In this article, I’m going to share a project I was working on back in 2006 for my real estate business. This was a pretty big project at the time and I had invested a lot of $$$ and time into getting it off the ground. My business worked exclusively with real estate investors. We helped our clients buy single family homes that were kept for rental income. I had engineered lead generation and lead conversion campaigns to attract first time investors. Most of our clients managed their own properties, but as my business grew it became obvious that we were losing sales to prospective clients that had no desire to manage rental real estate.
We began offering different services to help our clients with their rental properties. One service we offered was a tenant placement service. With this service, we would charge the investor a flat fee and we would advertise, show and screen rental applicants for their properties. Once the home was rented we would turn it over to the investor to manage. In addition, we also started offering property management services, too. See StartPropertyManagement.com for more info on how to do this in your business.
The more I thought about my business and our clients, the more I realized that our ultimate success would be based upon the number of prospective tenants we could attract. If we had a large database of prospective renters and could fill vacancies quickly, we would keep our clients happy and make our lives a lot easier in the process. We also had experimented with other strategies and realized that we had unlimited demand for profitable auto-pilot investment properties. In other words, we could sell homes at will if we had tenants for them offering attractive cashflow.
One of the ideas I had to attract prospective tenants to our investor’s properties was to create a “Homes for Rent” Magazine that would be dropped at grocery stores and other locations where you would find the “Apartments.com” and “Home Buyer” magazines. So I designed the “Rent2OwnListings.com” magazine and you can download my first issue from 2006 in PDF format here:
NOTE: Before we go further, please understand that when I sold my business the new owner quickly abandoned this project because he thought it was a waste of money. This means the phone numbers and websites detailed throughout the magazine are no longer active.
There is a lot to share with you about this magazine. Let me summarize some key points for you here:
1. The title of the magazine was one of our websites, “Rent2OwnListings.com.” The idea was to brand the website and get more visitors. This website featured the investment properties of our clients and the properties we had in property management. When a visitor to the website wanted more information about a home listed, they would submit their contact information and we would capture them as a new lead helping to build our database of prospective renters. We would then email them a weekly “hotlist” of new rent to own property listings.
2. We sold advertising space in the magazine to our investors. We would post our client’s homes on the Rent2OwnListings website for free. However, if they wanted to advertise their homes in our new magazine, they had to pay a fee. This fee was simply used to offset the cost of the magazine. I had plans to sell more adverting space as the magazine grew over time. Other advertisers would be insurance agents, lenders, credit repair services and more.
3. The magazine had two different types of advertisements. The primary advertisement featured throughout was a specific advertisement for homes we had for rent. The advertisement featured a picture of the property, details and a phone number for the prospective tenant to call. These leads were called back and invited to an open house at the property. The other advertisement you’ll see in the magazine was a direct response offer for a free report. You’ll see this advertisement on the cover of the magazine. The prospect had to call the hotline and leave a message with their name and mailing address. We would mail them a report (aka sales letter) that ultimately brought them back to us to help them find a nice rental home for their families. The idea was to capture as many leads as possible. If someone reading the magazine didn’t like any of the homes featured, they would hopefully call for the free report.
4. This magazine was published in December of 2006 before social media. Today, the magazine would obviously be designed to leverage Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media opportunities.
5. As you look through the magazine, notice that I didn’t brand myself or my real estate company. You won’t see “Multimillion Dollar Producer” or my picture. The goal wasn’t to make the magazine about me. It was to create media that would attract investors and renters to my business. The goal was to control media. I was “flying under the radar” as Craig Proctor taught us many years ago. You will see my company name as it was required by licensing laws for advertising.
Now this magazine was expensive and time consuming to produce. We paid to have the magazine designed, printed and hosted on the magazine racks throughout our area. It was a long-term investment for the business. The goal was to create advertising media that we controlled. Over time the plan was to completely dominate the rental side of the market. If a prospective tenant wanted to rent a home in our area, they would look for our magazine and to our Rent2OwnListings website. I realized that if we controlled the rental side of the market, we controlled the investor side of the market, too. The investor side of the market followed the rental side and we could sell homes at will because we controlled the income flowing into those rental properties. In addition, we could turn many of the renters in our database into regular home buyers extracting more sales and income.
This magazine was an asset that would grow in value over time. In fact, had I not sold my business in 2007, I believe the magazine would have become a business in and of itself that could have been sold separately after we had a few years of production and had fleshed out other opportunities surrounding it. The best way to build your business is to solve your client’s biggest problem. When you do this, you become indispensable. In my business, vacant rental properties became my client’s biggest problem. My goal was to solve this problem for them and build a very valuable asset in the process.