The two things you need, if you want to find deals online.

A really simple, but really important concept.

It’s no secret from people who know me that one of my biggest mentors for business is Seth Godin. And some time ago, I learned a very simple, but very important principal from him. That simple principal is this:

As a business you only need two things: 1) for customers to know you exist, and 2) to have them trust you.

Now, rolled up in those two things are a myriad of other details that we tend to spend most of our working life focused on: our offering, pricing, brand image, website, lead channels, etc. So I’m not saying that business owners shouldn’t think about those things. But what I am saying is that as business owners (or in your case, as investors); the tendency is to overcomplicate things and get flustered trying to think about how to increase sales and growth.

Seth’s summary of those two things, to me, is a beautiful way of simplifying things. Instead of spending all your time searching for “2018 marketing hacks” or watching the latest guru show you what’s working this year, you’re zooming out and focusing on a principal that’s timeless.

Think about it, you could be a blacksmith in colonial America, or a self-driving car company in 2025. What you need is customers to know that you exist (meaning, know you who are, and what you offer), and then you need them to trust you.

So, in a future article I plan on doing a deeper dive into some of the specific marketing channels available to investors, thereby helping you figure out a plan for #1: getting motivated sellers to know you exist. That article will be a bit more practical and “current”, but if you don’t understand the foundations of this principal, you’re going to miss the point, and be someone who can’t figure this out on their own in the future.

Here’s what I mean…

Let’s say you read a great article about Google Adwords in 2018, and dive into that. Well, what happens when, in 5 years, it’s another channel? Where will people be paying attention in 5 years? What about 10? What will the industry look like? What will competitors like Zillow or Trulia innovate?

So to simplify things, you need to understand this principal. Let’s start with the first.

1: Potential customers need to know you exist.

They can’t trust you (or sell to you) if they don’t know you. It’s that simple. So, this process involves just stepping back, and asking the question, “where are motivated sellers paying attention?”

There are a few ways to determine this.

The first is, putting yourself in their shoes. If you were desperate to sell, where would you start? Would you pull out your phone and search for solutions? If so, maybe paying for ads on Google, or investing in getting your site to rank well in search would be the place to be in front of them.

Are they desperately checking the mail, looking for foreclosure notices? Then maybe a mailer that lets them know who you are and what you do would be a good option.

The second, would be to ask past clients. Interview them. Ask them things like, “hey, when you were looking for solutions, where did you look? Where did you go to try and find solutions?”

The point is, instead of just going with whatever the current digital marketing gurus tell you, you’re thinking for yourself, about your specific audience, and asking, “where are they paying attention?” Then you’re working to be there, so they can see who you are, and what you offer.

What are some things you need to communicate to them when they find you?

  • What you do, in plain english. Don’t use buzzwords or industry jargon. Tell them straight up, “We buy houses from people that can’t wait for a realtor” or whatever it is you do.
  • How the process works.
  • How to get in touch with you.
  • Any details they’re wondering.

But that’s only half the work. Once they know you exist, and that you offer a solution to solve their pain, they need to trust you.

2: Potential customers need to trust you.

It’s not enough to have customers calling you, or visiting your website, if they don’t trust you enough to share their information, or ask you to come out and take a look at their property in order to make them an offer.

Trust is the part that most people forget about. Lots of business owners are focused on getting in front of prospective sellers. In my estimation, less are focused on building trust with that audience.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Put testimonials and reviews on your site.
  2. Anticipate their questions, and have quality, honest answers ready for them.
  3. Tell them you might not be for them. You can’t be a service for every homeowner (no one is), so tell them how to know if they’re a good fit for you.
  4. Include videos on your website, introducing yourself, your team, and talking about the service. Here’s a great example of a really filled out Testimonial page with videos of real clients. Something like this will build trust in your brand infinitely more than just seeing stock content.
  5. Be willing to go above and beyond. If they call you, bear with them and answer their questions. If you go to meet them: listen, ask questions, show concern.
  6. Be compassionate in your communications and get to know them on a more personal level.

Putting it all together.

Alright, so let’s put the two together. If you haven’t started down this road yet, your first step is to find where motivated sellers are paying attention, so you can be there. Then, after you get in front of them, you need a way to build trust.

Here’s a perfect example:

You ask around and interview past clients, and find that their first inclination when looking for a solution to their problem, was to Google it. So you decide that you need to be there, and you invest in Google paid ads in search. You create a simple website or landing page, so when they click your ad, they go to learn more. Now they know you exist.

On that page, you communicate:

  • What your service is, in detail.
  • Who you help.
  • How the process works.
  • Answers to popular questions you get asked a lot.
  • Testimonial videos from past homeowners happy with your service.
  • A page full of testimonials or reviews from past customers.
  • Then a clear call to action to call you, or submit their info through a contact form.

And now they trust you.

This is bigger than this year’s marketing trends.

This is a very simple concept. I don’t expect it to be super revelatory for most of you. What I do hope, is that it simplifies the way you think about marketing, increasing leads, or growing your investment business.

Sometimes we tend to get so bogged down in the here and now, that we forget that business, although incredibly difficult, is also simple: provide a service that solves a real human pain; find where those specific humans with that pain are paying attention; then get in front of them, communicating how you solve that pain, and what they need to know to trust you enough to work with you.


By Frank Rolfe

Frank Rolfe has been a commercial real estate investor for almost three decades, and currently holds nearly $1 billion of properties in 25 states. His books and courses on commercial property acquisitions and management are among the top-selling in the industry.