Podcast Episode 318: Jamison Manwaring
Crowdfunding Real Estate Using Video Content
Jamison Manwaring is Co-founder and CEO of Neighborhood Ventures where he drives the company's digital marketing efforts.
Jamison has implemented a content production system that puts video creation at the center of the strategy. 'Being a millennial,' he says, 'I know that my generation wants to watch videos to understand real estate.'
See below for more links to Jamison's online profiles.
What You're Going to Learn
* The most important social media for developers
* Two ways to raise real estate equity on Facebook
* Why raising money online is like dating
* How to educate investors (it's not that complicated)
* Auto-educating investors after they register on your site
* Why using video is essential for real estate syndicators
* Planning your video content for real estate investors
* How to create authentic video for real estate investors
* The real estate syndicator's content distribution process
And much, much more.
Listen To or Watch the Full Podcast Here
How to Educate Investors (It's Not That Complicated)
Adam: You used the word 'educating.' Tell me about that concept and how you ... What does that mean exactly?
Jamison: That is one of the biggest challenges to our business, when you're going after a non-accredited investor, is educating them on what a private real estate transaction looks like. We've taken that on. We've said we don't think it's as complicated as everyone would like to think it is and that only sophisticated, accredited investors should participate.
We can explain this in a way that fully gives the details, but that isn't so complicated, using the jargon - IRR, and cap rate, and equity return. Those things make it sound more complicated than I think it is. At the same time, these folks have not invested in a project like this. Helping them understand how it works; that your money, one, is illiquid. When you invest in us, you can't call the next month and say, "I need to get that $5,000 back." Two, most of your return actually comes at the end, when we sell the building. There's a cash return that is generated from cash flow along the way, but your overall return is actually paid; most likely caught up at the end, when the building's sold.
Helping people understand that; helping them understand the drivers of other investment. What could drive the investment forward? What could be a risk and bring it back? Treating them like adults that they are and putting the information out there and letting them make the decision. We don't shy away from talking about the details, but we do it in a way that we think is more understandable than maybe some of that traditional jargon.
Why Raising Money Online is Like Dating
Adam: How does telling that message on social media differ from telling somebody over lunch?
Jamison: It's an intro on social media. It's kind of like dating online, right? Some of the professional online daters in the audience here know you have a couple of good, sexy profile pictures. You tell a little bit about yourself, and then you say, "Let's go to lunch and learn more." It's the same approach. "Here is the project. Here's why we think it's great. Here's an opportunity for you to learn more."
Adam: Ah, right. There isn't actually an invitation to lunch. The invitation is to something else, isn't it? Tell me about that. What's that investor journey look like?
Jamison: Most of the time, the first invitation is to watch something at home that is more detailed. We have shorter videos, 30 seconds, that are more visual. Then they can watch a full-length video that might be eight or 10 minutes that's more detailed. Then, as they watch that video, we invite them to subscribe to our channel to watch the next episodes. We're not pushy, trying to get them to buy today. It's just an invitation to continue to dialogue with us.
As they do those things, we'll continue to invite them to further the relationship. The next major call to action is to create an account on our website, which will give them access to our portfolio of deals that are available. They can now go in, see all the details, see our live interactive Q&A, see everything that's there.
As part of crowdfunding, everything has to be there, and that's what's great. It's all transparent. If somebody asks a question, it's already put right there, and we've given the answer for everyone to see. They can now go see that. Sometimes, that's a little overwhelming, but they have access to it.
Then we augment that with live meet-ups in our office on a regular basis, phone calls for whatever other questions they have. They can go as far as they want on that first date, to continue with the metaphor, or they can say, "They might be somebody I want to keep talking with," and we're okay with either one.
Auto-Educating Investors After They Register On Your Site
Adam: Part of the investor journey is that you invite people to register on your website to learn more. Of course, when we first connected - and I have to tell you, it was one of my analysts that pointed you out to me; that's how I found you - the first thing I did was to register.
Then, very quickly, in quick succession, I got a series of emails with videos in them. It was phenomenal. Really, really excellent communication. Tell me about that. How does that work, and what's that process? Somebody registers; then what happens, just behind the scenes?
Jamison: Again, I think it's important to focus on that we are targeting a non-accredited investor. That can be a nurse; that can be a schoolteacher who's never done this before. We know that when they go on and create that account, they're ready to continue the relationship, but we want to bring them along slowly, so we have ...
The first 10 days after somebody's created an account, we have an email drip that is a slow educational process. First off, it's an introduction to us - who we are, why we decided to do what we're doing - and then what crowdfunding is; where did it come from? How it works legally, how the structure is. This is over a period of several days in that first 10-day journey.
Then we get into more of the details. If we have a live project at the time, we'll send them that information. Then we'll let them know that if they want to come in and meet us at one of our meet-ups, they can do that. It's kind of moving them along in the educational process.
Why Using Video is Essential For Real Estate Syndicators
Adam: You use video a lot, don't you? Really, you stand out for that, actually. How did that come about, and what were the ...? How do you do that, and what were the initial hurdles that you had to deal with?
Jamison: Yeah, well, I'm a millennial, so ...
Adam: So am I. I tell my wife I am, too. I'm a late-blooming millennial.
Jamison: You're a millennial at heart, which matters the most, right? Video is what I'm used to. If somebody is a great company and they only have a website with text, even if they're a great company, I don't think they are, because they're not taking that next level. I expect to see video; I expect to see a YouTube channel, and good content on there. Part of our customer demographic are millennials that want to invest in passive real estate investments. Personally, I expect that out of a good company.
I also know the importance of the content. When I first started this journey, I watched a few videos of a couple of folks who were starting. I was struck by one video, which was literally a guy at a conference table. He had a camera set up, and he talked for 30 minutes. I thought, well, if that's the best people are doing right now, then there's a real opportunity to educate people in an entertaining way. The beauty about real estate is, in our projects, we renovate them. It's visual. It's entertaining, just like the HGTV shows can be. We try to make it fun, entertaining, educational all at the same time.
Adam: Yeah, your videos are really good. Tell me about the actual production process. Because, again, you talk about these things with casual ease, but you and I both know it's not so easy, so what is the process?
Jamison: Well, I can't do it. I can't produce it. I know what I want it to be, and the outcome to be. We have a team ... One guy makes documentary films. I heard earlier today, somebody who makes documentary films is kind of like a poet. 50 years ago or a couple-hundred years ago, we loved them, but we don't pay them.
Adam: I love that.
Jamison: If you can find somebody in your local area who makes documentaries, they probably have some downtime pretty regularly, and if you can pay them something stable, it's helpful. That's what we've done here. I have a friend who has made some great documentaries, but in his downtime, he helps us. Then have another person who is kind of a social-media video person. It's been a focus, right?
We knew we wanted to invest there, and finding the right folks to do it ... Don't go hire somebody who's never done it before, or somebody who's new to it. You have to go to a younger crowd and know that if it's not something you're committed to, then don't do it, because it won't work out good. We're committed to it, we believe in it, and we're going to invest in it. They handle the production. We get together and talk about our strategy and what we want to come across, but I let them do what they're good at.
Planning You Video Content for Real Estate Investors
Adam: Do they follow you around on a day-to-day basis or on certain days? How do you actually organize that stuff?
Jamison: It has to be more preplanned. Some of the big social-media people will have people follow them around all the time and try to capture everything. We plan it every week. We say, "Okay, we have this happening this week, and we have this happening this week. We need to do this. We need to set this up ..." We plan it week to week, so they don't have to be with you all the time, especially at the start. Our guys are now getting more busy as we have more projects, but they don't have to be there all the time.
Adam: To be clear, you plan your video-recording schedule every week?
Jamison: Yeah. I also have my iPhone with me, and if something's happening that I think is interesting, I record it all. Just kind of like what you're doing with your podcast, you may not air this podcast tomorrow, right? You have a library of content that, over the next several weeks, you'll air stuff; maybe over the next several months ...
People in our business should be collecting a library of content at all times. If something funny happens or something crazy happens, record it. Maybe that would do well in your audience. The best videos aren't necessarily the highly produced videos. I think there needs to be some of that, but some of the best stuff that you can- that really happens is just real-life stuff that you capture.
How to Create Authentic Video for Real Estate Investors
Adam: There's also the process, once you've filmed it, of editing it and getting it up there. Tell me a little about, particularly ... I've got your YouTube channel up here, and I've got serious question for you about it, because I'm fascinated by one or two videos that you've got. I'm dying to ask you this - what's the process, then, of production, and how long does that take? Actually, how long does it take, of your time and your partners' time, away from real estate?
Jamison: We take the real stuff that we're doing on a day-to-day basis, and we say, "Let's capture it," where before, we might not have captured it. We're not going out and doing production stuff only, because the audience can tell. There's a lot of stuff, a lot of noise out there in media - on YouTube, on other platforms. If your stuff doesn't break through with some authenticity with ... People don't like over-produced stuff. You can get over-produced stuff, if you want to watch that on TV, but if you're thinking social media, it's more of interesting stuff, value-added stuff.
There's people who do it a lot better than us that we continue to learn from, but we just say, "Okay, this is what we got going on this week. Let's capture it. Let's try to put it together." Then, we want to make sure that it's focused on education. We do have some videos that have nothing to do with our investors who may want to invest with us, but it's more educational. Those might be some of the videos you see on our site, where we talk about a topic that might be totally- might only be interesting to somebody who is doing an Airbnb in their backyard, but they'll never invest with us. We're totally okay with that. We just want to spread some of the information that we've learned, some of the value that we've gained, and share with other folks.
Adam: Yeah, like "How to Make an Airbnb Bed." That's really cool [cross talk]
Jamison: If you've ever done an Airbnb property, you know that figuring out how to do the bed is ... A lot of people google it - How do I make a good bed. We want them to find us, hopefully, so that's ... We don't necessarily think everything we have to put out there is just for investors who want to invest with us.
The Real Estate Syndicator's Content Distribution Process
Adam: Now you've got this incredible machine where you're making all this content, authentic and educational content, every single week. How are you getting it out there?
Jamison: Well, I would say we're really early, Adam, I think we have a ... I wouldn't call it a machine yet, but the gears are turning a bit. We're real early, so I think we have a long ways to go, but thanks for the feedback. We have a base of an audience that we've built up over the couple of years, and it's really hard to build that up. It's kind of a chicken or egg. Do you build the audience first, or do you put out good content first? If you put out good content, maybe the audience will come. It's hard, but I think you have to figure out how do you get the plane off the ground a little bit so that you have a couple thousand folks who are watching your stuff.
Once you do, you have to make the commitment that your content is always going to be good from the get-go - authentic, informative, value-added. Then you say, "Okay, now that we are doing that, we have people watching this, and we need to commit to growing now audience with the good content." I feel like that's where we're at now. We have a base of people who are in our audience, but we want to keep growing that audience, and you only do that by having good content.
Adam: I noticed that a lot of your videos are actually very short, two or three minutes; some are even less than that. Are you distributing these on social media as organic distribution, or are you using it as advertising or both?
Jamison: Some are both, but mostly organic. You can see on some of our videos, they have many, many more thousands of views than some of the other ones. The ones that have a lot of views, the tens of thousands, those are typically because we paid a bit to get them [cross talk]
Adam: Ok. Yeah, I was actually going to ask you ... You've got one that stands out, 22,000 views just a month ago. That's a real standout. Most of them are not in that range, so I presume that was-
Jamison: There's a benefit when you do start paying a little bit to get in front of people. They share it more, so there is an exponential benefit, if it's good content versus if it's not [cross talk]
Adam: Do you send it out on different channels, though, Jamison? Which channels do you like to use?
Jamison: We focus on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn; our email list is really important. A lot of people are comfortable with email. They may not follow you on YouTube, or Facebook, but if you send them an email, they'll watch a video there, so that's very important. We do share it on LinkedIn and are starting to more on Instagram.
Adam: Really? Instagram, also because you're looking at the non-accredited younger investor, is that right?
Jamison: Yeah, and a lot of professional millennials are on there ... Skews toward female audience that have money, and they're on Instagram a lot.
The Most Important Social Media for Developers
Adam: What are the most important prongs of your social-media or your content-marketing strategy? What are the most important ones you use?
Jamison: For us, we started on Facebook because it has the most users in a geographic area who use it the most.
Adam: When you say you started on Facebook, what does that mean exactly? Was that advertising, or posting, or getting followers? How did you use Facebook?
Jamison: We did paid ads specifically, mostly specifically, about our projects and then some of the ads are about what we're doing in general. It's hard to do it all organically, but once you get a following - we have I don't know how many people on Facebook, several thousand who are following us now - then you can continue to grow that following more organically. There's definitely an investment upfront to build that out.
Adam: What are the hardest parts of working on Facebook? It's easy to say we did some paid ads, and we got followers, et cetera, but let's get into the weeds a little bit. When you do a paid ad, you have to create content. You have to create content, or video, and wording. There's a lot involved. Tell me a little about that, and what the barriers were, if any, that you overcame.
Jamison: We've had a few iterations of how we approached Facebook. Initially, we were posting a lot, and at the time ... The Facebook rules constantly change how their algorithm works, so that's one of the challenges. Originally, the strategy had a lot to do with live content, because if you go to your Facebook newsfeed, at the time, Facebook was moving up that live content to get more viewers. If I did a live video, recorded it live, and posted it immediately, I would get more viewers. We did a bit of that initially.
Adam: How did you feel about that? Let me ask you that. I mean, again, you make these things sound very casual. It's obvious why you're so good at it, but it's a big deal to turn your phone on, and, "All right, here we are ..."
Jamison: It's aggravating because it's live TV.
Jamison: You watch it later, and you're like, "Oh, why would I ... Why did I say that? Why are there so many ums and ahs?" That's the nature of the live ... It's hard. You have to make sure you know what you're going to say before you hit that 'Go Live' button.
Two Ways to Raise Real Estate Equity on Facebook
Jamison: You really have two approaches to Facebook. You can try to get leads. Let's say you're a local gym that's opening in a neighborhood. You can try to get people to see your ad and say, "Yeah, I'm interested in finding out more information about this gym that's opening." It's a direct response. Initially, that's what we tried to do a lot of it is, "Hey, here's this project. Fill this little form out, and we'll get you information," or, "You can watch this this webinar." That's one approach, and you can measure that really easy. You can say, "Oaky, we spent $1,000. We got this many leads."
We've gotten away from that to more of a focus on our brand now. What we realized is - and I always felt this from the beginning - that this is a project or a product that is bought, not sold. We're not trying to sell a membership at a gym. We're trying to educate folks. We're trying to help them get comfortable with who we are. We're building trust with them. We're helping them understand that we're experts in the field. Understand what they're investing in, and then they'll invest when they're ready. We've shifted away from that kind of direct-response marketing more to the marketing that is focused on our brand and building that brand out.