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Alex:

Hey everyone. This is Alex and Mike from Sage Digital Agency here today with Mr. Anthony Knight. He’s the golden Knight of real estate. He’s with Platinum Real Estate Professionals here in Las Vegas. Anthony has been in the real estate business since he began buying and rehabbing properties at 19 years of age. He has literally seen it all in the real estate business. He’s a thought leader and influencer in the real estate world, traveling and speaking about real estate and marketing techniques across the country. Anthony, thank you very much for joining us today. We love to have you.

Anthony Knight:

Well, thanks for having me and I appreciate the nice intro. It’s all by default.

Alex:

What do you mean by that?

Anthony Knight:

Just the way things happened for me in the real estate industry. I actually, like you’d mentioned, I’d started buying and rehabbing properties when I was about 19 and I actually I had another job at the time. I worked in a paper mill for paper manufacturing company, working four 12 hour shifts in a row, two days and two graveyards. And then I had four days off. So on my four days off, living in a smaller community and stuff, there wasn’t much to do other than recreational activities. So I got into the kind of more of a hobby of buying properties, rehabbing them. At the time, we didn’t even use the word flat, but that came along later, but also buying investment properties, to hold as rentals. And then fast forwarding ahead. I started my real estate career here in Las Vegas as working with the public as a licensed realtor in 2009, which was an interesting time because we were right in the heart of the recession.

And so that was after a failed restaurant venture for me. I really didn’t know what I was going to do on life. And I definitely knew at that point I didn’t want to go punch another time clock ever again because I did that for 15 years, starting in high school. Started in ’09 and found that I was in a market where there was nothing but foreclosures and short sales. And so as a new agent, those accounts with the banks and the attorneys how to hold a short sales.. There wasn’t much in regards to sellers. And so I went heavily after buyers at the time.

Alex:

And then fast forward now a little bit over a decade, and I mean Anthony, you’re one of the top real estate agents in Las Vegas undoubtedly. Cannot go from point A to point B without seeing your advertisements across Las Vegas. So you’ve really built a tremendous business in that time and it’s been a lot of fun from my perspective. I can speak for myself and Michael being involved in that from a web development perspective, from an ongoing marketing perspective, it’s been a tremendous blessing to work together with you.

Anthony Knight:

Well, and it’s all been through digital marketing. So when I say by default, so in ’09 I worked at a Century 21 office and ended up being the top producer there in my first year. But what happened back then was, like I said, I had to focus on working with buyers. Prices were really low and they were coming in from mostly out of state and out of the country. And so my broker at the time had a yellow page ad, full page, and we would get calls with the office. And in about the first six months I did really well converting those leads but it dawned on me one day, and this was really, I had no experience at all. I mean, I was probably one of the last people to have a Facebook account to be honest, but at that time I thought, gosh, all these buyers are coming in from other places.

Everybody in Vegas is losing their home. People are coming in from other places with cash and buying them up. Where do I get these people? And I thought, gosh, they’re Googling home searches. They’re Googling Las Vegas foreclosures, Las Vegas homes for sale, Summerlin homes, all of this stuff. And I was fortunate really right then at about the end of 2009 to find a guy by the name of Howard who founded a company called Tiger Lead that was later sold to realtor.com for millions but he was getting into pay per click campaigns and attached to it was a dashboard which now really was what we referred to more as a CRM. Those have come a long way.

I started through vendors and resources because I have to focus on a good real estate agent, right? I can’t really be a marketing guy and I was able to find the right partners as in fast forwarding to you guys, but we started generating leads and now I have about 70,000 people in my database that we manage on a daily basis by… It was all through digital marketing eventually became social media marketing too, but really putting those leads in a good database and staying in front of them indefinitely. And that’s basically translated for me into a team of six agents that produces about 300 transactions a year. So my top agent as an example, did 61 transactions last year and the average realtor nationwide does about 11. We’ve never done an open house. We’ve never door knocked. We’ve never cold called.

Alex:

It seems that the strategies of old, right, it’s unnecessary. I mean, I’ve heard you say that in past conversations. It’s the whole idea of presenting as an open house or doing some of those tactics that maybe in the past used to work well has totally transformed into a digital landscape to get in front of the right people, get your listings in front of the right buyers, et cetera as opposed as I said to tactics that worked decades before.

Anthony Knight:

It worked then because the information wasn’t there for the consumer like it is today. We have to remember too, I remind other real estate agents because a lot of them are, I don’t know if apprehensive is the right word, but resistant to this change, but we have to remember we just celebrated what I think it’s been almost a year ago now, the 30th anniversary of the worldwide web. It’s taken some time, and in my industry there’s still… I would say the majority of the realtors that aren’t adopting these philosophies, they don’t want to change. It’s a level of comfort and it’s intimidation I think, especially when they’re looking at learning a CRM or any type of digital platform at all. They don’t know where to go. They don’t always have the funds for the ad spin, but I started out in 2009 with a $1,200 a month budget, which was a lot for me at the time. Being new in the industry and having to recover from the recession or still being it in really, but I started with a $1,200 marketing budget total. Now it hovers around almost 30,000.

Alex:

I’m particularly impressed with the amount of people you have in your database, and I really, really just think that that is a tremendous thing that you did. It was very important for you to recognize that early on and leverage everything that you were doing to funnel all of these people into one place and then again, be able to be top of mind so that, look, this person that got an email from you tomorrow, maybe they’re not interested in buying or selling right at this moment, but who knows if their family member is. Who knows what’s going on in six months from now, and if you get ahead of them and get something in front of them and some frequency, it seems like when the time comes, they’re going to say, “Oh, I remember I got that email from Anthony Knight or his group.” I think that’s tremendous.

Anthony Knight:

Just about any business, but real estate especially is based on having as many conversations as you possibly can, right? And so there’s been dozens, maybe even hundreds now of leads that we’ve generated that we never even met to have the opportunity to do a transaction with. But we get a call from somebody three years later that says, “Hey, so-and-so referred you” and we’re going, who’s that? And we’d look in the… Oh okay, yeah, that, huh. Okay, well good. You had enough conversations with them. But real estate really is that there’s three components I see to have to be successful. They’re not in any order, but it’s knowledge, effort and relationships. That’s the base.

Michael:

So you said something pretty spot on that I find that when I have conversations with people in the real estate industry who are looking to get into the marketing side of their business, they’re so focused on the email or whatever it is, but it’s all focused around contacts, not the conversations. It really is all about the conversations and being able to sort of tie that back into a relationship. Whereas someone who’s solely focused on either buying a list of phone numbers or lists of email addresses and then feeding it into whatever email platform that they use and then they can’t figure out why they don’t get any sort of response or an ROI out of the email that they sent on day one.

Anthony Knight:

The email drips are important, but the email drips are going to become redundant and the other side of it is you’ve got to have that. You still have to have that conversation and so the key to converting, there’s lots of statistics on this, and I ran my own analytics too, but the key to converting a lead that registers on your website, because they’re a warm lead too at that point, right? They took the liberty to put in their information, their name, their phone number, their email. If it’s all correct, which most of the time it is nowadays because there’s systems filters you can set to where they can’t receive listing alerts if… There are CRMs that do a reverse look up, verify the phone number, boom. Right.

The key is you’ve got a call that lead within the first five minutes of receiving it and you’re receiving it in real time, and the reason why is because that person is in the moment, they’re in the mood at that particular time to look at real estate so you’re not annoying them. They’re a warm lead and that’s their moment. If you wait, a lot of agents, 40% of internet leads don’t even ever get clicked on or opened in the CRM at all and you have to make several calls, but making that first initial call right away is important because if you wait until the next day, or even if you wait three hours later, they might be at the grocery store, cooking dinner, or at their kid’s soccer game or at work or who knows.

Alex:

Or worse, they would have already contacted a competitor of yours.

Anthony Knight:

That happens definitely too. Speed to action is also very important, especially when you’re spending the dollars to generate.

Alex:

What I’m hearing, Anthony as well, is that you’re really taking to account the lifetime value of this particular customer. You’re not looking at maybe a listing fee that you’re doing a one off, but that it’s a relationship. Who knows the referrals that will coming from it and you are willing to invest the money upfront in order to generate that traffic to the website, start a conversation, get them into your system, speak to them over the course of whatever the period they need in order to get comfortable with you. And again, add them to the ecosystem so to speak.

Anthony Knight:

Well, yeah, building a solid database to me, I mean there’s a high dollar value on it at the end of the day. If it’s complete and operated properly, and especially in this industry, the database to me is the biggest asset I have in my business by far. Then we get into billboard, radio and TV, but we’re still using digital marketing as a piggyback because I’ve realized that billboards all over town and on the freeways and wherever, that people are very likely going to see the message but not catch the phone number, not be able to remember it. Definitely not write it down and probably not call that minute, but when they’re going down the I-15 at 80 miles an hour, they’re not catching a lot of times, even the website either. We know that through our print marketing and other avenues that we’re still capturing them through Google because they’re Googling the keywords of our message on the billboard and then they’re pressing the call button on their phone.

Alex:

Yes. In fact…

Anthony Knight:

They probably will never know the phone number.

Alex:

That’s true. Yeah, and look in fact, that’s how you and I met. I saw one of the billboards and I can’t remember if I remember the site or not, but I went to Google, put in whatever I remembered, found you, and that’s the relationship started.

Anthony Knight:

I really just kind of made this up. I really have… There’s no way for me to, I guess, know if this is the right number, but what I adopted was whatever 25% of the billboard cost is, I spend on digital marketing. All billboard costs are different. It depends on where they’re at, but if one’s $1,000, I’m spending 250 on digital marketing, so if one’s two grand, I’m spending 500 for that particular site. So you got to kind of add that into your costs in a sense because we know that’s how they’re finding us ultimately from that billboard ad. They’re going to Google first and they’re probably visiting our website for a few minutes definitely. And then they’re either registering or they’re calling us directly. So last year we had just under 300 listing calls and our conversion rate was 22% and that’s been pretty steady for about the last three years in a row. We’ve hovered around 21 and a half to 22%.

Michael:

You’ve obviously been in the space for a while and you have the resources both financially and operationally. If I was a real estate agent and I was trying to get started today in the business as far as sort of creating the strategy, what would you recommend would be the timeline or the roadmap, if you will?

Anthony Knight:

Well, I think you’ve got to look at it as a business and so it would be similar to starting any other business. You have to have a budget. You have to have funds available somehow to start campaigns and you hire, in my opinion, Sage and you have a nice website built and you have a budget for ads and you run them into a good CRM. And from there you follow the rules of whatever CRM company is, will give you guidance, how many calls you should make, what kind of drip campaigns you set up whichever one they are and you should listen to them because they know their platform and they know what works. Really. That’s where you go. It’s simple but it’s not easy. It’s definitely not that complicated.

Alex:

One of the biggest takeaways I take from what you’re saying too is that people need to look at whatever the marketing budget is, not as an expense. At the end of the day, the phone is not going to ring magically because you just throw a website up. Nobody’s going to come to your website without marketing dollars that are attributed to that. And therefore it’s not an expense, it’s an investment in your business that you then need to get reporting on and make sure that things are what they are. I mean, just the fact that you know your exact percentages, it shows that you look at the data and you know exactly the dollar, what $1 in should net you at the end hypothetically. So I think that that’s very good.

Anthony Knight:

Well, yeah, you nailed it too. I mean, you can have the most beautiful website in the world, but if you’re not driving or doing something or consulting with somebody to drive traffic to it, it’s like having basically a Ferrari without an engine. You set a budget and you follow the rules and make the calls and it works. And we know too, by the way, like you said, it’s an investment. So we know that our ROI typically for years now, it’s never really changed. It’s been somewhere in the 400% rate.

Michael:

I’d love to dive in a little bit further about the CRM. I think a lot of agents who don’t really know where to start, the website and the paid search ads, we have several podcasts on the on that, but as far as what an agent should look for in a CRM, what would you suggest? Integrations, how it plays with the website, phone tracking?

Anthony Knight:

Definitely and they’re all, there’s a lot of them nowadays that are pretty similar and they’re like rocket ships basically. You can do just about anything you can think of as far as the dialer that’s built in and everything else. I do always say the best CRM is the one you use because that’s a problem in our industry. A lot of agents have taken the step to subscribe to a platform and they pay for it every month, but they don’t really use it or don’t use it properly. But what you’re really looking for is obviously something that can integrate with whatever your type of lead gen you’re doing, which is pretty much all of them. Most of them will have a API code and beyond that, then you’re looking at is it user friendly? Especially if you’re going to have a team and train them on it.

It’s got to be fairly simple to use and not too complicated. But the one I use is called Rocket Agent. It’s great. What I love about it, there’s so many aspects, but it grades us from an A to an F on our performance based on the followups that were sent and whether or not we made them, because it’ll set automatic follow ups based on what you click on for the conversation you had. Like if they say, “I’m ready in six months” you’ve clicked that, but it’s going to schedule a follow up in 60 days just because a lot of times they’ll tell you six months and we call them three months or six months later and they bought. But also the dialer, the auto dialer that’s built in and it records incoming and outbound calls for the lead. So that’s really good from a team management perspective that I can listen in on the conversations that my agents have had and coach them. So there’s a whole bunch of other things to do back end for escrow management and lender management side as well. So I recommend Rocket Agent, but there’s some other good ones too. Follow up boss is a good one as well and down the line.

Michael:

I’ve seen a lot of these platforms that they call themselves CRMs, but it’s really they do websites, they do marketing, they do… They’ll sell you leads. What are your thoughts about those?

Anthony Knight:

An agent can subscribe. You can buy leads from Zillow or Commissions Inc. or Boom Town. There’s a lot of them that have the CRM built in with your account. They’re good CRMs too. They’re charging you to generate those leads. So you’re going to pay a heavy licensing fee, typically about 12 to 1500 a month, and then you’re going to have to pay for your ad spend too. So I think it’s better to subscribe to a CRM outside of that because the other problem is if you get tied in with one of these lead gen systems, if you ever want to leave them, you lose your CRM. So you go subscribe to a Follow Up Boss or Rocket for 100 bucks a month and you hire a consultant to do your ad spend and run your leads right into the CRM and you’re going to be able to get almost twice the ad spin because you’re not going to be paying a $1,500 a month licensing fee.

Michael:

Makes a lot of sense. I mean, you don’t want to get tied in with a product and then you’re sort of strong armed into losing the website, losing your CRM, losing all your data rights.

Anthony Knight:

Right. You’ll lose the website too. Yeah. Have your own website, get a third party CRM and hire a digital marketing consultant to manage your site and do your ad spin and you’re going to be able to get more for your money for sure.

Alex:

One point about that that I’d like to interject is it’s all about hiring the right company. Again, one can go and open a Google ads account and have a budget, a significant budget, but if it’s not watched, if it’s not looked at properly, you’re going to be paying for clicks for listing homes in someplace that you’re not even licensed.

Anthony Knight:

And we both know I’ve been in that situation. Right.

Alex:

I’m wasn’t going to say that, but…

Anthony Knight:

Yeah, I’ve been in that situation more than once.

Alex:

Yes. It’s not a good situation, so it’s very, very important to ensure that whomever has that oversight, it will be worth whatever you pay them in order simply to ensure that your ad spend is not being thrown away out the window. As I always say, it’s like throwing money out of the window of a car.

Anthony Knight:

Right.

Michael:

One thing I want to touch on with this CRM, I mean, I, over the years seeing all these integrations with the websites and the ad campaigns and the tracking, one thing that I’ve found independent CRMs that are not really linked to websites or lead generations themselves, I find them to be much more intuitive, much better CRMs that you can actually take real data in and get real actionable insights out of as opposed to some sort of a solution that might be a little more bulky.

Anthony Knight:

Yeah, absolutely.

Michael:

One point that you touched on are the email sequences and the followups. Where do you get these emails? Are they provided by the CRMs? Is it something that you write?

Anthony Knight:

Yes. No.

Michael:

Do you have somebody write them?

Anthony Knight:

You can do both. You can edit them if you want, but the CRMs come with all kinds of marketing campaigns built in just about any situation you can think of.

Alex:

Yeah, that’s very convenient because I can imagine that an agent may be feeling that they’re kind of stagnant these days. Don’t know what direction to go, you ask them to write content for email follow up. They’re going to look at you like “are you crazy? I had no clue how to even start that.” So that’s what-

Anthony Knight:

Well, you set it once on the campaign and they’re scheduled out on and auto fills the person’s name and the emails are well written and look like you actually sat down and took the time to write it, but it’s based on if they say they’re six months out or a year out or working with another agent or just looking or they’re a seller, whatever it is, there’s tons of them.

Michael:

I’ve been doing email marketing for probably 12 years and over the years, I mean all the new tools come out, different algorithms as far as sending times and a whole bunch of tools to make your email perform better, have sort of really evolved email. And emails still for many of our clients are some of the top performing channels just because it’s so directed. You can get personal, you can send the right message to the right person at the right time and it really works out. However, one channel that I see very underutilized, that’s somewhat new, there are regulations, so it has to be used correctly is SMS or text message marketing? Have you dabbled with it before? Is it something that you’ve seen other agents use?

Anthony Knight:

We do that as well, but that’s also built into the CRM.

Michael:

And how do you find it works when you start text messaging clients?

Anthony Knight:

We get about a 20% contact, I guess capture rate. About 20% will respond. It’s worth it. We’re also dipping in, I mean gosh, this is something I could go on for three more hours about this if you wanted really, I mean there’s so much, but we’re also using a lot of AI now, artificial intelligence and so we’re finding that the AI is having a more successful conversation with the lead than I would myself if I was sitting there responding. It’s sending out the text, they respond and it’s a conversation. In some cases, by the time the conversation ends, they’re looking for a specific type of property and they’re ready to be referred to a lender and they want to go out and look this weekend. Ours even had picked up on one said, “I am sorry, can’t talk right now. I’m at a funeral.: And it responded, “I’m so sorry for your loss. I apologize for bothering you at this time. There’s a convenient time for you to speak” whatever, and the lead of course, texted back and said, “thank you so much. Yeah, call me on Wednesday.”

Alex:

Anthony. Look, as you’ve said, we could talk for hours about this. It’s a fascinating subject. I think that any agent, frankly, should listen to this podcast, get the insights from you as somebody that has been doing this for such a long time. I really enjoyed having you on here. If there’s ever a time that you’re available again to do a deeper dive, maybe into particular segments of what we talked about today, we would certainly love to do that. We really, really appreciate you joining us today.

Anthony Knight:

Well, really anytime, guys.

Michael:

Thank you so much.