Join us for our first special guest feature episode! We have our Brand Manager Sandy Deo joining Carla this week for an extended segment all about Marketing to make you stand out in the property management space.
Welcome to Canada's Property Management Podcast, your number one resource for investing, managing, and maximizing the value of your real estate assets. And now here's your hosts, Carla Browne and Adrian Schulz, Canada's rental property experts.
Carla Browne (00:18):
Hello everybody. I have a special podcast that we're bringing to you today. As Adrian is away playing with his family on vacation, we thought it would be a good opportunity to start to highlight some of our team members at Real Property Management, Canada. So first up, and this is one that you will definitely not want to miss, is we're going to have a discussion today with our brand manager, Sandy Deo, who is going to talk to us about when you're in property management, how you can effectively market yourself, your business, your listings for success, because I, for one, thought this was way easier than what it is. And I'm so glad that I have her on my side, working with us day in and day out with her team. So Sandy, welcome to our show.
Sandy Deo (01:07):
Hi, Carla. Thank you for having me. I have big shoes to fill with Adrian not being here today, but yeah, I'm super excited, part of the podcast. I'm usually on the back-end and I help with the editing portion. So yeah, it's really cool to be on this side of it and get, like you said, share a little bit about marketing in general and how trends are always changing and how that really affects properties, rentals, and the property management industry as a whole.
Carla Browne (01:38):
Yeah. So in order to fill Adrian's shoes, I guess, I should have told you this before we started, you need to always talk about unicorns and rainbows, because he always brings that into the episodes. And then, unfortunately, we don't have video on today but if we did, you would have to be wearing suspenders because that's his go-to as well. So I want him to, when he listens to this himself, to feel like, hey, you're still part of it, Adrian. You're a big part of what we do here every day on the podcast. But yeah, so first of all, let's let our listeners know who you are, Sandy. So I know your story, but tell the listeners where you came from and how you got to be working with myself as the brand manager with RPM.
Sandy Deo (02:17):
Yeah, sure. I can get on board with the unicorns and rainbows, but the suspenders probably not. A little bit [inaudible 00:02:25].
Carla Browne (02:22):
Sandy Deo (02:27):
How I got started with Real Property Management, so I joined the company just about two years ago now and it's been a really enjoyable experience for me. I think coming from a different background, so I studied marketing, I've worked in marketing for a long time, but more so on the retail and consumer side of things. I have my own businesses in the fashion space. So it was a little bit of a transition coming to Real Property Management. However, I did have a background, through my family, as a property investor. My parents are rental property owners and I've seen for many and many years how, I guess, we would now look and think you guys are really doing this wrong. Everything that we put out and how not to do, they have done. So they're back in the UK. So a little bit different. We live in a very small village back in the north of England, but yeah, so I moved to Canada eight years ago and when I got here, I knew I wanted to be in the marketing space.
Sandy Deo (03:37):
I love consumer marketing and just the psychology of marketing and how things are always changing, so it's definitely an industry that keeps us on our feet. As of recent, I think things are changing on a weekly basis in terms of social media and what qualifies as good for SEO or how to kind of trick the algorithm. I know where we're not, we don't have cameras there, but I did air quotes because there's no such thing as tricking the algorithm per se. But yeah, I love the industry. I love how dynamic it is. And I love working with other entrepreneurs with our offices and as well as the team, we have a really good team here at home office. It's a small but mighty team. And I think working under yourself, Carla, you bring so much to the table and your expertise. I'm like a sponge. I always soaking up all the information yourself and our sales team, Michelle and Brett, are giving me, Adrian. So yeah, you guys are full of knowledge and it makes my job a little bit easier. So I know I can lean on you all for that information, but...
Carla Browne (04:46):
Yeah, I think we lean on you as well, Sandy, because you are, as I know, I message you all the time and it's like, I just need to pick your brain on this because your marketing and the strategy that you put behind it, there's so much more than just slapping up an ad of a couple pictures of a house for rent. So let's kind of dig in. We have investors of all sizes that listen to this podcast, but let's go back. I'm just starting to get into investing in real estate, and I really do want to make this a side hustle business. Maybe it's going to be a full-time business at some point, but it usually starts off as a side hustle of some sort. How, from a marketing perspective, how would you recommend someone start to position themselves? Let's give them step one, two and three in your mind and how that might work?
Sandy Deo (05:32):
Okay, awesome. So I like the fact that you referenced it as a business. Even when you bring one property into your portfolio, I think you have to position yourself and see it as a business because later down the line, hopefully when you're expanding your portfolio, you don't want to be scrambling and coming up with strategies at that point. It's a lot easier to go into it with a clear mind of the type of properties you want to own, the type of tendency one in those properties. And that will be a lot easier if you come in with a solid plan from the get-go. Just like you have a business plan, part of your business plan is your marketing plan. And again, depending on who you want in your properties, will depend on where is best to effectively market yourself. So first of all, always think of it as a business.
Sandy Deo (06:23):
And one of the main things any business right now needs is a website. So I guess we can start with having a website and how that can really help position yourself as a professional in the industry. It's a lot easier than it ever was to build a quite robust user-friendly website. There's a lot of platforms out there that allow you to do this. But for sure, I think, don't solely rely on the listing syndication sites. Obviously, they are powerful and they are one tool in your tool belt, but having your own website gives you a space where, A, you own that data, but also will position yourself alongside the more seasoned and bigger investor groups as a professional landlord/property manager.
Carla Browne (07:17):
Yeah. So the website, I know, is really big for yourself because it was one of your major projects that you wanted to conquer this year with Real Property Management. So just maybe tell the listeners what you did with our particular sites, both from the office level and what we've done nationally. I know you referenced, there's some easy ways for them to start to build a website, but maybe you could just give them a tip or two on where they might start. If resources, as far as money, is a bit of an issue from a small business standpoint, they don't need to go to an advertising agency or a website designer, necessarily, to start out with, so. But maybe tell them about our website, I guess, and if they haven't had a chance to visit it, how they might find that.
Sandy Deo (07:59):
Yeah. Okay. So, for sure, the rebranding of our websites to date has been my biggest project. We came in with the goal, everything we always do with the marketing team is strategic because as a team, there are multiple people on the marketing team, but we do have limited resources, so we want to make sure that our time is well spent and that we're working on the projects that really matter. So that's why websites was a huge thing for us, when I came on board. And we announced them, they officially rolled out a few months ago, so please visit our national website, realpm.ca, little plug there. Our offices all have brand new websites, as well. And one of the big, main reasons we wanted to do a full revamp, yes, our website network is more sophisticated. We do have a number of offices under the Real PM name across Canada.
Sandy Deo (08:55):
So as a investor with a smaller portfolio, things will look different, but definitely go and visit our website. You can get some inspiration from there. Some of the features that we have there, are things that I would recommend yourselves to also implement on your website. But the main goal for our website was we wanted to have a national database of our available rentals. Again, maybe that's not something that's going to apply directly to you right now, but you can go in and see how we use effective captions and we're using imagery that it's clear, concise, 3D tours. We wanted to position ourselves as innovators in this space, and that's why we undertook the project of rebranding our websites. Our websites are very heavily focused on being SEO friendly. We wanted users, investor tenants, and our tenant clients to be able to find us easier. Sorry, Carla, I'm rambling there. Okay. Can we just do that-
Carla Browne (09:57):
You're not rambling at all. I love the passion when you get going and I never have the heart to stop because it's so interesting as you go on. And it's super interesting for our listeners, Sandy, because a lot of small and maybe even medium-size investors who are doing this on their own and they haven't engaged in professional property management at this point, they don't even think of this being vitally important, and it is. I think if you're going to look at any business, a website is kind of that basic first step.
Carla Browne (10:28):
And remember Michelle saying when, Michelle is our business development associate, she went to a conference in Toronto back in May, I think it was, and she did meet a lot of investors and she was networking, connecting. So she's asking for contact information, how she can find them, and most of them did not have a website. That was the first thing that she brought forward to you and I, it was mind-blowing. So I guess it's just not natural for a lot of people to think that, that's a first step. And then once that website is going, I guess then we really head into the rabbit hole of social media.
Sandy Deo (11:02):
Carla Browne (11:02):
I'm going to let you talk about that because there are so many platforms out there between Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and LinkedIn, and now TikTok. Where does an investor start? You have a lot of research and data on where we know our tenants are looking. So let's give these people some information and share with what you have found and how that really does connect back to their website as well.
Sandy Deo (11:30):
Awesome. For sure. Definitely. We were mind blown when Michelle came back and said that about people who didn't have their websites. Just quickly going back to that point in my ramblings, I wanted to make sure that our listeners did get a few tidbits on how they could go about making a website. There are a lot of platforms I can name-drop, Wix being one, Squarespace. These are user-friendly websites that at low cost you can put together quite a robust website. Things that I would definitely recommend implementing on their sites is having a portfolio with images and videos of your listings, a blog. And we'll touch on blogs and stuff, a little bit later in the podcast and how it ties in to the whole marketing strategy. And just making sure that your website is user-friendly on mobile. So a lot of designers these days, we design mobile first. Remember consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices than a desktop, necessarily.
Sandy Deo (12:32):
Don't neglect your desktop site, how it looks, but design for mobile, make things easy to scroll through. And like I said, there's loads of cost-effective ways to do that. And now we'll go into social media, because that is also a very cost-effective way of marketing your properties and definitely an extension of your, A, your website, but an extension of yourself. Think about it, when you're going to these conferences, let's go back to Michelle for example, she was meeting these other investors and whatnot, and when they are handing her their business cards, what will be the next step for her to do she'll want to go and do her own research on their companies and a little bit about them. The easiest place to do that nowadays, is quick Google search, either your website's going to pop up or your social medias. And if you're doing it right, all of the above should be popping up. The more you can provide your audience, so in this case tenants information, they can go off and do their research on their own time.
Sandy Deo (13:35):
It's not like they have to wait for the hours of nine to five to ring you. That's maybe not convenient. They can, in their own time, go and do some, let's say, background research on you and your company or your listings, for example, in their own space. And social media, like Carla you mentioned, there's so many platforms out there and I know that can be definitely daunting. It's even daunting as a marketing professional with updates pretty much happening on a weekly basis. So my biggest piece of advice for someone who's just getting side, or maybe you'd been on social media, but it's not being as effective as you are hoping, scale back, go back to the basics and really concentrate on maybe a couple of the platforms instead of trying to spread yourself thin and be in all of the platforms. Remember mastering one platform at a time will position yourself in a stronger place because that way you'll really be able to hone in on who your audience is on that specific platform.
Sandy Deo (14:40):
Remember the audiences on Facebook will be vastly different to the audiences that are using TikTok. So don't think that once you have, maybe you've grown your Facebook page, that you can then go off and share that same information on your TikTok, because like I said, a lot of the times those audiences don't overlap. So definitely be aware of that. Social media is a powerful tool that boxers use for consumer-facing products, for services. Everyone should have a social media presence. It's no longer a USP to have a LinkedIn page, an Instagram page, a Facebook page, at the least. Definitely even throw in YouTube there. If you have listings and you're making videos of your listings, which you definitely should be alongside photos, those videos should be living on YouTube. YouTube is owned by Google. They are an extension of a search platform. So definitely, there's a lot to think about. There's a lot of moving parts in social media. But I definitely say go back to basics, don't try and overwhelm yourself by being on every platform at the same time.
Carla Browne (15:52):
Okay. Yeah. It is mind-boggling when you start thinking about it. It seems simple, but it gets complex pretty easy. So what about, say I'm an investor and I'm going to concentrate on Facebook right now. Am I creating a business page or am I just posting this on personal? What do you think is the best approach for someone to take there?
Sandy Deo (16:13):
Okay, so definitely create a business page. Going back to the mindset, this is a business. And yes, I did say earlier on, your socials are an extension of you, however, they are not you. And as much as you and your family might love seeing pictures of your family pet or what you're getting up to on the weekend, your tenants are not that interest in it. Yes, you can share bits of your personality, for sure, in your professional business page. However, remember they're there because they're looking for a rental listing. There's other people who will visiting your pages, other investors you might want to start networking with, potential vendors including maintenance people. A lot of other professionals are visiting your page. You, for your own privacy, might not necessarily want them connecting with you on your personal page. And it's actually harder for people to search up you, as an individual, than it would be for them to find you as a business. So definitely set yourself up a business page on Instagram, LinkedIn and on Facebook, for sure.
Carla Browne (17:23):
Okay. So I guess it would be a good way for them to invite their tenants onto the page and even do a little bit of communication and whatnot. I hadn't really thought about that piece before. I mean, we have a lot of our tenants that follow our social media accounts, I guess, but I guess it would be a good platform for them to do. Couldn't rely on it as trying to get information out, but it would be a good way to throw some information out to them. And like you said, get to know them because the one thing that I have noticed is that tenants often want to use a property management company because now we're kind of that mediator in between them, and they get to know us that we're a real company, we can validate different things, we've got that credibility. Where they're just renting from an investor personally, sometimes nowadays there's some hesitation. So I guess that can help alleviate that when they've positioned themselves more of a business, right?
Sandy Deo (18:19):
Yeah, for sure. And it all goes back to a concept called the like no trust concept. Consumers, so your tenants, they have to, A, they have to like what you're putting out there and they've got to feel like they know you in essence or they know your products, they know kind of the service that you offer. And from that, they need to be able to build a level of trust with you. So the like no factor, they come through brand awareness. And I know saying the word brand and then trying to apply it to yourself, if you're seeing yourself, you maybe just have one or two properties. Am I really a brand? Yes, you are a brand. And brand encompasses a lot of things, so visuals, the way you speak to your audience, a lot of things fall into that category. But remember brand awareness and positioning yourself as someone who, A, knows what they're doing, but B, that you have your tenant's best interest at heart, that will help bridge the gap to that trust factor.
Sandy Deo (19:18):
And from that trust factor, that's when people are going to be going to your website or reaching out to you because they trust that by submitting this form, this information is going to the right person, or by giving you a call that they're going to speak to someone who potentially could be their new landlord. So definitely building that like no trust factor on your social medias is important. And going back to how we do that Real Property Management here, is years and years of being consistent on our social medias and the strategy before a lot of our offices is purely providing value. Perceived value, value to your tenants in the form of guidance, tips on how to find a perfect rental home, what to look for when you're renting, how to make yourself the perfect renter in the eyes of landlords and whatnot. So positioning yourself as an expert is a great way to alleviate some of those concerns that people might have from renting from individual property owners.
Sandy Deo (20:32):
So definitely think about what you're posting and come at it with a plan to provide value and information. And I know that's definitely time-consuming for sure, because I think most of us would think, okay, well I have a listing, my first thought is I need to just post my listing and sell, sell, sell. I need to fill this vacancy and whatnot. And that might work when you have one or two properties. However, as you build your portfolio, you want to be in a position where you have tenants, let's say, on a waiting list, they want to only rent from you and they're waiting for, oh, when is that new listing coming up from so and so investor. You want them to be eager and active on your page and looking for, basically scrambling to be part of your network and rent from you. So definitely consider that like no trust factor. It's a huge component of marketing, in general, to be fair.
Carla Browne (21:31):
Yeah. That's such a great point, to make sure that they understand because we do lose sight of that, that marketing is so much more than just placing an ad and that's where people really go to. But if this is not, I mean, it's not like you're selling something on Facebook Marketplace that you don't want in your house anymore. I mean that you can just throw up, it's a one-off. But when you have this real estate asset that you want to make sure you got quality tenants that are coming in, that are going to look after the property and hopefully you're going to be able to retain them for a period of time, that's a big deal and you need to be really understanding the business component that's there. And I think when you position yourself as a business, it's easier to take some of that emotional part out of it, as well.
Carla Browne (22:16):
So I know, for myself, I always say that I'm running a business so I can take the emotion out of it and just protect the investor. So that's really what our investors, who are self-managing, need to really do. So you'd mentioned something early on in our conversation that I don't want to lose sight of, and that's the blogs. And this is, I think, pretty scary for people to think that they're going to be writing blogs because now they're like, oh, now I need professional writers and everything. How does someone go about adding a blog to their website and what is the main benefit to do that? What's the spin-off that's going to be if they can put some content there?
Sandy Deo (22:54):
For sure. I think definitely can be a daunting task for many. And I can't lie, I think you do have to have, you got to have knowledge in the subject matter that you're going to speak on, for sure. So definitely as a property investor, you're going to naturally have that knowledge. You might have to do a little bit of research on how to refine some of your thoughts. But going back to the very basics of what a blog is, it's you sharing, in written form content, your thoughts or giving advice on a certain subject matter. When you're thinking about what to write, really think about, okay, what are the questions, day-to-day, that my tenants are asking me already, instead of having to rack your brain around, okay, what do I talk about? Really go back to, okay, if this tenant is asking me this question, maybe there's hundreds of other tenants thinking the same thing.
Sandy Deo (23:53):
I mentioned before, if you have properties for college students, for example, maybe they're looking at cost-effective ways to spruce up their dorm rooms or how to create a comfortable work-from-home environment within a rental. Really things are relevant to what's happening in the world right now, but really think about, okay, if this tenant A is asking me, tenant B, C to Z is going to most likely have the same question, so you can pull ideas from there. So you're not starting from scratch. Also, I would definitely recommend just doing a little bit of research on Google, see what your other investors are writing about, what other property managers invest are writing about, joining forums where tenants are residing. In these forums, a lot of them are anonymous, so they will not mince their words and be really honest of their concerns and questions that they might not necessarily feel comfortable asking their landlords, but they feel like they can share within their tenant networking groups, but definitely pulling ideas from there.
Sandy Deo (25:04):
It'll already set you up for success, because people are naturally then be searching for those answers online. The biggest benefit of having those blogs live on your website is when they are doing those searches, Google recognize, okay, this person is searching this term, oh, I know this website has these answers here, and puts your website in front of them, right? It's very hard to get on the top of Google rankings and listings. And there're a lot of ways you can go about it. But SEO is one of the most effective ways. And SEO, itself, stands for search engine optimization, so basically how can you position yourself to be discovered via the search engines? So having blogs that are really honing in on key terms, keywords. If people are searching work-from-home spaces, rental decorating tips, make sure you're using the word, rental property, in there. You're using, you're mentioning the local area that you're in if you service a certain area, if you service a certain type of client, you're referencing them by name.
Sandy Deo (26:16):
Really pinpoint and be specific with your blogs, because a lot of it is, A, yes, you want to provide, of course, value to your tenants, but it's a way of getting people onto your website. Because once they're on the website, a lot of people are nosy and they want to see like, oh, well, that was a great piece of content, let me go and read some of the other blogs, or oh wow, this person has a about us, let me go see who this person is and let me then go and browse their properties.
Sandy Deo (26:45):
So you want to just get people in the door, driving that traffic. SEO focus blogs are a great way of driving traffic, and they're also great to be able to share to your social medias as well. If you share a blog post on your website, go onto your social medias and let people know, hey, new blog on the website, or we had a lot of questions from tenants about subject A, so that we've came up and wrote this great valuable blog, come and visit it at, drop your URLs in your socials, and guide people over to your website.
Sandy Deo (27:20):
Remember your social medias, your website, are all interconnected. At the end of the day, you want that person to be reaching out to you. So think of it as a funnel, right? So yeah, definitely, blogs are very important. It's something that at RPM we really do focus on. Actually from head office, we provide monthly blogs to our offices that auto-populate on their websites, but they also then go in themselves and write things that are more localized. They know, better than anyone, their local areas and the amenities or things that people should be doing in their specific locations. So it's, I would say, definitely top three of some of the marketing strategies that we have going on at Real PM. So it's definitely something we recommend an investor tap into, as well.
Carla Browne (28:15):
And what a great thing for an investor to be able to share some of that content and actually have a lineup of tenants, so that if they do have a vacancy, they actually have people already waiting in the wings because then they don't need to go and start advertising all of these properties because, we did another podcast, Adrian and I, way back when in season one and I think it was, I'd written it down before we started, episode nine called marketing your vacancies, internet listing services, really dives into that whole internet listing services. But there's huge cost associated with that. And if you can get to the point where you don't need to be engaging in their services, because you already have qualified tenants, I mean, that is the best of both worlds because you can really reduce the cost and the impact there.
Carla Browne (29:03):
Okay. So Sandy, before we close off today, I just want to make sure I covered off the main things that you wanted to discuss today as far as tips and tricks. And I think you mentioned website was probably where to start. So just kind of reiterating that. And I guess the other thing is that they could learn a lot by following your content. So maybe you could share with the listeners on how they can find some of what you do with Real Property Management, Canada, and maybe get a little bit of inspiration or some ideas, they can mimic it, I guess. Whatever they want to do, we're here to help, right?
Sandy Deo (29:40):
Yeah, for sure. Definitely here to help. So you can find us in a lot of places. So definitely start out by visiting our website, which is realpm.ca. Those are the brand new websites from the national site. You can then easily find our office sites, if you want inspiration on what local offices are doing, maybe in your particular area. You can also then find us on Facebook and LinkedIn as Real Property Management, Canada. On Instagram, we are RPM_Canada. And actually a little point on that. You might be thinking, why is it a different name on Instagram versus the Facebooks and stuff. It is very hard to secure your URL handles on social media because they're very saturated. So my tip for investors, once you set yourself up as a business, definitely go and secure your handles, or as closely matched as possible. So even if you're not planning to be on TikTok, for example, or Twitter, just go in and create an account, so you can secure those names for yourself.
Carla Browne (30:47):
Okay. Just reminded me of something of my youth because my dad was a truck driver. And back in the day, I mean, we didn't have cell phones or anything like that, but they all had CB radios and they all had what they called was, they called handles. But they would make up something that was unique to them, usually a little bit of humor in it. But all of my dad and his friends had these CB radio handles and I was like, I won't start rattling them off. But just as you said, now it's changed. Now instead of CB handles or CB radio handles, it is, I guess, social media handles. But okay, well, Sandy, thank you for being my unicorn, because I'm going to bring unicorn into the conversation. You are my unicorn in our company here and I'm so thankful that you're part of the team and that I get to pick your brain.
Carla Browne (31:39):
And I have you create the strategy for both RPM Canada and for our offices across Canada, so that we continue to lead and try all these new innovative things, is what I like to do. I think we'd like to try to play a little bit and have some fun with some new things. So thank you for being on the team and being here today to share some things with so much value to the listeners that are here. Adrian will be jealous because normally we try to keep our podcast quite small and you and I have been talking for 35 minutes, but it's all so valuable. So thanks for your time today.
Sandy Deo (32:15):
Oh, thank you for having me, Carla. And I definitely, I hope all the listeners, they got value from it. My parting words would be, yes, social media is complex, but don't let it frighten you and make sure you're not putting marketing at the bottom of the to-do list. It's a very important part of your business, and essentially it's going to help drive your sales and it's how people find you. Think about that like no trust factor. And yeah, for sure. Thank you for having me. It's been great to step on the other side of the podcast. And thank you Carla, for everything you do.
Carla Browne (32:51):
Awesome. Now that's Real Property Management.
Speaker 1 (32:55):
Thanks for listening to Canada's Property Management Podcast. If you liked this episode, please subscribe and give us a rating, which will help us reach more listeners. Until next time, connect with us on social media and online at www.realpm.ca.