October 23, 2017

JF1147: This Is How To CORRECTLY Brand Yourself with Chris Craft

Chris says that the best thing you can do for proper branding is have good content. He’ll give you details in this episode of what kind of content to create, and how to leverage your personality and knowledge. The voice behind the content is one of the most important parts to master. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!

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Chris Craft Background:

  • Founder of content creation agency Nao Media
  • Author of The Foundation: Branding for Successful Real Estate Professionals
  • Helps real estate professionals brand themselves through written content
  • Real estate marketing and content expert
  • Based in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Say hi to him at http://www.naomedia.co/
  • Best Ever Book: The Content Code

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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? 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.

With us today, Chris Craft. How are you doing, my friend?

Chris Craft: I am doing well, Joe. Nice to be with you today.

Joe Fairless: Nice to have you on the show. A little bit about Chris – he is the founder of content creation agency Nao Media. He is the author of The Foundation: Branding For Successful Real Estate Professionals. He helps real estate professionals brand themselves through written content. He is a real estate marketing and content expert, based in hot Atlanta, Georgia. With that being said, Chris, do you wanna give the Best Ever listeners a little bit more about your background and your focus?

Chris Craft: Yes, definitely. First and foremost, I’m a follower of Jesus Christ; everyone knows that about me, and now your listeners know. I’ve been in content marketing since 2010 with the launch of Nao Media. The interesting thing about Nao Media – it’s the first three letters of our oldest daughter’s name, Naomi. When she was two, I asked her if I could borrow the first three letters of her name to start a company and she said yes, and history has been made ever since.

Joe Fairless: Did she negotiate an equity agreement with you?

Chris Craft: [laughs] I think she’s in good position for that.

Joe Fairless: Okay, there you go.

Chris Craft: I’m two-times published in terms of being an author. The first book that I wrote was published in 2013 and it’s called “OPEN Routine: Four Components To Personal Branding Excellence.” Now I’ve taken that personal branding niche and hyper-focused it on real estate with the second book, that you mentioned, The Foundation.

Joe Fairless: Got it. Okay, so let’s talk about branding ourselves as real estate professionals. Before we get into the specifics, why should we care about this as real estate professionals?

Chris Craft: Because anytime you leave your home or the four walls of your office, you’re presenting your brand to the world, with you wanting to do so or not. Anytime you present yourself, whether it’s to the teller at a checkout line or to a prospect that you’re trying to help sell a home to them, your brand is on display. It’s one of those ingrained things, it’s your God-given identity put on display and you can’t avoid it; that’s why I harp on it so much, because every single one of us have a brand, whether we like it or not.

Joe Fairless: That is very true, we do have a brand whether we like it or not… It’s just, are we thoughtful about it and our approach to make sure that we are really presenting what is truly authentic to ourselves and putting ourselves and the brand in the best light… So how do we do that?

Chris Craft: You hit the nail on the head, Joe. The way you do that, in human terms, is being comfortable with yourself and being truly authentic. You hit the nail on the head with that word ” authentic”. People who are transparent – and I’m not saying transparent to a fault, but people who put themselves on display in a way that people can know more about you, more than the person who’s trying to do business with you, the more comfortable they are with you.

I like to focus on web presence, so the first way to start that is with your web presence, right? And not giving people a canned representation of you. Taking the time to write a really good bio for your static About Me page, taking the time to really bring yourself through social media by letting people know more about you than just your listings, and then also taking the next step and putting out helpful content to people, that lets people know that you have domain knowledge and you’re an authority on a specific niche within the real estate industry.

Joe Fairless: How do we go about writing the content? What are some tips that you have?

Chris Craft: Can I be transparent right here, first and foremost?

Joe Fairless: I hope you’re transparent all the time, baby.

Chris Craft: [laughs] 95% of agents don’t have time to write their own content; I’m just upfront, and that’s why my agency does so well. One of my best and most trafficked blog posts is “Stop Blogging. Let Me Do It!” That’s not to be overly salesy, it’s just the reality. If you’re not out there trying to create deals, then your business won’t go, and I think many of us can agree with that. But if you are in that 5% of the people who are able to do their own content, start by doing the brain dump, seeing who you are… I would say concentrate 20% of your content on letting people know who you are and how unique you are and your value prop, and then do the remaining 80% on being helpful with people who are looking to buy or sell within your specific neighborhoods that you cover.

I’d say the first place to start is to do a topic dump. That’s always where I start after I engage a client. I get specific keywords from them, I get a sense of their voice, and that’s a whole “patented process” that we have, to nail the voice of our client. After all that is done, we literally do a topic dump and we take these topics back to the client to have them pre-approved. So if you’re writing for yourself, sit down, block out a good 30 minutes to an hour and write down, even if it’s in bullet points, the type of topics that you would want to cover with that 80/20 split that I gave you just a second ago.

Joe Fairless: How do you nail the voice? That’s a tough one. And I’m not asking to learn the proprietary process you work with your clients, I’m asking for the 5% of Best Ever listeners or investors who want to create their own content – they have a personality and then they write, and it’s just “Bleah!”, just normal stuff; they’re not capturing their voice. How can they do that?

Chris Craft: [unintelligible [00:06:50].26] in popular media that AP style writing is still very important – you want to spell things correctly, you want your grammar to be somewhat good, but you can mix in a “y’all” every once in a while; you can mix in an “ain’t”. So for the people who have trouble writing, I really recommend recording yourself, especially if you’re a audible learner. Record yourself. You don’t necessarily need to have one of the dictation softwares, because those things are kind of hookey, but if you listen to yourself and then if you take the audio of that and repurpose it into written content, that’s a really good hack for people. In fact, a lot of the podcasts that I appear on, I have them transcribed, and even your best transcription service, sometimes they try to turn the transcription into AP style writing, and it just doesn’t feel human, it doesn’t read human… So just let your personality flow through your writing by writing how you speak.

Joe Fairless: I like that. That’s a very practical tip that we can implement if we’re looking to create content for the first time; we’re not sure how to write, what type of angle to take… Just talk, record yourself and then use that as the fodder for your first article.

Chris Craft: Exactly. And our agency doesn’t focus on video, but that’s the appeal of video, and that’s why people really like it. It’s unfiltered. The best video is unscripted… If you have a general outline of the points you wanna cover… But it also appeals to more than one sense. But you couldn’t kind of replicate that through written content by just writing how you speak.

Joe Fairless: What are some other content tips that you can share with us?

Chris Craft: Content is like a product – you can’t just put it on the shelf and expect people to come. You have to ignite your content – that’s a term that I borrowed from my good friend Mark Schaefer, a really awesome content marketer. You have to ignite your content by sharing it through social, especially if you have evergreen content, and that’s content that stays relevant for a long period of time.

Honestly, a lot of my most popular posts that I’ve written are 2-3 years aged, and they’re still relevant. So how do you do that? With things like IFTTT, which is “If This, Then That” (IFTTT.com), you can basically take one blog post and share it to several social media platforms that you have a presence on on a consistent frequency. That gets it out there, it gets more people to see your content, and it’s the hub and spoke model; it drives people back to your hub through those social channels afforded to you, and your hub being your website.

So that’s the main tip I would say for — after the content is written and published, make sure you ignite it, because you can’t depend on Google to index your blog post for you and for you to be instantly number one with that specific piece of content… So you have to force the action.

Joe Fairless: So you sign up for a website like IFTTT.com, it links to all of your social media accounts, and it sends out the content… That is a tactic that we can implement, and then it is working for us, on our behalf. What are some other ways to share or ignite the content?

Chris Craft: I’m a big fan of repurposing. Everyone loves the idea of having an e-mail list, but they don’t send information out to their e-mail list unless they think that there’s something absolutely new that they need to share. Well, the reality is every single piece of content that you write, in some way, shape or form needs to go out to your list, so repurpose it.

I do it one of two ways, I kind of mix up the strategy. I either send a quick update to my e-mail list and linking back to the content, or sometimes, my specific members on my list love long-form content directly in the e-mail, and I will repurpose the entire copy inside the body of an e-mail. I’ll still at the end and within the body of the e-mail offer key calls to actions to drive them to specific pages that I’m trying to send traffic to for inbound marketing purposes… But that’s the other thing – do not sit on the content with it just being on your blog or your website; get it our through your e-mail list as well. That will be my number two tactic that agents can use, and investors as well.

Joe Fairless: And as far as your e-mail list, any suggestions for which e-mail platform to use?

Chris Craft: Yes, I am a big fan of ConvertKit.com. The reason why is because you’re able to organize your lists into subgroups under each list, and then also they have these really cool links that you can put into your e-mails and it tracks the people who click those links, and it will drive people who click into another more targeted group for really specific marketing… Because you don’t want to be that marketer that sends every single e-mail to every single person on your e-mail list. You wanna have your list segmented so that you can contact specific people with the type of content that you know that they will like. And it’s really fairly priced too, and it scales with the size of your e-mail list.

Joe Fairless: I have MailChimp and it’s the same pricing model – it’s free at first, and then as you get more and more subscribers it just costs you a little bit more every month, but it’s very reasonable.

Chris Craft: MailChimp is here in Atlanta, they’re excellent as well. I will say those two, ConvertKit and MailChimp are really awesome.

Joe Fairless: What is your best advice ever for real estate investors who want to brand themselves through content?

Chris Craft: The number one thing is make the decision “Can I do in on my own or do I need to outsource it?” That’s number one. Because if you’re motivated to get started with writing on your own and then you find yourself not publishing any content for a three-month gap, you’re gonna lose any and all momentum that you have.

Now, if you’re the type of person that blogs in concert with other strategies, like podcasting or video, then hey, that’s your strategy. So I will say number one, make that decision.

Number two would be to write content that’s able to be ranked, and gone are the days that you can write a 200-word piece and Google gives you a good amount of juice behind that. You have to write things with a little bit of meat to them. If you’re gonna write, try to commit to at least 500 words of rich content that has a fair amount of keyword density. What that means is know beforehand which keyword you wanna rank for, and put that keyword inside your content tastefully throughout the content.

Those would be my top two things… One, make the decision on if you really can do it, and then two, write meaty content that people feel will be worthwhile to actually read.

Joe Fairless: As far as knowing the keywords that we wanna be ranked for, how do we determine that?

Chris Craft: A lot of it, especially in real estate — it’s really set up well for real estate… A lot of keywords that you wanna rank for in real estate, they’re geo-targeted. They’re more specific than just “Austin, Los Angeles, Houston” and “real estate investor”. Get down to the specific neighborhoods, get down to subdivisions, get down to — not really zip codes; no one searches Google by zip codes… But that’s really your starter. Try to carve up the cities or towns that you are going after into specific neighborhoods and use those as the foundation of your longtail keywords.

When I say “longtail keywords”, I’m talking about keywords that are 3-5 words long, and not just 1-2 words long.

Joe Fairless: And if we are choosing to — regardless of if we have a partner like you and your company, or if we’re choosing to do it on our own, should we identify those keywords and then attempt to incorporate in all of the articles that make sense?

Chris Craft: That’s exactly right. That’s actually step number one. So if you’re working with an agency like me, the voice is important. We actually take 2-3 weeks to nail the voice, and we turn content in too to treat the client like the editor in chief. We send 2-3 weeks’ worth of content just for heavy redlining, just to nail the voice. If you’re that 5% and you’re writing on your own, you should be able to come upon your voice a lot quicker than that.

After voice, those keywords must be (I will say) 80%-85% of your content you will want to have a keyword in the background being the motivation or what you’re trying to drive traffic through when people search. The remaining 15% could just be personality-driven, it could be something about your kids if you’re a parent, it could be something that just adds color and context to you as a person.

Joe Fairless: Okay, good to know. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?

Chris Craft: Oh, I love it. I can’t wait!

Joe Fairless: Alright, let’s do it. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.

Break: [00:16:23].19] to [00:17:24].28]

Joe Fairless: Best ever book you’ve read?

Chris Craft: Oh wow, that’s a good one. I will have to say the Bible. It’s my center, it’s the light that’s in my life and it’s the truth, so that’s my best ever book. Now, if we wanna go to best ever marketing book, I’ll have to go with one of Mark Schaefer’s books, The Content Code.

Joe Fairless: What’s the best ever case study that you’ve done?

Chris Craft: The best ever case study that I’ve done… Definitely at the end of the year I do a survey to all the people on my list, and I also go outside and do research on what’s the upcoming digital marketing trends for the upcoming year. I did it at the end of 2015 and I did it at the end of 2016, and I turned those findings into a one-pager PDF and people just love it, they eat it up every time I come out with it at the end of each year, and it’s for the following year. In fact, you can grab my 2017 one at CraftWrites.com/marketing.

Joe Fairless: What’s a mistake you’ve made in business?

Chris Craft: Oh, this is an easy one. I’m an awareness content creator now. My team, we write content for people to express their domain knowledge and for them to write content that allows people to learn from them. The biggest mistake I used to make would be to make promises on page rank based on the content that we would write for people. Not that our content is not SEO-centered or SEO-driven – that’s definitely a part of our process – but there’s no way that you can predict, especially with the changing of search algorithms… So that’s the biggest mistake I used to make – putting too much weight into SEO in the services that we would sell; we’ve since pivoted from that, and our business has definitely benefitted ever since then.

Joe Fairless: Best ever way you like to give back?

Chris Craft: Definitely with my time, and serving in the community, and then also with the money that the Lord has blessed me with I definitely give back to faith-based causes and also community causes. With every single dollar that I earn as an individual and every single dollar that Nao Media earns, the first fruits are going to the community efforts that help people who are in need.

Joe Fairless: How can the best ever listeners get in touch with you or your company?

Chris Craft: Shoot me an e-mail at Chris@NaoMedia.co. I love to engage on Twitter, and you can find me on Twitter @CraftWrites. And then also, if you just wanna read some of my writing, you could go to CraftWrites.com. If you just wanna learn more about the agency, you could go to NaoMedia.co.

Joe Fairless: Outstanding. Chris, thank you for being on the show, thanks for sharing the content marketing tips that you’ve walked us through, from igniting your content using some platforms or some services like the IFTTT.com (If This, Then That), to being consistent and identifying — it really is a very important question… Are you gonna do it? Are you gonna have someone else do it? Either way, make sure that it’s consistent, because that’s the key to ranking over a long period of time and being in this business for the long run, it’s being consistent. So set up yourself for success, take whatever path works for you so that you will be consistent.

Thanks for being on the show. I hope you have a best ever day, Chris, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Chris Craft: Thank you, Joe. God bless.

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