The Brain-Dead Simple Answer To The Question: “How Should I Market My Real Estate Investing Business?”

When I connect with real estate investors, one of the first questions they ask me is about where they should be marketing their real estate investing business to find the best motivated sellers and cash buyers.

And my answer is brain-dead simple but laser-sharp effective. I always say:

“It depends where YOUR motivated sellers and YOUR cash buyers are paying attention.”

Real estate investing marketing success is NOT about a basic template of specific marketing channels that are combined together in exactly the right way with exactly the right information or social posts.

It’s not a plug-n-play formula of “1 Twitter account plus 1 Facebook account plus regular postcards equals ridiculous levels of success.”

Unfortunately, real estate investors are led to believe this from the gurus and experts who make it look easy and never really fully explain how to effective market a real estate investing brand.

That’s why I’m here. 🙂

I’ll give you the simplest, fastest way to market effectively for the right motivated sellers and cash buyers.

First, stop trying to copy the the big guys exactly. It’s folly and you’ll only waste your money. No two real estate investors are exactly alike. Each one serves a different market and a different motivated seller and a different cash buyer.

Let’s say you’re an investor in Cleveland Ohio who buys properties from probate sellers and who then creates turnkey investment opportunities. You’ll STILL serve a somewhat different market than another investor who invests in Cleveland and buys from probate sellers and sells turnkey. Your differing personalities and levels of expertise and network and skills will combine to create slightly different brands… and therefore you might connect with sellers and buyers in a different way.

Second, figure out EXACTLY who you are and what you do and who you are connecting with. Sit down with a pen and paper (old school!!!) and list out what markets you work in and what your sellers and buyers are like.

Third, figure out what value you provide sellers and buyers… don’t miss this step because it’s essential to creating ANY communication that will compel your seller or buyer to act.

Fourth, identify exactly where your sellers and buyers are paying attention. Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? Magazines? Television? Radio? Newspapers?

Yeah, I listed television and radio and some of you are reading this and thinking “are you crazy? That’s so expensive!!!” and then you’ll go out and spend a ton of money on cheap marketing that reaches a wide audience ineffectively and delivers zero return on your investment.

Unfortunately, too many real estate investors value a marketing channel by whether they think it’s affordable or not… instead of whether it delivers the intended results.

There are no bad marketing channels… even seemingly expensive marketing channels can be good… it all depends on what your target audience is paying attention to.

If you are mailing out a ton of direct mailing and getting crappy results then your current direct mail strategy is not a good choice for your intended audience… even if the big real estate investors are killing it with this strategy. (You should test some slightly different language in your copy and see if that solves the problem, and then test a different strategy altogether).

Twitter might be great for you if your audience is there and paying attention and seeking answers. But if they’re not then it’s not for you.

Heck, if your target market is ignoring all marketing because they are too busy at their kids’ softball games then that’s great news: Go sponsor the team, rent a hot dog cart and give out free hot dogs and meet with parents as they load up their dogs with mustard, hand out your business card, give out labelled bottled water, give prizes, whatever.

You see my point? The way you market doesn’t really matter actually. Only the results. And if you want results in your marketing effort then you have to figure out the best way to communicate to YOUR motivated sellers and cash buyers.

The bottom line: Just figure out where your motivated sellers and cash buyers are, and market to each of them there.

These Are The 3 Most Effective Brands For A Real Estate Investing Business

Every business has a brand.

Yes, every single business.

Even your real estate investing business has a brand (whether you think it does or not, and whether you’ve intentionally done anything with your brand or not).

Since every business (including your real estate investing business) has a brand, you might as well take charge of your brand and build it intentionally.

Building your brand intentionally gives you the most control over how others see you, whether they do business with you, and what they can expect from you when you work together.

I’ve been helping real estate investors build brands for years. I’ve observed, made notes, tested, failed, succeeded, learned, and built a significant playbook on real estate investing branding. Yeah, I boasting. Whatever. It’s the result of years of toil (mostly good toil) and I’m proud of what I’ve built and how I can help people. From all of this work, I’ve found that there are really just 3 types of real estate investing brands. Of course there’s a lot of subtle variations within each of these 3 but there are 3 big categories of real estate investing brands.

So if you’re thinking about how to brand your real estate investing business, consider how each of these brands might play out for you. Here are the 3 in no particular order…

The Corporate Brand

With a corporate brand you position the company first. Usually the business name is prominently displayed on the site. There are often images of the properties you work with. Images of people on the site are often stock images of ideal customers or, professional headshots in an “Our Team” page.

Memphis Invest (they’re a client) is an example of a corporate brand.

The corporate brand is the most formal of the three brands I’m talking about in this post. (It doesn’t have to be so formal that it seems like you are a robot sent from the future to generate cashflow, but the brand typically has a formality to it).

At times, this corporate brand can impart a “big business” feel to your investing company (although that’s not always the case, especially if you use the corporate brand approach but work toward a “boutique firm” feel).

This brand scales really well so if your business grows from a one-investor-operation to a team, there is no real impact on the brand itself.

This brand works well with professional, experienced investors and high net worth investors. And if it doesn’t seem too formal and bureaucratic, it’s also a good brand when dealing with sellers because they can get a sense of assurance from the structure and professionalism (however this is a fine line to tread so be careful).

I should warn you, though, that there are a BAZILLION of these brands out there already (most done poorly but they’re out there anyway) so you need to find a way to be unique among them.

The Celebrity Brand (or) The Lifestyle Brand

The celebrity brand positions YOU as the brand. You’re the rockstar investing expert who can help sellers sell fast or buyers buy for massive cashflow. Sometimes it’s all about you and your larger-than-life personality… but sometimes it’s about your lifestyle and how real estate investing lets you life your life on your terms.

Donald Trump (not a client) is an example of a celebrity brand. He’s got a massive personality that is notable and magnetizes people, and his gold-plated lifestyle also adds to the brand. One of my clients, Mark Evans “The DM”, loves to travel the world so we have positioned him as a “world-traveling virtual investor” (meaning he can invest no matter where he happens to be). Another client, Sunil Tulsiani of the Private Investment Club, has positioned himself as “The Wealthy Cop” because he used to be a police officer and is now a full-time investor and founder of an investment club.

The celebrity brand is usually far less formal. The person themselves (or the lifestyle they live) is front and center.

All the content in this brand — from websites to blogs to emails to images — all center around the person or their lifestyle. In some cases (with a few exceptions) a lot of the content comes directly from you, so your blog might say: “I was climbing in the Himalayas last week when an investor called to do a deal…” The language is “I”, “Me”, “My” to help establish YOU as the brand.

This brand is harder to scale because the entire brand is built around one person and that can sometimes cause confusion among investors if they think the one investor is doing everything behind the scenes. (There are ways around these, such as by mentioning that you have a team). It’s not impossible to scale but there can be challenges.

This brand is also harder to break free from if you want to do something else or if you start on the wrong foot. One example (outside of the real estate investing space) is Tim Ferriss and his Four Hour Work Week. This is a celebrity/lifestyle brand and Tim has said publicly that the “four hour” piece of his brand has been both a blessing and a curse because everyone thinks that Tim really only works four hours a week… when even he admits that it’s not true.

This brand works well if you have a great angle and/or a big personality or ego. (Nothing wrong with that). For an angle, you need something that will attract your ideal target market. For example, investing from the beach, or cellphone investing, or investing in your underwear, or investing by the pool, or investing from your South American villa, or investing from your private jet, or investing from your motorcycle, etc. See where I’m going with this? Your angle needs to be some attractive aspect of your lifestyle that makes other investors think: “I want that!”

This brand works well to attract new or experienced investors (and depending on your brand, you can increase one or the other). I don’t recommend this brand when working with sellers, since you don’t want to put your flashy lifestyle as the front-and-center piece when you’re talking to them. (However, it’s possible that a celebrity-style brand may work with sellers but your celebrity will need to be built around generosity and helping others).

If you don’t like the spotlight, don’t pick this brand. However, this is probably the fastest way to create a unique brand.

The Educational Brand

The educational brand is, as the name suggests, focused on educating others. The entire brand is built around showing others how to achieve their goal, whatever that goal might be (selling fast, buying for cash flow, flipping, wholesaling, whatever).

This type of brand is slightly more formal (like the corporate brand) but most importantly has a layer of instruction to it.

This is a great brand to build if you want to attract brand new investors or if you want to focus on building a passive income stream of information and coaching. My client REIN (the Real Estate Investment Network, a Canadian network of investors) does this very effectively.

The potential is also here to attract sellers by educating them, however I’ve seen a lot of seller education brands struggle because they potentially educate sellers out of selling. (I’m not saying it’s impossible to build a seller education brand; I’m just pointing out the challenge).

When done appropriately, you can do deals with your students using an educational brand — you just need to be cautious that you don’t come out of the gate swinging with deals when the student might want to take a slower approach. One challenge, however, is that many people start out as real estate investing students and they STAY as students and rarely move forward. So a component of your education should include encouraging them or enticing them to take action.

In many ways, this brand straddles the fence between the formality of the corporate brand (which tends to be more trusted among students) and the lifestyle aspect of the celebrity lifestyle brand (which tends to attract more students), but the most important thing is to give good instruction. The more instruction you give — the more step-by-step and easy-to-follow instruction, the better for your students to become your investing clients.

This brand can be easier to scale because a lot of the information can be automated through autoresponders and video and PDF ebooks/reports so it can take a lot of work to set up initially but you can potentially do a lot of deals to your students later.

There are many educational brands out there (and it’s growing all the time) so you need to find your own unique angle.

The Hybrid Brand

I said there were 3 brands, and that is true. You’ve just read about them. But I realized that there’s technically another brand — a hybrid of the 3 above. For example, with the right approach, you can build a hybrid model of 2 or all 3 of these. A good example from among my clients is Kent Clothier, who has built a very professional investing brand (it’s a celebrity brand but it’s ALMOST corporate), and he is a very prolific educator.

So What Should You Do???

If you’re not sure where to start, consider the following:

Consider who your avatar (ideal target market) is. The more experienced your buyers are, the more formal they may want to be. (i.e. they may not necessarily be attracted to education or your lifestyle). I have a client who is somewhat famous before becoming an investor and we were going to build a celebrity brand for him… until we analyzed his target market and realized that they were actually more famous than he was. So it wouldn’t make sense to go with a celebrity brand, instead we’re building a corporate brand.

Think about whether you want to build multiple brands (one for sellers and one for buyers, which you should do if you are using a celebrity model for buyers — you need something for sellers) or whether you only want to build one brand (which is easier to do when using the corporate brand). With a corporate brand, you can put a buyers side and a sellers side on the same website pretty easily. With a celebrity brand, you should only focus on one and keep the other very separate.

Decide if you like the spotlight or not. (Nothing wrong if you do; nothing wrong if you don’t… either way, it helps to inform you of the direction to take).

Narrow your focus a little and then test out each approach. You don’t have to invest a lot of time or money but just do a bit of brainstorming and think about whether you can sustain a one-post-a-week celebrity lifestyle blog for a year, or whether you have the experience to deliver helpful education to students.

There are so many possibilities and variations but these are the 3 brands I build for my clients over and over and over again.

Copywriting Response Rates: The Myth, Mystery, Beauty, and Damnable Frustration (And Why I Rarely Share My Response Rates When Someone Asks)

One of the reasons I was attracted to copywriting in general, and direct response copywriting for real estate investors specifically, was the idea of response rates — the ability to accurate measure results from your work.

Marketing should not be considered an art, it should be considered a science. Every ad is a test and every response rate is the data to help you draw a conclusion.

Often, prospective clients ask me about my response rates. They say, “I’m thinking of doing a direct mail piece to find cash buyers and I’d like to send out a letter. What are the response rates you get?”

I have mixed feelings about this question. On the one hand, I absolutely LOVE that they care as much as the result of the ad as they do about sending it. (That is a surprisingly rare mindset). On the other hand, they’re asking a question that is almost impossible to answer.

I know what my response rates are for nearly every type of copy I write. But I HATE giving out a specific number as “proof” of my ability to write copy. On any type of copy, my response rates vary: Some have been infuriatingly below industry standard, some are at industry standard, some are above industry standard.

I’ve seen my work falter. Yeah, I’ll admit that. I’ve also seen my work sell out a client’s project by 100%. (I’m happier to admit that one!) I love measuring responses and I’m generally proud of my response rates but here’s why I don’t like talking about specific response rate numbers:

Response rates are only part of the picture.

I’ll use an analogy to explain. When you go on a trip, you put gas in your car and you probably have some expectation that the mileage you get from that tank of gas will get you a certain distance.

BUT… It assumes that you have a car (and not just a gas tank). It assumes that you have maintained your car so it’s working at maximum efficiency. It assumes that you won’t just leave your car idling at the grocery store while you run in for beef jerky and energy drinks for the trip. It assumes that you have adequate air pressure in the tires. It assumes that you aren’t driving into a massive headwind while towing a trailer. It assumes that you are driving on a generally flat ground at sea level and not through winding mountain roads. Heck, it assumes that you’re actually traveling on a road.

Think of my copy like gas in the gas tank. My response rates are like the mileage you’re expecting to get. Like a car salesperson, I can tell you what the expected mileage is based on past experiences but there are a lot of assumptions wrapped up in that number. Your experience might be totally different. Here are some interesting observations I’ve made over the years:

  • I put together some postcards for a real estate investor that got an insane response rate. Unfortunately, the client’s sales funnel wasn’t fully set up so they got a great response rate from the mailing but couldn’t deliver on what they had promised in the postcard.
  • I created an client’s ad for a real estate investing magazine that, at first, seemed to have a dismal response rate. But it continued to deliver responses a full year after the magazine was published and turned out to be one of the best marketing investments they made.
  • I wrote a sales letter for a wholesaler that was pretty good and I was hoping for a 25% response rate from it (which I would be happy to get on that particular offer). I don’t know what percentage the sales letter actually delivered (we lost track of the number of letters that went out) but the client sold out and continues to use that sales letter.
  • And here’s another story that happened to a client of mine (although I wasn’t involved in this story, unfortunately): My client was getting dismal response rates on a mailing so he tested a new mailing like crazy and sunk A LOT of money into testing. Now his mailing is incredible but it was a journey to get there.

I have more stories like that. Way more. And I’ve learned something really important: Good copy is about response rates (and we all should pay attention the response rates of our marketing) but those response rates aren’t necessarily a specific, transferable number to other investors. I may get a GREAT response rate from a sales letter for one client but it doesn’t mean I’ll get you the same response rate from a sales letter.

To get a good response rate on your project, here’s what you and I need to do when we work together:

  1. Complete a ton of research. (Seriously. Just when you think you’ve done enough, you’re actually just starting.) Do 80% research and 20% copywriting. Sometimes this ratio doesn’t work out (oftentimes it doesn’t work out) but it’s the ideal that we should all aim for.
  2. Carefully choose the right market. You can’t just flood the market with postcards; you need to find a way to narrow your list and identify only those people who are likely going to want what you have to offer.
  3. Create a good offer. (Preferably, a REALLY good offer.) Here’s a huge problem in real estate investing: Newbie investors hear about all these “no-money-down, no-real-work investing” strategies and they try to adopt those bare minimum strategies to start. But what they really do is offer barely anything to their sellers and buyers. Real estate investing is a service that needs to be sold, just like anything else in the world, and the better your offer, the better your response rate will be.
  4. Build a scalable sales funnel. Oh gosh. If I had a nickel for every time this was a problem… Your marketing will likely create a response and you need to be ready for it. In my opinion, getting people to call your cellphone in response to a postcard mailing is a bad idea. It’s not scalable for you and it’s not attractive for the caller if they have to leave a voicemail.

Good copywriters are “numbers-focused” and the response rate is important to them. As a real estate investor who is investing your hard-earned money into your marketing, response rates should be important to you too. But a response rate in and of itself is just a number, devoid of any context. A one percent response rate might sound bad in one situation and amazing in another situation. A 25% response rate might say “hey, this copywriter is amazing” or it might say “hey, the offer was ridiculously underpriced.”

And asking a copywriter for their response rates is, in my opinion, no different than asking a prospective employee to give you their resume. Everyone makes their resume look shiny and copywriters are going to give you the best response rates they’ve received.

Yeah, I do that because I’m proud of my response rates and people want to know the numbers. But don’t hire me because I’ve had good response rates.

So, how do you decide whether to hire a copywriter for your work? Well response rates can be one piece of the puzzle. Copywriting experience is another. Industry experience is another. Owning the “control” of a letter is good, too. (A control is copywriter-speak for the sales document that a company mails over and over. A copywriter who writes the best performing sales letter, for example, owns it as a “control” until another copywriter comes along and writes a better-performing sales letter. Then that second copywriter owns the control).

But again, these are only part of the story. A really successful copywriter will also need to depend on you, your market, the offer, and the timing of the offer to help them. I think of a company that created a really great offer and unveiled it… on September 11, 2001. Even the best offer will be eclipsed by other events — sometimes outside of your ability to manage them.

I’m not making excuses for why some copy works and some doesn’t. Rather, it’s my desire to point out that good copy works in collaboration with many pieces of your business (and from outside sources like the marketplace and even a little luck). If you are going to hire a copywriter, you need to think about the big picture.

You can hire a great copywriter to deliver copy that has an amazing response rate and you can still lose money in your business.

When people call me up to write “a postcard” or “a webpage”, I never take the project because I know that my work will not be as effective. Rather, I only accept clients who are thinking about the big picture — not necessarily asking me to write it all for them but rather thinking about how the pieces I create will fit in with the pieces that are being created by others… all toward building a bigger, better, scalable, more profitable sales funnel.

Ultimately, it’s your real estate investing sales funnel and the components that make up that sales funnel that will determine the response rate of the copy and (more importantly) the success of your offer.

So hey, ask me about response rates. But don’t stop there. Ask my about my copywriting experience and real estate investing experience. Ask me about the controls I own. And most importantly, ask me about how your real estate investing sales funnel can grow when all the right pieces are put in place.

The 3 Apocalyptic Mistakes That Real Estate Investors Make When Marketing

If you want to light your money on fire, ignore this blog post. Some people will. They’ll read this post, they’ll think “oh, that’s interesting”, and then they’ll go on doing the same things they usually do…

… If that’s you, you might as well light your money on fire right now.

If you don’t like to waste your money, but would rather keep it to spend on a nice ham sandwich or a Lamborghini, then read this post and heed its dire warning.

Marketing your real estate investing business has the potential to grow it — to grow the number of deals you do, and their quality, and the money you make from each one. Marketing builds your buyers list and your sellers list. Marketing turns your kitchen table business into an empire.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a good marketing manual for real estate investors. (I’m working on one but it’s not done yet and I’m just one guy who is typing as fast as he can). And so real estate investors are often educated in the mechanics of how to do a deal but not in how to market their investing business. They end up making critical mistakes in their marketing because they don’t know how to do it.

Through mistake-filled marketing they end up flopping around like a fish that washes out of the ocean — flailing about in a strange world while gasping for breath… until they die.

That’s why I called this blog post “the 3 apocalyptic mistakes… ” because these aren’t just little stub-your-toe errors that you can walk off. If you make these 3 mistakes, it could be the apocalypse for your business, just as washing out of water is basically the apocalypse for a fish.

Here are the 3 business-killing mistakes that real estate investors make when marketing…

Apocalyptic Mistake 1: No Memorable Brand

A good brand performs three functions — (1) to hook someone in when they first encounter you, (2) to immediately and succinctly communicate your point of differentiation, and (3) to be the memorable thing that they can’t get out of their head long after they stop looking at your marketing.

  1. Hook: The people who encounter your brand are busy and overwhelemed with their own problems. Your brand needs to cut through the clutter in their mind and immediately communicate to them why their problems will be solved by you.
  2. Point of differentiation: When searching for a solution, your prospective buyers and sellers may encounter many options, such as other investors who offer the same solution that you do. Your brand should point out why you’re different, special, and “awesomer” (that’s a word, at least in my vocabulary) than anyone else.
  3. Memorable: Have you ever got a piece of sand in your eye? Nothing else matters until you get it out. The whole world is your eyeball for those few minutes. That’s what your brand needs to be. Not as annoying as a piece of sand but just as compelling for the person to drop everything and deal with it. After the prospective buyer or seller has stopped looking at your marketing, it should linger in their mind’s eye like a piece of sand.

If you don’t have a brand that does this, you end up attracting fewer people to your business, failing to convince them why they should do deals with you, and then being forgotten when they move on from you. That mistake will KILL your business fast.

SOLUTION: The solution is simple. You need a brand. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, slick brand that makes you look like a fortune 500 company. In fact, it’s okay (in some cases) if your brand is less than perfect. But it does need to be built around the three functions of your brand, above.

Oh, and you should expect to build more than one brand — probably at least one brand for your sellers and one for your buyers, because each of those audiences will have very different needs. You can make your brands related or you can make them very different. Both work.

Apocalyptic Mistake 2: Using Only Free Marketing Tactics

You blog. You post on Facebook. You Tweet. You write guest blog posts. You post videos on YouTube.

… And then you wonder why you aren’t getting droves of people flocking to your site, and why your phone isn’t ringing off the hook with people begging to give you their money.

The reason is simple: These marketing tactics work… but only to a degree. They perform what I call a “shotgun approach” to marketing, similar to when you shoot a shotgun. All the shot comes out but only a few pieces of shot hit the target. With this kind of marketing, you put in a lot of effort and only a few people come to you from it… and they can be the wrong people!

Hey I get it. Free marketing is attractive because you put out your message and sometimes people come to you through it but it costs you nothing.

But free can also kill your business if you rely on it because of this one reason that very few people realize:

There is no such thing as free marketing. You either pay in time and effort to post your “free” (no-money-cost) marketing or you pay in money to post your paid marketing.

SOLUTION: Use paid marketing. You can test it to find the best one and good paid marketing works really, really well. In fact, the difference in results is astounding: Free marketing brings in a few leads but most of those are going to be low quality leads, and you’ll pay a lot in time and effort to get those. Paid marketing seems expensive at first because there’s an up-front cost but paid marketing is almost always easier to target, which means you can bring in much higher leads. And, good paid marketing is also much easier to track, which means you can find the lead-sources that actually deliver the best leads.

The newbie looks at two marketing channels — a free one and a paid one — and chooses the free one. And then they spend time and effort to use that channel.

The expert looks at the same two marketing channels and they willingly spend money because it’s faster, more targetable, more measurable… and that makes it ultimately cheaper.

Note: There are good reasons to use free marketing. Heck, I’m blogging right now. And social media has its place — as a brand builder and a community builder. But not as a primary method to generate buyer or seller leads.

Apocalyptic Mistake 3: Not Having An Offer

You create a brand, you put out a mix of free and paid marketing… but then you fail to make an offer of some kind, and you fail to call your reader to act in a specific way.

It’s so common among investors and it’s a business killer, too.

Your marketing becomes “display marketing” or “brand marketing” and all it does is promote your brand and stroke your ego. It does not build your business.

SOLUTION: All marketing should have an offer — something that compels the reader to act right now because what you are saying is awesome.

It might be an offer to join a list or to download a report or to click to another page or to take out their wallet or to contact you for more information. There are lots of choices. But it should be something. Some action.

Putting The Pieces Together

If you’re new to real estate investing, you might look at these and think, “okay, I’ll be careful not to do those when I’m marketing my real estate investing business.”

But if you’ve spent any time building up your business, you’ll look at these three apocalyptic mistakes and you’ll realize: “Whoa. This IS my entire marketing effort… Heck, they’re my entire business.” Good realization.

These three things are your entire business. Your brand communicates the reason that people should do business with you, your paid marketing is a trackable way to get your message out there, and your offer is the way that you get people to act. If you miss all three of these things, you simply don’t have a real estate investing business. If you fail to do these three things effectively, you’re staring down a business apocalypse and it’s only a matter of time until your real estate investing business is flopping around, gasping for air.

Don’t be like the real estate investor who thinks they’re saving money by using only free marketing methods… and then wonders why they have no time or money and their buyer and seller leads are crap.

Instead, spend your real estate investing marketing dollars wisely. Invest a dollar and test it and work your marketing channels to that it returns $2.00 or $10.00 or $100.00 or more. That’s what smart real estate investing marketing is.

If you want to talk to me about making sure the pieces fit together (even if you don’t need any help creating the copy), get in touch with me right now. I can help to point you in the right direction to build a meaningful brand, to find affordable paid marketing channels, and to put some offers in place for every buyer or seller who comes to you.

Here’s Why It’s Stupid To Drive A High Performance Sports Car On A Toll Road

Imagine a road with a toll booth every 10 miles. You enter the highway, pay to go through the toll booth and then drop the hammer.

BOOM.

Within a few mind-blistering minutes you get to the toll booth…

… Where you slam on the brakes and you skid to a halt in line, waiting.

You watch in yawn-ish boredom as the slow-moving Sunday drivers root around in their ash tray for change. Finally it’s your turn and you throw your coins at the toll booth collector and then you drop the hammer again.

BOOM.

Another mind-blistering few minutes and you’re at the next toll booth… waiting.

Sure, those few minutes between each toll booth are moments of the purest joy as the scenery blurs past your peripheral vision. Sure, for those few minutes you are a bullet — passing grandpas and soccer moms and delivery trucks. Sure, for a couple of minutes you are Superman.

It seems like you’re going faster… but those toll booths are like cold water on your joy, giving all those other slow-pokes a chance to catch up.

THIS IS HAPPENING IN YOUR INVESTING BIZ RIGHT NOW

You are tweaking each of the pieces in your biz, maybe testing new postcards, investing in better response copy, experimenting with multiple mailings, speeding up your ability to close a reluctant seller… whatever.

Your marketing is returning better and better responses…

But then you channel all those callers to your phone.

You.

You alone.

Your marketing is becoming a high performance sports car but YOU are the toll both.

More sellers and better sellers are getting in touch but you are still there, answering the phone — interrupting that sexy date to answer the phone or pretending that you’re not in a public washroom when a seller calls.

And what happens if two motivated sellers call at the same time? Or three? It happens: They get home at the end of their busy day, they see your awesome postcard and, because they’re motivated, they dial your number. So when 5:30 pm rolls around, your phone seems to ring off the hook for a few minutes. You talk to two or three and the rest go to voicemail.

THIS APPROACH SUCKS

Okay, maybe that was a little critical. I get it. That’s what you have to do early on in your biz, until you can put together some $$$ to hire someone to answer the phone for you.

But it’s a problem. And as long as you are THE person in your business — the one who answers the phone and signs the contracts and faxes stuff and inspects the properties and whatever — as long as you are that person, you are a toll booth slowing down the potential galloping pace that your business could be running.

I’m not saying this to dissuade you from investing in better marketing (for the same reason that I don’t like poking myself in the eye) but I am saying this to tell you: You can invest in better marketing all you want but until you also invest in better systems, your better marketing can only achieve so much. It will give you a bump in the deals you do but it’s not a silver bullet on its own.

HERE’S THE SOLUTION

Think of your business as being built on two things: Marketing and systems. Each one needs your attention. A business with great systems but no marketing has no customers (and that’s a topic for another day). But often in this biz, investors end up with great marketing but no systems and they scratch their head and wonder why they aren’t seeing a huge bump in business.

Dude, it has very little to do with the marketing. A predictable return from marketing is great, and you should work at improving it. But when all of that high performance marketing speeds customers to you… only to have them wait in line at your toll booth… your business is broken.

Before you invest in more marketing, more branding, a better website, a higher-returning mailer, think about this: What will happen when more people start getting in touch? What systems do you have in place to handle the increase?

Systems are not my area of expertise. I have systems in my investing business and I work with clients who have them. I can give you some advice on what systems might be helpful for you. But it depends on your business and your goals.

What you need to do right now is outline the steps that your sellers take as they move through your sales funnel and determine what parts are going well and where YOU are the bottleneck. Then set up systems to eliminate the bottleneck.

Invest in high performance marketing but, at the same time, tear down those toll booths.