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Podcast Episode 325: Scott Smith, Royal Legal Solutions
A Real Estate Attorney's Journey to Mastering Digital Marketing
Scott Smith is an Attorney and CEO who specializes in providing real estate investors with asset protection, entity restructuring, and much more. Since 2015, he's been working with Royal Legal Solutions to protect real estate assets throughout the United States and Canada.
In addition to protecting his real estate clients against the eventuality of lawsuits, Scott has proven to be a digital marketing guru. Today, Scott chats all about his work and how his marketing tactics make him stand out in a very crowded field.
Find out in this episode exactly how Scott does it and see below for more links to his online profiles.
What You're Going to Learn
* A step-by-step process for exploring new social media channels to promote your deals online
* Attracting more investors and making more money by giving more away
* Winning trust by sharing your real estate secrets
* Building a team for crowdfunding content creation
* Why stories work better than spreadsheets
* How to write more content without having to write more content
* Using your offline experience to build your real estate audience online
* Keep prospective investors engaged by addressing objections and educating them
And much, much more.
Listen To or Watch the Full Podcast Here
Attract More Investors and Make More Money By Giving More Away
Scott: The first struggle I had was really looking at how many people can I help? I've done all of this information; I've built it for myself. It's amazing, the people that are around here in Austin that I was meeting at Meetup groups and other ways I was trying to help people. They were really excited about what I ... They were like, "Aw, this is the best thing I've ever even heard about. I didn't even know this was even possible to hold assets anonymously and use Series LLCs to compartmentalize everything and how it can stay super simple and all that ..." as I talk about on the hundreds of podcasts and thousands of articles I write, right?
This is where I came into it, saying how do I help more people? The only way that I could find out more people was to get on bigger stages. Podcasting was really the forefront of that; to be able to say, "What if attorneys really operated in the realm of saying, 'Let's actually figure out ways to help people's lives holistically?" Not just in the one narrow legal aspect, but everything from start to finish. Let's do it all underneath one roof. Then, let's get on to shows and podcasts and give away all of the secrets. Tell people exactly how to do it; how they could do it themselves; how everything works together.
There's a couple of people out of- that I think listen to my shows that tried to put it all together for themselves, and they want to. I say, "That's awesome. Go out there and do it for yourself if that's your love and passion." For the majority of people, what they really are looking for is the peace of mind knowing that somebody really does know what they're talking about. They know it because they heard it and it made sense. It wasn't just high pie in the sky, like, "Let me tell you about features and benefits." It was like, "No, this is the nitty gritty of how it all works." You could totally rip off my system from what I'm telling you about and how everything goes with it. Come to find out, people will trust you even more and are more likely to buy from you, when you just give it all away.
Win Trust with Prospects and Investors by Sharing Your Real Estate Secrets
Adam: Tell me something about what that means to broadcast your "secrets." What does that mean exactly, and why is it important?
Scott: Well, the first thing you have to have is a secret, right? Come to find out that not all secrets are really all that secret. Usually, it's just something that people know about, but nobody's talking about yet. What that was for us is the use of a series LLC.
The series LLC has been around for over 20 years. It's an extremely strong structure; allows you to essentially create one entity, one bank account, one tax return, but you get to create LLCs on your desktop for free. You can use them anywhere in country. I was like, "Holy smokes! There's nobody out there that's really picking this up and showing real estate investors how they can be using a series LLC." This is a "secret" that people need to know about, right?
When you go into that realm of sharing something that's like that and you're new into it, you're going to find people that are going to try to shoot you down. That's just part of the process of learning ... You've got to know your stuff inside and out, especially as an attorney. You can't be wrong, into it. You've got to know it. Your secret's got to be bulletproof. Then, the piece of it is you just start talking to people about all of the normal objections that you've heard of, and you address those directly and head on. Then, you leave it to the audience to make the decision.
I think that what's really important is that we have really fair conversations about things. For the series LLC, for example, one of the major objections is there's no case law on it, so how do we know it's going to be true? That's a really good point. How would you know that this is really safe? The other side of the conversation to that is to talk about saying what is the law? Well, the law is actually what gets passed by the legislature. How do cases get invented? Cases only come into existence because people challenge unclear law. If you have a clear law, there's nothing there to challenge. You're not going to find cases on this stuff. It's already been around for 20 years..
Through that conversation, from both sides of it, and without having to get into ... With just a pure analysis, and then trusting the audience to be able to digest that information and make an informed decision on it is a much healthier way of having a conversation. When you can share the secrets, and talk about it intelligently, and help the audience process through why you would want to think a certain way through a problem, that's how you really win the trust.
Keep Prospective Investors Engaged by Addressing Objections and Educating Them
Scott: They'll be like, "Well, I've heard other things that tell me about why your product [I call it a series LLC, or call it a product for this] why your product's actually not so great? I read it on this website, and this website, and this website ..." I'll go ahead and I'll usually address those, just right inside of the way that I'm speaking, to say, "Hey, this is what I've heard about it that's been critical of this. This is my thinking on it, and this is why." Then, people can see it directly from [inaudible].
They see: "Here's the benefits I'm expecting; here's why I've never heard of this amazing solution before; here's all the reasons that other people are going to tell me why I might not want this thing; and do I agree with Scott's analysis about why those objections don't make sense, or how I can think about it better from Scott?" Then I leave it to them as an open ended ... If you want to know more, here's the way that you find out more about it. Here's the way that we can show you how this could work for you, and how we can have a deeper conversation about it.
I know that, after walking them through those four steps, what I'm really trying to do is actually just get them to be able to think better through the problem. I'm not actually trying to sell anybody or pitch them on, "You need to buy this now. This is the most amazing thing! It's going to change your life!" I'm like, "No, no, no, just let me educate you," because I'm a natural born educator.
But to me, the marketing, and the way that we talk about this stuff, what makes really good marketing, is a way that I can educate you, as a potential customer or lead, in a way that you actually care about and that you want to stay engaged with the content. It's actually, in a lot of ways, the most powerful form of education, but also, in my mind, the most powerful form of marketing, because it's how can I continually educate you, get you to think better, look at things that different and new way that's going to be able to help your life better, so you don't just tune out and go watch YouTube or Netflix, or something like that.
Adam: Exactly. Look it up on YouTube. Exactly.
Scott: Right, yeah.
Use Your Offline Experience to Build Your Real Estate Audience Online
Adam: When you first decided to take your message from the in-person Meetup groups locally where you are, and take it online, what were the first things that you did to migrate from in-person to the digital realm? Then, how did that evolve to where you are now and what you're doing now? Start with what you started with.
Scott: I wish I could probably be more helpful in this particular category of it. Unfortunately, it actually comes really natural for me. What I found in my life, and what I found in interviewing and talking with other people is that when people are naturals at stuff, it's almost worthless to talk to them. Really, the best people to talk to are the ones that really struggled really hard, because they had to figure out a system for how to do it.
But I'll explain it in just the context of what my experience was like in case anybody else wants to learn from that. It was really simple. All I did was, my first podcast is actually on BiggerPockets.com; I think it was podcast 109. What I did is I wrote some articles for them. I was like, "Hey, here's some stuff I know about asset protection for real estate investors. Check out my articles. I think they're great," and I published them through their blog.
They were like, "Wow, this is really good content. Can you come up with a top 10 list of top 10 strategies people should know?" I was like, "No problem ..." That took me about 30 minutes. I talked to them for about another 15 minutes in a pre-interview, and then we just shot the show.
It was in shooting the show ... I have a lifetime experience of doing stage theater - being in a performance aspect and podcast feels really natural for me, to just get on there and talk to people about it - as well as being in debate, and also being an attorney. Critical thinking, public speaking, performance - all of these natural skills that I had built over my lifetime happened to work really well in podcasting.
I'd probably say advice for that is to look for what are the skill sets that somebody spent their life developing and honing in on and then, use that as their marketing channel. Because, probably, that's going to be the thing that they're able to do and win at the easiest.
Adam: You and I have known each other for quite a while now. What I remember seeing come out of your office was some really good blog posts, some articles, and then, you started doing your own podcast. Maybe I just got onto [cross talk] this later. You started with articles, as well. You started doing a blog online?
Adam: How did you decide what you were going to write about? We've talked about addressing objections head on, but was there an actual process? Did you sit down and sketch out a list of articles that you were going to write about over a period of time? How did you do that?
Scott: I wish, Adam, that I had your level of planning and detail as one of my core skill sets. I don't. I live very much in a moment-to-moment type of existence. You'd find me ... If anyone asked, "Where did you get that idea from to write that article?" It's like, oh, because I talked to a lead or a client that had this new type of issue that I hadn't dealt with before; I troubleshot it, and then I wrote an article about it. Then, what I would do when I got that issue again is I would just direct people to the article instead of having to redo that conversation.
For me, it's always worked as like sales and marketing always have to work together. What you really got to do is you got to get in front of your people, whoever it is that you're trying to help, and continually try to find out what are the more problems that they're running into? What ways can you make their life better? You have those conversations with them, which gives you the topics to write about.
You do the research to be able to help that customer or client. Then, you turn that into an article, or a podcast, or something else that you redirect for any future conversations, so you never have to go and repeat yourself inside of a whole 'nother atmosphere. At least that's the dream, right? But that's how I kind of naturally, organically built what the base of info is that I wanted to share with people.
How to Write More Content Without Having to Write More Content
Adam: You write them yourself, do you?
Scott: I'll write some of them myself. Some of them, I'll use a team. Anything that gets really technical and legal, I'll end up writing myself, because then we have to be really careful with the language that we use, because now we're getting into a field where other attorneys are going to be referencing the material, and then it has to be exactly right.
For most concepts that we've come across, what'll happen is I'll have a conversation with somebody. I'll then sketch out an outline of here's the topics and the analysis, and then I'll have a content writer that'll come in and actually write it. That way, I'm always just staying at the highest level of providing the structure and the key pieces of content. I would say that you can find content writers. I have a great one. I probably overpay for how much I pay for my content writer, really, but she does amazing work for me.
You can find people that can write content for you, as long as you give them, like, "Here's the structure I want, and here's what the key pieces of information need to be in there," and be okay with the fact that it's going to be about 90-percent of the way you like it.
Adam: Right, and then you jump in and do some fine tuning with the editing at the end, right?
Why Stories Work Better than Spreadsheets
Scott: Podcasts are great because it gives you a way to actually have a real conversation with people, in a way that you might not otherwise be able to interact with them. I chose a podcast and built mine on Real Estate Nerds. I don't think it's actually a moneymaker for us at all, as far as I can tell. We don't really track it all that well of how all that works. But I like it, and I will continue, actually, probably to launch more podcasts here in the next year around marketing, and sales, and other things that I've learned about, because it's the way to share the info in a way that I think is easy for people to digest.
I think podcasts that really do it wrong are ones that really talk about a lot of technical stuff, because podcasting and people talking is geared for storytelling. It's not geared for the conveyance of technical information. Technical information should be like in outlines and spreadsheets, because then I can actually look at it for long periods of time with really minute details of trying to assimilate something.
The power of podcasting is really the power of being able to tell a story that conveys a truth that, if you just told them the truth wouldn't be impactful. If you can actually tell people a story that conveys a deeper truth about what's happening, people pick that stuff up. We're hard-wired to it. It's why the biblical traditions were always oral traditions before they were ever written down, and people always had these stories. Why were those stories so important to them? Because the stories were the foundation of how do they think through problems, and how do they know what's right, and what's wrong, and how their society is going to function.
It's the same way if we're talking about marketing, or sales, or whatnot. If we're going to have a podcast about it, what's really powerful is the story that's about that person going through the journey. Then we, as listeners, remember the story more than we'll remember anything else that's technical that happens. When it starts happening to us, we're like, "Man, that's exactly like when that happened to Scott. I remember that story.".
That's why I have Real Estate Nerds, because what I found is that a lot of the real estate investors that I would come across that were successful and had huge setbacks, it wasn't because of their technical knowledge of real estate investing, it was because of other things that were happening in their life, their mindset, or how they were thinking - all these other aspects that I think people were ignoring. You can really only talk about those in a story context, because how boring is it, if you just tell the facts? You need to have a clear head before you go into a deal. What the hell does that mean? How do I know if I have that or not, you know?
Building a Team for Crowdfunding Content Creation
Scott: Also realizing that my company has grown from four people to 40, and now we're down to 25. We've had these fluctuations in the last two-and-a-half years. It takes a lot of my time and attention. Anytime something new comes up and I have to make another decision on it, I have to be really careful about what decisions I'm making there into it ...
If I had somebody on my team that was like, "Hey, I've got a great idea of how we can take stuff, we can repurpose it, we can shuffle it all around, snip it up, queue it up, what not ..." I'd be like, "Sweet. Go with it. Run with it. Do all of it ..." because the value of how much value that I'm able to give to people with all of the things that I do with my company are so strong that even like one customer, one new person a week, coming through the door is going to pay for all of that extra effort that goes into it. I'm not in the business of trying to make the most amount of money I can. I'm in the business of how many people can I help. So, in a lot of ways, maybe I'm even doing a disservice to myself and others by not committing more fully to all the different ways that I could pull people in.
Adam: What is your time commitment to non-legal work? In other words, to digital marketing, or to content production? How much of your time does that take? It sounds like it's quite a big part.
Scott: Yeah, I would say that I probably spend about 20 hours a week, right now, from all the pieces of aspects that go through it. We're also always evolving. It's just a tricky thing. I can stretch my schedule down to zero right now, if I would just say, "Hey, I'm going to stop growing." I could push out content probably maybe three-four hours a week if I really wanted to crunch it down into doing that.
But I'm always trying to grow to the next level, maybe because I'm a little bit crazy, into a lot of realms. I'm trying to say, really, what I really need to do is actually create site maps, where I actually have like here's a site map of how do you actually learn about a series LLC? How can I get somebody to a web page to have them fully educated that hasn't heard from the podcasts? How can we create webinar series that get people all the information within like two-and-a-half hours? What would that video- what would that scripting have to look like, and all the aspects around that?
I'm probably always on what's on the cutting edge of what can I develop with the business, more than I am on "Hey, here's the other thing I've already built. Let's maximize out all of the pieces that you've already built, Scott ..." because I'm already always thinking of what's the next thing I could go build that's really going to take this whole thing to a new level? I probably could save myself a lot of time and actually grow a lot faster, if I had stronger people that could build out on all the things that we've already done.
A Step-by-Step Process for Exploring New Social Media Channels to Promote Your Deals Online
Adam: How else do you use social and what are the channels that you like to use, you find are the most effective?
Scott: I don't, really. We're just now getting into it of what social would look like, and how would we use it for our business. We're just getting our first advertising funnels up. It's pretty disgusting, Adam, that I've been allowed to be so lazy about just coasting on article writing, and podcasting, and rapidly growing a law firm based off of just those two things, when there's so much else out there that we could and should be doing.
Adam: When you say you're just starting on social, what is your process for figuring that out?
Scott: It's usually my process for most things ... The first thing I do is actually talk to somebody that I think is a lot smarter than me. Then they convince me that they're a lot smarter than I am in something, if they've really actually done it before to make it work, and I can buy into that vision. I say, "Okay, cool ..." We think Facebook ads is going to be a cool thing for us, and we think ClickFunnels would be an interesting way of bringing people in at a higher level and then using like a six-month process to really being able to educate them enough to be able to see the value.
From that point, what I do is I usually launch in, and learn it all myself at once. I'll do everything at once, or I try to do almost everything at once. Then, after that, I don't ever want to do it again. I'll do it all once, and I'll crush whatever books that I need to crush to be able to have the content to make sure that the guy that's doing it, I can hold him accountable.
There's probably few people in this world that don't need somebody else to hold them accountable. In fact, I would say I haven't met any. I haven't met anybody that's a really high-powered individual that doesn't have somebody else that helps them stay accountable, into it, at some level. These guys at the highest level, they do it as part of their peer group. That's why the guys that are a hundred million dollar- and billionaires, that's why they hang out with each other, because who the hell else do they have as your peer group to be able to hold you accountable to the things you need to be doing better.
That's what I'll do. I go through; I find somebody; they convince me of an idea. I say, "Great." I'll go learn how to do it all at once; I crush whatever the top books are, usually the top three books and whatever that relates to, whatever that's going to be. Then I usually give them like a one-month test with a budget. I say, "Okay, here's our budget that we all agree on. This is what you're going to do. This is the results that you said you can give." Then I'll give it a shot.
If they can produce the results after the one month, then I know that they can actually walk the talk. I'm actually knowledgeable enough to be able to see that they really did what they said they were going to do and that it actually worked the way they said it was going to work. If not, then I scrap the idea, and I moved to the next one.
Real Estate Investment Contracts
Reading Between the Lines