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Podcast Episode 335 Melissa Swader, Director of Marketing & PR at SVN
GlobeSt Influencer in Marketing Award Winner
On today's incredible episode, I welcome digital marketing guru Melissa Swader.
Melissa was recently named one of the real estate industry's 2020 Influencers in Marketing by GlobeSt.
She began her work as a mentor at the W.P. Carey School of Business/Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, and she finished her latest book which is set to release in 2020.
You can access more information about Melissa in the related links at the bottom of this page.
What You're Going to Learn
* How to Navigate the Learning Curve of a Digital Marketer Moving Into Real Estate
* Why Announcing Closed Deals on Social is Important for Your Real Estate Marketing
* Is Your Logo the Same as Your Brand or is There More to It?
* How to Determine the Right Content for the Right Social Channels
* How to Stay on Top of Trends in Digital Marketing
* How 'Live' Video on Social Platforms Will Enhance Your Brand Awareness
* How Melissa's Book Can Help You with Your Digital Marketing
Listen To or Watch the Full Podcast Here
The Learning Curve of a Digital Marketer Moving Into Real Estate
Adam: ... about what you found there, when you came into that office, in terms of their digital marketing, their content marketing, consistency, and brand awareness, et cetera. What were kind of the first things that you did to change things around or to improve things?
Melissa: Well, I when I first got there, I didn't feel like there was much of anything actually in place. So, I spent a good portion of that first several months to incorporate strategic plans for a different type of marketing; accelerated level of marketing. I come with, at that time, 16 years of marketing background ... 2019 was my 20-year anniversary in my career, so I've been doing this a very long time, and I really ...
Learning commercial real estate was actually the biggest challenge. I mean, who knows of a cap rate when you first ... I'm like, "Cap rate what?" Half of the documentation, I honestly thought I was transcribing something from NASA because I really didn't really understand much of anything, but [crosstalk]
Adam: In a way, that was probably ... Actually, if I can interrupt you ... My wife, by the way, hates it when I interrupt guests [crosstalk]
Melissa: No, it's your show! Do whatever you want!
Adam: That's actually ... In a way it was probably advantageous for you that you did have to learn [crosstalk]
Melissa: Yeah, a lot of it was self-taught. Not just the industry, itself, but I have to really thank ... There are so many people at the very beginning of my career, specifically in commercial real estate, that ... From my media partnerships and vendors who really supported me. I asked a lot of questions. I had to learn, and if I wasn't asking the right questions, I wasn't able to really comprehend the things that I had to do in our marketing department. Once I- after, I'd say, about five or six months, it just ... Everything just- all the puzzle pieces just made up this logo, and I'm like, "Okay, I got it." Then I just went blazing into the CRE industry, and I haven't looked back since ...
Announcing Closed Deals on Social is Important for Your Real Estate Marketing
Adam: How did you then start implementing a new marketing strategy? Tell me about that - at the very beginning, as you started to learn, yourself, about the industry and helped them to become one of the top-ranked offices in the brand ...
Melissa: I really had to kind of dissect our whole brokerage. We are full service, so we have the retail; we have office; we have multifamily. There's such a diverse property type that we offer, and so many different services, that I had to really separate and learn from- which broker did which. Creating a brand for them, personally [inaudible] professionally, but individually, was really important because that really kind of paved the way to individual branding for our different property type brokers.
Once I got into place, it was really about sharing the news. For us, we had a little bit of news coverage, when I first joined, but not as much as I incorporate now ... Where press releases are basically my life every other few days. If we're slow, it's because I'm implementing everything. But it was really about strategic planning andplanning for the future.
I'm very particular on my calendar. Everything has to be planned. I'm very disciplined in my production schedule. So, as long as I stuck to that, it was really about what the subject was. Am I going to Facebook? Am I going ... Which platform am I using? Am I incorporating digital? Am I going social media? Am I using my PR strategies? There's such a wide variety of marketing, as you probably know.
Adam: So, let me ask you, then, are you primarily announcing events that have happened - sales, or successes? In other words, press releases, in that sense, or do you also have an educational component, as well, that you put out there?
Adam: Tell me about the difference between those and how you manage them differently.
Melissa: Yeah. We have so many closed transactions ... There could be three or four closed transactions in a few days. I like to prioritize what my viewership, what my readership, would be more engaged with because this is what media wants. This is what CRE professionals want to hear about - newsworthy stories about transactions that can [inaudible] make a difference in the economic development process.
These are the things that I have to think about when I'm writing anything. I also write about ... I do blogs, so I also write about newsworthy industry achievements. We pride ourselves on achievements because we work so hard. There's a lot of things that go behind the scenes that I don't think that- brokerages really don't spend a lot of time talking about that. For me, I'm like, "Oh, my God! We closed something! Bam! Get me your quote! Get me your quote!" I want to get that out on the news in 48 hours. I don't waste no time because today's news - three days from now - is old news.
Is Your Logo the Same as Your Brand or is There More to It?
Adam: ... Brand a little bit more, if you don't mind. What actually is a brand? What does it mean, this concept of having a brand, and how do you use that in the digital world?
Melissa: Well, I would say we all have ... In theory, we all have a brand. You are your own brand. You have this Real Estate Crowdfunding Show. This is a brand of your business. We all have that, and what we have to do as our brand is we have to validate what we stand for. What is the services that we provide? How do I brand that service? What is the benefit? What does it do for my consumer? My client? My potential client?
I have to break that down and explain that to my viewers, or to my readers, to our followers on social media what that means to them; what that means to their client because branding ... People have brands, and they're not very good at marketing their brands. Then you have brands that are just one [inaudible] and a line across it, and you're like, "OH, we know who that is!" because they use that particular logo on everything. Some people could say a brand is a logo.
Adam: I was actually going to ask you that. So, is a brand a logo?
Melissa: A brand can be a logo, but what makes the logo? It's the theory behind that logo is that they represent ... I mean, say for a sports company, we represent this. We are bringing the benefit of health back, a healthy lifestyle. That is our brand. Check, check ... The same with real estate. What is our brand? Well, we- again, we pride on ourselves about we do educate to elevate our advisors. I educate to elevate my marketing experience just by finding different best practices and going into that. Then, we're constantly growing. We are all lifetime learners, right?
Adam: Yeah. This is a fascinating discussion. I think this idea of a brand ... If you see a brand, and you immediately associate something with that, it evokes a kind of an emotional response from you that says healthy, or fun, or professional, or whatever that is. It's not because of the physical logo, itself. It's because you have been exposed to messaging about that symbol so consistently over time that all you need to do is to see the symbol to have that response evoked, right?
Melissa: Right. We understand what that means. You see that symbol, and you're like, "Oh ..." If they were to see ... SVN is all over the country; international, right? They see the SVN logo, but when they see SVN as their commercial advisors, that's our brand. That's my franchise that I'm trying to increase the level of brand awareness. What do we stand for? What we stand for is everything that I'm very adamant about always getting out on social media, always getting my press statements out because it's all different. My press statements may not have to do with my social media posts, but they can cross over in terms of my message.
How to Determine the Right Content for the Right Social Channels
Adam: So, what is the difference then between your social posts and your PR? Explain to me how you define the brand differently, using these two different resources?
Melissa: Well, now, Doc, I won't give away my trade secrets, and all, but ...
Adam: Well, that's exactly what I was hoping you'd do.
Melissa: Yeah, no. You'll have to wait for my book to come out for that one.
Adam: We'll talk about that. Don't worry. I want to know all about that. Don't worry. We will get to that. Go on.
Melissa: I think that the misconception in marketing or for some real estate brokerages, in general, is that they don't have anyone that's really there to boost the level of your company visibility. Now, we can do that on a variety of different levels. We've talked about the digital aspect, video marketing, your social media. It's all different, but it's all part of the grand scheme of our plans.
I would say the social media is more- the content has to be valid. It has to be engaging. It has to be real. It has to be about real people, real business. My press statements are very similar to that, but [inaudible] it's more about writing. It's more my readership; whereas social media is about design and getting a great graphic with a great message that people will recognize over, and over, and over again. How do we establish our lunch and learns? I created a logo for it. How did we establish our top-10 ranking, our national ranking? I created a logo for it. There is something that, always within our marketing, there is more marketing.
Adam: How do you determine which social is best for you and what to put on ...? Actually, which social do you use? Which do you like to use?
Melissa: I'm on everything, actually. I'm on LinkedIn for ... I say this all the time - what I post on LinkedIn is not what I post on Facebook. What I post on Facebook is not what I post on Instagram, or Twitter. It's very different audiences, very different target market, very different ... There's different people that are following me on these different platforms, and I have to reach the masses. So, I have to make sure I know what kind of content they like, and I know that because I've been on these platforms for so long.
I love my Twitter family. Everybody who has a Twitter account has always started a Twitter account. People who are on Twitter realize, "Oh, wait ... I had a Twitter account a year ago, and I never even tweeted once."
If you have a platform, it's hard, in our busy schedules, especially if you're not a marketing professional. If you're a real estate broker, it can be a little challenging to find the time to post something about yourself. But if you do want to increase the level of your brand, your individual brand visibility as a real estate broker, and I always recommend those people that do that, as well ...
Again, I Instagram. I like to share fun- our culture. I like to share more than just our transactions. Yes, I do talk about our industry achievements, and our new listings; but I also like to show birthday parties, and Facebook- or events that we're doing; our holiday party or anything that will show that we might be hardworking professionals, but we're also people. In order to build a really great company, you have to build a culture within that, and I think a lot of people forget that that is part of why we are in that top level.
How to Stay on Top of Trends in Digital Marketing
Adam: Now, you also talked about self-education; that you're constantly learning. So, tell me, what are your top one or three ... Top ways that [crosstalk]
Melissa: Or 20 ...
Adam: -yeah, exactly ... About education. Tell me, what are the best ways you find to stay on top of your profession - digital marketing, content ...?
Melissa: What I love about these technology companies is they're ... A lot of these technology companies are always putting out there white papers, or they're putting out their blogs about different educational views on social media this ... They include all these different links. I'm always, you know, "Let's click on the link. Let's learn about what are the top 10? What is the top 20? What is the most challenging?" We learn these.
Hootsuite has a really good platform where they have webinars. If you are in marketing, if you're not watching a webinar, or listening to a podcast at least once every couple weeks, I would say, then, after a month or two, there's somebody else that's ahead of the game because you're not staying current.
Adam: Isn't that incredible, how fast stuff changes? [crosstalk]
Melissa: Yeah, it's a fast market. It's a fast marketing market.
How 'Live' Video on Social Platforms Will Enhance Your Brand Awareness
Adam: What is the most exciting change you've seen recently, or something you've seen ... "Oooh, that's interesting ... I wanna try that!"
Melissa: What do I want to try? Gosh, there's so much that I do already. I jump behind the scenes. I'm in front of the camera. I film. I go live. I'm behind the camera. I have to ask people to take pictures of me just to prove that I'm there [inaudible] sometimes.
Adam: Where do you do live, Melissa? What channels are you live on?
Melissa: I have Live on my professional Facebook page, and I take them all behind the scenes. That's what ... A lot of people say, "Melissa, what do you do?" Well, when they follow me on Facebook, they're like, "Wow, we're going through a tunnel. We're gonna go here, on my charity ..." I'm in the field. I have an upcoming event coming up ... It's great because they get to see how much I really do. It's not just ... It's great having a piece of paper that says I've been printed, on my press statement, but actually what went into that press statement is what people don't actually see.
Adam: Very interesting. Do you find the Live is a good source for you of exposure?
Melissa: I think it's a good source for me and for whatever I'm covering, because we go back to the one thing - people relate to people. When you can be yourself ... Believe me, bloopers and all that is all part of going live; me tripping over wires or running into a wall. I have done that a few times myself. You're like, "Here, here it is ..." bam! I'm like, "Okay, so I can't retake that since we're live. So, you guys just know who I am." There's no shame in the humility of going live.
I do like to make sure that people know that we are people just striving to do what's right for our clients; striving- what's right for our business, and that - going back to the education - we do what we have to do. I talk about that in a lot of social media, as well. Again, there's so many different forums and so many different approaches that I feel work best in certain situations and really great in some other circumstances. So, again, [inaudible] choose your platforms and which is best.
How Melissa's Book Can Help You with Your Digital Marketing
Adam: Melissa, you published a book!
Melissa: I'm about to! I'm about to! It hasn't come out [crosstalk]
Adam: About to publish!
Melissa: Yeah, it hasn't come out yet. This is really exciting. I'm very close to revealing the name of the book, and showing the cover, and getting it out there.
Melissa: After 20 years in this business, and all of the social media ... I have stories; many, many stories. I believe some of the questions that I have received, or that I get over the years has been, "How do you do it? How do you juggle commercial real estate, your marketing business, your going live behind the scenes, volunteering your time, running all these social media groups?" The answers are in that book, but again ... Trade secrets!
Melissa: But it's really there. The book is really ... I love my book editor. She says something about I take you through all the kind of the trials and tribulations with my humor. To be honest with you, my book is very much like talking to me. I'm as real as it can get. It may not be a "G" book, but it's definitely a Melissa book [crosstalk]
Adam: What is the ... Let's see, what was I going to ask? Do you have a publisher, or are you self-publishing?
Melissa: Daily House is in Reno. That is my book editor. Then we're kind of going from there. We have some connections and some ties to that, so we're going to see where it takes us. It's all very exciting. It's taken a lot longer than I anticipated. Writing a book is not just about ... You start typing, and then everybody wants to become an author. That's not why I did that.
Why I wanted to- why I really felt compelled to do this for myself was also because I'm constantly helping others. I'm answering all these questions all the time, and what better way to do that is just put everything into that book and show what I've done and help people and guide them to some of the stuff that we've actually talked about.
A lot of that stuff is addressed- that detail is addressed in the book. I really feel that this is going to help a lot of small business owners. This is going to help a lot of people in business that just have kind of flatlined. They've reached that plateau, and they just don't know where to go at that point because they just don't know how. I'm hoping that this will help them, too.