Why is your business remarkable? What are you doing differently that gives you a competitive advantage? Why should customers trust you over someone else? These are foundational elements that every entrepreneur should consider.
Today, I am talking to John Ray, formerly of Inspect & Cloud and now part of the DoorGrow team. John is a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) expert who helps property management entrepreneurs grow revenue and attract new customers.
[01:27] Internet Marketing: Seeking clarity, relevance, and truth through so much noise.
[01:57] Seed Program: Training purpose of DoorGrowSecrets, not SEO.
[03:38] Keywords and Rankings: Transparency and truth, not tricks, deliver value.
[05:29] Can authority and expertise be effectively and successfully outsourced?
[07:35] Deliverables and Outcomes: Steps in purpose-driven SEO content process.
[10:00] Who are we in-service to? Don’t write directly to a search engine.
[11:25] Micromanagement Culture: Solopreneur businesses get stuck at 200-400 doors.
[14:20] SEO’s Place in Property Management: Communicate authority in community to make conversions.
[18:00] Does SEO make sense, right now? Do the right things at the right time.
Jason: Welcome, DoorGrow Hackers, to the DoorGrow Show. If you are a property management entrepreneur that wants to add doors, make a difference, increase revenue, help others, impact lives, and you are interested in growing your business and life, and you are open to doing things a bit differently, then you are a DoorGrow Hacker.
DoorGrow Hackers love the opportunities, daily variety, unique challenges, and freedom that property management brings. Many in real estate think you’re crazy for doing it, you think they’re crazy for not, because you realize that property management is the ultimate high-trust gateway to real estate deals, relationships, and residual income.
At DoorGrow, we are on a mission to transform property management businesses and their owners. We want to transform the industry, eliminate the BS, build awareness, change the perception, expand the market, and help the best property management entrepreneurs win. I’m your host, property management growth expert Jason Hull, the founder and CEO of DoorGrow. Now, let’s get into the show.
I’ve got a very special guest today. He’s been on the show before, Jon Ray. John, welcome.
Jon: Hey, thanks for having me.
Jason: Yeah. I think we’re getting to a point now in terms of internet marketing and the internet where there’s so much noise. People are looking for clarity, they’re looking for things to be succinct. They’re not looking for paragraphs and paragraphs of keyword targeted content. They’re looking for relevancy. They’re looking for the truth. That’s a great way to stand out.
Going back before, you talked about a business having a higher purpose. This is one of the things we focus on expressly in the seed program. We have a training called Purpose Secrets. I think it is the most important training in the program but it’s not what people come to us for. They don’t say, “Hey, I really like this.” Once they get into it or want this, that’s one of the most impactful things they can do—have a clear set of values, have a clear set of purpose behind what they do, and be able to relate that. It creates trust. That’s ultimately what the website’s job is to do, to create trust. Trust is what closes deals. Not tricking people.
We also have city keyword landing pages and neighborhood keyword landing pages that will help the client I’m with input into the site to capture those longer tail keywords instead of just trying to focus on the main one market big, giant keyword. These are all things that we’ve thought about in our program to build out into, to prime the pond and get them started with all of these. It all helps with SEO but the program was never designed just for SEO. It’s designed to create trust. It’s designed to please people.
The side effect is that some of our clients get rankings on some of these pages. Ultimately, for me, the most important thing was always if somebody lands on the page–whether it’s through them doing prospecting, or going to real estate meetup group, or they handout a card, word of mouth, or whatever that is. If somebody goes to that page, it sells people on trusting them, and them being trustworthy rather than trying to manipulate Google and trick them into showing people the page.
Jon: Right. There’s a level of transparency, honesty, and alignment with truth that comes to actually delivering value versus just writing articles to hack the system. That means that in the customer’s mind, maybe you’re cutting corners on other things. To a certain extent, especially if someone knows the techniques that you’re using and knows that you’re just trying to manipulate the system, it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.
One of the things that you can do to deliver real value and to understand both what your customer wants and what Google is looking for, what the search engine’s are looking for, is type in the keyword phrase that you want to rank for. Then search the web the way that your prospects are searching the web. Open all 10 of those websites and actually read the content on all 10 of those websites. Then take all that content in your mind, or have whoever’s writing your content look at those 10 posts.
For instance, for the neighborhood-specific pages that I was talking about, let’s say you want to rank for property management Far West to Austin. You would write an article. First, you would type in “property management Far West, Austin ” into Google. You would see what Google thinks the experts and authority in that particular keyword phrase look like. You read all of the pages on page one of Google, you take notes at the type of things that are in those posts.
Then, you approach your article and you say, “How can I summarize everything that I felt was valuable in these articles?” Then, you go above and beyond to deliver value. If you can effectively do that for every single keyword, then Google will start to see you as the authority but it takes more time. It means that you just can’t outsource this to somebody in another country. You have to have somebody who actually understands that neighborhood, who actually understands what’s valuable to property owners in that neighborhood, and who knows how to properly amalgamate all of that content that your competition is putting out, then rewrite it in a way that provides even more value while still answering all the same questions.
Jason: I love it.
Jon: The foundational elements are always asking yourself why is my business remarkable? What are we doing that’s different? What are our competitive advantages? Why should people trust me over the other 10 people on page one of Google? Most of the time, when you click through the top 10 results for any search term, the website is not aligned with any kind of value structure. They don’t really have a competitive advantage statement that they’re clearly communicating. That leaves a huge advantage for anyone who is purpose-driven, is showing up in the community in an interesting way to differentiate, and to be able to charge more money.
The interesting thing about aligning yourself with integrity is that when you’re aligned with integrity, people will pay more money for your services.
Jason: The higher the level of trust, the lower the level of price sensitivity. It’s been proven. As a property manager, if you’re listening to this, if you’re constantly butting up against people that are price sensitive, you have a trust problem or you’re targeting the wrong audience. You’re targeting the worst list price—the most price sensitive people which are probably the people that you’re getting through cold leads that don’t trust you. You get a word of mouth, high trust, referral, they’re way less price sensitive.
Jon: It’s such a vague statement to say, “Yeah, you need to be purpose-driven.” Maybe we could talk a little bit about what that looks like in practicality, and some steps maybe someone could take without giving away all the Purpose Secrets in the DoorGrow seed program. I do think that it’s important for somebody to be able to unpack that word “purpose” and understand what does that actually mean.
Jason: Some of the deliverables and outcomes that our clients end up with—they may not make sense to people just listening to this call—they end up with a personal why statement which is where they’re getting really clear on why they’re doing what they’re doing. That’s a really difficult thing for people to figure out.
I have some really cool processes that I take people through. I came to that conclusion for myself. Then we figure out what the purpose is for their business so that they have a very succinct mission statement that people can actually remember which means it’s not some b*llsh*t piece of document that is like huge paragraphs of stuff that nobody ever looks at and never uses. Nobody on the team, if you ask them, “What’s our mission statement?” Nobody will be able to say it. We want something real that is memorable.
Then, we get into creating a client-centric mission where you’re getting really clear on your target audience—who you want. You don’t want every client. If you’re in the space right now where you’re trying to take on anybody, and anybody you talk to you think you need to try and get them on, you’re in a very uncomfortable, probably negative, space running your business right now. You probably have operational costs that are far higher than they should be because you’re taking on people that you probably shouldn’t be taking on.
That’s another thing. We get them really clear on who they want to serve and how they want to serve them. This keeps the business focused, aligned. As they’re doing planning, they can challenge it against this measuring stick, so to speak. Whether they’re still in alignment with their values.
Jon: I want to pause you real quick there. You’re moving quickly through this. I really want to focus on something that you said. Whether you’re running a PPC campaign or pay per click campaign, whether you’re doing SEO or whether you’re just trying to determine how to make your business remarkable, which is then going to add fuel to whatever fire you’re trying to soak.
The one question that I think is important to answer is who are we in service to? That is going to help align all of your content. You don’t own a right to a search engine. The worst thing that you can do for a SEO is write directly to Google. Google doesn’t care about your business, Google isn’t your customer. What you want to do, and this could be a tangible exercise that somebody could take away from this podcast, is at the top of a sheet of paper, write, “Who are we in service to?” Then answer that question as many times as you can.
Now, hang that over your computer or give it to the person who is creating your content. You should write all of your SEO articles, or any article or marketing or advertising campaign that you should write should be written as a love letter to the people that you wrote—that you put on that list. If you will do that and just make that small shift in perspective where all your content is targeted towards the people you’re in service to, your campaigns will convert better.
Jason: Yeah, I like it.
Some of the other things we get into than finding the values of the company, everything to create the right culture. One of the challenges I see—and I guess we’re gravitating out of SEO here—is that property managers, businesses, tend to fall apart when they get to about 200-400 doors. This is a really painful category for property management business owners because they are operating still as a solopreneur, mindset-wise. They now have a team usually that they built around them without culture, without clarity and purpose, and without clarity and vision.
That means they haven’t attracted the leaders that support them and make their lives easier. They basically got a pile of people that they need to micromanage and tell what to do. They’re trying to force trust through the veins of their company. It’s a painful place to be in. It gets more and more challenging. As they approach 400-500 units, most property management business owners are massively stressed out. That’s silly because if you build a team the right way, your life and your day to day should get easier and easier with every person that you add. You’re just doing it wrong.
When we talk about the seed program being the ultimate foundation, it not only is a foundation to be able to eventually do SEO type work properly. It’s a foundation for culture for their business so that they don’t get stuck in that second sandtrap of 200-400 doors. They’re unable to grow because they built the wrong team and they don’t have culture. They’re held back and they can’t expand.
Jon: Yeah. I’ll bring that back to SEO. What you’re talking about is being able to build a little space between the business and the visionary. The visionary entrepreneur should be able to focus on developing thought leadership and authority in the community with a powerful team full of integrity that can take any assignments that are put in there. At some point, some of that thought leadership and authority has to be extracted so that the team has it for use.
One exercise that you can do as a delegation management tool so that you’re not having to optimize your website yourself is find somebody in your office who can help you compile the most important questions that your prospects—those people that you’re in service to—have. Just informally have someone in your office interview you as the authority and thought leader, ask you those questions, and record it. This video does not have to go online because I know a lot of people are afraid of video, they’re afraid of putting themselves out there. This audio is just going to be internal unless you want it to be a public piece.
The value of this is that now, this person in your office has a recorded response of how you would guide a prospect or someone you’re in service to through a particular question. They can transcribe that and use that as the foundational basis for creating a really compelling piece of content.
I think that SEO definitely has a place in the property management industry. It’s definitely a way to communicate your thought leadership and your expertise and to show up in your local community with authority which will then allow you to convert at a much higher level whether you’re doing PPC, SEO, or just bringing in organic leads because you’re remarkable.
The exercises, I guess, that I would send somebody home with is one, any keyword that you want to rank for, any keyword phrase that you want to rank for, go and type it into Google right now. Open the 10 pages that are on page one of Google. See what kind of content Google thinks is valuable around that searchphrase. Then think about how you can essentially summarize all of the key points that Google thinks that are important in your own words, adding your own level of expertise, and authority. Then go above and beyond delivering even more value. That’s a really good way to think about creating content.
Two, at the top of the sheet of a paper, write, “Who am I inservice to?” Make a list of all the people that you want to be in service to. All of your content should be written as a love letter to those people because if you’re speaking to them and just pick one on the list and write it as a personal letter to that one person, it’s really difficult to write content to a group of people. But if you can identify customer avatars, someone on that list of people that you want to be in service to, act like you’re writing a letter to them. Your content will be digested so much better. It will resonate at a more emotional level.
Then three, think about some of the longer tail keywords. Instead of thinking that the only thing you need to be writing content for is this top level city name, then property management. Instead, think about some of the longertail things, the neighborhoods that you can rank for, the value that you can deliver on a page by talking about some of the landmarks, businesses, problems that you know are happening in that neighborhood, and how you’re going to show up as the authority in that neighborhood.
If you can do those three things, that alone will put you lightyears ahead of where most people are creating their SEO from. If you are working with an SEO professional, make sure that before they start doing the competitive analysis on what the other people who are ranking on page one are doing. If one of your competitors has 65,000 inbound links and really, really, solid content, it’s going to be very difficult to knock them out of the number one spot no matter how much money you spend on content creation. Before you even start paying someone to write articles, they need to do a competitive analysis to see if it even makes sense for you to invest in SEO.
There are some local markets that somebody over the last three years may have spent $40,000 on content creation. That likely means that you’re going to have to make a similar investment in order to rank number one. That $40,000 might be better spent somewhere else and provide more value if you invest it into making your business remarkable.
Jason: Love it. To go back to the original question, am I anti-SEO? I’m not. We built our business on SEO. We have good rankings for different things. We get customers all the time that find us on Google. I’m a fan of people doing what works. I feel like everybody should do the right things at the right time in their business, not doing the wrong things prematurely with hopes of an outcome that is not achievable.
If you are at a place where you think SEO might make sense, I encourage you to reach out to our team, have a conversation with Jon, that is something we can help you with. If you feel like you want to grow and your main goal is to add doors, we’ll have a conversation with you on DoorGrow, and figure out what’s going to make the most sense for you where your business is at right now.
Jon: Yeah. I’ve had a lot of calls with property managers over the last two months about whether SEO is right for them. Almost all of them, I talked them out of SEO because it wasn’t the highest priority thing that they needed to focus on. It wasn’t going to deliver enough return on investment. What I can promise is that if you book time with me and have a conversation with me, I’ll be very transparent. I will be very honest. I will give you a clear indication of what kind of investment you’re going to have to make and how quickly you’re going to have to make that investment to make any dent in your search ranking. You will have all the information you need to decide if that’s an investment that’s worthwhile or if that money’s better spent somewhere else.
Jason: I think that’s something we have a lot of clarity at DoorGrow. We know what types of clients we want to work with. We know who we want to serve, who we want to help. We know our avatar. We know what types of clients would not be a good fit for various programs. We make clients qualify. Our main seed program, we make people apply to be part of it. We’re even talking about stepping up the requirements for that application to filter out even more people.
I think that’s the secret in having clients you love working with that get great results, that build a good reputation in the market regardless of what business you have. You are really clear on who you want to serve and you’re picky about who you take on.
Reach out and have a conversation. If you’re somebody that’s listening to this and you’re like, “I really want to grow.” Or, “I think I need SEO.” Or, “Somebody’s saying I need it.” Or, “I didn’t ever think I needed it.” Maybe you do. Reach out and have a conversation with us. Is there anything else you think, Jon, before we go?
Jon: Yeah. I’ll just say one final thing. Tagging on to what you just said, what I see in 15+ years of entrepreneurial consulting is that the entrepreneurs who are successful are the ones who are showing up in a big way in their business and actively seeking out how they can be remarkable. Almost always, when people historically call me for PPC or SEO, it’s because they’re not in integrity with themselves. They want to be able to set it and forget it. They want to be able to pay for something that’s going to grow their business without actually having to show up. It is a way for them to opt out of doing the real work that is required to be great.
What I’m interested in is working with people who want to be great and are willing to show up in that way.
Jason: Amen. On that note, Jon, I’m so glad to have you as part of the team. I’m really grateful that you’re part of DoorGrow. It’s super cool that we’re both now in Austin and able to get together. I really appreciate you being on the team and the energy that you bring to it. You just fit our culture so nicely. I just want to throw that out there publicly.
For anybody that’s listening, if you have comments about SEO, if you think we said something that was off, you’re confused, you have questions, feel free to challenge us. Feel free to ask us questions. Throw these out inside of our Facebook community, it’s a free group. We’re very careful about who we let in. You’ll have to apply to get in. You can go to the doorgrowclub.com to check out the DoorGrow Club and get into this group.
We only let property management business owners or entrepreneurs or those that are seriously considering starting a property management business into this group which keeps it clean, which keeps it very un-noisy. It’s got really high quality people. We got over 2000 property management entrepreneurs in there. It’s a fantastic group and resource. If you ever get stuck, you don’t have to be stuck. There’s lots of people who are willing to support you and help you in that group.
On that note, until next time. To our mutual growth. Bye, everyone.
Jason: You just listened to the DoorGrow Show. We are building a community of the savviest property management entrepreneurs on the planet, in the DoorGrow Club. Join your fellow DoorGrow Hackers at doorgrowclub.com.
Listen, everyone is doing the same stuff. SEO, PPC, pay-per-lead, content, social, direct mail, and they still struggle to grow. At DoorGrow, we solve your biggest challenge getting deals and growing your business. Find out more at doorgrow.com.
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