job since I don’t have to feel rushed or overwhelmed.
I now see the opportunity to hire someone or outsource to free up a few hours and take a lot of ticky-tack work off my hands.
Recapturing the opportunity cost of time.
Maybe hiring someone to take those bottom 20% tasks, combined with my improved efficiency, only frees up one hour per day.
But that’s one hour I can reinvest into my most productive activities that clients really hire me to perform. I can also use that hour for learning, research, and stepping up my game, which benefits my clients.
I can also spend that hour exercising, reading, meditating, or on personal development. Even better, that’s one hour (and a whole lot of energy) I can use to connect and help people, which is really what it’s all about for me.
What would you do with an extra 23 days each year?
Even one hour per day adds up quickly. That comes to:
That’s crazy – recouping or adding 23 days per year just by performing a time audit!
I hope this helps and have fun with your own time audit – let me know if you have questions or need help!
Kelly Resendez, VP of Talent Acquisition at Loanpal and success coach at the Foundation to Sustainable Success, was kind enough to offer this guest post, originally published here. Enjoy Kelly's words of wisdom and get busy with your business expansion!
How to EXPAND your business when everyone else is contracting.
In 2008, Steven Jobs gave an interview to Fortune Magazine in which they asked him about Apple’s strategy for the coming Great Recession. Jobs said, “In fact we were going to up our R&D budget so that we would be ahead of our competitors when the downturn was over. And that’s exactly what we did. And it worked. And that’s exactly what we’ll do this time.”
Instead of paring down R & D, laying off workers, and shuttering stores to withstand the economic storm, Jobs was focused on actually growing Apple, gaining market share in the season where most others were contracting and playing it safe.
In fact, many of the top companies and brands do exactly the same, and that’s one of the chief reasons why they last and stay on top.
But you don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company or blue-chip brand to grow your business in the coming months and years. Every salesperson, entrepreneur, boutique broker, and small business owner has the tools to succeed even as fear pervades our business climate (and rightfully so).
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is act boldly and confidently when others are in safe mode. Our natural reaction is to:
It all starts with a 180-degree mind shift, a focus on execution, and a whole lot of hard work. But there is absolutely no reason why you can't bring your business to new heights!
Here’s the game plan to expand when everyone else is contracting:
1. Invest in new skills and education
It's time to learn and adjust to the new reality as fast and effectively as you can. Luckily, there are more courses, books, talks, and tools available to us online than ever, and most of them are inexpensive or free.
Instead of resting on your laurels, break your business down to the smallest blocks and build it all back up again, ensuring your system and operations are superbly efficient.
The difference between a solo-preneur and a true business owner is that the biz owner leverages other peoples’ time, energy, and skills. Stop trying to do everything yourself and start taking advantage of others and what they do well.
4. Look at partnerships/Team up
Of course, there will be plenty of businesses going under or looking to downsize, and there’s no shame in that. But it also creates a golden opportunity to entertain strategic partnerships and build teams that help you expand quickly.
The average person brags about their victories when times are good, but you won't hear a peep from them in tough times. You should do the exact opposite, becoming a networking machine and reaching out to everyone you can. Create connections and authentic relationships, as they'll pay off in huge, unexpected ways down the road.
6. Help others
That's what it's all about, and in dark days, your best product should be help. Focus on solving problems, bringing value, offering solutions, and empowering others to overcome their challenges. Become the person they turn to for advice and guidance. With that, your business will soar as high as the economy sinks.
7. Create new content
Throw out the blueprint from last year, last month, and even from yesterday. Create a brand new marketing and outreach campaign and create blogs, emails, videos, podcasts, webinars, graphics, and social media every single day. That's how you expand!
8. Be the best communicator you know
Double down on points of communication and customer service with clients, and actively practice your listening skills.
9. Cut the bottom 20%
Just like an arrow needs to be drawn back to propel forward, we need to pull back, first by identifying and cutting the 20%. Just like an arrow needs to be drawn back to propel forward, we need to pull back by cutting inefficiencies according to the 20% Rule.
Drop the 20% of your products that don't sell, the 20% of your employees who are lazy or aren't producing, and simplify the 20% of your day that consistently steals your time, energy, focus – and money.
To survive and even thrive through a recession (or depression), firms need to actively attract new personnel. Recruiting will be paramount over the next few years, and you should sign as many talented, battle-tested, and hard-working people from your competitors as possible.
11. Negotiate with vendors
If times are hard for you, they’re even harder for vendors, suppliers, and distributors. So, instead of canceling or doing without, renegotiate every product, service, and lease for lower prices, better terms, and added perks.
12. Nurture your people
Just like we talked about enhancing your own skills, do the same for your employees and partners by offering more training, guest speakers, education, and personal development than ever before. Investing in people always pays off!
13. Increase marketing and advertising output
People invest in marketing and advertising out of greed (when times are good) but tend to shut off that spigot when times are bad. Do the exact opposite, as effective marketing campaigns are vital to keeping your firm alive and well.
We’ve talked a lot about investing and not cutting back, but don’t do that senselessly, of course. Instead, set clear goals for every dollar that leaves your pocket and carefully measure the effectiveness of everything you do. If it doesn’t measure up, make the appropriate changes and cut it!
15. Rewrite the rules
I truly believe that when markets crash and the economy shrinks, it creates a proportionate amount of opportunity. Your job is to identify and take advantage of those opportunities. That starts with putting fear and uncertainty in a box when you come to work every morning, and instead making clear, big-picture decisions. Remove the limitations and raise – not lower – your goals and dreams.
It’s up to YOU to rewrite the story of your success!
Organic reach on Facebook is dead.
Facebook business pages have little use and don’t drive business.
You couldn’t be more wrong!
Adding new Likes and expanding your audience is the lifeblood of a great Facebook page and will drive awareness, sales, and referrals.
If you’re a Realtor, mortgage lender, or any small business owner or entrepreneur, I’m guessing that you have a Facebook page for your business but don’t really get enough out of it. In fact, most professionals use their Facebook page as a glorified placeholder for contact information, and their audience size has stagnated long ago, sitting at numbers far less than their personal Facebook page.
But the last thing you want to do is start spending a lot of time and throw a lot of money at growing your Facebook page.
The good news is that there are effective strategies for building your Facebook page’s audience organically with no money at all (or very little if you choose).
Try these eight strategies, and my experience shows that your Facebook page's audience will increase by 2.5x to 10x within only three months. The new energy and interest will result in plenty of clients!
Contact me if you’d like to test these ninja tactics and reach those numbers - I’m happy to help!
1. Send page invites to your friends periodically – but customize them.
Of course, the easiest way to get people to like your business Facebook page is to simply invite them. Facebook allows you to do that with an invite that will show up in your personal friends’ notifications and even messages.
You don't want to do this only once and forget about it, but schedule to invite everyone periodically, like every quarter.
However, too many people send the generic invite to their whole friend’s list. Instead of doing that, write a nice custom invite message – including using emojis to catch their attention.
People will notice and appreciate the personalization.
(Remember to also click the button at the bottom of the invite setup page that allows you to send them as messages to each and every contact!)
Not really blown away by that tactic? A little boring? Ok, check this next one out:
2. Import your email lists and invite them.
This method is 🔥, yet so few people understand it.
You can actually upload any email list and invite those people to like your Facebook page.
Many of us have a significant database or email list, but just a small fraction of those people are also fans or followers of our Facebook pages.
Uploading the email list is really simple, and you can even import directly from Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Outlook, or other platforms.
You'll only be able to import 5,000 new contacts per day, but that's a great problem to have, and you can just coordinate and send out the invites in batches, so you'll see a HUGE jump in page followers.
And if you don’t have a big email list? Don’t worry – I recently found a way to build large, well-targeted email lists that blew me away!
3. Invite non-friends who liked your posts and content.
This is a great hack that works really well to grow your Facebook business page. Go to a post on your business page that did particularly well with likes, comments, and especially shares. You’ll be able to click and view all of the people who liked the post.
However, not all of them have liked your business page yet, so go down the list and invite them! After all, they’ve already been exposed to your great posts and engaged.
You’ll only be able to invite a certain number of people from that post in one day, but you can come back the next day and finish going down the invite list or each page editor can send invites to get past that daily limit.
(More on this with #8 below.)
4. Share your business page’s content on your personal Facebook.
Most of my clients love using their personal Facebook pages every day but wonder how they can gain more exposure for their business page. I always advise them to cherry-pick certain things from their business pages that they like – such as articles, stories, fun images, etc. - and share them to their personal page.
That way, their personal friends be exposed to their professional page and like that page as they click, like, read, and share.
5. Become an active member of Facebook groups.
Remember back when Facebook groups were a big deal? Well, they’re still untapped gold for Realtors, lenders, and other professionals. And as of 2018-ish, Facebook allows pages to join a group – not just personal profiles. That’s huge! So, you can join a group that’s related to your field, service, what you’re selling, location, etc. using your business page.
The key is to be active in the group, BUT don't start just spamming, soliciting, or selling. Make sure that you contribute to the conversation, add value, stay positive, encourage others, and generally form authentic (online) relationships.
You can also share relevant and helpful content that happens to be from your business page for further exposure.
Believe me when I tell you that soon, people will get to know you, trust you, and be happy to become a member of your community – growing your audience naturally while building a loyal tribe.
6. Make sure your Facebook page is a cool place to be with unique content and happenings.
Why should someone like your Facebook page? What’s in it for them? If your page is basically just a placeholder or one big advertisement, then the answer is ‘nothing.’
The last thing you want to do is just start posting links to articles from other sources because Facebook's algorithm will penalize your page for leading people off of their platform.
But you can reinvigorate your page by posting your blog (as a Facebook Note), fun videos and photos, personal slice-of-life stories, and really ramp it up with webinars, Q & As, Facebook Live events, fun contests and giveaways, and valuable weekly market updates.
That way, people know they’re getting something interesting, useful, and dynamic on your page!
7. Cross-promote by featuring other professionals, partners, and local businesses.
I'm a big believer in designing our marketing about others (and what we can do to solve their problems), not just promoting ourselves.
That being said, a great way to expand your audience and grow your Facebook page is by cross-promoting others. For instance, you can write a post, create an image graphic, put together a short blog, or even do a video interview of a referral partner, local business, community you work in, or just an influencer who complements what you do.
Once you post this content on your Facebook page, make sure to tag it all with the names and business names of the people/places it features. Encourage them to share it on their pages, too, and you’ll get a whole sizable new audience who sees your page and has a warm introduction.
8. Putting it all together with the boost-n-invite tactic.
Remember way back in #3 we talked about going into one of your business page posts and inviting the people who liked it (that haven’t liked your page yet)?
You can add a whole lot of followers and really jumpstart your audience by combining that with other steps here, and even boosting that content with a few bucks.
For instance, start by creating an awesome piece of content about a trending topic that really provides value or good info. (Or, you can take it to the next level and make it a contest or giveaway.)
Next, pay to boost the post via Facebook for a few bucks – it doesn't have to be expensive and your goal is just to get people to like it. Make sure you set the boosting parameters to target the audience you want to attract, like in your local area and more, so you maximize your ROI.
(Note: you can also pay to promote your page, but that's like a paid ad, so what we're doing is different.)
After the paid boosting has run its course, go back in and start inviting the folks who liked the post to your page.
Do this consistently (or hire someone like me to do it!), and you'll see a huge jump in your audience size over the months!
Should we test this with your Facebook page and see if we can reach those ambitious growth goals? I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is, so hit me up!
Social media is just a passing fad, a flavor-of-the-month phase that will probably disappear in a year or two.
That's what many people said back when Friendster, the very first social media outlet, was launched in 2002.
MySpace came later that year and soon usurped Google as the most visited site in the US. Next came Linkedin in 2003, believe it or not, and “The Facebook" was soon launched from a Harvard University dorm room in 2004.
By the time Twitter got its relatively late start in 2006, social media had already made an indelible impression on our world.
Today, Facebook alone has almost 2.5 billion users, which equates to about 1/3 of the entire world population! And Instagram (1.2 billion users), Tik Tok (800 million with an increase of +600 million since 2019), and Snapchat (382 million) are all coming on strong to collectively surpass Facebook soon.
Some passing fad!
Of course, if you're in business and haven't been living in a cave the last decade, then you’re probably using social media to grow your professional presence already. The “best practices” blogs and “social media tips” have been covered so extensively that there’s hardly anything new to add to the conversation, right?
Not so fast, as these unprecedented times have already shifted the landscape of how we use social media - and why.
In fact, Facebook, Instagram, and What's App have seen a 40 percent spike in use just since mid-March!
If you’re a mortgage lender or in real estate, the rules of the industry are literally changing day by day (or faster!), so it’s crucial that you keep your social media messaging relevant and on-target.
Today, I want to share a guest post by my friend and mentor, Kelly Resendez of the Foundation to Sustainable Success. In this article, Kelly offers some quick notes on how you can use social media to create more business opportunities during the time of Covid-19 and social distancing, which most of us are still observing.
By no means is this list exhaustive. There are thousands of courses on social media marketing in existence, but you may find these notes serve as a great launching point.
Thanks for reading and please contact me if you have any suggestions or questions!
1. The five purposes for social media posts.
What kind of content should you post for your business on social media?
It may seem overwhelming, but realize there are five major purposes for content:
• To inspire
• To motivate
• To connect and engage
• To educate
• To entertain
2. Before taking another selfie, turn that camera around!
Too often, Realtors or LOs post a non-stop stream of selfies and call it a marketing campaign. Instead, try to take as many photos and videos of others as you can, including family, friends, clients, referral partners, associates, and even the family dog!
Not only will people love this social connectivity while we’re all feeling isolated, but this establishes social proof, a pivotal aspect of building trust between consumers and professionals or brands (and dogs are really cute!).
3. Celebrate the new heroes.
One thing we can't get enough of on social media these days is a tribute to our new heroes, including doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, mail carriers, and so many more. Highlight those folks on your social media platforms to show appreciation and gratitude!
(By the way, we also have a new appreciation for teachers since many of us are homeschooling our kids these days!)
4. Share information, resources, and updates.
The only constant these days is change, so a great way to serve your social audience is by offering useful information. But instead of just posting endless articles, try to offer local news and resources that are credible, relevant to your community, and offer tangible benefits. Info about property taxes, places to volunteer (or get help), closures, events, safety warnings, and other civic resources are especially appreciated.
Likewise, showing support for Mom-and-Pop or local businesses is a great way to impact change, so don’t be afraid to promote your favorite restaurant.
5. Zoom someone!
We talk about the importance of video as a marketing tool, and there’s no better way to do that these days than hopping on Zoom. This is the perfect time to start your podcast or YouTube channel, and you’ll be amazed at how open people are to doing interviews, having a conversation with you online, or even submitting a video testimonial.
6. Make sure it’s not all about you.
What’s the biggest mistake that lenders and Realtors make with social media marketing? Like I documented earlier, they tend to make most of their posts and content about themselves instead of their clients, their community, and their field of expertise! The best lenders and Realtors focus on solving problems and helping others a lot more than selling themselves!
7. Spread the good news.
It seems like every time you turn on the news or scroll through social media these days, we see nonstop negativity or depressing headlines. To help balance that, position yourself as the person who always uplifts and inspires others online (even if you don't always feel that way).
After a short time, your followers will appreciate your positive messages so much that they’ll actually seek you out and share your uplifting content!
A perfect example of that is actor John Krasinski’s Some Good News video project, which went viral after just one episode with tens of millions of views and shares!
8. Stop relying on other people’s content – make your own!
You may post a few links every week or even use generic content from a paid service, but that’s a far cry from an effective social media marketing campaign.
Your audience will only see links to other people's articles, blogs graphics, or videos. But if you're serious about growing your presence online and attracting a far bigger audience (and more clients), you need to create your own custom content in all its forms: blog, email, graphics, video, visuals, and more.
9. What should you post? Mix it up!
Ok, so that’s a lot of social media advice, but what forms of content should we share?
That’s simple, as the answer is: mix it up.
Of course, make sure you post plenty of (short) videos, as those are the most effective for views (video will make up about 80% of all online traffic within a couple of years!) and lend themselves to the newer platforms like Instagram and others.
Live, stories, TV-like platforms, and webinars all do exceptionally well these days.
Visuals like photos or graphics are great, as people instantly see them when they scroll down their timelines. (You can choose not to read something but you can’t choose to un-see an image once you’ve scanned it!)
Links to articles, blogs, and news stories play an important role in your marketing mix, but make sure they are credible and come with a good anchor image. I also recommend writing your own blog/article periodically and sharing online.
Finally, the last thing you should do is write a huge body of text in a post and expect people to read it. If you have to write something substantial, break it up with bullet points and even emojis/emoticons.
10. Build your tribe.
We're all craving more interaction and socialization these days, so the best online marketing fosters conversation between as many people as possible who have the same values, challenges, and needs. Focus on building communities for the people you wish to serve – your target market.
From Facebook groups to Instagram Live, webinars to Stories, and plenty of video calling tools like Facetime or Zoom, find ways to connect with and host a larger audience!
What SHOULDN’T you post on social media?
What you don’t say is just as important as what you say. The wrong thing can alienate your audience or even get your accounts flagged for inappropriate content.
Steer clear of hot-button political issues, double-check sources and the validity of anything you post, and never disclose sensitive financial information or personal details that may compromise the safety of you or others.
Other than that, keep your messages authentic and constructive, and you'll see great results!
If you have any questions or need help, please contact me or Kelly and stay safe, everyone!
March is International Women’s Month, so I wanted to highlight a few remarkable women who are working tirelessly to empower their peers.
Today, I want to train the spotlight on Kelly Resendez.
Full disclosure; Over the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with Kelly Resendez on her various campaigns. That being said, I have no incentive to promote her other the fact that I truly believe in who she is and what she’s doing to help others.
Kelly is the Executive Vice President of Loanpal, a prominent national consumer finance and mortgage lender. She’s worked in the mortgage business for over two decades, earning her way into the elite $100-millon top-producer club at Wells Fargo and Washington Mutual before landing with Paramount (which is now Loanpal).
As the EVP of Loanpal, Kelly is in charge with recruitment, training and customer experience. A progressive leader, she employs the concepts of mindfulness, self-discovery and goal setting to help her team reach Loanpal’s objectives, as well as running their Women’s Mentoring Program.
That's a praise-worthy accomplishment on its own, but it’s not the principal reason why I respect and admire Kelly.
While many people would look to enjoy their personal success, (fill their coiffures), and look upwards strategically, Kelly is passionate about emboldening others, particularly women in business. She “loves helping people actualize their potential and create success they hadn’t believed they could.”
She does this through several platforms, including frequent notable speaking engagements, podcast interviews, best-selling books, and mentoring programs.
In fact, her legacy will probably be defined by two of her endeavors:
Big Voices Rise and The Foundation to Sustainable Success.
I’ll tell you a little bit about each, and how they can benefit you or someone you know who works in mortgage or real estate.
Big Voices Rise!
To positively impact the lives of women by providing the tools and knowledge to think and respond differently, reduce suffering and increase joy, and become their true authentic self.
Reducing suffering, thinking differently, and living with less anxiety and more joy.
Kelly's Amazon.com best-selling book, Big Voices: An Invitation to Women to Awaken, Increase Joy, Reduce Suffering and Think Differently
You can also download a free chapter and sign up for Kelly’s Weekly Wisdom at BigVoicesRise.com
Foundation to Sustainable Success
The Foundation to Sustainable Success will help take your mortgage business to the next level. It provides the mindset and tools you need to succeed!
Kelly launched FTSS to help struggling sales people and leaders that wanted not only to increase their success but also have balance and fun doing it. She shares her strategies that took her to the top 1% of the mortgage industry. Her coaching system and book are changing lives.
FTSS teaches you to generate more referrals and create an abundance of opportunity so your business can thrive in any market or economy.
Kelly provides the mindset (Who you are Being), with the plan (What you are doing) and shows you how to execute at the highest level (How you are doing it).
Master the Mortgage Business!
Foundation to Sustainable Success explores the critical changes you need to make to succeed in the mortgage origination business on your own terms. Using wisdom from her career as a top producer and business coach, Kelly provides concrete frameworks and practical strategies that will take your business to the next level and keep it there.
Find out more
This is not your typical mortgage origination manual. The emphasis is on you – creating a success mindset, managing triggers, eliminating limiting beliefs and self-sabotage, and making a commitment to doing what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like doing it. Through a mind, body, spirit approach Kelly will help you reinvent yourself and find joy in an industry that is full of stress and burn-out.
Commit to practicing the invaluable tools and lessons within these pages and a sustainable career in this ever-changing, ever-challenging mortgage industry can be yours.
Getting in touch with Kelly and getting help
If you’re a woman working in the mortgage or even real estate business, I encourage you to:
Follow Big Voices and FTSS on Facebook
Explore her coaching and mentoring programs if you want to create a better professional path – that you can actually enjoy.
Drop Kelly an email and say hello!
PS Listen to my podcast interview with Kelly Resendez below.
Since March is International Women’s Month, I wanted to highlight a few remarkable women in the field of real estate, mortgage, and investing...
I recently had the privilege of working with one such woman, Vanessa Peters, MD. A physician by trade, Dr. Vanessa, or Dr. V as she is known by clients, patients, and friends, had a problem early in her career that’s common to many of us. She was making good money but on the familiar hamster wheel of working tirelessly, amassing debt, and keeping up with the Jones’, all for the theoretical goal of retiring decades down the road when she could finally enjoy it.
But when the housing market crashed and the last recession hit, much of her equity and retirement plan was wiped out, just like most Americans. She knew there must be a better way.
So, after several pet financial projects that found her taking out every book in the library and driving her family crazy, Dr. V eventually settled on commercial real estate investment, particularly through syndication. She found that it was an ideal investment to break the “golden handcuffs,” finally getting ahead and building significant wealth.
I actually had no idea what syndication in real estate was until I read Dr. V’s book, The Busy Professional’s Guide to Passive Real Estate Investments. (It was released just a few weeks ago and catapulted to the Amazon.com best-seller list, including an impressive #23 overall for real estate investing books.)
So, what’s the skinny on syndication?
Instead of purchasing a property as a single individual, like if you picked out a rental property and put money down, obtained a mortgage, found a renter, and hoped they paid on time and didn’t trash the place, syndication offers some inherent benefits and safeguards.
The individual investor still offers their deposit (typically, $50,000 or $100,000), but is essentially buying a share in a commercial property like an apartment building, as resources from all the investors are pooled.
From that point, on there is nothing for the individual investor (called Limited Partners) to do, as all aspects of finding, vetting, and closing the deal are handled by the General Partner, who has vast experience and a huge vested financial interest in the investment performing well. They’re also regulated by the SEC, so everything is disclosed, regulated, and transparent.
Likewise, all duties of property management, improvements, and financial considerations are handled by the General Partner according to the business plan they’ve set out – the Limited Partner just needs to cash checks.
The best strategy, according to Dr. V in her book, is to find a B property in an A neighborhood – an apartment complex with good “bones” that was built maybe a decade or two ago and just needs some upgrading. Those upgrades are part of the strategy, as new paint, carpets, appliances, countertops and tile, and more will allow you to raise the rents for happy tenants (while still staying competitive or even under market value).
Even a small bump in rents magnifies over the course of 20, 50, or 100 units, and you’re also vastly increasing the value of the property, according to standard commercial valuation methods.
They can also add other income streams like parking spaces for rent, laundry facilities, or storage, etc.
The way that these syndication investments work is that within a target period – usually five years – the Limited Partner will see their initial investment back PLUS profit AND substantial income from monthly rents.
At that point, the General Partner can sell the property or, if the market is in decline, just hold it for a few more years (still while making a profit on rents) and sell when conditions are more favorable.
There are also huge tax benefits to selling, similar to capital gains exclusions and 1031 exchange proceedings, but on a grander scale.
It’s no wonder why Dr. Vanessa is a big advocate of syndication, and she’s invested in over 2,500 units over 11 properties and 4 funds between commercial retail, apartment communities, self-storage and manufactured home parks over the last 11 years.
Of course, that’s just the 10,000-foot view, and there’s one HUGE caveat: you have to be an accredited investor to even have access to real estate syndication investments.
Much like stocks are regulated by the SEC, syndication comes with myriad regulations, and participants need to make north of $200,000 per year (or $300,000 for joint income) or have a $1,000,000 net worth (excluding their primary mortgage), as well as have an existing relationship with the syndication General Partner. (For that reason, this investment is popular with doctors - the circle Dr. V moves in.)
According to Dr. V, only about 6% of all Americans meet the criteria to be accredited investors, and that’s just a start of the exclusionism. If it seems like syndication is a rigged game where only wealthy people can even play (as a simple springboard to more wealth), you’re not wrong!
The best part of the syndication to me is that the downside is protected, so all decisions are made through an extremely conservative lens. The feasibility of the investment isn’t tied to the whims of the housing market or the overall health of the economy.
For that exact reason, Dr. V promotes not only investing in apartment syndication, but two niches that are fascinating to me: self storage units and mobile home parks.
These two segments of commercial real estate perform significantly better than most when the market is down or the economy is contracting, as people always need someplace cheaper to live and someplace to store their stuff. (The other segment I’d add to that list going forward is senior housing in different forms.)
In fact, take a look at the performance of these segments from 2007-2009, during the height of the last Great Recession:
Residential real estate -40% or so
S&P 500 -22.03%
Industrial real estate -18.31%
Office space -8.16%
Self Storage -3.8%
Manufactured Homes -0.47%
And those numbers just show how they perform when the bottom falls out of the market. But the upside will make you look twice.
In fact, from 1984 to 2018, the self storage sector produced annual average returns of 16.85%!
Here’s another illustration just to education purposes (I’m not financial planner nor syndication expert):
If you had $200,000 to invest in 1994 and put half in self storage units and the other in the S&P 500, by 2017, what would those two investments look like?
Your stocks in the S&P 500 would be up to $532,243.
The self storage REIT would be up to $4,026,413,
I can go on, but the point is that you should read the book, as Dr. V dispenses some life-changing insight even if you’re not an accredited investor or positioned to buy commercial real estate (yet).
(I’ll be first in line if they ever open a syndication fund where people can invest $17, an expired Starbucks gift card, and a pocket full of lint!)
But, seriously, I plan on having Dr. V as a guest on my humble podcast soon and ask her if she has any investment strategies or opportunities for the rest of us typical, non-accredited lay people.
Stay tuned and let me know what you think about Dr. Vanessa’s book!
Can I eat it? Is it trying to eat me? Can I have sex with it?
Those are the impulses that were hardwired into the caveman brain, and for good reason; our early ancestors were running around all day trying to find enough food while dodging dinosaurs who wanted to make them into a quick snack, all the while tasked with procreating to ensure the survival of the species.
About 50,000 years have gone by since the end of the paleolithic era, but we haven’t changed as much as you may think. In fact, the modern man or woman’s brain has only evolved 10% in the last fifty millennia!
We’re still wired to fight-or-flight, avoid danger, seek out security, and follow our more base instincts.
So, what does all of this have to do with marketing?
A whole lot, as we also make the majority of our decisions as consumers based on those same primitive brain impulses. In fact, you’ll be shocked to learn how little logic, reason, and information play into any sales process or decision to buy.
By understanding and tapping into these neurologically hardwired impulses, you'll be amazed at how your marketing, sales, and even income flourish. Seriously, the "caveman brain" hacks are so effective, you'll be shocked.
In this on-going series, I’ll explore how you can construct your marketing and sales to tailor to the “caveman brain,” starting with these 10 notes, today:
1. We all have one: our "primitive brain," also called the "reptilian brain" or, to be more scientific, the amygdala. No matter what we'd like to call it, this center controls most of our emotions, including our impulses and gut reactions.
2. It also works so lightning fast (faster!) that we often don’t realize we’re taking in information or processing it at all, our thoughts, feelings, and impulses coming to us on a subconscious level.
Before we ever have a chance to consciously process something we see or hear, we already form a gut reaction within 3 seconds (or far less).
3. More and more, marketing has to do with appealing to this primitive brain, as the modern human is barraged by messages and stimuli all day and night. In fact, the average person is subject to over 34 GB (gigabytes) of new information every single day! No wonder why our filtering systems have to be so sharply acute.
4. Our emotions – not our brains – are actually the first to receive and interpret stimuli from the outside world. It’s not that we don’t reason and factor in information, but our first – and strongest – filter is emotion.
5. Those emotional filters process stimuli and information five times faster than our rational minds! Not only are our emotional receptors super-charged compared to our conscious thoughts, but they make a profoundly stronger and longer-lasting impression.
6. That’s why so many “business” decisions and sales really come down to likability, first impressions, a sense of connection, and even appearances.
7. Studies show that gut reaction will make up 79% of the consumer's behavior, no matter what information, benefits, or experiences you present them afterward.
8. Incredibly, 90% of the stimuli our brains take in and process is visual. (Stop putting endless fields of text in your ads, images, and website!)
9. Even certain colors act as subconscious triggers for the brain. For instance, blue expresses credibility and authority while yellow incites anxiety. Green encourages action while red signals danger or makes us freeze.
Notice how every fast food brand as orange in their logo? Orange makes us hungry!
10. We still aim to maximize comfort and security while running away from risk. In fact, avoiding risk is even more powerful than the hope for comfort and pleasure.
So, any marketing or sales should feature plenty of benefits but don’t forget about stressing the risk of what could happen if they don’t buy/act now/click, etc.
The fear of loss is a much stronger pull than the possibility of gain!
Stay tuned for more strategies about marketing to the caveman brain, and don't forget to subscribe for my weekly marketing tips.
Are you taking advantage of every marketing strategy available to grow your business? Of course not, as your time (and money) are only finite, and your To Do list is long enough every day.
But there are some simple yet incredibly effective tactics that you don't want to miss out on.
In fact, according to a survey of my clients and network:
As a Realtor, loan officer, financial planner, CPA, or any business owner, missing out on these tactics and platforms could stunt your business' growth, even without you realizing it!
So, today, I'll give you three quick tips for marketing tactics that you should be fully on board with so you don't miss out.
1. Film a LOT of short videos
Here’s why: https://youtu.be/-V1bpCzYYJk
I LOVE written content, and it’s still necessary. BUT..you need a whole lot of video, too.
Don’t worry, these don’t need to be all formal with a professional camera crew and you looking like you’re in a hostage video!
Even better, turn on your smartphone and turn the camera the other way, filming a ton of short snippets of your life/job/things you see every day as a Realtor or lender.
Here’s a list of video ideas: http://www.remnorm.com/marketing-tips/shoot-these-50-videos-and-youll-be-a-real-estate-or-mortgage-celebrity
Eventually, as you get more comfortable, you’ll want to ask top questions on-camera, explain the buying and selling process, profile vendors and referral partners, and have a bunch of short discussions.
Can you commit to film 10 videos over the next month? How about 30 videos over the next 30 days?
I'm happy to help you with it, and let’s see together how it grows your business!
Tip: Share them on YouTube (not just Facebook and Instagram)
Here’s why: https://www.remnorm.com/marketing-tips/the-youtube-search-engine-revolution
YouTube is actually the 2nd largest search engine in the world (behind Google) but Realtors and lenders are grossly underutilizing it.
So, when you post a YouTube video, not only will you reach a much larger, targeted audience than on Instagram, for instance, but your title, description, and links are present – all paths that will lead buyers and sellers to you.
2. Consider running Linkedin ads (instead of Facebook ads!)
Here’s why: https://www.remnorm.com/marketing-tips/10-reasons-why-linkedin-is-the-place-you-should-be-running-ads-over-facebook
While I’m not discouraging you from running ad campaigns on Facebook, the world’s biggest social media network and its sister platform, Instagram, the efficacy of those ads have taken a hit recently with the change in targeting rules for those operating in housing, credit, or employment industries (that’s you).
But remember that it’s usually best to stay ahead of the curve – not jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it – and that’s why I urge you to seriously consider LinkedIn ads.
One of the profound benefits of LinkedIn ads is their targeting options. Considering the Facebook ad rules changes in the housing/credit sphere, you’ll find LinkedIn ad targeting to be much more precise.
Let’s get to the bottom line – your advertising ROI, expressed as Cost Per 1,000 Impressions. In fact, the cost for 1,000 impressions is only $6.05 on LinkedIn, while it’s $9.06 on Facebook and $6.70 on Instagram.
3. Register and use your Google My Business page
Here’s why: http://www.remnorm.com/marketing-tips/realtors-and-loan-officers-have-you-set-up-your-google-my-business-listing-yet
Google gives you a FREE platform to list and market your services, post your content, media, and events, and show up when people search for your services in your area.
And as a Realtor or lender, getting listed and reaching people locally is super important. Remember that if you’re a real estate agent in San Diego, for instance, an agent in New York, Kansas, or even San Francisco isn’t your competition.
So, it’s ALL about promoting yourself locally. And Google My Business does just that.
Did I mention that it’s free? And on Google?
And we’re still not taking advantage of it!
Hit me firstname.lastname@example.org if you want more info or help with any of these! Let’s make it happen!
Email marketing is a must-have for any serious Realtor, loan officer, or business owner these days. In fact, emailing offers, updates, reports, and newsletters is a critical way to reach your audience.
Research shows that it has one of the highest ROIs, is mobile-friendly, easy to personalize, and fosters high levels of interaction and engagement.
However, if you’re currently running email marketing campaigns then you also realize just getting your messages through to your audience’s inbox is a significant challenge.
In fact, studies show that only 79% of commercial emails actually hit the receiver’s inbox, and that number is continuing to shrink year by year.
Faced with an unprecedented barrage of email messages (many of them illegitimate), email servers are filtering and flagging messages as spam like never before.
Here are the 10 most common reasons why email marketing from Realtors and loan officers goes to spam:
1. You didn’t get permission
The single biggest reason why email marketing gets sent to spam is that the sender doesn't have permission! In fact, unless your email recipients have subscribed or opted-in (even if you met them in real life and got their email address from the business card they handed you!), you could be in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. That comes with stiff fines as well as virtually ensuring that you'll end up in their Spam folder.
2. Your IP Address is flagged for Spam use
Have you ever heard of “guilt by association?” Well, if your email was sent through a server that has previously been flagged for sending spam, your legitimate email may automatically fall under that label, too. Therefore, it’s recommended that you use reputable email platforms like MailChimp, Infusionsoft, CoverKit, and others.
3. Your Open Rates are subpar
Webmail providers track the rate of email opens, as well as how many are deleted, in their spam filtering formulas. In fact, 26% of email campaigns that are mistakenly flagged as spam can be attributed to low open rates.
4. You’re not familiar to your subscribers
Even if someone did opt-in or subscribe to your email newsletter, they may not remember you – leading them to not open your email or even report it as spam. Spam complaints affect about 21% of all emails that never make it to a recipient’s inbox, whether that’s legitimate or not.
5. Low Mailbox Usage rates are holding your emails back
About 19% of emails that don't hit your audience's inbox are being held back because of low mailbox usage. Mailbox providers have carefully tuned spam filter algorithms, and one of the major factors is the ratio of the active versus inactive email accounts you’re sending to. So, if you’re sending to a large number of email addresses that aren’t being used or have been dormant for a long period, it raises a red flag with the spam filters.
6. A subject line that misrepresents the email
Your subject lines should accurately characterize the content in your email, as well as who it is coming from. But, too often, companies and marketers try to get too crafty with their email subjects just to attract attention. Furthermore, there are a whole lot of scams out there who blatantly lie in their subject lines. According to a Litmus and Fluent survey, 50% of email users have felt “cheated, tricked, or deceived” by at least one email subject line that’s hit their inbox. Furthermore, according to the CAN-SPAM act, a subject line that’s intended to mislead the audience is actually illegal.
7. Misleading sender information
We just covered subject lines that misrepresent the ensuing email and trigger spam filters, but the sender information can do the same thing. Shifty scammers or overzealous advertisers may pretend to be someone they’re not in the “from,” “reply-to,” or “to” fields. So, if you list your name or set up your address to look like you’re the president of a company that doesn’t exist, affiliated with a public agency, or display other authority you don’t have, you’re in violation of the CAN-SPAM act AND ensuring that your emails are marked as spam.
8. There’s no “Unsubscribe” link
There’s nothing that screams “SPAM!” louder than an email without a clear (and usable) unsubscribe button. According to internet protocol and CAN-SPAM law, you must have a link to unsubscribe or opt-out of any email list, which usually is presented clearly at the bottom of the email. Once they click, the process of unsubscribing also has to be simple and easy, so you can’t make them fill out extraneous information, pay any money, or visit more than a single page on your website. When someone does unsubscribe, you also must process that request and remove them from any subsequent mailings within ten days.
9. Your email is missing a physical address
One of the other requirements for a legal, legit email is a valid mailing or physical address. To ensure transparency for any company or sender, the email must contain a current street address, although a valid P.O. Box will work.
10. Your email contains words that trigger Spam filters
To stem the tide of spam, many email providers filter for certain trigger words that reek of unsolicited messages. Common words that trigger spam filters include:
• cancel at any time
• check or money order
• click here
• dear friend
• e-mail marketing
• for only (dollar amount)
• great offer
• increase sales
• order now
• promise you
• special promotion
• this is not spam
• to be removed
Want more help with effective email marketing that won't end up in spam folders?
Raise your hand if you’re a Realtor or mortgage lender who’s running Facebook ads (or, at least thinking about it).
Ok, you can all put them down again.
While I’m not discouraging you from running ad campaigns on the world’s biggest social media network and its sister platform, Instagram, the efficacy of those ads have taken a hit recently with the change in targeting rules for those operating in housing, credit, or employment industries (that’s you).
But remember that it’s usually best to stay ahead of the curve – not jump on the bandwagon because everyone else is doing it – and that’s why I urge you to seriously consider LinkedIn ads.
Yup, Linked, that often-forgotten social media that you only used to check when you desperately needed a job.
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn now has 660 million users – 154 million of them in the United States – and some robust benefits for anyone who takes the time (and coin) to focus their ads there.
Of course, contact me if you have any questions or would like some help with your LinkedIn ads or any marketing campaigns!
10 Reasons why LinkedIn is the place you should be running your ad campaigns:
1. Of the 660 million users, just shy of 50% are active on the platform every month. And LinkedIn is still growing fast, more than tripling its membership since its IPO in 2011 and seeing 172,800 new users sign up every day. That’s about two new users per second!
2. Not only does LinkedIn have some serious professionals ready to network, entertain opportunities, and do business, but more than 30 million companies (not individuals) have a profile on LinkedIn. Needless to say, LinkedIn is still the crème de la crème for B2B networking as well as a boon to your B2C campaigns.
3. If you want to reach decision makers, executives, and the top of any organizational hierarchy, LinkedIn is bar far your best platform (those kinds of folks aren’t spending a lot of time browsing Facebook every day. In fact, every Fortune 500 company is represented on LinkedIn by at least one upper-level manager or CEO.
4. Here’s a seminal stat when considering LinkedIn for advertising: 52 percent of consumers who recently bought a product or service listed LinkedIn as the most influential channel during their research process. The next most influential online platform was blogs, and Facebook ads were much further down the list.
5. And when it comes to purchasing power of its users, LinkedIn has no rival, with the average LinkedIn user enjoying 2X more buying power than the average Facebook user.
6. LinkedIn also boasts a better-educated and more upwardly mobile demographic, with 50% of Americans with a college degree using LinkedIn (that’s incredible!) and the average user between 25-49 (prime home buying, selling, and refinancing years) and earning about $75,000 per household.
7. Ok, so how about those actual LinkedIn ads I was trumpeting?
Let’s get to the bottom line – your advertising ROI, expressed as Cost Per 1,000 Impressions. In fact, the cost for 1,000 impressions is only $6.05 on LinkedIn, while it’s $9.06 on Facebook and $6.70 on Instagram.
Even more important, the value of a LinkedIn lead or prospect is much higher than those on Facebook, as they are more serious, qualified, and financially stable consumers.
8. With LinkedIn ads, you can set up your campaign based on your business goals, like brand awareness, lead generation, or awareness. (To be fair, you can do the same n Facebook.) You can also set your budget for a certain cost per day or total cost and hit pause on the ad (and spending) at any time, adjusting the ad’s image, text, or other elements mid-campaign to ensure you maximize your ROI.
9. But LinkedIn does offer a great lineup of options for your ads, like:
• Sponsored Content
• Direct Sponsored Content
• Sponsored InMail
• Text Ads, and
• Dynamic Ads
They each have different appearances and features, which I’ll cover in-depth in part two.
10. One of the profound benefits of LinkedIn ads is their targeting options. Considering the Facebook ad rules changes in the housing/credit sphere, you’ll find LinkedIn ad targeting to be much more precise.
You can still target your LinkedIn ad based on:
• Education level
• Job experience
• Job title
• Groups they belong to,
• and more.
And you can still upload your email list, database, or point LinkedIn to your website and come up with a copy-cat audience with their Matched Audience feature.
Hit me up if you need help and stay tuned for part two of this series on LinkedIn Ads!