#162 Mail-Right Show With Special Guest Realtor® David Wright of Benchmark Realty, LLC
In A Special Series of Interviews With Agents & Realtor® & Agents On What It Takes Market Themselves Successfully Online in 2018
Realtor® David Wright of Benchmark Realty, LLC
Almost everyone enjoys historic homes and buildings. So does David Wright, a Realtor with Benchmark Realty, LLC. He has studied historic homes his whole life and has a Masters of Arts in History with Emphasis in Historic Preservation.
In addition to formal training in historic preservation, David has extensive education in architecture, building technology, real estate, and museum curatorship. In fact, David worked in the corporate world for a number of years overseeing and acquiring unique artwork from around the world. He truly brings real estate to a new level of appreciation and understanding – Real Estate Refined.
David has always seen real estate as an important investment for people. He knows most wealth in this country comes from real estate bought, sold and leased. In fact, he has rehabbed homes, owns income producing properties, and works with investors who are adding to their portfolios or renovating homes for resale.
David is a Realtor unlike any other. Not only is he one of the most personable people you will ever meet, he offers tremendous knowledge in architecture, design, and real estate. His board background and knowledge combined with his in-depth analysis of the Brentwood real estate market makes him a Realtor clients want. He is among the top 3% of Realtors® in designations and certifications. David has developed a system for winning the majority of his multiple offers for his buyers and achieving above list price for his sellers.
When David isn’t working with clients, he visits open houses to learn more about neighborhoods and homes on the market. He enjoys extensive travel, food, wine and art museums. David is also a published author and an accomplished professional photographer whose work has been published around the world.
Jonathan: Welcome back folks to the Mail-Right Show. This is episode 162. We’ve got a great special guest for this show. We’ve got David Wright of Benchmark Realty, LLC. David’s an experienced Real Estate Agent and Realtor. He’s based in Benchmark in Tennessee. David, would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers.
David: Surely Jon. Thank you. Thanks for having me here. I do appreciate it. I have been in Real Estate for quite some time as a Realtor going on 5 years. I’m also a landlord. I am an investor. I have flipped a couple of houses. I’ve done most of the remodeling myself because I’m a very hands-on person and I’m looking into diversifying into that area even more. So, Real Estate I understand forwards and backwards very well.
I’ve done most of it myself. My background is historic preservation in building technology architecture, so I bring those things to the table. I probably have a very unique and different experience from most Agents out there because of my background and I do enjoy it. I love bringing those tools, information to my clients because they are getting special treatment. They’re getting understanding about buildings and particularly about Real Estate that a lot of Agents don’t have.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great David. I’ve got my great co-host, Robert Newman. Would you like to quickly introduce yourself, Robert?
Robert: I’d love to. My name is Robert Newman. I’m the founder of a Real Estate Marketing company called Inbound Real Estate Marketing and you can find my website at InboundREM.
Jonathan: I’m going to throw it over to Robert. Robert’s going to do the lead in the first half and I might chip in, in the first half and the second half. Off you go, Robert.
Robert: Okay. So, full disclosure. David and I have worked together on some projects but that’s as far as I want to go in terms of that. I do want to say to our audience that is listening that this is definitely a departure for Jon and I. David is an actual working Real Estate Agent meaning that he is currently out there. Am I right when I say full-time, pursuing Real Estate full-time?
David: Absolutely. Yes.
Robert: David, if you will, what I would like to say if maybe pretty briefly will you kind of, so you gave us a great run down, a great recap of your experience inside Real Estate and the objective of this particular episode of the podcast is going to be talking about your experience in Marketing but for a moment, why don’t you cover with us the journey of, so you’re a landlord, you’ve flipped houses, what made you decide to go out and get your Real Estate license and then we’ll transition into the rest of the conversation.
David: That’s a good question. I’ve always been curious about Real Estate from Graduate school onward because of all the architecture and state of the buildings and it only made sense to go into Real Estate. I don’t know why I waited so long. That’s a big question. I should have done it many, many years prior. But I’ve also been a professional photographer and that took a lot of my time. As a Realtor, it gave me a chance to give back to people and share a love and knowledge I have gotten through the years in working with houses because that’s what I do is Residential Real Estate. So, giving back to people, helping people and the commissions are nice there too.
Robert: Okay. And you’ve mostly done this work in Brentwood or have there been other places that you’ve done something related to Real Estate?
David: The Nashville area. Brentwood’s a suburb of Nashville, it’s on the south side and my work is primarily Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, which is all three communities right here together and that’s where the majority of my work is. Otherwise, it might be just surrounding county but that’s it. This is the area and that’s the reason why I want the website to be Brentwood centric because that’s close to home and I know the area very well.
Robert: Okay. So, Brentwood is the place that you practice Real Estate in. Why don’t we transition slightly? 5 years of doing Real Estate. What are the various things that you’ve done to try to generate leads for yourself and get sales?
David: I think I’ve done almost all of them. I keep working on it every year evaluating, see what I’ve done, what’s working, what isn’t. If it doesn’t work, drop it. If you’re spending money on something and you’re not getting results, drop it. And as you and I have spoken Robert, I’ve done that. I’ve been very active dropping previous things that didn’t work. I started working my SCOs. That’s what everyone told me to do, call my people. I built a list, about 500 people. They got tired of hearing from me and they still do. And I called them, I called them, I called them. I put them on a Drip campaign. I would email all these little facts and figures about homes that were coming to me from another company and it’s really, really good information. Actually, I’ve had two closings from that list of things going out to people via email. Then, I changed companies because they had a good lead generation system. My coach was with the company. She finally convinced me I should change companies and join them because of their lead generation. It’s called Conversion and it did work.
David: There was a ton of money on advertising, Google paid ad clicks, AdWord click and I generated some good sales from it. And then it started changing and then I went to another company and I’ve been working my own leads and doing other types of marketing from there.
Robert: I want to cover that for a second.
Robert: You touched on a few different things in a kind of broad way. So you said, “I tried everything.” And then, you said you got a recommendation. Here’s the way that I understood what you just said. You had a database of 500 people and you worked that database to the point that you felt like the database was somewhat exhausted. Did I understand that correctly?
David: Yes. Most of those people are not moving. Their children are in school, going to high school, getting ready for College and they’re there for 10 to 12, 15 years. So, why keeping calling them all the time if there’s not going to be moving? And they get tired of you calling every month or every quarter or once a year. Once a year is not bad. So the lead generation has always interested me. As a photographer, I always had websites, I always wrote blog articles, I worked on SCOs through the years, so I have that background. And then in Conversion, I continued publishing blogs and every time you published a blog with Conversion, you would actually get more leads that way. So that worked. And with Conversion, those pay-per-clicks, you have to work them and there is a technique to it and I had a 4.8 percent closing the leads I had through Conversion. And doing that, you have to call the people. You would get dinged on a text, “This lead is just. Visit your website and sign in.”
Well, you’ve got to call them in a couple 3 or 5 minutes or text them. Texting has gotten to be a good way because a lot of people won’t answer their phone and it automatically goes into a Drip campaign and that helped. So you just stay after those people and you call them every week or 2 and then you would find out how serious are they in looking for a home. Are they just looking just to see what’s available? You filter through the hundreds of leads I got from it and then you find the ones you want to work with. Some you want to work with now, they’re ready to go now. Others it would be 6 months to a year before you can actually convert them and you just stay with it.
Robert: Okay. So you had a conversion website which was working for a while. You had a 4.8 percent conversion rate when you were using that site, which I’m going to assume it stopped working because if you still had that conversation rate, you would still be with them. Is that correct?
David: Maybe, maybe not. The company, I was not as fond of and that was one of the reasons I changed but the leads truly dropped off. They got to be leads that you could not work. They were not serious people and you can’t make money on a $50,000 to $100,000 property here. First of all, they’re not available now. Secondly, there’s just not enough commission to drive 100 miles, 4, 5, 8, 10 times trying to show properties that they’re not going to buy. So I was ready for a change and then I changed and then I continued working my SOIs, changed websites because the conversion came with the company, it wasn’t mine. I could have continued it but I didn’t because the leads were falling off and I didn’t the thousands of dollars to put into it every month in advertising and that’s what they were doing. The owner along with a mortgage company were putting in a sizeable amount of money every month generating leads for all the folks in the office.
Robert: Okay. The owner of the Brokerage that you worked for.
David: That is correct.
Robert: Okay. All right. Were you contributing a budget to conversion at the time that you were doing it?
David: Yes, I was. It was a small amount but I did. That’s the only way you could get conversion with that company is to offer $100 a month, which is minimal for what you were getting from it.
Robert: So you spent $100 of your own money and the Brokerage probably wrapped up every single Agent’s budget and then they threw it to the Conversion platform. Is that roughly the way that it worked?
David: That’s correct.
Robert: Okay. And then you decided to stop doing that and I know and you know that you’ve been focused on SEO and the experiences that you’re sharing with using other platforms I think was one of the reasons that you started to move in the direction of wanting to own something that you were in control of. Am I saying that correctly?
David: Absolutely. Because when I left Conversion, I lost all of it. You lose the leads because they belong to the Agency. So I had to start over and I had visited a seminar and this one company was talking about their website. So I called them up and the sales guy was absolutely phenomenal. He’s still a good friend today. And I joined them and I tried it and I was going pay-per-clicks following the Conversion route.
I was paying for the pay-per-clicks in addition to writing blog articles. And I did this for almost a year and the pay-per-clicks had some good leads, none of them ever materialized and that was disappointing because I just came from 4.8 percent conversion to 0 conversion. Using the same techniques, I couldn’t generate any of the people. So I was writing blog articles but I noticed when I blogged, I could never find the articles online. Come to find out Robert, this company, which is a very well-known company, was not connected to Google.
David: That was never connected to Google. My gosh.
Robert: Are you trying to not mention their name on purpose?
David: Yes, yes. Yeah.
Robert: Okay. All right.
David: That’s one of the first things you do. You set up a website. You shake hands with Google. It wasn’t.
Robert: Okay. All right. So, went to 4.8 to 0 percent. Whoever this company was, you stopped using them. You did mention that you were spending your own money. Can I ask you how much? I’m just trying to give to our users a clear understanding of what your journey and evolution has been inside the Real Estate Marketing space.
David: Absolutely. I have to think back on that because that’s been almost 3 years. I want to say the website was a couple hundred dollars. There was another $100, $150 for the Google AdWords that they were setting up for me. I told them the areas I wanted to work and they set those up, the campaign and then it would run. And I generated about 100 leads in that year’s time.
David: That’s a lot of leads.
Robert: For $1,000, you generated 100 leads.
David: About $350, $400 a month, over about a year’s time, it generated 100 leads but 0 converted. And after I left that company, I continued working those leads for another year, the ones that were interested and still could not materialize any profit from it. So that’s when I dropped that company, went to another company because they were local and I thought, “Well, we can do something with them.” And he also believed in blogs. I had a feeling because he was posting blogs on to the website, two or three times a week which sounds great. However, when you buy blogs or search blogs from other sources and you incorporate those into your blog system, Google’s going to punish you because you’re duplicating your content. It’s not original. It may be relevant but it’s not original content and I knew that was the case but I was still writing my own blogs. I had the idea, which we’re still doing now, is Brentwood is my area and I’m tired of driving 12, 100 miles to go show houses for one client maybe half a dozen times. And this is true.
David: And nothing from it and then they back off and not decide to do anything. So I took Brentwood because that’s home. I’ve been there for many, many years. I know the area, know the neighborhoods, I know the builders and I became Brentwood centric and I started writing blogs every week on Brentwood. When I did, the first week would be the numbers, because the numbers would come out for the first of the month. I would look the prior month, see what sold, what areas did they sell in, what was the best performing neighborhood, what was the next best performing neighborhood and I would write a blog. Those were about 1,500-word blogs.
David: Every month. Statistics on Brentwood. And then the next month, I’m sorry, the next week and that blog would be that neighborhood, that neighborhood that was the top performing neighborhood for Brentwood for that month prior. Say this is August, I would write about July. Here’s the Brentwood neighborhood, say, Witherspoon, outperformed in July. So I would write about that and then the next week, I’d write something else, again, Brentwood centric and to continue this in the next month roll over, then I would write about August. And I did this week after week, month after month for a solid year.
Come to find out with your help because analyzed this website. It was a social media site. It was not an SEO site and every blog I posted, except one, never made it to the face of Google and I knew there was an issue because I’m always checking my statistics. I’m always looking up the articles I post. Why am I not showing up? I’d go through 10 or 15, 20 pages of Google pages but I wasn’t showing up. Something’s wrong. What’s wrong with this new website? And I was paying $300 a month for it.
Robert: Okay. We’re going to take a break right now.
David: Oh, sure.
Robert: Jon, if you’d handle that.
Jonathan: Oh, sure. We’re going to take a break folks and we’ll be back in a few moments and we’re going to delve deeper in David’s journey.
Robert: After we come back folks, I’m going to explain some of the things that we noticed but go ahead.
Jonathan: Yeah, sure. We’ll be back in a few moments folks.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back folks. We’ve had a fascinating conversation with David Wright, an experienced Realtor based in the great state of Tennessee. Back over to you Robert.
Robert: Thanks, Jon. So, I am going to say that for those of you that are listening, there’s a lot of companies out there that unfortunately and there’s a couple of different things that happen. There’s companies that have good intention and they build a product and they are hitting what they know the hot points are that you yourself are hearing such as write blogs, promote them socially. But the things about Google is that you have to have a site that’s readable and mobile friendly and you have to have some method of promoting your content such as backlinks that are coming into it. So you have to write blogs in other places, not just your blog.
And so, these steps, if they’re not taken, you could produce great content, I’ve seen David’s content, it’s great content. It’s just, there’s is no way for Google to see it and that’s what we found out when we took a look at the website, which introduced the two of us together which is how he’s ended up on the show today. All right. So, you went through that evolution David and you did these blog posts. Are you doing right now any form of direct advertising? Because I know and you know that you’ve done an SEO site that you do own and that things are slowing building up with that site and you’re seeing some progress there on that site that looks more promising than with other sites, I believe.
David: Absolutely. It’s already gotten a couple leads and it’s only what, 3 months old or so. So, that’s very enlightening in comparison to the prior two websites which did not really generate leads unless I paid for those leads through Google AdWords.
Robert: Right. And every time that you were paying for these budges, I’m just curious, was there ever a number consistently that people were throwing at you in terms of, “Hey. You should put X amount of dollars into,” you’re calling it Google AdWords, I’m going to say the words direct advertising because any time you pay for Facebook or Google, all you’re doing is you’re saying, “You have traffic over here. I want it over here.” And that’s direct advertising. You’re going to pay to get some people from point A to point B and it doesn’t really matter if it’s Facebook or it’s Google. You’re just paying to send people from one place to the next. So how much was that number that people would always throw at you or was there ever a consistent one?
David: I don’t know if I ever heard a particular set amount of money. Some people might say 500,000 a month, which I was not willing to do that. I like to do things in life than just be broke paying for advertising, doing Google AdWords or pay-per-clicks. And so, I was very limited on that. I was still changing companies. It takes a while to bounce back because you’ve changed companies. I don’t know why it’s that way. People try to explain it to me. It still doesn’t make sense. After you change companies, it’s 3 or 4, 5 months before you see your next sale and that ends up being true. I think mine was about 3 months before I had my next sale. That was the thing. I also mentioned two. I’m pretty well versed in SEO. I’ve studied it for a long time and Yoast was the best thing in the world. Both sides had Yoast and I learned how to use Yoast. I learned how to search those keywords and I knew how to insert those keywords just enough within the copy so it wouldn’t be stuffing. I’d use it three or four, five times. Sometimes I’d come up with keyword insert and work those because Yoast helped me a lot there. I did out words on my photographs and then I wrote captions with a keyword. Everything that Yoast suggested and I highly recommend Yoast. It’s free.
Why not use it? So that’s what I did. And then, I would take that blog and the location of it from the website and go to Facebook and post it and write a little teaser. If they want to read the article, they have to go back to the website because I was trying to generate interest from multiple sources. I’d do Google Plus. Do the same thing there. I would not post the entire blog because then it becomes duplication. I’d write a teaser about it, include a photograph and then have a link going back to the website because I was trying to develop backlinks to my website from pretty sound sources there. So I did that with several places. LinkedIn was another place I did that and it built a pretty good following. Every time I would post an article on Brentwood, 10 or 12, 14 people would go and look at it, some would write about it, some would give you a like and that sort of thing. So I had a following going on there I know was working but the website was dead, just dead.
Robert: Right. So for our audience, guys, I am going to throw in something here. I try to make these a little more free flowing but I’m going to say to all those people that might be going, “Oh God, yeah. That’s happened to me. I know exactly what David’s talking about.” I’m going to say this. You can have a really great website and there are many companies out there that actually build a good looking website that the search works fast. It’s got a good mobile experience. I could list five Real Estate Website Development companies that do that fairly well and some of them are very inexpensive. But here’s the thing. At that point, it becomes how are you suggesting that people give you their information. In my world, we call that conversion. And here’s the sad thing. There are not very many Real Estate Marketing companies at all in any vertical on any company that do that part of the process very well. So you have a good looking website that does search correctly and the salespeople oftentimes tell you, “Oh, if somebody’s really interested in the property, they’ll just fill out a contact form.”
I’ve been doing this 11 years, 11 years and I’ve seen thousands of Real Estate websites, no over exaggeration and I’m telling you beyond a shadow of a doubt that the people that actually do that are 1 in maybe 10,000. The numbers are astronomical because everybody’s got and I see Jon nodding but he knows it too, everybody’s got a pole for their intention. You have to insert a very gentle way. And usually, the best way to do that is to trade on value. And what I mean by that and David, you and I have talked about this so please, just humor me for a second, but what I mean by that is, for instance, you’re looking at a site, you’ve done 50 searches and you’ve got no annoying pop-ups and everything’s great but then you start to look at really detailed photos like a list of 50 photos that connect to a single property and you want to see them all.
And then, finally, you hit a registration gate that says, “Hey. Listen. You’ve been looking at a lot of stuff on my website and if you want to keep looking, you can continue to do as many searches as you want. But if you want to continue to see these photos in this particular way, you now have to give me your name, number, and information. And then, it’s not enough to explain why you’re asking. You must then also explain what you’re going to do with the information. In other words, “I’m going to call you,” or, “You can ask me not to call you,” or, “I’m never going to share your information with anybody ever, I promise.
Your data is really important to me.” These are the ways that you will transmit value in what’s called the conversion process. The process where you take a stranger and now try to make an introduction to them. And the way that you do that is critical and it’s one of the most important parts of the entire process. And what you’re describing is a lot of sites that just don’t do that very well or at all because it sounds like you’ve had plenty of experience with sites that have done it not at all. Is that correct?
David: Yes it is. Absolutely. It’s unfortunate. You go back and look at all the money you spent, you have nothing to show for it. That what I said earlier. I try something, I give it a fair amount of time, I set my parameters, if it doesn’t perform, they’re out. Why isn’t it working? Something’s wrong somewhere because I’m doing all I can and I feel like I’ve been fairly well trained on the antics of Google and Google does change their style of business all the time, almost annually if not more often. You’ve got to keep up with them and that’s what I’ve done. Now, the idea of writing 1,500, 2,000, 3,000-word articles is becoming the norm because Google needs a way of separating all these websites popping up out there. Hundreds, if not thousands of websites come online every day, every day. So how do you determine who’s going to be the best, not necessarily the best, who’s going to be the top ranking of page 1? Who’s going to be the third or fourth line down? And that’s where your SEOs come into play? Among a lot of other things.
Robert: Well, yeah. And there’s not many that you can refer to. For that are listening, if you want to educate yourself on SEO, if you’re not going to go to InboundREM, you can also go to Neil Patel or Moz.com. These are big websites that do SEO education. But at the heart of it, everybody’s going to say the same thing. I’ve said the same thing to David. It’s always going to be the same thing. It’s expertise, authority and trust. You want to somehow convey that you have expertise in the areas that you’re services. I’ve said that to you before, right David? And then, how do you transmit it? Do you write a blog post? Do you film a video? Do you do both?
But when you’re thinking about communicating to people via Google, what you want to really think about is how can I address a question that I know my clients are asking in an educational way? Because if you can do that, if you can figure out, 1, the question that they’re asking, 2, not too many other people have provided the answer, I’m telling you right now, 60 percent of your SEO battle is done, right there, just by doing those 2 things. And the rest of it is how do you get your content found? How do we send some signals? But once Google sees it and they measure the behavior of the people who are viewing it, like how many times do they click on it, how long did they stay on the site, that kind of thing. If you’ve got a good answer to a question that people are asking, I promise you, you’re going to do really well in the searches. If you always have the idea in your mind of, “I want to provide a great answer for my users,” you’re going to be safe from most of what Google does. Would you agree with that, Jon?
Jonathan: Yeah. I totally agree. Another good resource if you’re trying to learn is Brian Dean’s website and he has a very active YouTube channel. He’s the guy in the SEO world that developed a technique called the Skyscraper technique. It’s well-known. I’m sure Robert is aware of Brian Dean. But the reason why I like Brian Dean is I think he gets across some of this stuff in quite a good way. I don’t know what you feel about that Robert.
Robert: I love Brian. He’s another one and there’s also Gotch, G – O – T – C – H and Adam White. These guys aren’t as well known as Brian Dean or Neil Patel but they’re amazing. I think that Adam White is putting out the best information that you’ll ever find on link building. But I feel like both Gotch and Adam White are like advanced.
Jonathan: Yeah. They’re advanced. I think Brian does, if you just kind of know the basics and you want to know a bit more, I think that’s a good intro. I think it’s time to wrap up the podcast part of the show. We’re going to continue the discussion which you’ll be able to see on the Mail-Right website and YouTube channel. But for the actual podcast of the show, we’re going to wrap it up. So, David, how can people find out more about you and your business basically David?
David: Oh, I’m easily found. I’m out there. You can find me through Google Plus, David Wright, Realtor, Real Estate Refined, Brentwood, Tennessee. I’m on Facebook. My Facebook business page is called The Wright Dream Home, W – R – I – G – H – T and then the website is there too, brentwoodtnhome.com. So I’m out there. I’m all over Google, all over Facebook, LinkedIn. I try to stay connected. The other things I do, I network like crazy and that’s the other thing I do.
Jonathan: That sounds great. And Robert, how can people find out more about you and what you’re up to Robert?
Robert: I’m on every channel, Facebook and it’s all under InboundREM. You can find me on Facebook, LinkedIn. You can find me on YouTube. You can find me on my website, InboundREM.com. But if you’re trying to just really quickly learn something about me, InboundREM.com is the best way to do so.
Jonathan: And if you want to find out more about Mail-Right and how we get leads through Facebook for our clients, just go to the Mail-Right website. We’ve got over 160 interviews from experts, from Real Estate Agents. It’s a real University of knowledge if you’re trying to help your business. And if you want to speak to me, you can book a free session with me and we can discuss and see if we can help you with your Real Estate lead generation. We’ll be back next week with either an expert or a Real Estate Agent or we’ll be covering something to make you a more effective Real Estate Agent. We’ll see you next week folks. Bye.