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Podcast Episode 336 Judy Brower Fancher, The Brower Group

The Psychology and Science of Digital Marketing

Today's Guest - Judy Brower Fancher, Chief Strategist & Founder at The Brower Group | PR & Marketing

On today's episode, I welcome marketing genius Judy Brower Fancher. 

Judy is a self-professed and an absolute game-changer. She specializes in solving challenging marketing dilemmas and providing clients with witty, off-the-beaten-path solutions. She's the founder of the Brower Group and in that capacity has conducted countless interviews and PR campaigns for gigantic national firms. She also shares her invaluable knowledge on a regular basis and has mentored nearly 50 young, marketing professionals.

Today, Judy and I chat about the interplay between marketing and real estate. This is a fantastic episode for professionals in any industry who are interested in public speaking, making deals, and truly seizing the potential of digital marketing.

Find out more about Judy and the Brower Group by accessing the links at the bottom of the page.

What You're Going to Learn


*  How to Cultivate Interesting Ideas for Real Estate Press Releases

*  Thought Leadership Vs. Media Releases

*  Google Will Help More People Find You Online

*  How Thought Leadership Helps Potential Investors to Know, Like and Trust You

*  Don’t Confuse Your Investor By Using the Wrong Language

*  Good Grammar Matters and Other Notes About the Way You Communicate Online

*  Why Your Ability to Speak in Public Makes You More Likeable and Trustworthy

*  There’s No Cookie-Cutter Approach to Marketing Your Company or Your Deals

*  Your Accessibility and Availability Are Still Important in the Age of Digital Marketing

*  And much more!

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Show Highlights

How to Cultivate Interesting Ideas for Real Estate Press Releases

Judy: I'm going to start by saying that our firm is full service and that I began in public relations ... We look at public relations as an art/science, which is influencing people. Of course, with us, it's positively creating a positive influence about a company, about a product, about a property, about why someone's good to invest with ... That's all public relations.

We see everything else as like a tool within that. Advertising, whether it's print or digital, whether you're doing social media, whether you're doing email campaigns, if you're speaking at a conference, you're appearing on a great podcast - all of that is influential, so all of it's kind of together, and that's the whole of public relations.

So, within that, there are things like news releases, and thought leadership, which we look at as two separate items. The news releases would be, for example, you are announcing something that you would tell a friend after work. If you went to have a beer with someone that wasn't in your industry, you would say, "Hey, you know what's kind of cool that happened at work today?" and you would tell them about if there was a famous location involved, if there were a famous person involved, if it had a huge dollar number, if it was something that was the first time something that ever happened, or even the last time that something is going to happen, which we did on a shopping center that opened ... Shopping centers open from time to time.

We are in a suburb of Los Angeles. So, I called the L.A. Times and I said, "Hey, I think this is the last shopping center that's going to ever open- ground-up development that's going to ever open in our market, and you guys should cover this." They're like, "That's true. We should." So, in addition to all the local, more regional media, we were able to get the L.A. Times to cover it because it was the last of something. That's how they kind of used it - a last major regional mall opening today or something.

If something is the biggest, that's of interest. We did the first megaplex west of the Rockies, so we called it The Big One. We told the client, "Let's call it The Big One." The media all called it The Big One. Everybody was like, "Oh, let's go to The Big One." Just being large is interesting.

If something is quirky, that can also be very interesting as long as it's positive. You want to make sure you're not doing something quirky-silly. But if one of your people in your company is a stunt pilot, it's sort of interesting, and quirky, and you might be able to get feature stories on that. Anything that you can send out that you think that the media would go, That's really interesting ...," that could be a news release.

Thought Leadership Vs. Media Releases

Judy: Leadership - which you know very well, because I've seen that you have done some, Doctor - is when you're wanting to tell something that is more complex, more industry specific, technical if it's more educational than newsy ... If you're doing, "Five reasons that Dr. Gower can move your firm forward" - and you wouldn't quite do that; you would say, "The five smartest ways to use digital," or something - that kind of article needs to be longer. It needs to be from you. That is a thought leadership piece, and what it does is it creates amazing expertise. You're seen as an expert, which is proven by the fact that the media is using you to cover it.

Google Will Help More People Find You Online

Judy: The way this works in our digital world is that - even you and I are doing this digitally, anybody that's watching is doing it digitally - you aren't meeting people as often. So, Google has really become "it" on wheels. There is just Google and everything that relates to it.

When you're doing thought leadership, you are getting something that could be searched, and people can find you through doing these thought leadership pieces. They can find you on Google; they can find you if you post these pieces on your website, if you include them on your social.

On your social, it's nice to have a picture of you in your office, and you show that you have dogs ... That you let your employees bring dogs in. But what might be more interesting is a National Real Estate Investor article that you're quoted in. That probably, probably, for business, drives better influence for you. So, you send it out on your social; you put it on your website.

If you're doing an email, you can do an email about a new property that you have to offer, and you can include, "Recently, in the news ..." and have something people can click on. You keep driving them back to the media to click on this, and when they click on it, Google sees that as being very important because a lot of people are clicking on it. So, you're not only ensuring that people see it, you're also ensuring that more people will find it on Google because it's been strengthened by more clicks.

When people talk about, "We want to do something viral," well, viral is truly organic. It has to be something that is seen so many times that it hits, and it goes, and it becomes something that's self-generating. Google keeps pushing it up because more people are interested in it. Then, in that way, more people see it, and more people see it. That's how things actually go viral is because Google supports engagement.

It's really important when you're doing your publicity that you make sure that it goes out to people, and they can click on it, also. That way, people start seeing you everywhere, and they're thinking how interesting you are. The media ... The media's savvy, and they watch which of their articles are of most interest to people, so they're also watching the clicks.

So, when you go, and you put your media to use, when you market it through digital channels, and people click on it, then the media says, "Oh my gosh, this article by Dr. Gower is getting so much attention! We need to have him back on again," and it starts your whole cycle over, where you have a fresh piece of publicity for people to see in the media and for you to share.

Thought Leadership Will Help Potential Investors to Know, Like and Trust You

Adam: Thought leadership, presumably, is the personality. It is a person who is a thought leader.

Judy: Yes.

Adam: So, how does elevating somebody - through media, through producing content, through getting press coverage, et cetera, et cetera - how does that help an organization with their marketing efforts? Describe to me the dynamic between the personality, and the company, and their ultimate objective, which presumably is to sell.

Judy: Right [crosstalk]

Adam: Well, actually, in our case, it's actually to raise money. Let's stay on topic ...

Judy: I am an investor, in addition to being a businessperson, and I have invested in commercial real estate. I've had an opportunity, through my clients, to meet some of them and see how smart they are. That allows you to feel a level of trust with your money because you feel like they understand ... I am not a real estate person. I don't know what's best, but I feel that our clients really, if they are good, smart people, are very good at that.

The old expression is that people work with people they know, like, and trust. While they may have never met you, when they see you on this podcast, and they get to know you, or they read your words, they feel they're getting to know you as an individual, and you are driving forward your company.

Certainly, we do always suggest that you use your main key executives, which can include, if you're in a certain market, someone that's an acquisitions guy in a certain market, or something like that. That's how you drive the personality of the person and show that they are an expert, that they are smart, that they are sensible.

With investing, you want to show that they have some amount of ... Probably, most people want to invest with someone that's more stable, so we want to show that the company is very stable, and that the leader is stable, and smart. That encourages people to then go ahead and invest with them because they feel that they kind of know the guy because they've been reading about him, or seeing him, and-

Adam: Yes, that's right. This is quite incredible. I've come to learn that, myself. I get contacted quite frequently these days by people who start off the conversation, or partway through the conversation ... I've never had any contact with them at all, as far as I know, but they say, "I feel like I know you." It's extraordinary.

Judy: Because they've seen you on the show, or read your article-

Adam: Yes, somewhere, they've read an article; they've seen a video ... I'm putting out six, seven pieces a day on every single channel, at the moment. It's like a machine. So, yes, people consume it, and I understand ... It is the nature of what you put out that defines this concept of thought leadership, right?

Judy: Right.

Adam: I've had some clients, because we- that's what we do, as well; we create this kind of momentum for clients that they become a thought leader. Some have resisted the epithet. They don't like this idea. Somehow, it seems immodest to them.

Judy: It is ... We have people who are a little bit shy of the media, and it's not the best way to push your company forward because, as an investor, I'm not sure I want to invest with someone that's shy. I want to have someone that's out there; that has an opinion; that has something to say.

Don’t Confuse Your Investor By Using the Wrong Language

Adam: ... Used the word 'science.' I'm fascinated by the science of language. So, on one hand, now, you're extracting from your clients those nuggets of their genius, right? Of what sets them apart; that what really is their unique value proposition. Now, you guys are amazing at turning that into ... I know this because we do share a client, so we've got to take care ... I'll be very discrete. I won't mention any names ...

But you guys are particularly good at converting that into copy - the science of language. Tell me something about that. You can get academic, as well, if you like. Tell me what you've learned in your career or even in your study. I'm fascinated by that aspect.

Judy: I would think the science that we use is psychology with everybody; with letting our clients know, "You do have something to say. We promise you, you are different than your peers. You're different for your reasons.".

We use science to think about, in psychology, the reporters that we're working with in the media, to tell them, "Hey, this is something that your readers would be interested in, and here's why," because they aren't sure always ...

There's a brand new reporter, as of today, in Denver, in commercial real estate, whose background is zero real estate. So, we are going to need to explain to that person - and I don't mean this personally, if he's listening - but I'm guessing that we will have to explain to him why something is important, and why it's different because he hasn't been following the industry for 30 years.

We use science when we go down to the investor communications level. What is it that a physician in Boston is looking to invest in? They don't want the same words. They really don't necessarily want to hear about ... They want to hear about investor words. They want to hear about profit.

They don't want to hear necessarily about environmental cleanup or about anything else that ... To us, we understand the environmental cleanup's all done. It's great ... Before we started and everything. That's not really important to them. We always go to the thinking psychologically about each of the targets that we're talking to and what is important to each of them.

Adam: Exactly - what's in it for me? From the perspective of the listener ... If you're talking, like you say, about environmental problems, or plumbers - nothing against plumbers - who cares? All I want to know is how much am I going to make, and is it going to be safe? At the end of the day [crosstalk]

Judy: -if you're investors are institutional versus if they're high net worth, because the institutional guys will want to know about cap rates, whereas the physicians won't even know what that is. They'll be back to, "What's a mortgage?" [crosstalk] -that's where I think that we have learned how to take the same information and wrap it in the right envelope for each of our audiences.

Good Grammar Matters and Other Notes About the Way You Communicate Online

Adam: ... Was, yeah, the structure of language. How do you structure ... There must be some basic rules that you apply that somebody listening could actually take away and use.

Judy: We are huge fans of correct grammar. Even in today's day and age where people are not as aware of it on the top of their mind as they were, we think that's one of the things ... When you read something that someone said, if the grammar is not correct, it might strike you that they're not as bright as you would have hoped.

People that speak well, and sometimes that means in writing ... That's the copy where we're writing quotes, or slightly revising a quote that a client gave us. We're big sticklers on grammar, and I think that's a little bit unusual, but our clients say, "Wow, you made me sound so smart!" That's part of it is truly is to be a ...

We give writing tests before we meet people in person, because we don't want to fall in love with people that can't write well. Writing is sort of a gift the way that being a good musician is a gift. It's not that you can't practice it, but that's where the art comes in more than the science, I think. The science is on knowing if we want to use a lot of industry terms for PuRe Magazine, whereas we want to use very few industry terms in a business journal. That kind of thing is more maybe a science.

The art side of it is that some people are great writers and some people are not. I can't paint. I'm sure I could try, and I could be taught, but it is a bit of an art that some people have within them, which is why a lot of our clients ... We're saying, "Just chat with us on the phone. You guys know this stuff so well;" but if they had to sit down and try and write a book like you're doing, they would cry [crosstalk]

Adam: -that's exactly what I am doing.

Judy: -in other areas, they don't happen necessarily to be a good writer. Sometimes they are; it just depends. That's why it's a combination of art and science. The language part of it is about, we believe, knowing who your audience is more than any [crosstalk]

Adam: -I have to say this. Ever since you said it's all about grammar, knowing as you do that I'm English, the best thing you can do is to learn to speak proper like what I done.

Why Your Ability to Speak in Public Makes You More Likeable and Trustworthy

Adam: If you're going to be a thought leader, you want to be grammatically correct and precise; educational and concise. But when you're communicating ... Let's say you do a video like this, you want to be a real person, not an automaton, as well.

Judy: If they practice enough, they will be. That's what we are huge fans of, for ourselves, and for our clients. If someone's going to give a speech at a conference, if they will practice what they want to say, you can get up, and you can improvise, and it comes across beautifully, as opposed to if you just sat down and took your questions without thinking in advance about your message points and knowing what you want to get communicated.

All the sudden, those words do come more easily, and naturally, and in a human form. You can tell a joke in the middle of it, and it all comes out very nicely because you do want to be warm, because it's just not 'know and trust.' It's 'know, like, and trust.'

Adam: That's right.

Judy: You have to them like you at the same time, so you do want to be human. You're exactly right.

There’s No Cookie-Cutter Approach to Marketing Your Company or Your Deals

Adam: Tell me, what does that mean? In what way are you a game changer, Judy?

Judy: My current title at our firm is chief strategist. We do not do things the same for any two clients. We are interested in changing the game for them, and you don't change the game by being the same, you change the game by being different, which is why we want pull those nuggets out from each person, or each company to understand their differences.

We have, and there's no way to say this without bragging, but it is to the point, we have clients who have quadrupled in size while we've worked with them. We have one client just on the publicity side, on getting out there, he said, "I used to go to conferences and try and meet people. Since you guys started doing our public relations, I go to conferences and people come running up to me and want to meet me." That was a game changer for their firm. It literally broke so much opportunity open, I think that they've at least doubled in the years that we've been working with them. The Big One, that theater that outdid the one in New York Times Square, and we're in a little suburb out here [crosstalk]

Adam: Which one? The big movie theater?

Judy: The big movie theater actually beat the Times Square movie theater for two years in a row for sales. We had people from five of six continents come here to see it. [crosstalk] said we'll never know how many people are coming to the theater until the developers stop coming to see the work.

Adam: You know, I actually used to ... Again, I used to build movie theaters, so I'm actually quite interested. How many screens does it have?

Judy: I think it's 15. It just was the first megaplex in this [crosstalk]

Adam: Oh, I see. Okay ...

Judy: -the Western U.S.. It was the first one, so everybody had to come see it.

Adam: Fascinating.

Judy: Yeah, but that's ... We try and change the game, positively, of course-

Adam: Mm-hmm.

Judy: -by being very specific with each company and not doing things by rote; not saying, "Oh, it's another one of those kind of guys, we'll just do this," because, obviously, in real estate, there are similarities, as well, but sales are made on points of difference. If we want to help them sell, we're going to make them look different than the guy next to them.

Your Accessibility and Availability Are Still Important in the Age of Digital Marketing

Adam: It's the step from what I call the analog world to the digital world. How do you help somebody across that line? Because it's not easy to go from lunch to YouTube, for example, right?

Judy: That is going to be a function, a little bit, of the world changing, and a little bit of the ages changing. It will become easier and easier. You do not have to talk a five-year-old into getting on a computer, and you haven't had to for 25 years. 30-year-olds were also born with computers basically in their bedrooms when they were three.

So, part of that digital divide is going to just happen with aging, but the other part of it, I think, is that educational thing being available ... You know how all this is, yourself. If you can make a phone call and someone answers the phone, that human touch, for the people - and I'm going to put myself into the older generation because I am - for people in our generation, we do want to call someone if we need to.

We've learned to shop online; we've learned to bank online; we've learned all these things. But in case of a problem, it's awfully nice to have some people available to still speak to them if they would like to. The younger people will never want to, and some of the older people will.

I believe that that's something that's really connected some of our clients with their investors online is that they are available via phone, anywhere in the country; that they can talk to the people if they have a question, instead of referring them back to the website, like they do when you call the telephone company, and they're like, "Please get off our phone and use the website while you're holding."

That's just not a good way to win people's trust and make them like you as getting on the phone and being able to actually help somebody understand something that they have a question with, or discuss their risk profile, if they want to invest, of what you're offering versus other people, and why the online thing, it won't really be as big a challenge if they've gotten to talk to someone they trust and get to know the company.



...No matter how many investors you have or how many deals you've done before.