Title: “From Failed Flip to Marketing Maven: Bob McIntosh’s Real Estate Success Story”
“Provide good value. If you do that, you will find success.”
In this Profit First for REI podcast episode, we interviewed Bob McIntosh. He is an expert in the marketing space, particularly in online marketing.
Know more about marketing, internet marketing space, and providing value to find success. If you have trouble making money, this episode is for you!
Enjoy the show!
[00:49] Introducing Bob McIntosh
[01:58] Why Marketing?
[03:37] Internet marketing then and now
[09:30] Are you utilizing all available tools to their top performance?
[11:04] More time than money, more money than time
[16:01] Bob’s advice for those starting in their real estate journey
[22:37] Connect with Bob McIntosh
[06:03] “If I look across time, the thing that always works the best just provides good value… if you do that, regardless of what changes in the technology went today, you will gonna find success.”
[11:05] “Every single form of marketing requires one of two things and sometimes both, either time or money. Sometimes it takes both.”
[14:55] “If you find something that works, just dial up the volume until it doesn’t work anymore.”
Connect with Bob:
Tired of living deal to deal?
If you are a real estate investor or business owner who is tired of living deal to deal and want to double your profits, head over here to book your no-obligation discovery call with me. Either myself or someone from my team will hop on a short call with you to get clear on your business goals, remove any obstacles holding you back, and map out a game plan to help you finally start keeping more of the money you work so hard to make. – David
Speaker 1 (00:00):
If I look across time, the thing that always worked the best though and still even today does, is just provide good value. Make people feel like, Hey, there’s a whole reason that you’re here and you want to be here and you want to be in my sphere of marketing influence. And if you do that regardless of what changes in the technology landscape, you’re going to find success.
Speaker 2 (00:21):
If you’re a real estate investor who’s sick and tired of living deal to deal, then welcome home. Hear from everyday real estate investors just like you, and discover how they’ve completely transformed their business by taking a profit First approach. This is the profit first for REI podcast, where we believe revenue is vanity. Profit is sanity. It’s time to start making profit a habit in your business. So here’s your host, David Richter.
Speaker 3 (00:48):
We have Bob McIntosh on today. He’s a marketing extraordinaire in the real estate investing space and he tells you what do you do if you have more time than money or money than time? And really goes into marketing specifics for right now, whether it’s your first deal or you have multiple deals under your belt, just very good marketing strategies that you could implement. So I believe this is one where if you are having trouble making money, this is an episode that can help you make more money. Thanks for listening. Appreciate you. Enjoy the show. Hey, thanks for listening to the first REI podcast. It’s your host, David Richter. I have Bob McIntosh here today. He is a marketer extraordinaire in the real estate investing world. I’ve seen him speak a few times now and part a couple of the same masterminds, so lots of knowledge going to be dropped today. So Bob, thanks for being on the show.
Speaker 1 (01:38):
I appreciate you having me and I’m excited to be here for everyone listening in, thank you for your time. I don’t take that lightly that you chose to listen to this and to me.
Speaker 3 (01:46):
Awesome. Well, let’s talk about, first we’ll talk about your real estate background, but what drove you to marketing? Why that world and why helping people with the leads and getting things in the door, what drove you to that?
Speaker 1 (01:59):
So it was a couple of things, actually. This is a funny story. So we started, bought our first flip and all I’ve done was write a couple of books, bombed it miserably. We lost like $40,000 on our first flip it as a disaster. And I remember we joined this education program and they’re like, Hey, go watch this eight week marketing course. It’s like, I don’t care about marketing, I don’t want to do marketing, I don’t want to be a marketer, I just want to flip houses. And it took me probably a good year, year and a half to really understand that if I wanted to flip more houses, marketing was how you get more houses. And I was young, I was in my twenties, so I didn’t really understand the concept. And then what ended up happening is we started open houses in Buffalo, New York, but I moved out to Los Angeles and this is 2010.
So I was like, how do I add value from 3000 miles away to give context? It doesn’t seem crazy today when I say that, but you got to understand that we’re like iPhone two or three, you’re still doing Skype and it’s grainy as all out sharing files via the internet was this new thing. Dropbox had just come out. It’s like, oh my god. So it’s a very different time. So I figured out I got good at marketing, I could do that from 3000 miles away. Specifically, I got very good at internet marketing more than anything else. And I did that and I raised money because both of those things didn’t require me to be in person in Buffalo. So I got good at that and kind of actually realized I like it. I come from a technology background, so digital stuff kind of already resonated with me and just went from there. And here we are now, what, 13 years later.
Speaker 3 (03:31):
So what did internet marketing look like back then versus now? What were you doing back then?
Speaker 1 (03:37):
That’s a great question. Yeah, so back then we did a lot of SEO. That was the major thing that we spent a lot of time on and I’ll get to a couple other
Speaker 3 (03:46):
Things. What’s SEO main just for? So people who might not know given that context
Speaker 1 (03:50):
For moving search engine optimization. So the idea of getting yourself to the first spot on Google and in the cities that we were flipping in at our peak, if you Googled sell house fast in that city where we buy houses in that city, my site was number one, usually number two and sometimes number three. And we just drove a lot of leads that way and it worked well for us. So we did that. And then I was one of the early people doing email marketing to people, Facebook ads, back when you could actually run Facebook ads for real estate and hyper target people. It was very interesting back then as well. And I remember, actually, this is really funny. There was a thing that we would do, so we bought an email list of agents and I emailed them all and at the same time, I uploaded the entire list to Facebook and I marketed it with my face.
They’re like getting emails, phone calls and seeing me. I was just blast these people for two weeks while I’m emailing and the number of calls, they’re like, I don’t know who you are, but you’re everywhere. You must be legit. And so we said we started getting more deals that way. So it was more of the wild, wild west than it is today. But the funny thing is everything was still kind of manual. There was all these tools that make things easier and faster, didn’t exist either, so it’s harder. It’s harder now than it was then, but you also, it’s easy in terms of getting results, but it’s easier in terms of time having to be spent.
Speaker 3 (05:17):
Okay, so then today, back then it was the SEO, the email marketing. You still do a lot of that stuff still today too because you’re still in the internet marketing space. Is there anything you’ve added that wasn’t available back then?
Speaker 1 (05:30):
Yes, we do a lot of retargeting that was just coming out at that point in time. The ability to, we need to do it through third party companies. It was clunky. That’s the best way I can say it. Back then, that whole idea was interesting. And then, yeah, the other things that we did is we did text marketing vis-a-vis Google Voice. I built a little essentially a Chrome extension, which now it doesn’t function anymore because Google realized that was a terrible idea, but they kind of make it into a texting RM, if you will. But I think the thing, if I look across time, the thing that always worked the best though and still even today does, is just provide good value. Make people feel like, hey, there’s a whole reason that you’re here and you want to be here and you want to be in my sphere of marketing influence. And if you do that regardless of what changes in the technology landscape, you’re going to find success.
Speaker 3 (06:21):
Okay, so let’s pretend that you’re talking with a client and you’re giving them a marketing overview. What are some of the questions you ask them to know what they’re doing currently and if it’s working or not, or what should questions be asked by a real estate investor to know if their marketing’s working?
Speaker 1 (06:39):
That’s a great question. So first question I ask is, what’s your cost per lead across your marketing channels? And 85% of the time someone come to me says, I don’t know, which already means I know your marketing sucks. Because if you don’t know that, then you don’t know what you’re doing. You dunno what you’re spending, you dunno what’s coming in. There’s either no trackability, no KPIs, or what’s most common is they’re just doing whatever gets the phone to ring and they’re not really tracking how it’s working on the backside, which is not inherently wrong. If you’re getting leads and you’re doing deals, then great, then we’re all here to make money doing this, otherwise why would we be doing it? But if you don’t know that cost, that’s already going to be problem number one. So you got to ask yourself that. What is your cost per lead or cost per acquisition?
Usually for most people they start with cost per acquisition first because that’s the easier number to track. And it’s also the more important one when we look at that. Now, when you start getting into a multi-tiered marketing campaign where we’re overlaying 5, 8, 10 different layers of marketing, then cost per lead actually becomes more important because we are going to find different things as we go through. And you’re also going to find that the more layers you add, one of the hard things today is attribution, right? So let’s say I’m running Facebook ads, Google ads, I’m doing bandit signs and door hangers and direct mail, which is not uncommon for an intermediate or advanced level investor. Well, maybe they got my door hanger, then they looked at my company on Google, so now they’re getting retarget on Facebook, then they click from Facebook into my website and now they’re getting retargeted on Google and they’re searching for other companies and mine shows up.
And then they click that and then they submit their information. Okay, well what piece of marketing gets attributed to that sourcing? And that becomes harder as you go on. You just have to pick a methodology and stick with it and just go with it. But what you’re going to find, the second question is if you don’t know what your cost per lead is, do you know what you’re actually spending on marketing per person that you’re reaching? And a lot of people don’t know that either because, and that becomes important because as for most marketers, when we start at the top, we just think, well, what’s my cost to get a deal? But as we drill down to deeper levels, there’s different metrics that become more important and become leading indicators for the one, whereas cost per acquisition is really a legging indicator because I’ve already bought the house.
That’s how I know there. So you mean I can’t make adjustments until later? Well, not later, but sometimes too late. But as we drill down deeper, you get there. So understand, start by understanding your cost per acquisition and then drive into your cost per lead and then drive into your cost per house or person, individual reached. And that becomes more interesting as you dial that in. And then the last question that I would ask is, are you really utilizing all of the available tools to their top performance? And usually the answer there is no. For example, we have our own CRM and I know a lot of people, even within the ones that use our CRM, and I’ve taught them how to do this. Okay, well, are you doing email marketing? No. Are you doing tax marketing? Maybe Are you doing this? Are you tracking all these things?
Sometimes the interesting thing that’s happened in the last 10 years is that we’ve gotten more and more and more and more tools available at disposal and more and more of these tools are available and the things that we’re already paying for anyways, but we don’t use them. And it’s not necessarily because you don’t want to use them. Other times we don’t know or we don’t know how or things of that nature. But I would be willing to bet in almost every company that I go into, I can look and say there is probably one to two more deals per year to be had just by turning things on that you already own that you’re not utilizing effectively. And sometimes just that little bit right there can make a difference in the cost to hire someone like me.
Speaker 3 (10:20):
That makes sense. Okay, I like that a lot. So then those are good questions to ask if you’re going down that rabbit hole yourself or if you’re working with someone like Bob here. So then let me ask this. Do you see it be more advantageous for most real estate investors to pick one channel, get really good at it, or should they go or when should they go? Or what’s your take on doing different marketing avenues? Or should they pick one or should they do multi at the beginning? What’s your take?
Speaker 1 (10:54):
Yeah, so this is going to depend on what your budget is and how much you can spend across different channels. So for example, well, let me back up for a second. Every marketing, every single form of marketing, regardless whether it’s online, offline, doesn’t matter, requires one of two things. And sometimes both, either time or money, sometimes it takes both. Usually when it’s both, it’s the best deals, but they’re not easy to be had either. So you’ve got to understand where you at right now, do you have more time, then you have money? Do you have more money than you have time? If you’re out of both, then you’re going to find yourself in a bad position and just either finding and making more time or finding and trying to find other ways to get more money. You have to have one of those two to make marketing work really.
And so understand that first, and then that’s going to do basically more or less narrow down your marketing channels. If you’ve got more time than you’ve got money, then you’re going to do things like door knocking and driving for dollars and going to meet wholesalers and things of that nature and vice versa. So understand that first. And from there, my recommendation would be try a bunch of different channels, and this is going to work one of a couple ways. If you’ve got enough money, run ’em all simultaneously and see what happens. If you don’t, that’s okay. Then stagger them, maybe run one for two months and try another for two months and try another for two months. But you have to track your stats because what you’re going to find, and every market’s different. What worked for me in Buffalo didn’t work in Rochester an hour away, which is different than what works in New York City.
So I can’t tell you this is the secret sauce to winning, but if you do it that way, you structure this all out, what you’re going to find is you’re usually going to have a winning campaign. There’s going to be one that’s going to be better than all of the rest. And when you find that one double down and maximize your spend in that single one as much as you possibly can, there will be a limit that you’ll reach and we won’t know where that is. You’ll just keep spending more until you either reach limit of people, reach limit of budget, reach limit of what you can spend on that marketing channel, et cetera. At the same time, run your other ones as supplemental, even if it’s just in small increments to support them. And here’s a couple of reasons why I recommend doing this.
First and probably most important, if you’ve been in real estate for long enough, you’ll realize that we run in cycles. Marketing comes, marketing goes. So cold texting, for example, has been great until about four months ago, and now it’s like a pain in the butt to try to make cold texting work. So if you become reliant on a single channel and you don’t have anything else running, number one, it becomes more difficult to switch to something else when regulation changes or a marketing channel gets crowded or stops working as well or whatever the case might be. And then number two is if these other channels are already working for you, and let’s say one goes down, that’s your good one, we can very easily usually increase either one other one or all the other ones to get back to where we need to be. And because they’ve already been running, it doesn’t take as long for them to start producing results.
We simply increase the results a lot more dramatically. And so when you look at marketing from this more granular data-driven perspective, it becomes easier to realize that the more marketing you run, the better off. Now, just like anything, imagine you’re flying a plane, right? We’re twisting knobs and turning dials, or if you’re a dj, we’re seeing what’s going on and you’ll figure out the secret formula that works in the market or markets that you’re in. And then once you figure that out, you just maximize what already works. And this is a big mistake that we made early on in our time, is rather than maximizing what is working well, was trying to do other things. And funny story I learned back in marketing school, we had this marketing game and the first week we came out my team and we crushed it and we’re like, yeah, and then we changed everything we did instead of just doing more of what, and then we lost every other single week from there. And I never forgot that lesson in my head of like, Hey, if you find something that works, just dial up the volume until it doesn’t, until you either A, it doesn’t work anymore, or B, the, what’s the term for it where it’s like each iteration is a little bit smaller and smaller and smaller. I’m totally spacing on the wording for it, but yeah,
Speaker 3 (15:13):
I can’t think of it either.
Speaker 1 (15:14):
Yeah, I know, right? I was like, diminishing return. There’s a lot of diminishing returns. So at a certain point for every dollar increase, you might’ve gotten $2 out, then a dollar 90, then a dollar 50, and then if you’re down at a dollar 10, it might still make sense, but you might also find that the extra 10 cents, I can go turn something else up that’s giving me a dollar 30. So I’d rather turn that up than the other thing.
Speaker 3 (15:36):
Okay, that makes sense. So okay, if someone’s listening to the podcast, that was really good advice if you have more money than time and time to money. But what if they’re just getting started out? What would you recommend for someone who’s just getting started in the real estate space? Is there something that you usually point them towards or is that market specific? Or if you’ve got someone that’s just trying to get their first deal?
Speaker 1 (16:00):
So if you’re trying to get your very first deal, here’s what I would recommend. If you are in the more time than money category, then you’re going to do a couple of things. You’re going to drive for dollars, you’ve got the time to do it, you’re going to do door hangers. They’re very inexpensive to get printed, and I can just literally go hang ’em. It just takes time. And you’re going to go to wholesalers. Now, the goal should be to get your first deal. And honestly, I tell everyone, make your first deal wholesale. And I get a lot of flack for this sometimes, but the reality is if you have more time than money, the only way to scale is to reverse that because your time is only scalable to a certain point. Money is infinitely scalable. And so if you are in that space right now, and you might want to flip, but get a wholesale deal done first, make the five grand or 10 grand or whatever you can, or if it’s more even better, but take that money and then take half of that and put it into a marketing campaign that you can do dollars with.
Why? Because your time is only scalable again to a certain level. So the other piece of this is going to be on the other side. Let’s say you have more money than you have time. In that case you’re going to do, I would still do wholesalers. They’re going to be expensive in that case, but you can email market to them to find them. You can pay someone to go scrape all their lists and build it and get on their email list that way so you don’t have to spend the time. And then number two is I would pay for cold calling. I think at least right now in what are we, November of 2023, what’s going to work the best for dollars out in that capacity? And then if you use the right systems and tools in the backend with your cold calling, you can follow up with text marketing, email marketing, you’re going to close a lot more deals that way and it will require very little of your time.
Speaker 3 (17:44):
Awesome. Well, that’s great. If you’re trying to get your first deal, you’ve got some just brass tacks. There you go. There’s the first things you could do. So then as an owner of a company, which is hilarious that you were like, I don’t want to be a marketer and I don’t want to go down that road, how important do you think it is as an owner to understand marketing principles or because most people just go out there and hire someone like you and then just expect them to take it all over. But what do you think? How much knowledge on marketing should an owner have?
Speaker 1 (18:15):
So I would say the answer depends. Well, first, if you like marketing, then master it. Because the best companies are the ones that market the best and sell the best. It’s find me a case where that’s not true. I’ve not found one yet. And the reality is when you look at the people who are good at marketing and good at sales, they never have a problem with leads and they never have a problem with getting dollars. And both of those things are required to scale a company and go from there. Now, for some of us who are like, Bob, I don’t want to be a marketer. I don’t care to be a marketer, it’s not my jam. And that’s totally cool, but you do need to understand if nothing else, what are the metrics that determine your marketing’s success? You don’t necessarily have to go as deep as me and say, okay, do I understand all the granular details of it?
But if you don’t understand the numbers and the KPIs behind why your marketing is working and what is working, then you’re never going to truly be able to scale. And I can speak from personal experience if you don’t know your numbers either. I used to do this, I go to my accountant and be like, can I afford to spend money? And they’re like, I don’t know, we’ve got to look. And I’m like, well, how do I not know this? At some point, we should know that if we’ve got the right team in place, we should know those things. And I get for a lot of us, if we’re just starting, it might be much easier. I’ve got one deal, did I make money? Yes or no? Okay, cool. But as we grow, it becomes more important to really dial that in. And then I always end it with, look, you might find yourself, me who is anti-marketing, but then when I realized how much, I don’t know if I was anti-marketing, but I didn’t want to learn it, I realized how important that actually became to moving the lever of my business.
And when I would do something essentially pull a lever and see the business go, I’m like, Ooh, that feels good. I like that. It’s fun like a dopamine hit, if you will. And so then I just dove down to it. And if you find yourself in that same arena where you’re like, oh, man, that’s fun. I like doing that, then I would say, make marketing your jam and hire out the thing you’re not good at. I was just joking with David here before, I was like, I’m terrible at accounting. I have someone that does all the other stuff for me. I know I’m terrible at it. I understand just enough so that when they talk to me, I know what they’re saying. But if you ask me to log into QuickBooks right now and reconcile, I would’ve no idea how to do that. I would be like, maybe, but I don’t need to know that I can hire someone who’s an expert and I can go do the thing that I enjoy doing, which in this case is marketing.
Speaker 3 (20:36):
Yeah, well, I like that. Know your numbers, knowing that it’s important on the front end to know how much is coming in and where’s it coming from. And then I like how you said that on the backend too. Where’s it all going to and where do we pour the most into it? How much do we have to spend on a new marketing channel? So I definitely resonate with that on this podcast.
Speaker 1 (20:56):
I want to add one real quick thing to that, and also think about your business like a funnel. The top of the funnel is marketing. It’s leads, it’s prospects. And so one of the things always, I told someone, I was like, okay, so you’re great. It was at a conference I was speaking at and he’s like, oh, well, I’m really good with contractors. I was like, cool, how much do you realistic think you could bang a contractor down in price across an entire rehab project? 10% maybe. He’s like, that’d be hard. I was like, 5%. He’s like, yeah, I could probably get five, maybe six. I was like, cool. So you’re saving, but let’s call it 10% on a $50,000 rehab. So you saved yourself $5,000. Fantastic. That’s awesome. Congratulations. You probably had to piss off your crown hunter to do it. It was a lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of energy.
I was like, now imagine if you increased your lead flow into deal conversion by simply 1%. That sounds a lot easier to do, and it is a lot easier to do. And now all of a sudden, 1% there because it’s top of funnel impacts every other stage all the way to the bottom. And so if you get good at marketing, or at least understanding your marketing, again, going back to knowing your numbers, your KPIs, so that you can pull the right levers, whether it’s you pulling them or hiring someone to do it for you, that becomes your business grows significantly faster because marketing influences every single step all the way to the bottom line, whereas other things do not.
Speaker 3 (22:13):
Yeah, that is very true. You got to make the money. It doesn’t matter if you don’t make the money, you can’t keep any money. So I love this. This has been awesome. Just diving into the marketing side, the questions you should ask if you have more time than money or money than time, if you’re doing your first deal, lots of value here. So Bob, how can people find you if you want to point ’em to get in touch with you?
Speaker 1 (22:37):
Yeah, the best thing that you can do is reach out to me. So if you go to go 3D dc.com, that’s go the number three dcs in delta charlie.com/bob Macintosh, and there is no a in my last name, so it’s M-C-I-N-T-O-S-H. You’ll find on that page, my contact card down. It’s got my cell phone, my business line, all my social handles, my email address, everything. Just reach out to me. Please do tell me that you saw me on this podcast so that I know where you came from, because I always want to know what we just talked about, knowing your KPIs, what’s working, what’s not, right? So just let me know that you got to me from here and I’d love it. And look, if whether you’re a brand new investor or you’re an experienced investor or anywhere in between, I promise you that a simple conversation with me will probably help you. And if I can’t, I’ll punch you in the right direction to someone who can. My goal is I know I’m not going to win everybody. I don’t need to. I just need to win a handful and help them grow because when we do, everyone wins together.
Speaker 3 (23:28):
Awesome. Well, that’s good stuff. So that’s how you get, tell ’em again one more time, the place to go.
Speaker 1 (23:33):
Yep. So go 3D dc.com/bob Macintosh.
Speaker 3 (23:38):
Awesome. So there you go. That’s how you get in touch with him. And if you need help on the marketing side, Bob knows what he’s doing, and you just saw here the questions to ask, diving into it, helping you get that stuff set up. Then as well, if you don’t know the numbers on the backend and you’re making it, you could go to simple cfo.com, click down, schedule a call there, and we can make sure that you know the numbers from the accounting and the back end so you can actually keep more as well too. So you’ve got the yin and yang here. You got to have leads and money coming in the door, and you got to make sure you’re keeping it on the backend. That’s what we do. So if you want to head over to there, simple cfo.com, remember to make profit a habit in your business. And Bob, thanks again for being on the show and for being a great guest.
Speaker 2 (24:19):
Thanks for having me. This episode of The Profit First for REI podcast is over, but there are plenty more where that came from. Are you ready to learn how David and his team can help implement the Profit First system in your business? Schedule a discovery firstname.lastname@example.org right now. We’ll see you next time on The Profit First for REI podcast with David Richter.