Josh Spector, Founder 'For the Interested' Newsletter
A Newsletter Marketing Strategy to Help You Expand Your Real Estate Business
Josh Spector - Newsletter Wizard
I first discovered my guest today, Josh Spector, in an article that he wrote about comedians. It’s a masterstroke of web content writing and social strategy and definitely worth a read.
Keeping a regular newsletter going to all your subscribers - prospects and active investors alike - is very important in maintaining and building on the relationship you have already established with them. In studies we have conducted, subscribers to your email lists love to hear from you and, importantly, repeat investors read everything you send to them.
Josh Spector has built an entire business based entirely around sending newsletters. Learn what newsletters are exactly, how to create effective content, and newsletter best practices.
What You're Going to Learn
- What is a Newsletter?
- How a Newsletter is Different from E-mail Marketing
- How to Give Value in Your Newsletter and Enhance Your Ability to Sell
- 3 Newsletter Structures and Which One to Use
- How to Create Effective Content for your Newsletters
- How Layered Marketing Helps You Reach Your Target Audience
- How Often Should I Send Out a Newsletter
- What Causes Unsubscribes from Your Newsletters
- The Best Practices for Newsletter Subject Lines
- Important Things Before Starting Your CRE Newsletter
- And much more!
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What is a Newsletter?
ADAM GOWER: Let's start because your business is very interesting, your newsletter business, but you are a real expert. Your stuff is just out there phenomenal.
JOSH SPECTOR: Thank you.
ADAM GOWER: Let's start at the very, very highest level. With the number one, "101" question: what is a newsletter?
JOSH SPECTOR: Let me start by saying, a newsletter can be what you want it to be. At a very high level, macro level, it is a way to develop a relationship with an audience and a direct relationship with an audience and an ongoing relationship with an audience. It doesn't have to be about news. There's a woman, Ann Handley, who always says, the letter part is more important than the news part, that it should sound and feel like a letter. But I think, there is no one way to, sort of, create a newsletter. The key is, and I think this is where a lot of people go wrong, is you want to start with what your goals are. The newsletter is a tool to achieve a goal. So what actually matters is, what is the goal you're trying to achieve and then construct the newsletter in a way that's going to help you achieve that goal. So in some cases, that might be providing news and other cases it might not have anything to do with news. In some cases, that might mean sending it daily. In other cases that might mean sending it monthly. But the truth is, all that matters is that you're providing people value. So I think that's the first thing is to, sort of, understand that it can be what you want it to be. It's just got to provide value. It's got to match the audience and it's got to align ultimately with your goals.
A Newsletter is Different from E-mail Marketing
JOSH SPECTOR: I think a newsletter is different than e-mail marketing. And the way I explain, there's definitely overlap, but the way I explain the difference is: e-mail marketing is something designed to extract value from an audience. A newsletter is designed to provide value to an audience. The irony is, a great newsletter is the best form of e-mail marketing. The more value you provide to them, the easier it becomes to ultimately extract value from them.
Give Value in Your Newsletter and Enhance Your Ability to Sell
ADAM GOWER: When you give value to a prospect, you create this psychological response and they want to reciprocate. They want to do something for you. Go ahead and explain why is it that when you give value in a newsletter, you actually enhance your ability to extract value? Or, let's put that another way to sell something to your recipient.
JOSH SPECTOR: So I think there's two pieces to that. So the first is that reciprocation that you explain is definitely true, right? There are some human, and I am not a psychologist, there are some human nature component to that, that, you know, people give us something we want to return, you know, we want to return the favor. If you think about it on its most basic level, when somebody says thanks to you, why do you instinctively say you're welcome? You don't have to. Like, you know, so there is definitely a reciprocation piece to it. The other piece to it, though, is when you are giving value, you are essentially establishing your credibility. You are establishing, depending what kind of value you're giving, establishing your expertise. You are establishing your brand in this, sort of, bigger ecosystem. You're also establishing yourself as someone who's trustworthy, who's generous, who's not just out to get, you know, when people feel like they're being sold to or they feel like you're trying to get stuff from them, their defenses go up. So, when you are going to try to sell to them, down the road, it's much, you know, Gary Vaynerchuk talks about, these things like Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. The idea being, it's like, give, give, give, and then ask. It's not that you don't ever ask. It's not that you don't ever try to sell. But that sales approach you make is going to be way more effective if you have provided a lot of value up front.
3 Newsletter Structures and Which One to Use
ADAM GOWER: Let's talk about the structure. Your basic structure of a newsletter and the way that I think of it, just because this is my, kind of, rudimentary way of doing it is, I start with telling my audience what I have. I try and explain the benefits of it and then I put it in a, how to get it. So click here to read more, kind of thing. And then I always try and send people back to my website so I can track behavior. So it's all tracked, right, UTM codes and everything, all the way. How do you advise clients to structure their emails?
JOSH SPECTOR: So, I think it depends. You know, there's so many variables. Again, it depends what you're trying to accomplish. It depends who the audience is. It depends what the value is you're trying to give them. It depends on your own time and resources. And, you know, I would sort of start here. At a very high level, there are three different types of newsletters. One is, what I would call original, meaning it's going to be your own original writing, your own ideas. You're not linking to other articles. You're not linking to The New York Times thing, like it's just your thing. Right. The other would be, what I would call curated, which is the opposite end of the spectrum. You might be writing summaries, but it's basically a collection of links to news or resources or interesting stuff. The third is basically a split, a hybrid of those two. Right. Which I would call blended. Right. So, in most cases, again, it depends. But in most cases, I nudge people towards blended. And the reason why I do that is, if you are trying to establish your expertise in some way, which in most cases tied to your goals, you are, either establishing your expertise or developing relationships with people. If you're only sharing curated stuff, it's a little tough to do that. Right. The reason why I like doing blended and not just doing original, is because I think blended allows you, without a lot more effort, to provide a lot m ore value.
Creating Effective Content for your Newsletters
JOSH SPECTOR: I'm big on repurposing content. I'm also big on this, sort of, what I call like the elasticity of content. That, big things can be pulled apart into small things. Small things can be expanded into big things. Another major thing I'm a proponent of, these are all sort of related. I'm also a huge proponent of evergreen content, meaning, creating content that is basically timeless. When you're talking about the news of the day, which I basically never do, right. If I talk about, let's say if I talk about what Trump did today, and I get into politics, any of that. But if I do that, or whatever the news of the day is, right. A new law was passed today, let's say. Right. Let's put it in your terms. Right. There's a new, you know, interest rates change or whatever. Right. The lifespan of the value of that piece of content that I put time and effort into creating is basically a day. Because it's going to become outdated, right. It's going to become old news, it's going to whatever. If I instead, create a piece of content that is, the mindset it takes to invest in real estate or like, you know, maybe it's like the parameters to assess whether something's a good investment. I'm making this up, right. That is likely every bit as valuable, a year from now, five years from now, as it is today. So, when you create evergreen content, you expand the potential ability you have to get value from it, which means ultimately in the long run, you're going to get more value from it.
Layered Marketing to Help You Reach Your Target Audience
JOSH SPECTOR: So, if you think about, to go back to the layering example. It started with, paying attention to, sort of, what I was doing in my business and things that I thought people were trying to figure out. That's layer one. Layer two is creating the blog post that basically addresses those things. Layer three is running a Facebook ad to drive people to that blog post. Layer four is writing another blog post about about that.
ADAM GOWER: Right
JOSH SPECTOR: And layer five is now using it to build an instant connection and provide instant value, more importantly, to people who subscribe, that it's relevant to. And arguably, layer six, or I've lost count at this point, is us talking about it on this podcast.
How Often Should I Send Out a Newsletter
ADAM GOWER: How should you decide how often to send?
JOSH SPECTOR: I like weekly or twice a month. I think ultimately you're trying to build a habit. I also think it's important to send it the same time. So, if you send every Monday or every Wednesday or whatever, every other Wednesday, whatever it is, you want to be consistent. I don't think you can build a habit, or for that matter really, a consistent relationship if you're doing it less than once every two weeks.
ADAM GOWER: But what about the difference between once a week and once every two weeks? Are you bugging people if it's weekly, versus bi-weekly.
JOSH SPECTOR: You're never bugging them if you're providing value and if you've told them up front what they're going to get. So, I like, in an ideal world, my newsletters are always weekly. I like weekly. I think that's the ideal. That said, if you think that's going to be difficult for you, from a work level, I would go every other week.
What Causes Unsubscribes from Your Newsletters
ADAM GOWER: So I want to ask you as a world expert on this, should I worry about sending every week because I might get unsubscribes?
JOSH SPECTOR: You're always going to get unsubscribes. The bigger your list, the more subscribers... I get 50 people unsubscribe every time I send my newsletter. I have a lot of subscribers, like it's just part of it. The only time you should worry about unsubscribes is if your net is drop, like if you're continuing to get more and more. As long as your unsubscribes are relatively consistent, I think you're OK. So, you should pay attention to them, but you should not. But if you're seeing more and more higher percentages unsubscribing every time, that's not a great sign.
Best Practices for Newsletter Subject Lines
ADAM GOWER: Best practices for subject lines.
JOSH SPECTOR: Depends on...well, the short cheeky answer, I guess is, whatever is going to get you opens, but....
ADAM GOWER: Okay good.
JOSH SPECTOR: I think it depends a little bit on what it is. What I don't like doing, assuming you have multiple different things covered in the newsletter. I don't love tying it to just one topic because I think you're all or nothing. So, if it's a one topic newsletter, that's different. But, if it's, like mine, if I'm covering five things, I'm never just going to title it like: "How to Grow Your YouTube Channel" when there's like, four other things that are not that, because people will just not open it. So that would be my one tip, sort of. Sometimes a little vague can help too. You're trying to tease them to open it. You don't necessarily need to reveal it all.
ADAM GOWER: Ok. Yes, such a huge question, because it's all about headlines. It's very powerful. Subject line does it all.
Important Things Before Starting Your CRE Newsletter
ADAM GOWER: For somebody thinking of setting up a newsletter, right, they've not got one at the moment. What would be the most, again, this is my industry, as we talked about. What would be the most important thing they should keep in mind?
JOSH SPECTOR: Get very clear on your target. I actually have a line somewhere about this, where it's like, you fill in this sentence. I want to help, fill in the blank target audience, get from fill in the blank point A to fill in the blank point B, very basic, right. If you can fill that out. So again, let's say it's I want to help high income people get from their money sitting in a bank to it earning more than they can earn in the stock market, or whatever. Your newsletter, as you're figuring out what should this newsletter be, it's all aligned to that. So everything that you're doing, you're thinking about: how does this help those people get from this place to that place? And I think if you, sort of, keep that in mind versus what a lot of people might be tempted to do is: Oh I'm going to start a real estate newsletter. Like no, you're going to start a newsletter for high income people who want to get from this place to that place and that guides everything that you do.
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