JF1167: How To Beat Competitors In Any Market #SkillSetSunday With John Crestani
If you’re a real estate agent and looking for home sellers, John has some tips for you today. His tips are applicable across many areas of business, and can help you get noticed online. These are definitely aggressive tips, not for everyone, but they are proven to work.
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John Crestani Background:
- Self made millionaire, at 29 has unlocked the secret to unshackling yourself from the drone work of a 9-5 job
- Used Ferriss’s tips to build an affiliate marketing network that generates $250,000 to $500,000 per month
- Based in Los Angeles, California
- Say hi to him at http://johncrestani.com/
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
I hope you’re having a wonderful Sunday. Because it’s Sunday, we’re doing a special segment called Skillset Sunday where you’re gonna come away with a specific skill at the end of our conversation. Today, we’re gonna be talking about tactics to reach people looking to sell their houses.
With us today to talk through that, John Crestani. How are you doing, John?
John Crestani: Hey, Joe. I’m doing awesome! Just out there in 112-degree weather in Phoenix, Arizona, and burning up, taking a little refuge in the hotel room.
Joe Fairless: Alright, well I’m glad that you’re in a hotel room, because we don’t want the microphone melting during the conversation. A little bit about John – he is the owner and CEO of a private affiliate marketing network, and it’s pronounced Nutryst? Is that correct?
John Crestani: Yeah, I actually sold Nutryst, because I’m really focused on creating my educational platform now. We’re doing virtual reality stuff.
Joe Fairless: Oh, sweet. Even cooler. You’re background though is that you’re a self-made millionaire, and you started following Tim Feriss’s tips… So how about you tell the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and then we’ll roll into the tactics for how to reach people to sell their houses?
John Crestani: Sure. A little bit about my background – I started as an entrepreneur in college; I was basically selling study guides to students, and I was trying to reach more students. I wanted to sell these little PDF files to more students, because the markup was pretty good on a PDF file… So what I did was I started learning how to use the internet to reach people. Because I said “Hey, people are taking this class all over the United States. I can use the internet to reach more people faster, and really at the end of the day make more money for my family and myself.”
Long story short, I just focused on marketing, really learning that skill of direct-response marketing to reach lots of people, and I got really good at it in a nice called affiliate marketing. From there, it’s been a lot of traveling around the world, I recently had my first baby daughter, she’s six months old, and I just really love helping people and talking about entrepreneurship, because I think it’s sorely not talked about enough. The stuff you’re teaching your listeners – it’s great, because you’re teaching actionable skills to help people make money, which is what people wish they had in college. I think it’s awesome what you’re doing here.
Joe Fairless: I appreciate it, and congratulations as a new father, with your daughter. Before we get into the marketing aspect of things, I do wanna follow up with – you’re a self-made millionaire, so how did you make the bulk of your money? What specific product? And then if you could just do a couple sublets underneath that to give us a clear picture.
John Crestani: Sure. I’ll tell you exactly what I did. In college, I actually worked for a couple real estate companies. I could talk about that at a different point, but what I did was right out of college I started working for Glenn Beck, doing a lot of his advertising, and I got to know the market pretty well of kind of the middle American survivalist-type market, and I’ve always been a big proponent of networking with people.
So one day, I got kind of a reputation as an online advertising guru. I was at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, just kind of out there doing my thing, being a young kid, and I came across this guy… We just shook hands, we were having a drink at the bar, and he said “What do you do?” and I said “What do you do?” and he ran an investment company. The average deal in his company was around $100,000. It was actually $85,000, and he said “I would really like somebody to help do some online advertising for my business”, and he said “We’ll foot all the costs if you can just help us get more leads… But we need people that have a lot of money in their retirement accounts.”
I said “Okay, I’ll take a crack at it.” I told the guy “You’d have to pay me $10,000 minimum a month”, and he said “That’s fine.” He said “But what I’d really like to do is pay you a percentage of each deal.” So I said “Okay, whatever… As long as I’m getting my 10k/month.”
What happened was I ended up doing so well in getting leads for this gold investment company… They were looking for people to invest in gold. I started creating about somewhere in the range of around two million dollars worth of deals every month for them, from doing blogs – I put up blogs, and I put up ads for them.
My income went from — I was making around 10k-15k/month at the time, I was 23 years old, and I started making 60k+ dollars every single month, working with this gold company. It’s called affiliate marketing, where basically I was doing referrals.
That changed my life… Just rocketing up like that changed my life, and ever since then I’ve really gotten good at the art of knowing how, where and when to place ads, and to whom, so that I get the right buyers or the right leads for companies, and they’re willing to pay me large sums of money to do that for them.
Joe Fairless: Thank you for walking through that. So how, when, where and to whom were you placing the ads for the gold investment company? And you realize, when we talk about investing in gold, it sounds on the surface like a scam, at least to me… Maybe that’s my initial thought, like “Come invest in gold!” It just seems so scammy, but clearly it wasn’t a scam, so I guess elaborate on that, and then how, when, where and to whom.
John Crestani: Sure, I’ll let you tell me how much detail you want me to go into. Basically, gold investment is very popular with the conservative audience first of all, because the conservative audience doesn’t trust Wall Street fraudsters. That’s the whole thing – they don’t trust Wall Street. And it’s also popular with some minorities, surprisingly – Indians and Chinese. The Chinese want to invest in real estate, but different minorities don’t trust their money in the stock market. But I didn’t even get into all of that.
Where I target my advertising was literally — there were some very large companies in the gold investment industry, and all I did (it was very simple) was I targeted keywords of their competitors: Goldline, Lear Capital, Rosland Capital. These are really niche companies, but they do tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions per year. So their niche – you may not have heard of them, but they’re large. They do advertising on TV, they do advertising on the radio, they do advertising in Forbes, so lots of people are searching for these large competitors, and it’s very targeted; it’s actually as targeted as you can possibly get.
So instead of creating my blog articles and targeting keywords that were around generic words, such as “gold investment” or “how to roll over my 401k into gold”, which were the typical terms, I said “Screw all that! I’m just gonna literally put up blog articles on these competitors, I’m gonna make it look like an unbiased review”, because nobody wants to be sold; everyone wants to buy, but nobody wants to be solved. So I put up an unbiased article – of course, I put the proper disclaimers and whatever you need in there, like “This is a sponsored post”, but it looked and felt like just a friendly blog. And what I said was “This is a review. I’m reviewing this company called Goldline or Rosland Capital”, and I would review the company and then I’d say “Their fees are too much”, I’d say “They don’t give you access to the gold”, I’d say “They have rip-off reports on them” or whatever… Whatever I could find. And then I’d say “This is the company you wanna go with”, and I’d recommend the company that I had my referral arrangement with.
After people read that review, which was a friendly review – again, it didn’t feel like an advertisement.,, Because the best advertising – you never know that it is an advertising. But after they read that blog article, they were sold on the company that I recommended, because I’d even tell them which sales agent to speak with. I’d say “Ask for Christian.” And it worked. It worked great, because it was natural.
Joe Fairless: How did you get traffic to those blog articles?
John Crestani: I did pay-per-click marketing and SEO. It was mainly pay-per-click.
Joe Fairless: Staying with this example, pay-per-click ads – how do we set ourselves up for success there?
John Crestani: How you set yourself up for success – the simplest thing is the most targeted you can get is targeting your competitors, because if somebody’s searching for “interested in buying real estate in Ohio, or in Houston”, if they type that in Google, they’ve really just started the research process. All you’re gonna do if you target somebody looking to buy real estate in Houston – generally you’re going to waste some money, because it’s very broad.
It depends on — should I cater this for people looking to buy real estate, or people looking to sell it?
Joe Fairless: How about people looking to sell it?
John Crestani: Okay, people looking to sell their house… So it would be the difference between somebody looking up “What are realtors in this Houston area” versus somebody who’s actually looking for background information on “Joe Fairless listings”, or looking up that realtor’s website in their area. Because if somebody’s gonna work with a realtor and whatnot to sell their house, they do a little background searching, because they wanna make sure… “I wanna see what other listings he’s got, I wanna see some information about him, I wanna see his website”, what have you. And all you have to do – this is gonna sound bad, but basically you say “That’s somebody who’s very far along in the buying process. That’s somebody who’s about to sell their real state.” They’ve already done their research, they’ve looked up the people, the brokers or the realtors that can help them sell, and they’re just trying to make sure they made the correct decision, and they’re ready at that point… And all you need to do is basically say “Don’t work with this person, work with this other person.” That’s all you need to do. It’s very simple.
Joe Fairless: With the ads, how would you approach it in your case? Let’s just use your example – you said the most targeted you can get is targeting your competition. So what would that look like?
John Crestani: If somebody searches for Joe Schmoe, who’s a realtor in Houston – let’s say he’s a realtor in the Woodlands, which is a high-income area outside of Houston – you literally target that area, and you say “Don’t work with Joe Schmoe, work with Joe Fairless.” That’s really easy, and you can do that with a blog article, or with you can even have a customer shoot a video about that. That video will rank. If somebody shoots a video and says “Don’t work with Joe Schmoe… I talked to a lot of realtors in the Woodlands area, and Joe Fairless is your man. He sold my house, and it was fantastic. He sold it in less than 30 days, he got 25% above what I wanted to sell it for”, and that will create
leads that will be unbelievably better than if you just put up ads on bus benches.
Joe Fairless: What are your thoughts on the ethics of doing that? I’m not saying it’s unethical, but it starts in my mind raising a red flag, where you’re bashing someone and instead replacing yourself…
John Crestani: It depends on how aggressive you wanna be. In my training programs and stuff, what people do — people come to me because they want to make money, so I always start with “I just want to kind of be upfront with you and show people what is the 100% guaranteed way to get high-quality leads and make money first.” Just so your listeners know, that works unbelievably well. If you do it, it will work. But in terms of if that’s too aggressive for some of your listeners, and they wanna make money, but they wanna kind of comb things down a bit, you can 100% tone it down; instead of saying “Don’t work with this person and work with me”, you could tone it down and you could say something along the lines of “These are the realtors…” – you could have it just be a review of the realtors in the Woodlands area. Say “I talked with Joe Schmoe, I talked with Bob Schmoe, I talked with Tony Schmoe, and they all seemed like nice people. They were all great people, and Joe Schmoe is a family man, and I loved his wife, BUT I would say you should work with Joe Fairless. They’re all great people, you’re gonna make a great decision either way, but I chose to work with Joe Fairless, because he had the best track record, he had the fastest selling, he got the most listings…” – and then you go into your benefits.
The point is it’s that you still need to create that dichotomy. It’s the most surefire way to do things. Now again, you could totally target just people searching for realtors in the Woodlands, Texas. You could totally do that. It’s just not gonna make you as much money. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, I’m just saying there’s a better chance you’ll lose money; you might not make as much money. It’s fine, it’s wherever you fall in terms of how much you really wanna make.
Joe Fairless: You’re going two levels deeper, when they’ve identified someone that they’ve heard about… And excuse my ignorance on this question, but with the targeting let’s say a particular company, how do you target the people who are searching for them?
John Crestani: Let’s say I’m doing a video review on YouTube; I’m just shooting a video with my mobile phone, and I just have a customer with me and I say “Hey, can you shoot a video?” or “I’m shooting a video myself”, I would literally just make sure that person’s name is in the video title. Sorry if I’m using this aggressive example again, but I’d say “Don’t work with Joe Schmoe realtor, work with Joe Fairless, Woodlands, Texas real estate.”
In Google, if you’re doing ads, you would just select your location, you’d say “the Woodlands, Texas”, and you just type that into Google, you’d say “I want my ads to show only in North County of Houston.” So you just target the little location or the zip code in Google, and then you just type in the word “Joe Schmoe.” That’s it.
Joe Fairless: Easy enough. With YouTube, it’s really about putting the keyword in the title of the video – is that the number one thing?
John Crestani: Exactly.
Joe Fairless: Got it. Thank you for getting very specific.
John Crestani: Yeah, no worries.
Joe Fairless: I imagine some Best Ever listeners won’t go to the extreme, but I’m glad that you did go to the extreme, so that you can hold our hand and walk us back to–
John Crestani: [laughs] I didn’t even go to the extreme–
Joe Fairless: Alright, what’s the most aggressive?
John Crestani: [laughs] I got more aggressive than that.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, what is it? What’s an example?
John Crestani: [laughs] Okay… The biggest word that people use — I’m all about emotional language, because I’m a marketer… I just call the company a scam. Yeah, see? You feel that! If you’re looking to work with — let’s say you’re thinking about investing… And by the way, I love Grant Cardone; he’s somebody I follow closely, but let’s say I owned a multifamily real estate investment trust and I wanted to sell against Grant Cardone. I’d just put up an ad that said “Grant Cardone scam”, because in the back of their mind, whenever you’re dealing with large sums of money, you’re worried that that person is a scam.
Joe Fairless: Have you done that against a competitor?
John Crestani: Yeah.
Joe Fairless: That would infuriate me if I was them.
John Crestani: Keep in mind this was when I was 23, and I was hungrier than a bulldog…
Joe Fairless: But still… It doesn’t matter how hungry you are. I mean…
John Crestani: I understand. It came back to bite me in the ass, don’t worry…
Joe Fairless: Good, I’m glad it did. I appreciate the transparency nonetheless.
John Crestani: No worries, no worries. We all make mistakes, [unintelligible [00:18:04].06]
Joe Fairless: Anything else as it relates to helping the Best Ever listeners with any tactics for people who are looking to sell their house that we haven’t talked about that you wanna mention?
John Crestani: Any other tactics for people looking, you said —
Joe Fairless: For any listener who’s looking to find people who are selling their houses. Any other tactics that you wanna mention that we haven’t discussed?
John Crestani: Yeah, there are other ways you could possibly go about things… Facebook ads, obviously. My guess, from my understanding of things, when people go through life transitions like divorce, having a child, sending a child away to college – those are big moments for people from what I recall (some of your listeners might be better schooled than me) that people are looking to sell their houses… Upgrade their house when they have a kid, downgrade their house when their kid goes to college etc, and there are ways to target those sorts of people on Facebook, especially people who are divorced… You can target the relationship status etc. Those are great candidates.
Now, I wanna tell your listeners and I wanna tell you, I’m a good person. [laughter] You asked for aggressive marketing…
Joe Fairless: Yeah, you brought it. I appreciate the transparency.
John Crestani: I just wanna make a side note – there’s boundaries to everything; do what you’re comfortable with, don’t let greed get the best of you. I’m gonna tell you another tactic. I worked for one of the top multifamily realtors in Los Angeles. I’m not gonna name his name here, but he got listings easier than anybody I knew. He found those people looking to buy a place, sell their apartment buildings easier than anybody.
I’m gonna tell the tactic, I’m not gonna name his name…
Joe Fairless: I’m perking up right now, because this is my business too, so I’m very interested in this.
John Crestani: Okay. Again, this tactic is gonna bring up ethical boundaries…
Joe Fairless: [laughs] By now I’ve expected that, so…
John Crestani: I apologize, I really am a good person, I just wanna make that clear; this is not what I did, this is what some other person did, okay?
Joe Fairless: Yeah, very clear. [laughs]
John Crestani: I was just his assistant for a semester in college, and he had me helping him do this. It’s slimy, but it works… It worked too well. I’ll go into it.
This guy – he was young (in his thirties), it was insane. I don’t know his exact numbers, but he was one of the top guys; he had a multi-multi-million-dollar penthouse in L.A., he had a private driver… He had the whole nine yards, and he got leads very easy. What he did — oh, god, I feel so slimy going into this. Okay guys, remember, disclaimer – I’m a good person, I didn’t do this. But what he did was in L.A. a lot of the people who own multifamily real estate — he particularly focused on multifamily in mid-city L.A. and downtown etc. A lot of the people were rich, old Jewish people, and they predominantly live in… Oh, and also Koreans – old Korean families. The Koreans have done extremely well as an immigrant group in America, and they own a lot of multifamily buildings. Not to be demographic here or whatever, but Asians really love real estate; that’s where they wanna put their money, as opposed to the stock market, in general; at least the older families do.
So he would get the newspaper from Beverly Hills and from Korea Town and he would look at the obituary section. And what we did was we would look at people who recently passed away in Beverly Hills and in Korea Town and other expensive zip codes… And it wasn’t ever a long list of people each week. It wasn’t insurmountable. Beverly Hills is a fairly small area, but what we would do is I would run them through some sort of — I think it was called LexisNexis…
Joe Fairless: Yup.
John Crestani: …and basically look up to see if they owned any real estate – he focused on multifamily – and see which property they owned etc. That actually worked fairly well, because what happened is you’d have their family members, who are, let’s say their dad passed away and their family member was 60-something years old, their dad owns this eight million dollar building along Wilshire in mid-city L.A., and guess what they wanna do with that?
Joe Fairless: Sell it.
John Crestani: They wanna sell it, and their family member just passed away… So what he would do is basically he’d have me get all the information and what have you, and he’d basically call them up and he’d be the guy, and he’d say whatever he would say; sometimes he would be slimier than other times, but it worked. It worked very well, obviously, because he was one of the top sellers.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, and that’s a fairly common tactic. Maybe not now, because I don’t know — I guess there is still an obituary in the newspaper, but I guess I just don’t get one anymore… But there’s estate sales and things where people reach out to the families and have very challenging conversations with them, but that tends to be a way that people get leads, especially with single-family homes and wholesalers. Thanks for sharing that, though.
The thing about our conversation is these are experiences that you’ve had that have had an effective result. Whether or not we choose to partake in them is one thing, or a certain degree of them…
John Crestani: I’m not advocating any of this stuff, I’m just letting people know everything I’m talking about is legal and it works… But it’s easy. So that’s actually a normal tactic?
Joe Fairless: Normal? I don’t know about normal, but it’s not the first time I’ve heard it. But as far as the real estate, I mean, it is such a small world, and a lot of people know each other, especially when you get into the larger stuff. If I were to do something like the scam thing, holy cow!
John Crestani: You don’t need to use that word; that word is going overboard. You can tone it down a bunch of levels, but the word “scam” is emotional language, in general. Frankly, I hate it too, because I sell educational products, I sell training programs, and the thing I hate the most is – the problem with the internet is everybody has an opinion, and now I’m on the other side of it and people will say “I’m annoyed by all of John’s YouTube ads. He’s a scam!”, it’s like “How do you know me? You saw an ad that annoyed you and now you’re calling me a scam? How does that work out? I’m sorry if I offended you with my advertisement that was talking about freedom and talking about working for yourself, but that doesn’t mean you can go on the internet and say I’m a scam”, but that’s what people do, and unfortunately, that’s what people wanna read.
If somebody sees ten results on a page when they search for my name, and even if the result “John Crestani is a scam” is at the bottom and has no proof or no backing or no credibility to it and the person didn’t even look through my training program or get to know who I am, that’s gonna be the result people click on the most, because it incites the most emotions.
Joe Fairless: John, we’ve gotta wrap this up. How can the Best Ever listeners get in touch with you?
John Crestani: If people wanna learn more about me, they can go to my website, JohnCrestani.com, or add me on YouTube. Again, my name is John Crestani. Great talking with you, Joe.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, and the link to your website will be in the show notes page, so Best Ever listeners, you can go check that out.
Thanks for being on the show, thanks for telling us some stories that have worked with you (or with people you know) in the past, and just being incredibly transparent with what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the approach.
John, thanks so much for being on the show. I hope you have a Best Ever weekend, and we’ll talk to you soon.
John Crestani: See ya, thanks!