Real estate lead generation is a critical skill for all investors. However, it’s rapidly evolving, and if you don’t keep up, you’ll get left behind. Duncan Wierman joins us for this episode of the FlipNerd Expert Interview show to tell us his take on lead generation. We also discuss the importance of staying focused and being consistent to your success. It’s a great show…don’t miss it!
Mike: Hey, it’s Mike Hambright of FlipNerd.com. Welcome back for another exciting expert interview, where I interview successful real estate investing experts and entrepreneurs in our industry to help you learn and grow.
Today I’m joined by Duncan Wierman. Duncan is the president of the Wierman Group where he is a single family, a multi-family real estate investor, a mentor and coach and he’s really known as an expert in marketing and lead generation and teaching other people how to do that. So, today we’re going to discuss the truth about online lead generation and how critical it is to stay focused and be consistent, so, very important ingredients in real estate investing.
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Hey, Duncan, welcome back to the show. Round two.
Duncan: Hey, thanks, Mike. Yeah, round two. Thanks again for having me. I appreciate it.
Mike: Yeah. So, this is such an important topic. I think a lot of people that get into real estate investing, a lot of what they learn about is kind of maybe the sexiness of a deal or holding up a big check or any of those things. But none of that ever can happen without leads. So, it’s going to be an important topic.
Duncan: That’s right.
Mike: Strangely enough, that part doesn’t get discussed as much as it should because obviously it’s critical.
Duncan: You know, I think so many people put emphasis on the deal itself and how to do a deal that they never put enough emphasis on, “Well, I’ve got to go out and get some leads so I can make some offers and figure out how to do these deals.”
Duncan: Most of the information people are putting out there about how to go find leads, it’s minimal at best and I’ve got to tell you, I see more real estate investors who do some marketing. A lot don’t do anything and they kid themselves, but those who do some marketing, they get maybe 5-10 leads a month and then they’re beating their head against a wall trying to make a deal out of this thing. I’m like, “Just do more marketing and go get the easier leads.”
Mike: Put more in the hopper. Yeah.
Duncan: Yeah, more in the hopper is exactly right.
Mike: Yeah. Hey, before we dive too far into this, Duncan, why don’t you tell us–for those who don’t know, tell us your background. I know you’re like me, a corporate refugee. How did you find your way into real estate investing?
Duncan: Yeah. I am a corporate refugee. I got fired by my board of directors back after the tech crash and I was the CEO of a software company and had to come back to the United States, came back with nothing, knew nothing. I was looking for a new way to make money. Back then, it was just like, “Man, I’ve just got to do this come hell or high water, I have to perform.” I had to feed myself.
Duncan: I think one of the first courses I ever bought was Carleton Sheets. I did everything wrong. I struggled a lot and thought, “Oh gosh, there’s got to be a better way.” So, I put my CEO cap on and just started creating new ways to do new things to get different results.
Mike: Yeah. That’s great. And when did you really kind of start investing? How long has it been?
Duncan: Well, I remember I hit the street running. When I came back to the US, I literally started within a week after that. So, June 2003 was my start date to become an investor.
Mike: 2003, yeah. And we’re going to talk about online lead generation obviously here, but man has that changed in the last 12 years, huh?
Duncan: It has because the internet happened.
Mike: Yeah, absolutely.
Duncan: That was a big one because I was doing things that most investors still do, which are those traditional methods of they’re doing their letters, they’re doing their bandit signs, they’re doing the cold calls, door knocking. Do those still work? Yes, to a point. They’re not getting the same results they did from ten years ago, but the point is if anybody is doing some marketing, something has got to work, but I’d like to do it the easy way and I’m a lazy investor, like just give me a ton of leads and I’m going to cherry pick the easiest leads and I’ll refer the other ones out.
Mike: Yeah. Awesome. How are things, would you say, what are some of the biggest things that have changed over the last couple years in terms of certainly online lead generation?
Duncan: Well, when you first got involved in the internet, all you needed was a website, maybe a phone number. What people are looking for now is they’re looking for full a service site. They’re looking to get instant help. They want to know instantly can they get a cash offer. So, before some people said just put up a couple of squeeze pages and that will give you that information.
Well, today you have to earn their trust to get their information. And it’s about now exposure. How big are you on the internet that people are going to think, “Okay, this is the guy who has the brand message that meets my needs, that I’m willing to give him my information and do business with him versus all these mom and pop, me too investors?”
Mike: Yeah. And there are still a ton of people online that has these websites that look like they’re ten years old. They probably are ten years old.
Duncan: They do.
Mike: Yeah. You can’t play that game anymore. You don’t stand out for sure.
Duncan: No. It really is about, “How am I unique? How do I stand out? Why am I better from my competitors?” There’s an online battle out there. So, you have to be very clear in what you do. I think it really comes down to, first of all, the investor has to focus. Before they even do any lead generation, figure out who they are, what they do, what value they provide and then they’re going to go and put a marketing plan together about who is their typical client, “Where are we going to find them and connect to them and what is our message to that client?”
And once you have that, then you go forward and you have this message that has to be different from everybody else. I’ve got to tell you, if I hear one more person say, “We buy houses for cash–any reason, any price,” I’m probably going to puke because everybody in the world says that. So, you have to stay out of that way. So, focus on a niche. I have one lady and she only focuses on divorcees who have to sell their house or they’re looking for a new house.
Even myself in my fix and flip business, the market that we segment to sell our houses fast to is the first time home Latino buyer in LA. In our multi-family student housing business, we’re looking for a type of student who wants X and parents who want X. So, everything is very well thought out to, “Who is our end client? How do we message them and what are we saying to them?” And that’s why we get so many leads that we do besides all the marketing.
Mike: Yeah. That’s interesting because I think most real estate investors have this shotgun approach to, “I’m just going to cast a really wide net. I’m in the opportunity business. So, I’ll figure out way to monetize that as long as I get leads.” So, kind of talk about the pros and cons of that mentality, obviously versus focusing.
Duncan: Right. Well, here’s the thing you’ve got to remember online. They’re going to not only check out your site. They’re going to check out three other competitors’ sites at the same time if you treat it as an opportunity. It’s like, “This guy has a prettier or website or this guy had a better voice message.”
So, it’s about how do you make your site appealing to your end client that they want to give you their information, what is your follow up process? What is that user experience? Are you giving them the content they need to make a decision? You’re the one.
Mike: Yeah. And from a technology standpoint, I know you’re very focused on technology. There’s always still the requirement of people, obviously. So, do you use virtual assistants? How do you run the ball people-wise?
Duncan: Well, I do use virtual assistants because just because you’re marketing online and you had a website, it does not mean you do not have any human interaction.
Mike: Right. You have to.
Duncan: There’s got to be human interaction somewhere. Now, the virtual assistant can take a lot of that heavy lifting off you along with technology can take that heavy lifting off you. But if people really look at how the business, let’s say the workflow happens and they start writing it out and systematizing it like, “Do you really need to do that? Do you really need to do that? Can I outsource this? Can I automate this?” I know only at this point do I want to talk to them. Otherwise, one of my five virtual assistants is out there and I’m going to pre-screen them.
Mike: Yeah. Talk about for the average person that’s newer, how they kind of ease into… For a lot of people, technology is overwhelming. Setting up processes is overwhelming. Talk a little bit about how you kind of advice people to get started.
Duncan: You know, first of all, people have got to wake up. This is a business. It is a business and it’s got to make your head hurt a little bit to think like a business. Somebody just doesn’t say, “Here’s $1 million. I’m going to open with $1 million and make $1 million.” McDonalds says, “Hey, guess what? You’re going to come to Hamburger U. You’ve got to sit here for two weeks and have to learn how to do all these things.”
Duncan: So, first of all, people have got to wake up. They’ve got to learn how to market. And then take it in small steps. If you’ve never had a virtual assistant before, well hire one just on a project basis instead of a longer-term basis to try and do one of those things.
One, you’ve got to be clear in what you want them to do. Don’t micromanage them. You’ve got to remember, people are people. I had employees underneath me and I always hated dealing with employees. But you know, I have a VA. He looks after four other VAs. But the thing is you have to really hold them accountable.
So, every day in the beginning of the morning, “Guys, this is what we’re doing today. Follow the plant that I’ve outlined at the beginning of the month. Do you understand it? Is there anything else I can do to help you do your tasks today? Okay. Great. Go for it.” At the end of the day via Skype, I’m saying, “Guys, give me the report back on today. Show me my leads or show me where you presented me that,” well, I should say promoted me so I have more content out there.
Duncan: So, you’ve got to manage people. You cannot do this business alone anymore. You need help.
Mike: No doubt about it. And so, we were going to talk about the truth with online real estate or with online lead generation. And so, what are some of the misconceptions, I guess, that people have. Let’s talk about fact versus fiction here.
Duncan: Sure. I think a lot of people have heard, “Oh, social media marketing–I’ve got to get a Facebook page, a Twitter page and all that.” Oh, that’s all fine and dandy to have a page. But if they’re not going to post to it at least three times a day, you do three shows a week. If you didn’t do three shows a week and you only did one show a month, you wouldn’t get that much leads or that many views, for that matter.
People, even with their blog, they’ve got to pick the social media and the marketing methods they’re going to do. But they’ve got to be consistent with it. When I say also consistent, three or four times a day, they’ve got to have a better message than just saying, “We buy houses,” you know?
Duncan: If they’re not providing valuable content to these people, what’s the point? So, that’s the truth. Yeah. Setup these sites, but what the heck do I do with them now? People have to think, “How do I provide value?”
Mike: Yeah. And I think you would probably agree that a lot of online marketing has really evolved to educating, teaching, providing value, providing information instead of just ads, ads, ads, right?
Duncan: Correct. That’s the old-fashioned way. That was outbound marketing, when you’re doing ads, you’re cold calling and all that. But now we have inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is content-driven. Look at it as content is the king. You have to earn value. But here’s the thing–engagement is the queen. So, we have to start providing value in the engagement we have by paying it forward.
Respond to every post, seek out where we can answer questions. I like to seek out, let’s say keywords, but I call them social triggers. Where are people talking about getting divorced, job relocation, having a new baby? They want to downsize or their parents are going into senior care, something like that. Those are all opportunities for me to add value, the, “How can I help?” to then look at me to buy their house or sell them a home.
Mike: Yeah. And what are some kind of tips on getting started in that space?
Duncan: Well, you need to remember when you start real estate investing, pick one strategy. Don’t be the jack of all trades. If you’re a jack of all trades, you’re going to lose every time. Pick one. Become a master at it. As you become a master at it, you will define who you are and also, you will learn the key words that people are saying and searching for to allow you to hone in on them. So, it sounds like very complex and complicated. It’s not, really. It just takes a little bit of thought process. You start with the end in mind and you work backwards.
Duncan: And you’ve just got to stand out. Everybody has unique value and there’s something they have. What it comes down to is also stories. Everybody has their own personal story. If they can integrate that story into what they do, it’s going to make it a lot more easier and it’s going to make it fun at the same time.
Mike: Yeah. So, talk about for newer real estate investors or even those that have been around for a while but they try to take it to another level, talk a little bit about how they, in terms of focus, we talk a lot about the importance of focus, a lot of people, it’s so easy to get distracted in real estate investing because everybody has shiny object syndrome. I’m to blame for some things. I have some of the same issues in some parts of my life where it’s easy just to keep trying to get more information and not making a decision.
I think everybody falls into that pit sometimes. But real estate investors in particular, there are so many different ways to make money. There are so many different programs out here. There are so many different ways to distract you from making a decision. Let’s talk a little bit about focus.
Duncan: Number one is people have got to turn off listening to webinars. Once they pick a strategy, turn off the webinars because you’ve got to get out into the field. That’s where you’re going to learn, right? If you look at your time, number one, as, “Here’s my full time job. Here’s my time I’m with the kids,” stop to have a balanced life.
Say, “I can only afford one hour a day in this business.” Well, you know what? You better find another hour to hire a VA for you to do the work you don’t want to do and then the work you do have to do is you turn off your email and you just focus on those tasks at hand. It’s like a business. I have to do this today. Write it down.
I can’t get distracted. And you’re right. It is easy to. I start on this webpage and the next thing I know I’m reading the news over here. And now I’m like, “How did I get here?” That’s going on in American society. I don’t know why. But we have very limited attention spans. But I’ve got to tell you, Mike, if there’s one thing I can contribute to my success, it’s focus.
Even more than technology, it’s that I had a goal–I had to make money to eat. That was it. Now it’s lifestyle. But then, it’s like, “Crap, I’ve got to do this.” I had no choice. That meant doing some painful things I didn’t like to do but I did them. I focused and I did them consistently until I got a result and then you tweak the result to get it better and better and then once you crack that code, you systematize and automate and scale.
Mike: Yeah. And I’ve said this many times on the show. It’s just a common theme that I’ve seen. I’ve interviewed over 200 people now on the show and I mentor a bunch of folks myself. It’s a common occurrence that I see that some of the most successful real estate investors got backed into a corner where failure was not an option that they could accept. I think that’s part of the challenge.
A lot of people don’t have–I hate to say it–they don’t have enough pain. They’re not willing to do what it takes to achieve that success because they can fall back on something else.
Duncan: Right. Or if it’s not enough pain–people, like you said, people tend to go away from pain toward pleasure or they don’t have enough drive toward pleasure. So, it really comes down to how badly people want it. But you know what? Human beings are human beings.
We know 80 percent of the people who come into real estate, just like multi-level marketing or whatever it is, who intend to do something. They never do anything. They’re just dreamers and kid themselves. That’s the sad story, you know? 20 percent will make money and you’ll have five percent of that 20 that will go on and rise to the top.
Duncan: I wish I could turn it around. But it’s hard to get people that say, “I want to be your shining star.” I give them homework. Even at my event, Mike, I gave people one assignment the first day. How many people did it? Zero. I’m like, “Why?” “Well, I was tired. My internet was too slow.” I’m like, “Okay. Day two, I’m going to give you two things of homework to do.” “I’m going to do it on Monday.” “You guys, you’ve got to be kidding me. You’re dealing with all this information.”
People don’t have a knowledge problem. They have an implementation problem. You can’t break the internet. You can always go back and fix it most of the time. So, it’s frustrating to me. It really is.
Mike: Yeah. And the sad thing is like you said, it’s an internal problem. It’s a mindset problem, if you will. So, it’s like there are proven people like you and lots of other folks that have achieved success and it’s not necessarily because you’re smarter than anybody else. It’s just that you were willing to stay focused and do whatever it took to get over that hump. Hopefully folks are listening to this and they’re like, “Yeah, I’m guilty of being a slacker.” You’re the problem.
Duncan: I’ll tell you what. I never thought I would be where I was. I was sitting in the seminar. I was listening to the speaker like, “Oh man, that’s so old school. I’m doing this and getting more leads than he’s talking about.” And I just said to a few people at lunch time, “This is what I’m doing.” Next thing I knew, I had a flock of people around me. “Teach that. You should tell people that.”
Duncan: People need to just get a wakeup call. I wish it was as easy as just–here’s the thing. I can get students 100 leads like this overnight. I’ll say, “Well, how many did you call?” “None.” “What? What’s going on here?” So, I said, “Okay, we’ll make it really easy.” So, I say, “We’re going to get you the leads. We’re now going to voice blast them. So, you don’t have to call them. You can only talk to the ones that call you.” Like, “Oh no.” It’s a little bit easier for them, but they’re still afraid of. Get over your fear and move on. We can use technology to at least get the phone to ring for us.
Mike: Yeah. Well, let’s talk about the evolution of lead generation, so kind of where things have been and where they’re going. Maybe kind of share your thoughts too on the efficiency of the real estate investing market. I think some opportunity–it seems like the market is getting more efficient with more tools to generate leads, easier to sell than it has been in the past, in some ways easier to buy.
So, the challenge is the market, I would argue a big part of what worked in the past was the fact that the market was so inefficient so you can come in and make things happen. It’s getting more and more efficient.
Because of that efficiency, people are starting to be willing to accept less of a return and all those things. It’s effectively making the market more efficient. I don’t see it ever getting fully efficient, but just kind of how that’s changed things and where you think it’s going.
Duncan: Right. Well, it really is efficient from when it was 12 years ago. You have websites where you can go and look at houses. You can find comparable online. You can go and drive a street online. So, there are more options. People can tell right away can they get approved for a loan online. So, that’s making it easier to sell a home. So, research and figure out, “Are these areas hot or not.”
Even your site, FlipNerd, is giving the opportunity to people to come and just find wholesale deals online. If you’re a wholesale or a fix and flip guy like me, man, I don’t have to step out of my house and talk to anybody anymore. I can go look online, “Here are all my wholesale deals presented to me.”
Duncan: How easy is that?
Duncan: But the MLS doesn’t provide me deals, wholesale deals. All these investors are getting over to FlipNerd.com. How easy is it? So, it’s evolved a lot. So, the thing is people have got to stand out with their brand to get noticed. That’s the big thing. “I’m over here. I’m open for business.” You’ve got to know what value they provide the people and just keep articulating it.
Mike: Yeah. So, Duncan, you’re at the forefront of technology and real estate investing, certainly from a lead generation standpoint. Where do you think things go from here?
Duncan: That’s a good question. Will there be another Facebook? Yeah. Will there be another Twitter? Yeah. The next best thing is right around the corner. I’m not sure what it’s going to be, but there’s going to be something. Technology keeps evolving. As technology evolves, as sites come up, I’m going to be trying to figure out ways, “How do I get leads from it?”
So, we have software and every month we update it. I’m always brainstorming, “How can I do my business better?” I want to bring my cost per lead down. So, I don’t know, Mike. It’s exciting. But there’s so much cool stuff on the internet and I’ve just got to keep coming up with new ways to get leads out of it. But I’m looking for the next Facebook. Next time I’m going to invest in it earlier.
Mike: Yeah. I think that’s one of the more important things from a mindset standpoint. I’m sure you’ve seen it to, a lot of people that just got surpassed because they weren’t willing to change. They just kind of had an old way and they stuck with it and that’s what they knew. But I think this day and age, if you’re going to be around for a while, you just have to–like you said, I don’t’ know what’s coming, but something is coming and you just have to be ready to evolve with it.
Duncan: You’ve got to adapt. You’ve got to be flexible. During the 2008 downturn, I didn’t lose any money at all because I’m like, “Something is not right here. This is going to happen.” So, I started selling off all my single family residential and getting into multi-family because I’m like something is not up here. You’ve just got to read and have just got to stay in the game and listen and feel. But yeah, honestly, I don’t know what’s next. But I’m going to figure it out whatever comes my way and be part of it.
Mike: Yeah. That’s a great attitude. You have to.
Duncan: Yeah. It’s fun. Some people go to Vegas and put in quarters to get a whole bunch of quarters back out. I’ll just put in money in the market and say, “How many leads can I get out of this puppy?” If I don’t get anything, I consider it buying data. “Okay, that didn’t work. Now, let me go and do this and see what I can get out.” You only need one deal to make it back very easily.
Mike: Yeah. Awesome. Well, Duncan, I know you have a number of tools and information that you share with people. If folks wanted to learn more about the stuff that you do and some of the tools you have to generate online leads, where can they go to find out more?
Duncan: Sure. Very easy. If you can spell my name right, it’s DuncanWierman.com. And that will give you a little background on me. I have a great technology blog. I love to write about technology, guys. So, that’s the majority of stuff I write about on there. I’m not trying to sell you a bunch of stuff, just like, “Hey, this is working. This is what we’re doing. These are some things to consider.” So, visit my blog. Sign up for my newsletter if you like. Send me some hate mail if you like too. I don’t care. I respond to everything.
Mike: Awesome, man. We’ll add the website down below for folks that want to learn more. I know you’ve got some good tools that are very intriguing, for sure. So, any kind of final words here on how folks can think about lead generation, think about being more focused and helping achieve whatever their goals are?
Duncan: Yeah. Write your goals down. Figure out how many leads you need per month to make how many offers to get a deal. Every single day, you’ve got to be doing some form of–every day, you’ve got to be doing some form of marketing and promotion. Every week you’ve got to be writing offers. It comes down to that. Everything else is easy in my book. If I’m marketing and getting leads, everything else is easy.
So, I tell people that. Figure it out. If you want to make $5,000 a month, how many leads do you need to get that? There are a ton of ways to get leads. Read my blog. I give a lot of free information to get leads. It’s not rocket science. It’s just a matter of doing it.
Mike: It’s a sales pipeline, right? You have a funnel and you have to run stuff through it.
Duncan: It is. This is a business like anything else. Forget this mom and pop hobby thing. It’s not. If you want to make real money, treat it as a business and put time and effort into it and it’s going to pay off. I’ve just automated the lead gen process to take that pain away from spending lots of money on mailings and that sort of stuff. But you’ve still got to call them. You’ve still got to email them.
Mike: Yeah. Awesome, Duncan. Hey, great to see you. Thanks for joining us today.
Duncan: All right, Mike. Hopefully I’ll come back for show number 562.
Mike: Yeah. All right, my friend, please stay in touch.
Duncan: All right, you too sir.
Mike: All right. Bye, bye.
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