Get your digital notepads ready, because this week we're going to school with Justin Cohen, Executive Vice President of REQ, an award-winning digital marketing agency and one of Adweek's 100 Fastest Growing Companies. Justin has been leading digital marketing efforts in the luxury condo space since 2006. He, along with hosts Uri Vaknin and Shahn Douglas, recap the history of digital condo marketing and discuss how to reach and attract today's digitally-forward home buyers. You'll learn:
Class is not over just yet... be sure to tune in next week to part 2 when Justin discusses lead nurturing, budgeting, digital marketing trends for 2021, and what we can expect in the future.
This episode is brought to you by Juhl Las Vegas, loft-style condos located in the heart of vibrant, downtown Las Vegas. From the low $200s to over $1M. Learn more at JuhlLV.com.
This episode is also brought to you by One Las Vegas, luxury high-rise condos featuring two and three bedroom plus den residences. From the mid $400s to over $1M. Learn more at theonelv.com.
Questions or comments? We'd love to hear from you! Contact us at CondoArtist@gmail.com.
Justin Cohen 00:00
The key in today's world is knowing who you're targeting because, yeah, it's great, we got condos. Are they for old people? Are they for young people? Are they for retirees? Are they for people who, I mean, there's all these things we have to understand because if we just start shouting from the top of our lungs on the internet, we got condos... nobody cares.
Uri Vaknin 00:34
Welcome to another episode of Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate. I'm your host, Uri Vaknin, a condo sales strategist who has developed and sold out 1000s of condos in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Florida, Detroit, Texas, Nashville and all across the United States. Each week I along with my co hosts and colleagues, Mark Bunton and Shahn Douglas, will bring you the latest insights, best practices and sales techniques to sell out more condos faster no matter the market. At times, we will delve into architecture, design and urban planning as they pertain to condos and condo living. I am an admitted podcast junkie. But in our search for podcasts about condos, we all realized that there really weren't any out there. Throughout the series, you will get to know more about me, Shahn and Mark and our 53 years of combined experience in the world of condos. One of the things that has become glaringly obvious to us is that most people, including real estate agents, buyers, architects, and even condo developers don't fully understand condos. This podcast will pull back the curtain on the world of condos. Welcome to another episode of the Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate. Today we have a very special guest with us. His name is Justin Cohen, and he is the Executive Vice President of REQ. Instead of me introducing him, I would like him to tell us a little bit about himself, and REQ. Justin, welcome.
Thank you. Good afternoon Uri, Shahn, thank you for welcoming me to the podcast, I appreciate the opportunity to join you and chat about real estate and condos. My background in the condo and real estate business I guess goes to about 2005 or 6 here in Las Vegas, when we started the beginning of what was our first big vertical condo boom, worked on the in house and development side and then eventually in sales and marketing, selling most of the high rise projects we have in town including much of city center. And then from there went into a condo website where we're actually representing projects all around the world, including a lot in Vegas, but all of the main condo hubs from New York to California to Panama to Dubai, pretty much everywhere that was booming up until the Great Recession. So that was kind of the beginning of phase one in my real estate and condo time. And really the hook to that was using the internet to drive leads. And that was kind of the core.
Shahn Douglas 03:12
What was that? I know the name and it's on the tip of my tongue?
Justin Cohen 03:16
Sure... so the first one we had was called Condominium Central. And then we had another one called New condos Online, which I think we had actually worked with you guys a little bit.
Shahn Douglas 03:28
That's the one I was I couldn't think of that. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, no,
Justin Cohen 03:31
we worked with and I know we don't use the Trump word too much. But they were a pretty big condo brand. We work with every brand out there from you know, Trump and Plaza and St. Regis, every one of the major luxury hotel chains that were trying to put their names on condos. So you know, we had a lot of fun getting people to spend $1000 $2000 $3,000 a foot back in the mid to late 2000s on condos, before that started to become the reality in the top markets.
Uri Vaknin 03:57
I didn't realize you with New Condos Online after all these years of knowing you.
Justin Cohen 04:01
So technically, and you would remember this if you remembered but I was with Condominium Central, which was a bit of a competing website. New condos, was actually my former partners in the predecessor agency to REQ, which I know we'll get to talking about in a little bit. So Condominium Central was actually a commission model. We had licenses and were able to operate in all of the municipalities that we were in around the world. And we focused on getting you know 3, 5, 7 and God bless some of the 10 and 15% commission's are getting paid on luxury condos. Whereas New Condos Online was more traditional fee model were you like as you were in sales and marketing of condos, paid a flat fee to list on the website more to rank high less to rank low, just like all of the models of the 2000s. So those were the two different models we came from one was the you know commission sales and marketing. The other was really that kind of feed listing and we brought those together in 2009 and started an agency then I am I now REQ, as you guys know me by and as we work with, and throughout the now 12 years since we started the agency, we've worked with a lot of different condo projects, Vegas has been kind of one of our cores in real estate, our partners that our Aikido that we merged with, actually two years ago now in 2019, has quite a bit of background doing brand work with developers in residential commercial up and down the East Coast. So the marriage of our west coast agency imi and the East Coast, REQ really did bring together kind of two skill sets, one being that lead generation, you know, digital machine that you and so many sales agents around the world end up relying on. And then the other is that, you know, core core brand, strategy and creative. That certainly works hand in hand with good digital. So that's really been the path of the last 12 years in Vegas. We've sold certainly everything from all of the luxury high rise on the strip, collaborative with you guys on Ogden and on One. We did the Queensridge Tower when it was originally built before the Great Recession. And then when it resold with the developers after the Great Recession, so certainly has probably been part of generating leads in the brand for as much high rise residential in Vegas as anybody else.
Shahn Douglas 06:13
Yeah, let's dive into that a little bit. I think you know, we know what we're talking about. But for our listeners out there that don't really know what we're talking about. Go back to when you were talking about how you first started in this industry. What was it like what was going on? What were you doing for the clients, you know, what exactly was your role?
Justin Cohen 06:32
So I'll tell the the the short version of the story when it started in 2005. And six, I was in house working for developer, we were partnered with Starwood and focused on building, hotel and mixed use residential products, integrated resorts with Starwood properties that we could of course, sell as residents. Many know, and if you don't get a lot of the funding of mixed use, developments around the world, I think comes from the pre sales of condos and pre sales of residential.
Uri Vaknin 06:59
So Justin, what's the pre sale, I mean, I know we know what those are. But like, with, we want everyone to understand our terminology.
Justin Cohen 07:07
Sure. So most of us who are used to buying our condo or townhome or home know that you know, stuff goes on sale, and they put up a sign and you go in and you know, you pick your lot or you walk the building and you know, you pick the condo that you want. But in usually when you get into the luxury sector, and you get into a call it more scarce inventory. Usually you're getting most of your sales lined up, if not before you build at least before you finish building. So it's not uncommon to get in at what one would see as the lowest prices, which is always looked at per foot in the standard way, by being in presale. So that could mean that in some settings, 18 months before anyone breaks ground, you've put down, it could be a small deposit, it could be a 10 20% deposit on you know, whatever you plan to own in that building or in that project. So it's really the getting in early way. It's always historically been a fun little path that starts with developer and sales folks, friends and family. And then it opens up to exclusive pre lists. Depending on how big a project is, it could be certain class level members of you know, a Marriott or Starwood rewards. It could also be you know, American Express rewards members are lots of ways that you can release inventory to exclusive audiences in phases to effectively build up your pricing. That makes sense.
Shahn Douglas 08:22
Yeah, that's perfect. I think that explains it very well. So back to when you were working.
Justin Cohen 08:26
So in the beginning, when we were first in, I guess it was early 2006, starting to solidify the model of needing to sell the inventory. In order to fund major developments. We quickly realized when we were focusing on first Vegas that you know, the international audience was as important if not more important than the domestic audience. You know, domestic being the New York and the LA nevermind Vegas. So we quickly started to tilt up digital campaigns, this is largely before social, there was no advertising on Facebook period, didn't matter if you were selling, you know, condos or flowers. There was no Facebook advertising at the time. So really, what it was is the early days of Google when you know, the biggest advertisers on Google were by and large, the travel industry, which is you know, where I spent some of my early career before real estate, and it was display, but display at the time meant if we wanted to be in front of rich people in New York, we bought the homepage of The Wall Street Journal. If we wanted to be in front of rich people in LA or San Francisco, we literally went in and bought the homepage of the newspapers website. You know, same with TV stations. Same with everything else. So in the early days, that was really the two mechanisms. You would buy Google so that when people were looking for ideally, what you had done marketing for your projects, your brand, they'd find you or if they were looking for luxury condos in Vegas or LA, you would try to get in front of them that way.
Shahn Douglas 09:48
So when you say get in front of them, what was it an ad like was on the homepage or you know, when you say on Google,
Justin Cohen 09:54
it was a lot less than the phone. That's a good point, Shahn because back then everyone was on desktops when you were on the internet. You know, we didn't have iPads, people had phones. But in 2005, and six, most people did not have screens on their phones that they, you know, spend time on the internet. So it really was desktop and it was getting in front of people on the work day. You know, this was back in the time when, you know, Black Friday, people went to stores, and people did their browsing on Monday when they got to the office, you know, our peak times in the early 2000s, when we were selling things online, or when people were at the office working during you know, I should say when people were at the office.
Shahn Douglas 10:28
selling these, selling these presale condos. So tell me how the strategy behind that if you're selling something that isn't even built yet, how do you market that digitally at a time when digital ads aren't even really, you know, a thing.
Justin Cohen 10:44
So you know, what was nice is there was a lot less noise on the internet, there were only so many things being really sold on the internet, and it was travel. And it was books, and it was a few other things. But there wasn't much so there was a lot less noise when we were online. Well, Justin,
Uri Vaknin 11:00
you forgot the number one thing that people were buying on the internet.
Justin Cohen 11:03
I'm curious where you're going with this? Where are we going?
Uri Vaknin 11:06
porn was the one thing.
Justin Cohen 11:09
Right? I guess porn probably wasn't free back then. I mean, I think most of us forget that, you know, there was a time people had to pay. So that might be valid. You know, it's interesting, Shawn, it's not that different than today. We just had less channels. You're trying to get people to, you know, long for an experience. And you know, our effort of communicating why you need to buy a branded luxury high rise, whether it's in Vegas, or New York, or LA or anywhere, is about the experience and getting people to start thinking about and fantasizing about that. How would it be like leaving the casino to go back to your place? What would it feel like having it be your bathroom, your bed? What would it feel like? And this is certainly what we marketed to be the guy or the girl who invites people to your place who hosts the party in Vegas at your place. Same with LA same with New York. So you do that to create the experience. And then you know the whole key to all this and it cuts right back to where we are today. There is this handoff that happens between marketing and sales. And when sales and marketing is done in a collective way in real estate, and there's a sales and marketing agency, usually you can do a better job of keeping that handoff and having it work. But at some point, somebody is going to raise their hand to the point that they're either giving us their name, calling, submitting a form, doing all those things we like them to do online. It was you know, less methods back in the day, right back in the day, they could either call or they could input their info. Now in the middle of an Instagram or Facebook ad they can fill out a form inside of the ad and there's all sorts of things we can do. But the handoff is the key.
Shahn Douglas 12:42
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Uri Vaknin 13:38
Let's back up a little bit. So, you know, in today's world, you have to have a comprehensive marketing plan, right? And it really is dependent on the market. Like as you said, in Vegas, we're just not marketing to Vegas, we're literally marketing to the world. And that's better and eat more easily done with the internet. And so when you approach a project, like let's say a particularly like a condo project, what is your so what is your digital marketing plan look like? but also for our listeners who don't really sometimes I'll tell you, you know, they understand what an ad agency does a creative agency, a PR firm, even a social media agency, but people really don't understand the importance of a digital marketing agency, which you know, for us has been probably the number one of all those not that all those aren't important, but the digital marketing piece in today's world, and particularly for our market has been paramount.
Justin Cohen 14:46
I appreciate the perspective and I will say you know first You do not need a strategy. It is great to have a strategy. One thing that you know, our listeners should recognize because we all know whether we're talking about real estate or whatever they'll ask like On an ad forum social, it's a different world. You can tilt up a website in a zillion different platforms, tilt up social channels and start running ads and say you're the specialist in anything, whether it's you know, high rise and Inland Empire, if there is one high rise tower somewhere and the Inland Empire, or you can be, you know, a Summerlin specialist if we want to use a little more Vegas type of the term. So one thing to recognize, and back to that question you just had Shawn about back in the day, back in the day, there was only so much real estate noise, there were very few people doing digital correctly, you never mind doing marketing correctly for real estate in the mid 2000s. Now, everything is a crowded landscape for a mortgage to it's like title, companies need marketing, you know, so the fact that we're now in a world where everyone can be out there, and most people aren't strategic. You know, I think what you were, I guess, alluding to already is that if you want to do it, right, you want to win, and you want to spend efficiently and you want to be pros, which I think is you know, part of the The goal of this podcast is to help people, you know, do what the pros do, you have to have a strategy. And in today's world, that's all about targeting. You know, back in the day, as I said, if I wanted to be in front of rich people in you know, LA or New York, I had to actually be in Wall Street in Hollywood pubs. There was no other way. Whether it was in print, billboard, or digital it was, you know, that was the only way to get in front of them.
Shahn Douglas 16:17
Yeah, I just was gonna say on that point, like, tell us from your perspective, you know, how buying online or how the buy online buying behavior has has changed and how it's evolved? And and what do we have to do today to reach the buyers in this crowded space?
Justin Cohen 16:35
Yeah, so it's now evolved to the audience, right, it all comes down to the audience. And you know, as an agency, and you know, I know what we'll wrap more talking about it, you know, we're a full service agency, we do pretty much everything, we do it all in house online, offline, PR, social, content, reputation, you name it. And you know, that's certainly one of the benefits of having it all in house is that we can then make sure that all of that is done in a cohesive way, or in an instance, like we work with you. Because we know how PR is supposed to be done. And social content is supposed to be done because we do it in house. It's very easy to collaborate with other agencies and make that work correctly. But to your question, it's about audiences. Back in the day, you tried to target types of people that you thought were right, you tried to target where they were you tried to target the old school methods, you know, what we thought you read, you know, Rob Report and Travel and Leisure and think about it, you know, we all could come up with the exact same five publications, if we were talking about how in the 90s and 2000s, we wanted to get in front of people who, whether it was 250 plus million plus whatever, today, and you know, we can thank Mr. Zuckerberg and you know, his multi 100 billion dollar company, and you know, outgoing Mr. Bezos and his multi trillion dollar company. Now, the reality is what they all did, you know, and what we need to appreciate, you know, if you want stock tips, think about snap, think about, you know, Tik Tok, when you can invest in it, we'll leave all of the Chinese ownership out of the conversation. All of these platforms allow for targeting right now. That's what it's all about. It's all they are is big AI engines that make it so you can target people, I will be the millionth person this month, which is three days old, because of GameStop. to reference the simple premise, if you are not paying, you know, you are the product. And you know, whether we're looking at Robin Hood, or we're looking at countless other things, if you're not paying, you're the product. So when we're on snap, when we're on tik tok, when we're on Facebook, when we're on Instagram, we're on LinkedIn, business, friends, all of those channels are places that are just aggregating data they get about us so that they can sell and market us, which is the purpose of a digital agency, or as most of us call it, 2021 in agency, because pretty much every traditional agency has spent the last 10 years trying to catch up with digital agencies. So in today's world, we tend to just call it agency. You know, we started as a digital agency called Internet Marketing Inc, in 2009, it was very clear what our intent was, by 2015. You know, it was more a question of us doing the traditional work, more so than traditional agencies doing the digital. So it's just the reality of where money is going. You know, if you want to target today, and you know, Shahn, let's do a today example, because I think we can all have fun jumping around in time. If we want to target today. We are not targeting, you know, people like a thing at this point, we're targeting the individual because once we've interacted with someone, they're anonymized. It's not like we're chasing Shahn. We're chasing a big, long, weird number of, you know, ones and zeros that represents you, and people like you, wherever you go. So, you know, this is a podcast. So raising your hand doesn't help. Raise your hand if you don't watch stuff across different devices.
Shahn Douglas 19:39
Well, let's, let's talk about real estate. Let's talk about real estate. I know I mean, I get what you're saying like we are targeted. And you're right. I mean, we'll have conversations, even on this podcast. And the next thing you know, I'll have an ad served to me on the topics that we just discussed. As far as real estate. How are people shopping for real estate online? What is has there been any difference in behavior are we all go into Zillow? Now? Are we looking for agents? Are we looking at realtor.com? I mean, what do you feel is the best? You know, what what's happening out there that you're aware of?
Justin Cohen 20:12
Well, I mean, we're certainly seeing a everything is in fair play world, people are doing everything searches do tend to start in, you know, one of three places. It's, you know, Realtor, Zillow or Google. And most of the people who end up on Realtor and Zillow unless they have the apps downloaded, get there from Google. So you know, it's not that different than 15 years ago, in that way. And that way, you very much start is there. But as we talked about, all these things will start if we as marketers are doing it right, following you to Facebook following you, wherever you are, to get us back to you to get us back to our website for our project for you know, whether we're an agent, wherever it is, it's about getting it back to you. So getting back to that targeting thing, kind of the key in today's world is knowing who you're targeting because, yeah, it's great. We got condos, are they for old people? Are they for young people? Are they for retirees are they for people who I mean, there's all these things we have to understand because if we just start shouting from the top of our lungs on the internet, we got condos. Nobody cares at all.
Shahn Douglas 21:15
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Justin Cohen 22:22
So we have kind of a philosophy that breaks it into two overall buckets. One bucket is the earned world and the other bucket is the paid world. A lot of people would love to say I don't want to spend money on advertising, I just want to magically have people come. Unfortunately, since Facebook and everything are built on advertising. Now that's not how it works. You know, you have to you have to pay to play. Google blew out earnings yesterday and is up 7% today, because of what people spent on ads in the last year. So my kind of advice is look at it this way. On the earned front, you've got your website, you've got your social channels, you've got an email newsletter, maybe have your audience, your past customers, whatever it is, those are the places where you can put content, you can write stuff, you can post on social, if your kids are cute, you can have your kids and your dogs do cool things on snap and you know, put them up on tik tok, and try to use that to market your business.
Shahn Douglas 23:11
What is what is earned like I know what it is, but there might be
Justin Cohen 23:15
so think of it. Think of it as a place you don't have to pay to be, you know, you may have to pay your web guy or your nephew or someone to put stuff on your website or to film your tech talk or whatever. But you're not paying the company to put the content there. You know, the best example is certainly a website. You know, everyone who wants to try to succeed going forward in real estate should own that they need to have a blog. And if you're not willing to have a blog online and write stuff or pay someone to write stuff, it's awfully tough to be an expert at anything. And a blog doesn't have to be a traditional blog on your site. It can be a lot of different things. It can be YouTube channel, you know, it can be a strong social presence on any collection of channels. But you have to have some firm Think of it as you're earning people's attention by putting good content, you want an example? What are we doing right now? We're creating content about a topic together as a group, hopefully in a slightly compelling way, you know, so that people can see that we have expertise. So anyone and again, whether you're talking in Vegas, about North Vegas, Summerlin Lake Las Vegas, high rise, low rise, commercial or otherwise, you know, pick that specialty and focus on it. So to your question of where do you start your pick by starting something that you say you're differentiated at? Because if you're the best at everything, that doesn't work in 2021? I just did that.
Shahn Douglas 24:29
What if my budget isn't, you know, I'm not working for a big corporation and I don't have you know, $500,000 a year, would putting a blog on my website be a really good way if I was just a general real estate agent out there, trying to make a living.
Justin Cohen 24:44
If we're stuck with that basic kind of situation. It doesn't honestly matter whether it's real estate or anything but thinking of an agent that owns their own business, you know, and has to get their own leads because they're not being fed that way. Once you found that niche again, veterans high rise, pick, whatever It is, I'd say it's a two pronged approach, it's get that website and social going build the content, being an expert, and then concurrently, and if you only got 1000 bucks a year, then you've got 80 bucks a month to spend, if you got 12 grand a year, you got two grand a month to spend, start running ads on Facebook and Google, Google is simply there to catch people who actually may be looking for you the name of your agency, something you've done, or if you've got that specialty, you know, you know, veterans homes, high rise, whatever. And then Facebook, I think we all get, because if you're not, you know, I don't spend a lot of time personally on Facebook, you know, I've been a part of, you know, agencies that have spent close to 10s of millions and millions on Facebook. If you're not understanding how people interact with ads on Facebook, you're gonna struggle, I think, to connect with the audiences today. Because you know, now it is not, it is not 2005, we live on phones, we're getting interacted with on our phones, if you guys do a good job, big budget or small budget, getting somebody to come to want to look at your condo project, because we did good marketing, or you do PR and they listened to this podcast, and somebody with a competing project is they're on the phone with a Facebook ad or a Google Ad responding to a search to steal that person. Same applies to an agent, right? Even if you think that you're the specialist of the neighborhoods that you're pushing in Summerlin or Henderson, if somebody else is there to steal that lead at the right time, and they click to call that agent, you know, it's kind of over, right. So in the end, I kind of view it as hedging against the time you put in to earn let's simple math, let's see you got $12,000 worth of your hours and $12,000 worth of real money, that $12,000 worth of your time and hours that you're putting into create the content to the social, do the blogs, and you're the specialist and whatever you are, you're hedging with those ad dollars to try to get the people that are looking and to make sure that whoever is the person who is also that neighborhood specialist. And you know, I live in South Summerlin down by Gorman. And I get three pieces of mail a day from different people who are the specialist in my 70 home neighborhood. Now how every realtor in Vegas can be a specialist in my two year old 70 Home neighborhood. I'm not too sure. But it kind of gets to the point. I will also note for what they're spending on that direct mail, they could probably be doing a pretty good job at some targeted Facebook ads that will do them more good than, you know, piles of undifferentiated direct mail.
Uri Vaknin 27:21
It's interesting that you say that because when I get direct mail now, I question the the real estate agent, because I feel like they're not up with the times. Like why haven't they directly connected with me somehow, in the digital world?
Shahn Douglas 27:37
See, I disagree. Because when I get direct mail now, I realize that I'm going to have it in front of me a lot longer than an ad that may pop up and pop away. You know, it may sit on my counter for a couple of days, the information on it may be very thorough, like what has sold in my building in the last year, which is important information to me. So I mean, I see what you're saying. I think sometimes it applies to have the direct mail. And otherwise, you know, digital,
Justin Cohen 28:08
let me be devil's advocate. Because recognize you're two different people in our audience and the customers of our audience are all different people interact with different ways. So to say that nobody should do direct mail anymore is not our message though, we would certainly advocate that you probably should do digital before you do direct mail if you're doing both. But what I will say and think about digital, if our customer is Uri and somehow through social or digital or content or Google, he touches on just what you talked about Shahn, which is like our ad showing the top sales in his building, which is what compelled you right? You know, you always want to see the top sales in your neighborhood. That's why you and I both like those direct mails and why I looked at him before I throw them away, I always look at the picture of the agent and see Oh, that's interesting, I see a picture of some houses in my neighborhood. And then I flip it over right to see if they gave me data. And if there's no data, I throw it away, which is probably what you do too. And if there is data I adjust it, then I throw it away on the internet if I find a you I can have an ad either kind of chase you around and the right way or get content that we keep in front of you in that type of way. And if I haven't already, we can let him interact with it in the way he wants. And that's kind of the magic of of the internet versus you know, the print collateral that already showing us now looks like a nice door hanger. Somebody left him you know, here's the deal, and let's let's not talk real estate for just 10 seconds. If I find a scorpion in my house, am I gonna go try to find the door hanger from the one time that the scorpion guy came and did door hangers? Am I gonna pick up my phone and type kill the scorpion in my house, right? And that's how it works. So if you're itching to look at condos, because you were just watching TLC, or you know you decided you need a multigen house because your parents just called and ruined your day and said they're moving to Vegas. You're not going to go look for the most recent paper or try to find the name of the realtor that helped you 100 years ago, you're going to go to the phone, and either try to find the thing that satisfied your need now, or you're going to try to find that realtor from 100 years ago somehow on your phone using the internet. So I mean, I think we just have to recognize back to that question we talked about earlier, where do you start, we all start every search at Google unless we have the app installed. It's kind of a period, the end. And then when we have the app installed, whether I'm looking for, you know, Howard Hughes announced the next phases of downtown Summerlin residential about two weeks ago. And you know, so like anyone else, of course, that makes me think just like when I hear about new residential in downtown Vegas, you know, should I get a pre sale? You know, back to that thing we were talking about before, you know, is this an opportunity knowing that Vegas is, you know, a top growth market in the nation for the next five or 10 years is getting, you know, a rental unit and investment unit and one of those places a real valuable thing? Or is that something I should consider? The first thing I do no different than when I think about, you know, getting back from Hawaii and wishing I had a condo there are going to where I hang out in the summer and wishing I had a home there. I go to Zillow or realtor app, and I pay attention to what's happening. And that's what once we've got our lead, and this applies to any type of agent, including in commercial, because we just use different apps, but it's the same experience, we're gonna play with it no different than the man thinking about upgrading his garage, or the woman thinking about redoing the bathroom, we're gonna play on those apps, we're gonna track the inventory, we're gonna see what comes up, you know, the buyer is educated, the buyer is, you know, relative to what they were savvy with technology. Yes, there are still people out there that we can find that won't talk to another realtor that will come right to us that will never walk into another tower, we'll just buy ours will use the mortgage agent, the title company that we recommend without batting an eyelash. But that's not the majority anymore, the majority of people are going to inform themselves. And that's why if we do our job, right back to that key handoff, once somebody isn't interested lead, if you you know, the end user or the agent talking to them, or you know, you're in a role like one of us where we're leading teams doing that, if you can make that connection, and leave all the internet and all the marketing behind as soon as you get that person on the phone, or the chat or the whatever, and bring service to the forefront and be the person who is the person who's going to best serve their need, you know, you've taken advantage of the investment that you made in marketing, as opposed to the
Shahn Douglas 32:24
Let's segue into lead generation. Because I think that's the ultimate goal of what we're doing all these marketing efforts is to get the lead, correct. I mean, that's why we spend the money. To your point, it's not always the first time they see you, are you getting the lead? You know, you have to hit him over the head again, target him this way, talk to him that way. But why don't you give us a little background information on your buying funnel and how it works with digital and how we get those great leads? Well,
Uri Vaknin 32:59
I want to go there, but I want to back up a little bit. I want to start from when we start working on a project. And we have a first meeting. And we talk about, you know, who's the buyer. And we've refined that information. You know, as we start selling, we get we understand who the buyer is? And then how do you take the information that we thought sort of all green from our first meeting, and then decide on what your strategy is. which then will lead into obviously, the sales funnel, which will then lead into the lead generation, which then it's then it becomes our job to turn those leads into customers who either nowadays do a virtual presentation, but eventually get in the door. But I really want to be a little bit more systematic and strategic about when someone hires a firm like REQ, what's the process?
Justin Cohen 34:00
So yeah, so first, we'll frame this part of the conversation by saying that, you know, now we're talking about more of the full resource, you know, multi unit development. So we've set the framework that we're talking about, you know, when we have the resources to do all of the things that we'd want to do them. And, you know, I'll also note that we're on a podcast and I've learned them, you know, we're doing podcasts, we got to be careful with too many visuals. So I don't want to get too into funnels and customer journeys, because unfortunately, as you know, I move my hands around in space to define all these things that doesn't help anyone listening. So, you know, when we have that first meeting, you know, what you're getting at is the persona development process. So it doesn't, you know, start with any one meeting the persona development process is usually something that happens when done right before a development is planned. So you know, it's not like as you know, a sales team would come in and say, okay, you know, we need to find these people to buy our stuff. You know, when this is done, right. We're working with a developer to create brands, a name around them. brand and a product for specific personas. So you develop personas by doing stakeholder interviews you develop by doing first party research, you develop by understanding and you you guys know this well, what the market needs? And who is that market. So, you know, let's run through an example, if we're, you know, doing a new product in downtown Las Vegas, it's a very different landscape than when all of the other new product was built there 10 years ago, and 15 years ago, so looking at, you know, the Vegas of the next 10 years, we look at the age and demos and traits of the people moving to Vegas, who would be moving to downtown, what are the jobs that are downtown? What are the trends we see in the people coming? You know, what are the types of incomes they have? What are the types of things they want? And what are they compelled by and around that we come up with two things a brand, and personas, you know, when those personas are going to look something literally like Uri, so it may be, you know, single gay man from a major metropolitan area with an income between a range of this or that, you know, and we're literally going to call you or and we're going to say that already, like skiing, we're gonna say that already has dogs. And that's how we paint a picture of somebody, you know, and we do that, and it could be a couple from California. So once we, we get those personas, that is kind of the cornerstone of everything, because in the super fun world of today, we then get to what you were talking about the funnel and the journey. So now the developers are going ahead and building our, our building, and you're going and hiring salespeople. And now as the marketers, we're taking those personas, and we're taking that brand, and we have to turn it into everyone's favorite topic campaigns. Right. And we have to come up with campaigns, where the people are at back to that conversation, whether it's Shahn reading or direct mail, or whether it's already on tik tok watching dance, we have to come up with the right content to get those people in those channels, whether it's presale, or whether it's closeout. It's all different levels of that. So you know, one thing I will kind of put a point in that we want to, you know, kind of remember, and you hit on this already, when you talked about how this works. When we do stakeholder interviews, and first party research and tell you what the next three years of downtown Vegas should be people that want this and people that look like that, once we start running campaigns, we get real data. Right. And then as we start running and spending more and growing campaigns, we get more data in it doesn't matter if we're building a new casino, building condos, high rise, luxury, branded in downtown Vegas, or selling anything else, we use that data to modify our personas throughout the life cycle. And that's kind of the key is to keep evolving. Because you can be wrong, you should be wrong. If you're perfectly right in every persona, you're probably missing audiences you don't know about. So it's evolving. So that's kind of like the lifecycle aspect, the funnel, as we keep banging on the visuals to torture everybody, the funnel kind of looks like this. At the top is the stuff we do to get people to put us in their consideration set. If I decide I want a high rise condo somewhere warm because I live in Vancouver, Chicago, I don't even know what city I'm looking for. I may be influenced by where friends have moved to buy where I've gone vacations, buy stuff I see on the internet. So that top of the funnel is how we get our city, our brand our region or whatever. Again, if we're focused on you know, gated communities in Summerlin, that's how we get our stuff going. And that path is the top of the funnel. The bottom of the funnel is the flip side, the bottom of the funnel is when someone says I need a gated community home in Summerlin, I need a branded luxury high rise on the strip, that's when I want you to have my Facebook ad in front of them when they've been locked in. So they click in or see the video on you know, YouTube pre roll whatever the channel is, or in the perfect world, they go to Google and say I want to so and so you know, brand high rise on the west side of the strip. And whether you're the person who developed it, and you're doing the sales and marketing, or whether you're the you're the agent that specializes in that, that's where you want to have the ad because think about it. That's the bottom of the funnel. That's, you know, the slot machine on all, you know, blue sevens. That's when the person is trying to say, Hey, I'm so specific. I know the neighborhood I want. I know the side of the strip I want I know I want to bedroom, I know I want a view. And that's we've done all this stuff. A lot of people have marketed to them at that point. Think about it, right? Because once you're interested in this stuff, like we all talked about Shahn, you go looking for a certain color nail polish at a certain Alta, and suddenly, you know, it is not the other one chasing us next month. So yeah, that bottom of the funnel is the moment where we have to grab them and pull them out and make sure that we get them and back to the part that because I grew up in the hotel industry before real estate, we have to do the service, right? If as a salesperson, we do the service, right? You know, think about every market you've ever been in, in real estate. Everyone knows the agent that's best known for having retained clients forever. Usually it's more than the top end of the market. But you know, whatever. So whatever personas you're focused on once you get to talk to them, try to be that person. And suddenly it's all going to work.
Uri Vaknin 40:11
Thank you for listening to Condo Artist: The Other Side of Real Estate, because we had such an interesting and in-depth conversation with Justin, we've decided to break up the episode into two parts. Next week we'll get into lead nurturing, budget and the evolution of media and advertising, including what the future holds. I'm Uri Vaknin, we'll see you next week.