June 25, 2020

JF2123: Attractive Passive Investor Content | Syndication School with Theo Hicks

In this episode Theo will be going over some of the main takeaways he has received from a professional writing course he has recently taken to improve your writing content by focusing on benefits rather than features to attract more passive investors to your business. 

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To listen to other Syndication School series about the “How To’s” of apartment syndications and to download your FREE document, visit SyndicationSchool.com. Thank you for listening and I will talk to you tomorrow. 


Joe Fairless: There needed to be a resource on apartment syndication that not only talked about each aspect of the syndication process, but how to actually do each of the things, and go into it in detail… And we thought “Hey, why not make it free, too?” That’s why we launched Syndication School.

Theo Hicks will go through a particular aspect of apartment syndication on today’s episode, and get into the details of how to do that particular thing. Enjoy this episode, and for more on apartment syndication and how to do things, go to apartmentsyndication.com, or to learn more about the Apartment Syndication School, go to syndicationschool.com, so you can listen to all the previous episodes.

Theo Hicks: Hello, Best Ever listeners and welcome to another episode of The Syndication School series, a free resource focused on the how-tos apartment syndication. As always, I am your host, Theo Hicks. Each week, we air two podcast episodes that focus on a specific aspect of the apartment syndication investment strategy, and for the majority of these episodes, we offer some free resource for you. These are free PDF guides, free PowerPoint presentation templates, free Excel calculator templates, something to help you along your apartment syndication journey. All of these free documents, as well as the past syndication school series can be found at syndicationschool.com.

I’m actually really excited about this episode. We’re going to change things up just a little bit. I mentioned this a few weeks ago that I am taking some copywriting courses and I wanted to share some of the main takeaways that I got that you can apply that to your apartment syndication brand, to grow your business and ultimately attract more passive investors.

So one of the major steps in launching a successful apartment syndication business is building your brand. So you’ve got your website, you’ve maybe got Facebook groups you’ve created, you’ve got blog posts, podcasts, YouTube channels, you name it; all with the purpose of educating passive investors, and then ultimately getting them to invest in your deals. Now, whenever you are creating copy– and copy is really any type of content that you’re creating. So just think whenever you’re creating content, you’re creating copy, which is in effect marketing materials. So you want to make sure that you’re following the best practices so that you’re getting the most out of all of the copy that you’re writing. So by the end of this episode, you will not only know how to improve your copy moving forward, but you can also go back and look at copy you’ve created in the past and more specifically, copy that is on your website or whatever landing page people go to most. That’s probably where this is going to be most useful to you, at least immediately, and then moving forward on your blog post, your podcast and your YouTube channels and the educational resources you make.

So a really good way to start off the conversation I want to have today is to give you two examples of two different pieces of marketing materials, and ask you which one do you think is better, which one do you think is more interesting, which was more appealing to you.

So let’s say, you’re in the market for some new software. Say, it’s a property management software or maybe a new asset management software, and you browse the internet and you come across two ads. Obviously, there’s a lot more than two ads. Let’s just say, we’re living in a world where there’s only two products that you’re able to choose from. They both obviously offer tech support. So the first company, we’ll call it ABC Asset Management Software, has a copy that says, “We offer free customer support 24/7,” and then you find XYZ Asset Management Software and they have a piece of copy that reads, “No matter what time, what day or where you are in the world, there’s always an expert available to offer the troubleshooting support you need.” So two pieces of information, both telling you that they offer customer support, which one is more appealing to you? I will answer that question for you, and it’s pretty obvious – the second one; the one that reads, “No matter what time, what day or where you are in the world, there’s always an expert available to offer the troubleshooting support you need.” So definitely a lot more attractive, a lot more appealing than the simple statement of, “We offer free customer support 24/7.”

So now, the question is why is that the case? Can you explain specifically why it is that marketing piece number two is better than marketing piece number one? The answer is that the first marketing piece, the one that says, “We offer free customer support 24/7,” is only telling you what you get. Whereas the second piece, the one that tells you, “No matter what time, what day or where you are in the world, there’s always an expert to offer a troubleshooting support you need,” that one tells you not only what you get, but why it’s valuable to you, what’s in it for you. So what’s in it for you is, no matter what time, what day or where you are in the world, there’s always an expert available to offer the troubleshooting support you need.

In other words, the first marketing piece tells you the feature of their asset management software product, whereas the second marketing piece tells you the benefit to you for using their asset management software. So in this episode, we’re going to focus on features versus benefits. So first, I’m gonna define what features are and what benefits are, and then we’re going to talk about comparing the two and which one is better when creating copy that has the purpose of attracting more customers, and then I’m gonna give you a few exercises that you can do in order to apply these lessons to your business.

So first off, what are features? So a feature is something that describes a product’s appearance or capability. So since we’re apartment syndicators, let’s talk about this in the context of doing apartment syndications. So as an apartment syndicator, your product is a passive real estate investment. So what are some features of a passive real estate investment or more specifically, an apartment passive real estate investment? So you’ve got the preferred return, you’ve got the share of the profits, you’ve got it being completely passive, you’ve got the recap emails that you send out to your customers, you’ve got the actual physical asset that they’re investing in, you’ve got the team that’s managing the asset, you’ve got direct access to the sponsor who’s an investor relations person. So those are all examples of features. So there’s obviously a lot more features, but those are just a few examples of the features of a passive real estate investment.

Now, what are benefits? A benefit shows how a product is useful and adds value to the features. So what are some benefits of passively investing in apartments? What are some benefits of your passive real estate investment product? Well, it’s a hassle-free process, it’s convenient, it gives the customer peace of mind, it gives the customer time freedom, it gives them the ability to relax, it’s low risk. So we can continue on and list more and more benefits, but those are just some examples of the main benefits of your passive real estate investment product. Now each of these benefits can be easily linked to a feature in the previous section. So for example, one of the features was it being completely passive. The benefit of this feature is that being completely passive is hassle-free because you’re not actively involved in the process, which makes it super convenient, gives you peace of mind. So you’re not having to focus on making sure everything’s going properly at the property, and if things are going wrong, figuring out solutions; you just sit back and relax. It gives you the time freedom to spend that time you would have been spending making whatever that money is on something that you actually want to do, that allows you to relax. It’s lower risk because maybe you don’t have the knowledge that you would need to buy such a large apartment building, but you are able to passively invest, which reduces the risk. So you’re able to get the benefits of investing in apartment without the risk of you doing it yourself and messing up without having the experience. So you can do the same thing for all of the features. You can essentially link one or more benefits to all of the features.

So overall, and it’s pretty clear, it’s obvious, but again, it’s important to make this conscious in your mind, and to be conscious about this when you’re creating content, but content that focuses on the benefits, more so than the features of the product will attract more new customers. In this case, attract more passive investors. So as an apartment syndicator, focusing on the benefits of passive investing in apartment communities will attract more new passive investors than focusing on the features of passively investing in apartment communities. Now, that doesn’t mean that features aren’t important and that features should be completely ignored. They’re obviously important to highlight, but you really want to make sure that you’re focusing on the benefits because that’s what people actually care about. So one practical takeaway is to ask yourself the question after creating copy, whether it be after each sentence, each paragraph or at the end of the blog posts or podcast episode of a larger piece of content, ask the question – So what?

So let’s take two statements as an example. So statement number one is going to be – investors in apartments syndications receive a monthly preferred return and a profit split. The apartment is actively managed by a sponsor, making it an entirely passive investment. So maybe you’re creating a page on your website that’s finding what a passive apartment investment is, and this is the same that you have. So ask the question – So what? How does receiving a monthly preferred return or a profit split benefit me? How does the project being actively managed by someone else benefit me? So a stronger statement would be – investors in apartment syndications receive a monthly preferred return and a split of the profit, the apartment is actively managed by a sponsor making it an entirely passive investment. So that’s the same as before, and then you add – you increase the amount of money you make each month with no ongoing time commitment, allowing you to spend more time doing what you want. So when you ask the question there, “So what?” I guess you can continually adding, so what, and that’s how you create a blog post. So you think so what after that, and then continue listing more and more benefits based off of the features.

So in this example, the features are the preferred return, the profit split and being completely passive. The benefits of the features are more money each month and more time freedom. So in addition to the so what, here’s a full exercise that you do today, tomorrow, this week, to start the process of applying the concepts we’re learning about today. So the first step is to obviously define your product, and since we’re apartment syndicators, the product is the passive apartment investment. So next, you want to list out all the features off of that product. So I gave you some examples above, but try to list out 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 features of your passive apartment investment product, and then thirdly, list out the benefits of your product, again, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 different benefits of your product. So determining the benefits may require a little bit more effort and creativity than the features. So a really good approach is to come up with benefits for each of the features you created before. So get your list of features, and then go through each feature and determine what the benefits of those features are to your passive investor.  Three questions to help you in this process are – one, why does this feature exist? Two, how does this feature connect to human desire? And three, what is in it for the customer? So take your list of features and for each feature, ask and answer those three questions to come up with a list of benefits.

At the conclusion of this three-step exercise, you will have a list of all the benefits, or at least, a very long list of most of the benefits of your products based on the different features. So now that you have your list of benefits, the goal is to always focus on this list of benefits whenever you are talking about a certain feature of your property. This includes any content that is directed towards your potential customer, aka the passive investor. So blog posts, your website, other company material, communication with your investors, podcasts, whenever you’re being on any of other people’s podcasts, always keep that list in mind. So overall, what are some things that you should do from this takeaway? Here are a few recommended steps. First, obviously, perform that three-step exercise I mentioned above. Next, review your website and start asking the question, “So what?” after the various pieces of content you have on there. Next, you can go ahead and review a recent blog post or a recent piece of content that you’ve created and ask yourself – are you focusing on the benefits or are you focusing on the features? And then, in your spare time, if you want to get better at figuring out the best ways to write solid copy about the features of your product, go to some Fortune 500 company websites, go to other real estate professionals who have a massive following online, a massive business and take a look at their copy, see how they’re focusing on the benefits. Maybe you might find that they aren’t focusing on the benefits and there’s opportunities to improve, and something that we all have talked about on this show is, a really good way to get into apartment syndications is to add value to other people’s businesses for free proactively. So a great way to do that is to take what you have learned today, find an apartment syndicator that you want to work with and proactively create a presentation for them on how to improve their copy by focusing more on the benefits than the features. So again, lots of practical takeaways for today and lots of exercises you can do to start improving your copy and focusing on features and ultimately attracting more passive investors.

So that concludes this episode. Make sure you check out some of the other syndication school episodes that we have as well as the free documents that we have for all these episodes at syndicationschool.com. Thank you for listening. Have a best ever day and I’ll talk to you soon.

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