Learn the basics of internet marketing, and how to get started as a business with a very small business. Allan McNabb with Image Building Media is interviewed by Ray Hendricks (Real Estate Ray) as they discuss marketing for business owners who are just getting started.
Education is key. New business owners should start from the very beginning, thinking like a business and managing their business. New business owners at the beginning have to do everything themselves and invest in their business as it grows.
Ray and Allan discuss the marketing budget for businesses getting started, and Allan gives an answer that may surprise you. Plus, they discuss lessons from knowing their competitors and learning from them. And, Allan gives great tips on how to get a free education in internet marketing.
Ray Hendricks: Hey, everybody. Welcome to Coast to Coast Real Estate. I’m your host, Real Estate Ray. I’m here with Allan McNabb. I’m glad that you took out time to actually be with me today, Allan.
Allan McNabb: Hey, thank you, Ray. I appreciate you having me.
Ray Hendricks: Now, today we’re going to just be talking about marketing and what that means for the small business, and we’re going to look at real estate as well and how that’s good for Realtors to market themselves. So, Allan, just give us a brief background on yourself, like how did this whole thing with marketing start with you?
Allan McNabb’s Background
Allan McNabb: Yeah, Ray, so shortly out of college, I ran a business that was in Leesburg, Florida, and we were in the food service industry and developed a program that we took to Publix. And we did a lot of their hot deli and some of their cold deli. We did 7-Eleven, we did Food Lion, a lot of companies like that. And so as the Internet and Internet marketing started becoming popular, that was just something I segued into very easily because with that company, I ran the company, and part of that was IT. Internet marketing came in, and it started off with creating websites. And so I started doing HTML in 1989 as that was coming out, and then social media started coming out and then SEO, and so all these things just fit together. Simultaneous to that, my wife was also into photography, and so then came Photoshop and all the Adobe programs. And so it just ended up as being a good way for us to go is to eventually create a business with Internet marketing, and so that was a really good fit for us. And it’s been great so far.
Ray Hendricks: Oh, nice. Alright. So, we did get the backstory on that. So what made you decide, “Hey, I’m going to go ahead and take the leap, and I’m going to start a business for myself?”
Allan McNabb: Well, shortly out of college, I worked for a great entrepreneur, and I learned a lot about entrepreneurship. I ran the business, and he was the entrepreneur. He was out selling. He was out creating programs. And the entire industry where there are hot foods in grocery stores and delis in grocery stores and in convenience stores, he was largely responsible for inventing that entire industry.
Ray Hendricks: Oh, wow.
Allan McNabb: As a matter of fact, the very first Walmarts that had a food court, we did the entire food court, everything in it. And so he was responsible for really the explosion of the hot foods in 7-Eleven, in Walmart, took off with Publix and brought in a lot of new things. I was learning how to be an entrepreneur. And so then, as I grew personally, then of course, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and so we started our own business. We started out small like most people, and sole proprietor, and then you grow that. We created an LLC, and I just love it. I love business. I love the excitement. I love making the deal. I love being creative and just making it work to be profitable. I just love business in general. So it was just perfect that we eventually would start our own business.
Realtors Should Look at Themselves as a Business
Ray Hendricks: Now, when we think about small businesses, we know that everybody starts off. So some people think more brick and mortar, some people think, “Alright, I’m going to start a business out of my house.” But very few people really look at Realtors as their own business, and I’ve noticed that coming up that people think you work for the brokerage. The brokerage is really doing the work for you, and that’s not necessarily true. And you had a lot of time to work with a lot of Realtors. As far as marketing for Realtors, what would you say is the best way to actually start? ‘Cause some people are starting with a very small budget.
Allan McNabb: Sure. And quite honestly, most small businesses start with a small business, right? And I think number one is, the Realtor or the sole proprietor has to think in business the way that business people think. And a lot of times, especially the commission-based salespeople, whether it be a Realtor, they don’t think that way. And that is the first hurdle they’ve got to overcome before they can actually be a business. And part of being a business is managing a business, which includes managing your marketing, managing your sales, those are two different departments. And at first, you don’t have any budget for that, but then as you grow your business, the biggest mistake is that they don’t start allocating for these very important things that would grow their business, marketing, and things like that. So it ends up, a lot of them just never grow their business because “as far as they’re thinking, they don’t have a business.” So I think what you’ve said, first of all, is most important. You’ve got to be a business and think like a business. And so just getting started out, education and learning how to do things yourself.
You do social media. What does that cost? Nothing. If you’ve got a computer, you’ve got a cell phone, you can do social media all day long. And I call social media the great equalizer because you can have your audience, you can do your social media, and you see businesses that go from zero to hero within like a year, and you say, “How did you do that?” He says, “Social media.” And so you can do social media all day long, and you look at these successful businesses that have gone from nothing and have grown, a lot of them start with social media. You can get a website for practically nothing. You don’t even need a database to get started, just have leads, just run them out of your email, and you start getting some business, generating some business. You add a database CRM for 15 bucks a month. It’s a very low cost, once you get your business up and going a little bit, to start adding some of these things where you can begin marketing as a business using mostly your own labor, and then just a few inexpensive tools. And those that work hard to do that, their business just grows and explodes. So that’s really super important. Yeah.
Cost of Intenet Marketing
Ray Hendricks: Oh, absolutely. Now, let’s take your business, Image Building Media, right? Let’s say that a fresh person that comes into real estate, they want to hire a company like yours in order to do some marketing for them. What does that look like on their pockets? ‘Cause a lot of people don’t want to do that ’cause they think that it might be too expensive to hire a marketing company or a media company.
Allan McNabb: Yeah, so the first thing, like I mentioned, they probably just want to get some education and do it themselves. Because after your business grows and you are able to hire, say, a marketing, an Internet marketing, firm such as ourselves, you still have to know what you’re doing. You can’t just through ignorance because what’s going to happen, a lot of times they’re taken advantage of. They don’t know what is a good company. They don’t know what does a good company do. They can be taken advantage of. And unfortunately, like with any industry, there’s a lot of those people that will take advantage of you. So step one is, get education. We’re teaming up with Graystone. We’re doing the webinars. You’re part of that. We had two webinars in a row on Facebook marketing. Then we had one on LinkedIn. This Thursday, we have one on Twitter. And those are archived, those are online, those are on our website, Image Building Media, learn those because as we’ve got… We had last week, Jorge was there, who has built his entire business in large part off the social media.
And so the businesses that learn, learn from the people who are successful. And they say, “Okay, this is what works. Now start doing it.” And it takes a lot of your personal time. And that’s another place where a lot of the agents just getting started out, they want to skip where they learn how to do it and where they actually do it. And they want to go to, “I want to hire somebody to do it,” and they don’t have the money to do that. Most small businesses don’t. So, once they get past the step where they’re just getting started, and they get to the step where they’re generating some income… Maybe they’ve sold their first house, year one. Maybe they’ve sold two, year two. Maybe they say, “Okay, I can get a tool to help me with social media, 29 bucks a month.” And it will save you a gazillion hours a year for 29 bucks a month. Say, now I can get a website, $29.95. With Jorge, we’ve got a special. We’ll even do the design for free. Other Realtors, 199 bucks gets you into a very good website to generate leads. So what’s your price then there with that? It’s like under 50 bucks. You add the CRM database, 15 bucks. So the cost to do it is very low.
Now, when say maybe you’re doing 10 houses a year, and you say, “I need to offload some of this.” And maybe you’ll offload, you’d say, “I want to offload some of my social media.” You don’t want to offload it all. Offload some of my social media, increase your budget a little bit. And then maybe you say, “Oh, I’m going to put an article, one a month, I’m going to have that written for me and put it on my website, $185 a month.” And so this is exactly what we’ve done with Graystone. We’ve been working with Jorge before he even started Graystone, when he was just building his business, when it was him and Stephanie. That’s it. And so the money to get in is very inexpensive. Then as your business grows, and maybe you’re doing 20, 30 deals a month, every other month, whatever, then a typical Internet marketing budget for a small business, it’s going to run between $1,000 and $3,000 a month. And those are the ones that are doing a lot of lead, a lot of lead generation, and they’re selling a lot of deals. Now, you contrast that. I don’t know if you have gone online, but if I can back up for a second, a big part of this is knowing your competition, right?
Ray Hendricks: Absolutely.
Allan McNabb: You have to know your competitors. And if there’s a real estate agent that has not scrutinized everything that Duncan Duo does, they’re missing out because that’s one… They should know everything Graystone is doing, and they should be going to the webinars and they should be learning, but also, should be looking at their competitors. The marketing budget for Duncan Duo is a million dollars a year, a million bucks a year. And so you’ve got to know what these guys are doing. And for every Realtor, real estate agent, real estate professional, they should go online and listen to the story of Duncan Duo. They sold one house the first year, and they grew their business from starting where they had no money to pay for any marketing at all to now to have a marketing budget of a million dollars a year. You gotta know that story. You know why? Because they are your competitor. And the other one you need to know is Smith & Associates. They’re killing it online. Graystone again, and if you’re a Graystone agent, Jorge is training and telling you all the secrets, but you also need to know your competitors. And that’s where you have to look and say, “I want to be the next Duncan Duo. I want to take over that spot.”
Ray Hendricks: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Allan McNabb: So that’s the progression from starting with, “I got zero budget till I’ve got a marketing budget of a million dollars.”
Ray Hendricks: Oh, okay. Well, you did cover one of my questions ’cause I was going to ask you, when should you decide to go ahead and think about your marketing budget? And I think… I love what you said, but I think very early on, once you figure out that you actually want to be a business, I think that you should look at the marketing budget then and just kinda ramp up. That’s what I did with my business is ramp up just a little bit year by year. But I want to keep some of the agents away from some of the pitfalls, like some of those magazines, and just different things that you fall into as a new agent that aren’t really productive for you. So what would you say? What have you seen in the market, some of these marketing companies or whatever that were not marketing companies, but marketing decisions that some people make that aren’t really good for your business?
Have a Marketing Budget
Allan McNabb: Yeah, well, number one, it would be not having a marketing budget. Even if you’re starting out, this is year one, you should be thinking about a marketing budget. And you should say, “Oh… ” And then have a plan. I would suggest plan one is to get your social media management tool, $29 a month. And you think about it, Ray, if you’re going to get into real estate, and whether you go with the marketing tool or you say, “I’m going to start with a website at $29.95 a month.” If you can’t do one of those, can you really be in real estate?
Ray Hendricks: No.
Allan McNabb: No. So you should start from day one, and education is the big thing. So go online, lookup, what should your marketing budget be. We wrote on this in 2018, ImageBuildingMedia.com. It’s really not changed. We’ve not updated that. We should. But the marketing budget should be, say 10%-13% of your total annual sales. And of course, you’re getting commission sales with that, and that’s for a mature business. A business that is trying to grow is going to be as high as 30%. Apple was an example of that. When Apple years ago, they had really fallen down, they were having a lot of troubles. They brought Steve Jobs back. His first thing was, he put the marketing budget up over 30% of total sales.
Ray Hendricks: Wow.
Allan McNabb: Yeah. So look where they are now. So, for example, I don’t know about you, Ray. I love watching business shows, and there’s Listing Impossible out of LA. And I love watching that and say, “Okay, these are successful people. They got their problems. They make their mistakes, but how do they do that?” And one of the agents that I really love on that show is a young lady. She drives a Ferrari. She sells $72 million a year. And so her marketing budget, her personally not including the agency, is a quarter-million per year. Yeah, so from the very beginning, be thinking marketing budget. “My marketing budget right now is $29 a month, 30 bucks a month.” Think about that. And you say, “My goal is to be doing these mini sales because I want my marketing budget. I want my sales budget. I want my admin budget because I want an assistant.” These are goals that we have to have. So I think you’re exactly right. From day one, treat it as a business. A business has a marketing budget. What is your marketing budget? And what are you going to do with that? I think that’s really super important.
Ray Hendricks: Oh, definitely. So, how have things changed for you since the time that you started and up until now? How has business, the way you actually think about running your small business, how has that changed over the years?
How to Grow a Small Business
Allan McNabb: Well, it’s really what we’ve been talking about is, we started with, “Okay, we’ve got a small business, basically, I do everything. My wife does the graphics.” There was a little bit that we could do. And we had to grow our business so that we are not doing the production as much, but we are guiding a team to do the production because one person can only do so much. And the same thing for a real estate agent, because they’re going to say, “There are so many houses I can sell.” And so they’re going to want an assistant, and there’s going to be value to that. They’re going to sell more. And then they’re going to want to perhaps build a team, and they’re going to be able to do more. And so the same thing with us. So it started out with my wife and I, and this was in the infancy of the Internet… Oh, I don’t even know if there really was Internet marketing, certainly nothing like there is today. And so we grew it up to where we’ve got a team.
And when someone orders a website, I don’t make that website. I set the guidelines, the creativity. I assign that. I hold accountable. There’s got a date. I manage, we manage the business. And I don’t [peronally] make the website. I don’t [peronally] do the social media. When we’ve got a client, we do their social media. I don’t [peronally] do their social media. Now I used to, and I think that’s where every business person has to, has to, go. Instead of working in the business, you step outside of the business to manage the business.
And you look at a [real estate] broker. That’s really what a broker does, right? A broker has some clients and is going to sell some properties, but most of those properties are sold by the team, right?
Ray Hendricks: Absolutely.
Allan McNabb: So, it’s really the same thing. Whether it’s our business or real estate business, it really all works the same.
Ray Hendricks: Right. And that’s what I love about this show, and this is what I’m doing with this show going forward, is just showing the parallels between a small business owner and a real estate agent, just so we can all get on equal footing. Because I think that the misconception in real estate is that we ride around, we show people houses, and we’re just making money the whole way through. And I seen a joke on Facebook the other day, and the guy was saying that he is so amazed at how many people have their degree in real estate from HGTV. And that’s what people think. And it’s really a hard business, and there’s no difference between the real estate agent and the small marketing company, and the large marketing company, and just the different small businesses that come about. Everybody is going through. And I think that this whole COVID thing, I think that that made it more prevalent to how much we all depend on each other and how much real estate plays a part in our whole ecosystem.
Allan McNabb: Yeah. And with us, our clients sit on the top of Google for thousands of keywords, it doesn’t matter if they’re real estate. It doesn’t matter if they’re a doctor. It doesn’t matter if they’re a mortgage broker. It’s all the same thing. You market… There’s no difference. Your content is different because your topic is different with the way you do it. And if I can just leave all of the real estate and all of the business owners and entrepreneurs, you have to be experts at marketing and sales. And it doesn’t matter what your marketing and selling, whether it’s real estate or something else. And that’s one of the big lessons I’ve learned. I binge watch Shark Tank because it’s just so educational.
Ray Hendricks: Oh, yeah. I love it. That’s one of my favorite shows.
Allan McNabb: Yeah. Mark Cuban is the best at this, and he’ll say, “Look, you’re a marketing company. You just so happen to be selling X, Y, Z.”
Ray Hendricks: Absolutely.
As a Realtor, You Are a Marketer
Allan McNabb: And as a Realtor, you’re a marketer. You just so happen to be selling real estate. If you changed tomorrow, the way you market doesn’t change. It’s the same.
Ray Hendricks: Absolutely. And being a broker at this stage, my thing is to make sure that my agents know that. And that’s what me and Jorge are working hand-in-hand together to make sure that we create that system for these new real estate agents. And luckily, being at Graystone, they have you to be able to bounce ideas off of as far as marketing and helping them. But for the people that don’t have Allan McNabb or that haven’t heard of you before, how do people get in touch with you?
Image Building Media
Allan McNabb: Well, thanks for that question. Of course, there’s our website, ImageBuildingMedia.com. And we’ve got a website for our real estate friends, that’s xpertRealtyMarketing.com, but Image Building Media is our main website. And for those who aren’t real estate people, suggestion number one is start attending the Graystone webinars ’cause the things we teach with that are applicable for everybody in every industry.
Ray Hendricks: Absolutely, absolutely.
Allan McNabb: So there’s a lot of free education out there, and Graystone is one of the places where we do these webinars, go to YouTube, go to our Facebook. We’ve got Facebook Live all the time, go to that. Go to our website. Look at these videos. These webinars are like an hour long. Study, practice, learn, because it’s all out there, and whether you’re real estate or something else, it all works the same way.
Ray Hendricks: Oh, yeah. I’m glad that you volunteered to be my first guest.
Allan McNabb: Thank you.
Ray Hendricks: I really wanted to bring you one just so other people could be as exposed to you, ’cause I think when we do these webinars, a lot of people are like, “Oh, well, he just got deals with Realtors or real estate.” And that’s absolutely not true. I mean, marketing is marketing.
Allan McNabb: That’s right. We’ve got clients. We’ve got e-commerce. We’ve got jewelry stores. We’ve got doctors in different practices, but marketing is marketing. We do the exact same thing for real estate, social media, website, blogs, get to the top of Google. All of that’s exactly the same. So, there’s a lot of just great information that Graystone and our partnership with them. Everybody, it doesn’t matter what your business is, you can learn so much and we just… The more people that take advantage of that is… That’s great.
Ray Hendricks: Absolutely. Alright. So if there’s one thing you want to leave all the marketers or mini marketers, ’cause now we figured out that we’re actually marketers as well, what would you leave us with as small business owners? What is that one piece of advice that you would give to a small business owner?
Allan McNabb: Yeah, if I can just summarize, I guess really what we talked about is treat yourself like a business, treat yourself like a marketer. You are a marketer. So, education at the end of the day is the biggest thing. And whether it’s the Graystone webinars, Shark Tank, Listing Impossible, all of these that are out there, where you can learn from the experts, education. And they’ve got to the top. And you just want to learn how do you get up there. Just extract that information and do it, and you’re going to get there.
Ray Hendricks: Absolutely. Alright. Well, I want to thank everybody for tuning in to Coast To Coast Real Estate. This was our first episode. I’m going to be doing this every week, Tuesdays at noon. They’re going to be different guests. Allan and Beth McNabb, they’re going to be helping me in the background as far as doing the Facebook Live and everything else. I just want to thank you guys for joining me today. Join us for our Episode 2 next Tuesday at noon. Thank you very much, Allan, for joining me. Thank you, Beth, for running the background. And I appreciate you guys and tune in next week.
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