Many real estate investors start their business to escape a corporate job. They hate having a boss, want to make more money and go on vacations whenever they want. They start in real estate with some experience in the business world.
Greg Helbeck started out in real estate with zero business experience while living in his parents’ basement. He learned many things the hard way, but also gained unique perspectives on getting seller leads, closing deals and building a business that sets you free.
In this episode, you’ll find out how you can do better marketing, get more leads and grow your business faster. Want to do effective marketing and build the real estate business of your dreams? Listen now!
Show highlights include:
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Find out more about Greg here:
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You're listening to the “REI Marketing Nerds” podcast, the leading resource for real estate investors who want to dominate their market online. Dan Barrett is the founder of AdWords Nerds, a high-tech digital agency, focusing exclusively on helping real estate investors you get more leads and deals online, outsmart your competition, and live a freer, more awesome life. And, now, your host, Dan Barrett.
Dan: All right, what up, everybody? This is Daniel Barret here from REI Marketing Nerds, and with me today I have Greg Helbeck. Now, if you don't know Greg, he is not only a real estate investor and just kind of an entrepreneur of various kinds, he also has his own podcast. He does a ton of stuff online. I am very, very excited to have Greg on the show. [01:02.0]
Right off the bat, just so where you can follow up with Greg, Greg has an incredible Instagram account, which you can get at @grego_37. I'll put a link to this in the show notes, but it's G-R-E-G-O [underscore] 37. I want to throw that out there in the beginning, so you can go and see the content that he puts out because it is hot fire.
Greg Helbeck, welcome to the show, man. How are you?
Greg: What's going on Dan? I was excited. I've been excited for this for a few weeks since we booked it up. It's going well here in California. We're in the middle of the heat wave right now. There's a lot of fires, unfortunately, going on here, but, man, it is blazing out and I’ve been inside with the air conditioning on, so it’s hot out, man. Usually, San Diego is cool, and it's hot. It’s crazy.
Dan: Yeah. This is your karmic retribution for having beautiful weather most of the year. Living in Connecticut, I don’t have the most sympathy for you in the universe.
Greg: It’s so cold, yeah.
Dan: But yeah, so San Diego is one of my absolutely favorite places, absolutely beautiful out there. Now, is that where you invest? Do you invest in that area or do you invest all over? [02:07.7]
All right, let's take a step back. Let’s give people kind of the outline of you, just in case people aren't familiar with you, because you have sort of roots all over the real estate investing community, which is really cool. Why don't you kind of give people just a little bit of a backstory about you, how you’ve got involved in real estate investing and what your major projects are today?
Greg: For sure. Yeah, Greg Helbeck, I’ve gotten into real estate five years ago, almost five years ago next month, which is crazy how time flies. I was 20 at the time, just starting college actually because I played hockey up in your neck of the woods actually. So, I got into the business. I didn't know what I didn't know. I was living with my parents. I wanted to be a real estate investor. I didn't know what I wanted. That was my career path. I was going to either do this or fail trying. [03:00.0]
Dan: It's the classic hockey to real estate investing pipeline that so many people go through, the classic story as we all know it.
Greg: Yeah. So, I did that and I struggled tremendously, especially up in the northeast. New York State, in general, is a different market when it comes to how real estate goes down there.
Greg: Struggled for a while and ended up reaching out to some local mentors in the area, and they took me under their wing. Worked for them for a little bit, learned the ropes of the business, and then I eventually went out on my own. Started wholesaling properties in the New York area and was doing a deal every few months, not any life changing income, but it was definitely some proof of concept for my parents whose basement I was living in, so I was showing them it was working.
Dan: Which is a big deal. That's a big deal that's you're like, Hey, I just got a check. That's no small thing, yeah.
Greg: Yeah, it was, and they were proud and because they saw the work that was getting put in and the results weren't there for a while. Then the feedback loop started firing and then I had an idea, this is almost three years ago now, where I was like, well, New York is a pain in the butt because these attorneys. Let me try this in a different area, and this was back before cold calling was a big thing and there was no one doing it. [04:07.0]
I went into Dallas, Texas, and started cold calling vacant houses with no competition. I kid you not, within 90 days of that, three to five properties a month, no competition. It was, honestly, too easy. I had no idea what was going on because it was so easy, because it was like a blue ocean at the time and just started buying, flipping and doing all these deals in Texas. The business just blew up.
Then from there, I started. That was all virtual, right? So, I was doing this all remotely. I found someone down there who I could work with, who was boots on the ground.
Dan: Okay, so you were living in New York and doing this virtually.
Dan: Investing in Dallas.
Greg: Investing in Dallas hardcore, and that's really where I guess I got momentum and started dueling up some reserves. From there, I moved to California after I virtualized the business and still was buying and selling in Texas. Then, a year and a half ago, that media and that marketing started getting a little…because the market always changes, so that started getting a little more saturated to say the least, and so I pivoted back into New York, where I primarily was doing online and direct mail. [05:09.0]
That's my main business today where we're fixing and flipping, and we're doing wholesales and we're doing whole tails in the New York area, and I have also now just started marketing down in San Diego. I’ve got a deal that I took down and I have a market right now. I have another property, hopefully, getting locked up today. So, primarily, I’ve done the fix and flip, done the wholesale, done the whole tail, and now I'm also looking to do rentals as well because I’ve built up my reserves.
I guess that's the high-level overview. I'm not a huge high volume. I'm not knocking out 10 to 15 properties a month. I'm knocking out anywhere between two and four properties a month, but, really, Dan, I look for big deals. I look for big margins and I'm very selective on the properties because I can close a lot of the time. I close on them usually, so I want to make sure that they're good deals. So, that's the skinny on Greg’s real estate.
Dan: Where did your podcast come in? I was recently a guest on your podcast. That's how we met, right?
Greg: Yeah, that was awesome.
Dan: It’s called the Pave the Way Podcast, which I think you can get everywhere. I find podcasts are downloaded. [06:05.1]
Dan: What was the story with that? How would it get you started in podcasting? You're pretty far along. I mean, you're at 80 episodes or so, right? Somewhere near.
Greg: Yeah, it's getting there. It's 80 something episodes now. Time flies. Actually, I froze it for a little bit to retweak the strategy and now we're growing a lot better than when we were, because I didn't totally have that.
Greg: I started the podcast with no real objective and now I'm more strategic with it. But, yeah, the podcast idea, I was in Hawaii actually with my buddy and I'm 25, he's 26. We were still 24 and 25 at the time and we were young, and we were able to really kind of have a little bit of success in real estate, especially for our age. I had been able to have a decent network in the business and make some cool connections.
I figured, I want to give back. I want to record some of these conversations that I have with people like you and have other people benefit from it, right? And it can be a real win-win. Content creation and content marketing, just content in general is so popular in the digital age we live in. [07:01.5]
So, I just started it and, honestly, what happened was that I started interviewing interviews, doing recordings of my friends and people I’ve met with, and from there it just started to, I guess, take off a little bit. It's not like the biggest podcast in the world, but I always get a lot of people that reach out and they say, Hey, I really enjoyed that interview. It was very helpful, and if I can help at least one person, I'm cool, you know what I mean?
I want people to gain true value from it and it's been a great networking tool also, to be honest. I’ve been able to connect with some awesome people, New York Times best-selling authors and crazy real estate entrepreneurs and marketers, and it's just been awesome. It's just been amazing.
Dan: Yeah, I was going to ask about what you see as the benefits or sort of maybe the unexpected benefits of the podcast. I will say first, for people listening, Greg is a great interviewer. I listen to a lot of podcasts. I like podcasts. It's very clear. There are a lot of interview-style podcasts where it's just kind of like, Hey, it's like, yeah, so it's like…so why'd you write this book? You know what I mean? It’s like just speaking.
Greg: Yeah, it’s generally speaking. Yeah. [08:04.5]
Dan: Right? But Greg, if you're listening to this and you've never heard Greg’s show, I suggest that you listen to it because he does a really good job with establishing rapport. There's a lot of flow back and forth.
I'm curious, clearly, you're producing content and that's great, and you mentioned networking. Are there any other side benefits that you've noticed from podcasting?
Dan: Or, I'll put it this way, or sort of advice you would give people who are maybe curious about podcasting or maybe thinking about dipping their toe into it but don't know a whole lot about it.
Greg: Yeah, totally, I'd be happy to. The biggest thing, so there's a great book that I really love. It's called No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing by Dan Kennedy, and that's just a marketing book and I'm a marketing nerd, hence the show.
Dan: Yeah, we're going to bring up. Dan Kennedy was on my list, so we're going to bring up all the marketing greats. We'll get into this later.
Greg: I’d love it.
Dan: But, yeah, No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing?
Greg: No B.S. Trust-Based Marketing.
Greg: Yeah, that's a book. Basically, that talks about you want to position yourself as an authority and not doing it in some artificial way, but just when you put out content, right? [09:06.7]
When you write a book or you write blogs, or you produced content or you have YouTube, or you go speak in public, you position yourself as an expert because, generally speaking, you have to be an expert or else you're going to go up there and stutter, and it automatically kind of helps you with your positioning in the marketplace because if someone has a podcast, you're like, Oh, I heard that guy has got podcasts. It helps with credibility from the producer.
It also, I’ve noticed, besides the authority thing and the networking thing, it almost gets people familiar with me and my brand before I ever have to tell them about it, because they can go, if someone's like, Hey Greg, what do you do? I'm like, Hey, I do this, this, that and I have a podcast and I have 80 episodes. If you ever want to find out anything about these topics, I guarantee you, it's probably in my show.
People can almost kind of do their homework on you before ever talking to you because they hear your content, they see your Facebook, they see your social, and they know what you're about. They can see what your core values might be, so the ability to collaborate and do business with them in the future could be, I would say, accelerated, as well as the rapport can almost be built there because they can already kind of see what you're about based on the stuff that you've produced. [10:10.0]
Dan: Yeah. I'm curious if you’ve found this because somebody asked me this recently about what the primary reason is that I do this show, because they're similar, right?
Dan: It's not me and Tim Ferriss neck and neck every week for most hours, right?
Greg: Yeah, exactly.
Dan: Doing our [unclear 10:24.2]. But we're talking about why do the show and, for one, I just like it, but, two, the thing that the show has really done for me is it doesn't produce a ton of leads or whatever, but what it does is much of the time the podcast has produced my best clients.
Dan: Because they're people—and if you're listening to this, there's somebody out there right now, yeah, I'm talking directly to you. I know it's you. I know you're doing this—whoever listened to every episode of this show -
Dan: - and have read my content for five years, and then they're like, Now is the time, then that’s the time when they decide to buy.
Greg: Yes, and they buy, yeah, totally. [11:03.8]
Dan: And I think there's something so uniquely intimate about listening to someone have a conversation. I don't know if you feel this way of like, but there are certain podcasts I listened to where I'm like, I feel like I know these people.
Greg: Yeah, they're like your friends.
Dan: Yeah, they're my friends. Meanwhile, they're like, Please stay away from me, sir. You're terrifying. And I'm like, No, we're friends from the internet. But it does that feeling of trust in a way that I think is really unique, so I think it's awesome that you're doing that. It seems like [inaudible].
Greg: You hit it on the head there. It's funny you say that actually with the client thing. I had launched a course, a productivity course, a couple of months ago and I remember I had my first sale at 5:00 in the morning from a stranger basically. I'd never interacted with them. They bought the course and I was like, Oh my God, and they already knew. They knew, liked and trusted me, and I made an offer.
I wasn't intentionally looking to just sell the course from the podcast, but that authority got me a client and I do the same thing with other people. I usually, like with Frank Kern, for example, I listened to his podcast for a year before I decided to get into his Inner Circle because I knew exactly what he was about. [12:09.1]
It’s just that I think with podcasts, it's almost like when I look at investment deals in my business and in marketing, I look at, What is the potential upside and what's the downside? and that financial investment has been different than a podcast.
Podcasts, there's a ton of upside, networking, value, authority, genuinely helping people, which is the most important thing, which is where the money comes from, and then the downside is always maybe a little bit of time, maybe you’ve got to pay your assistant a little bit more money to produce the podcast. You really can't lose when it comes to producing a podcast, unless you're just producing something that is insanely offensive and you're calling people out, in general, but if you're not doing that, you really can't lose.
Dan: You'll still get an audience, right? You’ll get an audience, though.
Greg: Yeah, but you’ll be polarizing. Yeah.
Dan: I think it's very true. You grow to kind of identify with someone, so when they have something to buy, you're like, Great. I've been waiting for you to make me an offer, right, so that person is like, Yeah. [13:04.0]
Dan: Talk about your productivity course. Is this the Elite Productivity Habits? Is this what you're talking about?
Dan: Okay, so tell us about that. Where did that come from? What's the deal with this?
Greg: Yeah, so that one, I had a lot of people because I go on Instagram a lot and I take a picture of my schedule and my time management structure, and I’ve always been big on time management. That was, honestly, Dan, the first skill that I learned when I was 21. I bought a course on how to do it and that really was the glue that got me the marketing skills and the negotiating skills, and things like that. It was all based on that time management. It was like a rock.
I started taking pictures of my calendar and my schedule, and I would talk about time blocking and people would ask me, You should talk about this more, and I’ve had other people say, You should make a course, and I was very reluctant to do it, especially because I was really hot and heavy in the real estate, which I still am, but I just wasn't feeling it at the time. I was like, Ah, not really right now. Eventually, I said, Let me just do this. Let me put a course together, and I just basically lay out the blueprint on everything that I do that, if it works for me, it usually will work for you. [14:04.2]
It's a lot of those courses out there. I have my spin on things, and I always and I'm going to consistently update it as I learn more things. It's basically like a blueprint on how to be productive time management. A lot of it is stemmed on the 80-20 principle and really learning how to be effective, and a lot of people feel like they don't have enough time in the day to get stuff done or they're working hard on the wrong thing, and if you're working hard on the wrong thing, like Perry Marshall says, that's the best way to get burned out like in this book, 80/20 Sales and Marketing, so you've got to know what to work on.
I just kind of lay that stuff out there. It's pretty straightforward and gotten some great feedback. That's where the course came from. That was kind of from people reaching out to me and I was like, All right, fine, I'll do it.
Dan: That’s the idea, right? Some people are asking you to sell them the thing and you're like, Um, I don't know if I want to sell you this, I don't know, um…
Greg: Yeah, I know, right? That’s the thing.
Dan: But I think that's one of those skill sets that, if anybody's listening to this and you're kind of curious looking into this or you're thinking about it, you're on the fence or whatever, for that kind of skill set, I always say you only need to take away one thing that changes how you work or adds a little capacity, or allows you to throw stuff away without feeling guilt about it and kind of focus on what you need to focus on, because those are extremely high-leverage things. [15:21.4]
How you work affects everything, whether you're in real estate or your personal life or whatever.
Greg: Everything. Totally.
Dan: That's exciting you. That's cool.
Greg: Work habits.
Dan: Okay. So far I have a little sticky note, taking notes while we talk. I write down all the incriminating things you say, so I can call you on it later. But so far we haven't mentioned in this podcast, okay, Perry Marshall, Dan Kennedy, Frank Kern. We're basically mentioning a lot of the direct marketing greats, these people who are these sort of the Dan Kennedy -
Greg: Mount Rushmore.
Dan: - the famous. He reminds me kind of like Lemmy from Motörhead, but for marketing.
Greg: Yeah, complete with his handlebar moustache. [16:01.7]
Dan: Yeah, just a curmudgeonly kind of character. Perry Marshall whom I got to meet last year -
Greg: That’s amazing.
Dan: - who was kind of the tall, sort of cerebral, nerdy kind of statistical guy. You've got Frank Kern who, of course, started his career as selling parent PDF in flip flops or with long hair, and then changing his brand.
Dan: We talked about real estate, right? Let's talk a little bit about marketing. You're in school. You're doing hockey. You're doing all this stuff. What was your in to this world of marketing, in general? Because it really is a world that's kind of populated by these big, almost larger than life figures who have had a huge influence on how we all… Every investor listening to this, whether you know it or not, these people have influenced how you get deals and do your work. Who is your sort of entry point into that world?
Greg: Yeah, that's a great question. It really came down to the fact that the real estate business is the marketing business, especially in a direct to seller environment, if you're going to get deals off market. [17:11.7]
I heard somebody say, I think it was Brad Chandler, a buddy of mine, he was like, Dude, you're in the marketing business, and he made a Dan Kennedy quote. He said like, If you could put a dollar in and get two or three out, how many times do you do that?
I heard that when I was 21 when I was talking to them, but then like, it took me until a couple of years ago to really realize that. I started reading Dan Kennedy books and he just talked about this direct response thing. I didn't know what that really meant. I read the book and I comprehended it, but I didn't get it.
Then I started looking back at mailings I did unsuccessfully, just anything that I did unsuccessfully, and it was not marketing-wise and I wasn't following the principles of always having an offer, following up, tracking measurement accountability, making it look like mail order, just all the typical direct response stuff. I was like, I need to get good at this skill. I need to get good at this skill. [18:06.0]
So, I started just deep diving into Dan Kennedy, the whole magnetic marketing, welcome guests marketing, not annoying pest marketing, big difference there between those two, and I was like, Oh my gosh. I had all of these aha moments.
Then I learned about Frank Kern and the value in advanced marketing, the whole kind of give away your best stuff and then ask for the offer after.
Then, Perry Marshall. Someone said, “You’ve got to read this 80/20 Sales and Marketing book. Listened to him on BiggerPockets, read his book 12 times, listened, and I started implementing it.
All those things that I learned legitimately made me measurable dollars. I can't be like, Oh, I think Perry has got great glasses and he's got great hair. No, the guy, the advice that he gave me, and that could be true, too, but the advice that he gave me literally put cash in my bank. I was like, Oh my gosh, I’ve got to start learning more about this. Then I basically said I'm in the real estate business, and I understand how to buy and sell properties and raise money and all that. I'm going to get good at the marketing business. [19:01.1]
Honestly, since 2019, it's been my absolute mission to just become a master direct response marketer and follow the principles of direct response through specific media channels, which we can talk about if you want, and let that guide me to my real estate success or to my marketing success, info marketing, whatever it is, but understanding that that skill is the skill.
I’ve talked to a lot of people that I went to high school with and they ask me for real estate advice now, and I'm like, Listen, read these Dan Kennedy and Perry Marshall books. Get good at direct response, and then if you can get good at that, you most likely will probably not have to worry about money again, because you'll always be able to go out and get customers because you understand how to do it. It's not like just this high-level theory. It's like, no, you won't be able to worry about money because how to get the money because how to make the offer. So, that’s pretty much it.
Dan: I think that's super smart. I think you're exactly right. It's the skill that pays the bills, right? It's marketing.
Greg: A hundred percent.
Dan: And you have confidence like, Hey, no matter what industry I'm in, I know how to go out and create an audience, and get people to give you money, it's just this huge weight off your shoulders. [20:04.4]
Dan: Yeah. I mean, the other thing I love about those guys and they're not exactly all... I mean, they're all still alive, so they're all kind of operating, but they're from different areas, right?
Kennedy is from earlier than Kern and Marshall and all these guys, but what I find so fascinating is that you look at them, so you look at Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert, who really made their way in the mail days, right? And guys like Joe Sugarman and stuff.
Then you’ve got Perry Marshall and Frank Kern, who still did mail, still do direct mail, sort of came up in the internet age. Perry Marshall really did a lot of work in Google Ads early, which is kind of how I got into him, and then Kern was big on internet marketing very early in email and all this stuff.
It’s so interesting to me because all of those people have very different personalities and they have very different approaches, so it's not like everybody sounds identical because they're all copying a sales letter from whatever. [21:14.2]
Dan: They all bring their own personality, their own angles to it. You can kind of choose like you choose your Pokemon or whatever, whichever one you want that you're really into and really enjoy. So, yeah, those are great.
I have a whole hard drive. Actually, Thursday this week, I'm taking the day off and it's on my list of things to do. I've got a giant hard drive of two decades worth of Dan Kennedy material, seminars and recordings and all this stuff, and I’ve had it for a while and I haven't gone through it. It's literally a terabyte -
Greg: Oh my god.
Dan: - of PDFs from 1982 and stuff, and I'm like, I know there's gold here. So, I'm literally [hunkering] down to go through this hard drive and get into it because I'm like, I know there's awesome stuff in there. I just haven't had time to dig into it, so I'm very excited about that. [22:01.9]
Greg: That's like my recess, man. Honestly, the marketing stuff is fun for me. It’s fun. I'm so much more passionate about marketing than real estate. I still love real estate and it's fun, but I like marketing and I’ve been making these comments on Facebook recently. People are like, What do I [do]? I’m like, Get good at marketing and don't worry about real estate? That's just the product. There's always demand for real estate. People need a house to live in. But get good at marketing if you really want to make some money.
Dan: I'm curious. We've talked about those and they're the greats, right? Those are people that, I know you mentioned Kern. You're in Kern’s mastermind or coaching group.
Greg: Inner Circle, yeah.
Dan: Yeah, that's super cool. But who do you look at today that’s maybe not in that same tier of people who have been around forever?
Greg: Yeah, Mount Rushmore.
Dan: Who do you look to? Yeah, Mount Rushmore. It's an ugly ass Mount Rushmore, but it’s cool.
Greg: Yeah, the handlebar mustache, long hair. Yeah.
Dan: Sorry, Dan, and to Gary Halbert and Dan Kennedy who I know listen to this podcast.
Greg: Yes, probably.
Dan: But who do you look at today as like, it could be a younger person or maybe just a person that I haven't mentioned who does a really good job of their marketing or is doing interesting stuff. It doesn't have to be real estate, but just someone that's out there doing cool things that you look to now. [23:15.4]
Greg: Totally, totally. There's a guy and I guess he's not Dan Kennedy famous in terms of the cred. No, he's got tons of credibility, but he's not as well-known as Dan Kennedy because he's more under the radar. His name is Brian Kurtz. I actually had him on my show and he lives in Connecticut. He lives probably an hour from you actually in Westport.
Dan: Really? I didn't know that.
Greg: He lives in Westport, yeah, so he's an hour from you. Yeah, he’s right down whatever road that is, 91 or whatever. He wrote a book called Overdeliver and I read the book a few times, and the big thing that I liked from Brian is that he ran a business called Boardroom Reports, I believe, and this is a $100 million direct response business. They're just big on mail order and he sent over a billion pieces of mail in his career, and he loves online marketing and Google and Facebook and all that. [24:05.4]
In that book, he talks about the three keys to direct marketing, which I was not aware of until I read the book, but after reading it, I was like, Oh, that makes sense. There's the list, aka the audience ad set, keyword, whatever you want to say, whatever the media channel. There's the offer, What is the offer? What are you selling? What is the service or product? And then, what is the copy and the creative, right?
He said, if you get the list right, audience—that's why I love pay-per-click by the way, because the list is hot because they're finding you—but you get the list right and that's 51% of your success. Then there's the offer, which is the other percentage, and then the copy. You're in a good situation to make money in marketing.
Every successful campaign I did, I would look back and I would be like, Oh, this makes sense. List was good. Offer was decent. Copy was decent. And every campaign that I did that tanked, it was usually that I was trying to market something to the wrong group of people.
So, that idea from Brian Kurtz, and he has a great email list, that guy is the definition of a giver. I mean, he gives so much information, it's insane, for basically free if you want his books, at 18 bucks or whatever. [25:11.0]
Greg: And he's got a great list and he has a great market. He’s friends with Jay Abraham and all these guys. But the big thing that I realized from that is that the reason I like particularly AdWords and Google and all is because it's that welcome guests marketing. They're finding you. They're interested in your product and they're seeking out that service versus the other channels in our business where it's like, Oh, you're going to do mass RVMs and cold calling, which work and have their place, but the idea of being a welcome guest in your marketing and being magnetic is the biggest thing that I have learned when it comes to doing real estate deals and being able to get good deals at a good price, and be a true problem solver. It’s when you start off from that approach and that's why I'm a big believer in online marketing as well, because it's all inbound.
Dan: Yeah, it kind of flips that relationship. [26:01.2]
Greg: It totally does.
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Dan: Let’s kind of bring it into real estate because it’s called REI Marketing Nerds, to bring it back to REI.
Greg: Yeah, for sure.
Dan: But I think we've made the point. I know that anybody who listens to the show at this point, you get that we're all really just in the markets.
Greg: Yeah, at the end of the day.
Dan: Every market has a driveway and a front door and everything, but really that's kind of how successful people become successful in this industry. I'm curious, so let's bring it into real estate. You are a real estate investor. It's not something that you just talk about or read about. [27:08.8]
Dan: This is something you are actively doing. When we jumped on the call, you were saying, Oh, I’ve got deals in the pipeline. You were excited about the call.
Dan: I'm curious, how has your real estate investor marketing evolved, let's say, over the last couple years, as you’ve kind of kept learning about marketing? And as we're now recording this, we are in the COVID-19 era, so it’s like I’m recording this and it's summer of 2020. I don't know where we are in the timeline. Are we halfway through it or who knows?
Greg: Yeah, right. Who knows at this point? It’s a changed world, to say the least.
Dan: Yes, but it's kind of an established reality at this point.
Dan: Everybody has had to adapt to it in some. I'm curious, what kind of changes or tactics or whatever have you started using in your marketing over the last, let's say, a year and a half that you think are interesting or cool, or just that you’d like to talk about? [28:04.7]
Greg: Absolutely. Before I get into that, I wanted to just make a quick point and I made it earlier on, which is that what's working today is great, but that might not work tomorrow. If you can understand the principles of direct marketing, you will always be successful.
What I was doing two and a half years ago with cold calling and texting when no one was doing it in Dallas, Texas, which is insanely competitive, that doesn't work as well today as it did two years ago, so that I guess telemarketing approach, very, very successful couple of years ago. After that, and like I said, that's just supply and demand, access to data, that's the way things go. It's just it is what it is in real estate.
Dan: This is why my Myspace marketing course doesn't sell very much. It was hot fire when it came out.
Greg: On Myspace marketing.
Dan: Now not so much, whatever.
Greg: Yeah, exactly. You and Tom at least can be happy customers or whatever. Tom Anderson, wherever he is, if he’s a real person.
Dan: Tom. Tom, he’s the man.
Greg: Yeah, that's right.
Dan: He never stole my data. He just finally bounced. It's great. [29:02.6]
Greg: That's right. That’s right. Huge email list. So, that was working real well two and a half years ago. It still works today and everything still works, but things were…
Then, from there I went really hard into direct mail and just started using math to produce the results versus an emotional, so a mathematical logical budget versus an emotional budget, knowing what you--
Greg: Yeah, and I love it. People, a lot of new investors or just experienced investors who aren't really into marketing, they're like, I want to pay two grand to get a deal, because that seems like it makes sense. See, seems like it makes sense is a hypothetical thing there. That's not reality as Dan would tell you. He's the professor of harsh reality. If your numbers and your cost per deal in your market is four to five grand—in San Diego, it's 10, but in New York, it's four—if you know your cost per deal is four and you want to spend two, you're not going to buy a house every month. You're going to buy a house every other month.
What I started doing was I started not thinking on an emotional basis and I said, “How do I get at least one to two properties a month?” and then I started saying, I need to send out this many mailers because I know my response is going to be tiny, which is okay, and then I know after those calls, I'm going to get a certain amount of people who are leads, certain amount of people who are not leads, and then I know one out of 40 is a deal for me in mail units. [30:19.2]
Then I just started reverse engineering my budget based on a $4,000 cost per deal, and then I started tweaking, so basically I was pretty much buying marketing insurance because I was sending enough mail units out to basically increase the odds of success in my favor because of the numbers. So, I learned how to acquire customers in the right way. I wasn't doing that in the beginning because I just thought it was two grand or I thought it was 1,000. I was making these assumptions.
Started buying customers successfully and using direct mail, and then I shifted now to where I'm really going to be going hard into the online and the PPC, and I’ve done some Facebook marketing, which was really cool, because I was getting people to my Carrot site for 40, 50 bucks a lead. The lead quality was all right. It wasn’t a PPC lead or an SEO by any means, but it was a pretty good lead, and I was getting a lot of interested people and a lot of people in the follow-up database. [31:08.0]
So, really, it's primarily been direct mail recently, and now it's going to be much more organic online pay-per-click and that's the way I want to take it because I just believe that, Dan, I'd rather pay more money to get a lead because it's a good lead, aka pay-per-click or Facebook, than pay $10 leads and have to talk to a million people to get a deal. If I know my cost per deal is four grand and I can test that out with some marketing and do the kink in the hose technique and things like that, I'll just keep doing that all day long, because that's fine with me. The economics still work in that marketing equation.
Yeah, it's really just tracking my numbers and really understanding for the investors to make this practical. Whatever channel you want to do, you need to figure out what do you think your cost per deal is going to be? And you can ask someone in your market if you don't know it.
Then, when you do a marketing campaign on pay-per-click or on mail, whatever you're doing, you’ve got to forecast that number, and then if there's an issue, you do a technique or you'll look at the numbers and see what's kind of screwed up and then tweak a couple of things, and then, from there, you'll figure it out eventually. So, that's what I’ve been doing now recently. [32:15.8]
Dan: Yeah. You said a couple of things that I think are really insightful. One is that you're starting from what you want to do, and then asking what is the realistic price to do that and working your way backwards, rather than starting from here's what it should be.
Greg: It’s the perfect connotation. It should be free to buy houses, yeah.
Dan: I know, because people always ask me, What’s the average cost per deal on Google Ads? I'm like, I could tell you. What does it help you at all? You know what I mean? I'm like, Okay, average cost per deal is three k. Great. It's just about as useful as you saying, How many kids do you have on average? and I'm like, I don't know, two and a half.
Greg: Two and a half, yeah, exactly. Yeah, it totally makes sense.
Dan: Because it’s probably [inaudible], right? It's like it's really about what is the reality that you face in the market, and how do you work your way backwards in order to make your business work with those numbers? I think that's truly insightful. [33:09.0]
Yet it kind of ties back to where we were talking about this in the context of your productivity course and how you think about you'd rather go after a big deal with a big margin rather than do a bunch of tiny things. It's saying like, Hey, if I can get a higher lead quality, yeah, I'm going to get less leads, yeah, I'm paying more per lead, but I'm talking to less people. I'm still closing deals. It just kind of works out better in the end. That's all…
Greg: Totally, a hundred percent, and that's the big thing with investors and this is something where I recommend that investors listen to this podcast, they will send the marketing material in general, because I see a lot of stuff in our industry where there's a lot of information that's very good, but a lot of it doesn't get to the root because, which is usually there's a big marketing problem. You don't understand marketing, and then that is the root of the issue.
If you just understand marketing, you'll fix most of your problems, but if you're trying to rely on an emotional marketing budget, for example, or you're trying to do something that's ineffective, it's almost like you're putting a band-aid over it and you're not getting stitches. [34:15.4]
You just get the stitches. Get decent marketing. Study it, and then you'll be fine because you can fix the problems, and I wish I knew this two years ago. I wish I knew this two years ago because it took me a little bit to learn this. It took me five years now almost to learn this, but this is the marketing aspect of it and really looking at it from a…because I think another thing-- I'm going on a rant here.
Dan: No, do it. Do it.
Greg: Yeah, I have this whole theory. It's like when it comes to marketing, a lot of people get tripped up because paid, and I mean paid traffic, not realtor referrals. I'm talking paid media. People are scared, especially in beginning and I understand where they're coming from because I was there and I still get that sometime, they're scared to spend the money and they're going to get no return, because they're just all like, I'm going to spend this money and I'm not going to get a return, and it's going to be a disaster, but you have to reframe two things. [35:05.8]
Number one, you're buying data that's going to get you successful eventually. You're buying response. Even if your campaign doesn't do well, again, you're buying data that you could use to make better decisions.
Then the second thing is I always say, this is with people I talked to on the phone a lot with marketing like, Listen, figure out—and I think you mentioned this, too—how much are you willing to risk at first that's not going to wipe you out and have that be… It's like in the stock market. It's almost like your stop-loss. If it hits this number and nothing's here, just shut it off for now, we'll fix it.
But if you do those two things and understand that the upside of a successful campaign is serious profits, 3, 4, 5, 6:1 return, and then the skill set you're developing, it’s like it’s a no brainer, but you have to think about it and that's more of a logical view versus an emotional view. Oh my gosh, it's going to cost me 5,000 this month. Then I don't know what's going to go on the AdWords. You have to kind of look at it more from a higher-level perspective and kind of make the decision based on that, instead of what most people talk about in marketing. [36:01.5]
Dan: Yeah, I think that's exactly right. I’ll tell you this story. The thing I like about marketing so much, the reason I love my job, and one of the reasons I love it is that there's never going to be a point where I'm like, I’ve got it. You know what I mean?
Greg: Yeah, so exciting, changing. Yeah, you're like, Damn it.
Dan: There's always something new. It’s just understanding human behavior, which is a thing you spend your whole life trying to understand. I'll kind of put this out as an example to the people, right?
For a long time at AdWords Nerds or AdWords Nerds is my agency, and we do lead gen for investors and, for a long time, I got most of my business through organic like stuff like the podcast, SEO and all that, and Facebook ads because a lot of investors are on Facebook. I was running Facebook ads for a while.
Greg: Yeah, that's a great channel for that.
Dan: Forever we would get 13 times ROI on our Facebook, which is like bucks, stupid. Right? It’s stupid. [37:05.9]
Greg: That’s stupid.
Dan: I was like, Just take off… Facebook cannot take my money fast enough. Literally they would not let me spend any more, and I'm like, Just please, please take this money from me right now.
Greg: Oh my God.
Dan: Anyway, I did that for years and I got really lazy. I got so lazy because I'm like, you put a dollar in, you get 30 out. It's just whatever, just do that one whenever I need it, and it was fine. And so, gradually what started happening is it started to decline. The people got used to the ads. They'd seen them a million times. People don't like my face, so they’d seen my face a hundred times and they'd report the ad or whatever as harassment.
Greg: Yeah, they have comments on it. You have to set up the auto keywords and you're like, Yeah, yeah, yeah…
Dan: Yeah, they were like, Ugh. It was declining over time and I was like, You know what? I'm going to bring in somebody to help me with my ads4. I hired this marketing [person] and he had a pretty good reputation and yada yada, so he kind of took it over and, again, I'm lazy and I'm used to 13 times ROI. I just kind of went and did something else and I did not pay any attention to it. [38:02.0]
And so, I came back. It was a 90-day program, and so I came back at the end of 90 days. He'd spent maybe $35,000 in 90 days on ads and was like, Okay, cool.
Greg: On Facebook traffic?
Dan: On Facebook, yeah.
Greg: Just Facebook, sure, okay.
Dan: And I pulled up all the leads that he generated and then I pulled up all of our sales, and I was like, Who's on both lists? And the answer was nobody. Nobody. He had generated not a single sale in 90 days. Then I went to check my credit card and realized that he hadn't spent $35,000. He'd spent $70,000 and put it on a credit card in my name without my knowledge, and I’m still to this day paying this credit card debt. Anyway, this is a lesson in how to not be a stupid moron, which is exactly who I was. I fired that guy.
Greg: Did you sue him?
Dan: I did not sue him. I just…
Dan: I chucked this up as I was like, Look, I am getting an extremely valuable education for less than the cost of attending Harvard Business School. [39:05.9]
Greg: There you go. That's a good way to reframe it. Yeah, that’s awesome.
Dan: Yeah, but in any case, I fired him very quickly, and then I was like, Okay.
Greg: Yeah. Oh God.
Dan: This was more than six months ago, so almost like nine months ago now at this point and we have just gotten it back. We just did a report again where, not only are our Facebook ads profitable, but they're doing 50% profit on top of what we spent.
Greg: That’s awesome.
Dan: Yeah, it’s awesome, but it was an absolute battle to get back from all the damage that had been done to understanding what had happened to breaking down every piece of the funnel to reworking our marketing. Just every single piece of it needed that work and if I had just said, I'm supposed to get 13 times ROI, I would have done just…
Dan: Right? But the thing is, for me, I just kind of realized, I'm like, Look, this is all indicative of a deeper problem. You've got to figure this out because if you don't figure out how to pay a dollar and get $3 out or $5 out, you just don't have a business. [40:11.4]
Greg: Yeah, you're in trouble.
Dan: You just do not have a way of sustainably growing. I throw that story out there as just an example of like, look, everybody goes through this and even if you're -
Greg: Oh, yeah.
Dan: - rushing it and even if you feel like you're killing it, surely are you going to go through it anyway, right?
Greg: A hundred percent, yeah.
Dan: Everyone has got to go through that. Yeah, I take your point.
Greg: And you're going to learn the most from that. You're going to learn the most from that and I'm sure you did, and that's where you really learn. Yeah.
Dan: Did I ever learn a whole bunch of stuff I didn't want to learn? And I did and now I'm better for it, but it's just one of those things, man.
Greg: That’s it. Holy cow.
Dan: I want to start to wrap this up because we're coming up on the hour, but I'm really curious. You've got the proximity course kind of thing on the side. You've got the podcast. You've got Velocity in the real estate space. I'm curious, what's your five-year plan? Where do you want to take this? Where do you see yourself growing into or doing in the real estate space in general? [41:11.6]
Greg: Yeah, I think on the real estate side, there's really two things. I'm at the point now where do I want to maybe scale the single family business and take it real big, and really ramp it up, or do I want to take the direct marketing stuff that I have now, the direct marketing skills that I'm learning and have learned, and really apply that to more strategic stuff, whether that's bigger deals, commercial properties, not necessarily office or retail right now, but apartments, just because of the timing changing times?
Dan: Yeah, because there’s a global pandemic.
Greg: Yeah, so I'm kind of at a crossroads now where it's like, Do I want to really take the single family thing and go really big with it, or do I want to take that type of potential and apply that more in commercial, but use direct marketing as the pillar? So, on the real estate side, that's kind of where I'm at right now at a crossroads, because I said I’ve done it virtual, so I know I can kind of do it anywhere in terms of … Me being in the physical market is not an objection anymore. It used to be and now I’ve figured out how to do it remotely by having a team and things like that, so it's not too bad now, but that was scary in the beginning. [42:14.8]
Then on the information side, I would say, with the course and things like that, I want to go really deep with that and really get the marketing dialed in for that. Then if there's another course or ability to train, go deep with that second thing, instead of just trying to go out and launch all these things and see which one sticks.
I'd rather get deep, go wide, understand why the marketing works for that funnel, and then if there's another opportunity for me to serve someone via a course or something like that, go deep with that. I'm a big believer in going deep and being focused, and that's how I’ve been able to have this success in some real estate and also some small success, I guess, because I just started a course a couple of months ago, but with that initially, too. So, a big believer in focus and, like I said, with the real estate thing, I’ve been thinking about this about the crossroads. It’s like, Do I want to really ramp it up or do I want to get more into the bigger deals? [43:05.8]
But I will say one thing, if it's on the real estate side here with the bigger deals thing. I want to debunk something. A lot of people, they think the grass is always greener. Oh, single family house is staying… That's not true because a lot of people are like, I want to be a commercial investor, and they try to go out and raise money, and not saying this is a bad thing, but basically they own one fifth of 30% of a property and they have all these investors they have to report to. Really, they don't have a lot of freedom and they have to sell the asset in five years because there's a huge syndication group going on.
To me, that model doesn't appeal to me. If I'm going to go do something like that, I would rather make my money in the flips, save the money and then be more of a sole investor in some of those bigger deals or maybe have one or two partners versus have 95 investors I have to report you and then sell an asset in five years.
That's a little, I guess, debunk thing. I know guys who have hundreds of single family houses who are extremely wealthy. I know guys who are in apartments that are wealthy. Don't think the grass is always greener. [44:02.5]
I guess just to give people some final advice just to make it marketing-related again is, once again, if you can just study marketing and understand that that is really where you're going to be able to make the growth in your business, that’s when you understand marketing and you can go out and profitably do campaigns. That's where your business will change. That's where your life will change because your income will change. The quicker you can master marketing, the more successful you'll be, so You can go out and do cool stuff and try different businesses, and use your marketing principles to guide you to success.
Dan: Yeah. You know what? I think one of the things about you, Greg, that I think is so cool, and I think it kind of keeps coming up as a theme because I think you've really kind of internalized it in your whole life. Just like the thing you were saying, you were like, Hey, it seems like the grass is always greener. You do these big commercial deals, but it's going to put you in a situation you don't really want to be in.
You are constantly starting from where you want to be and working backwards, right? It's like you know you don't want to be beholden to a bunch of people. You don't want to kind of have a bunch of bosses that you’ve got to report to. You’ve got to work backwards from that and say, If I want to get there, how do I get there in a way that's good for me and right for me. I just think that's such a cool approach. [45:15.2]
For anybody listening to this, you absolutely have to go check out Greg online. He does a ton of really awesome content. He's got the podcast and everything. You want to keep tabs on what Greg is doing. Again, you can find him at Instagram @grego_37, G-R-E-G-O [underscore] three seven. I highly recommend you go check this dude out. Give him a follow. He is all over the place, doing amazing stuff.
Greg, thank you so much, dude, for being on the show. I will make sure to link out to everything that you have on the show notes and everything for this episode, but I just want to say thank you for being on the show. You've been awesome. Thank you for having me on your show. It was super fun and we should definitely do this again, dude.
Greg: Oh, absolutely, man. I'm happy to be a guest on whenever you'd like, man. This was a lot of fun. I loved being a guest on shows as a fellow podcaster because I don't get as nervous, because I can sit back and answer the questions versus… [46:12.2]
I was interviewing Benjamin Hardy today who wrote Personality Isn’t Permanent. He’s a decently sized author and I was sweating. I was like, Oh my God, I know this guy. He’s this big author? So, it’s always fun to be on your show and, yeah, this was a lot of fun. I hope the listeners got some value.
Dan: Yeah, it's good. I was just thinking authors are typically nerds and you'd be like, I could beat this dude up.
Greg: Yeah, let’s take him to the cage.
Dan: I can take them.
Greg: That’s right.
Dan: All right, hey, Greg, thank you so much for being here and everyone else go follow Greg Helbeck on Instagram. What are you doing? Pause this podcast and go do that right now. I will see you guys next week. Thank you so much. Cheers.
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