Sometimes Us Old Guys Are Right About Marketing — This Is A ‘Great’ Marketing Tip

Okay, as you know, I am 60 years old.  Boy, I never thought that would ever happen, but here I am.

And as one gets older, one sees all these things happen to the world.  One of them is the expansion of the number of ways of contacting someone.  Long ago it was a letter, then by morse code, then by the old-fashioned phone, then….

But today it is out of control.  I only know a small portion of possible methods, but one could reach someone else by:

  • Email
  • Texting
  • Facebooking (apparently that is now a verb)
  • FaceTime
  • LinkedIn
  • Tweeting
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat

And a bunch more that seem to pop up every day, each more esoteric and techy than the last one.

I am not sure why someone who has his iPhone with him at all times and checks his email every 15 minutes to an hour-ish isn’t in pretty good contact with the world.  But this is not a rant about annoying contacting clutter.  This article is just to give you an extremely useful marketing tip as follows.

It is strongly in your interest to put together an email list.  Yes, email.  Email is utterly wonderful even if it now sounds a bit old-fashioned.

I have created an email list over the years — for myself and for our law firm — and the list keeps growing, expanding into the thousands and even tens of thousands of persons in the real estate world (in which I practice).

We have been building this list religiously for a long time — and it has been extremely useful — however, validation recently occurred when I read an article the Wall Street Journal published only last week called “The Hot New Channel for Reaching Real People: Email.”  The article talks about how companies are slowly reverting back to email marketing and for good reason.

If you think about it, it is unlikely that anyone is scrolling through Facebook to find your marketing message.  On the other hand, they really don’t have that much of a choice but to see it when it ends up in their inbox with a tempting header.

So this is what you do:

  • Collect everyone you know in your industry and make an email list. Every time you meet anyone in your industry, add that person to the list.  Include friends, colleagues, people at work, etc.  Over-inclusive is better than under-inclusive.
  • The list will most likely start small and get larger and larger over time. This is ridiculously simple to do.
  • As the list grows, from time to time reach out to that list with whatever your message is, which, of course, should be about your Power Niche. A few cautionary notes are:
  • Don’t spam people — everyone hates that — and you just end up being deleted.
  • Don’t email people too often — but at the same time, don’t not email them with some reasonable regularity. There is no rule here except too much is bad and too little is bad too.
  • Think of the people you are emailing and make sure you are sending them messages and information of additive value — and over time, they will look forward to what you are sending.
  • And stay on message about your Power Niche. Indeed, just about all of your emails should be related to your Power Niche.

Over time, you will be surprised — and even dramatically surprised — at what comes out of doing this.

Ten (Not So Obvious) Predictions for 2019 in Real Estate

Only foolish people try to predict things.  Well, actually, that is not true.  Smart people make continuous outrageous predictions.  When they are right – which happens by chance to pretty much everyone at some point – they crow about how prescient they have been.  When they are wrong – which usually happens way more than 50% for most predictors – they rely upon either (i) the fact that everyone will forget what they predicted or (ii) a revisionist claim that their prediction wasn’t really a certainty anyway, or what they meant was…..

Anyway, with that predicate, here is what The Real Estate Philosopher predicts for 2019 in real estate:
The Choppy World Markets Will be Great for Real Estate:  With wild swings up and down in the market – political uncertainty – the media loving and swirling controversy as much as possible – and fear and greed vying for control – a nice safe cash-flowing asset class will look very attractive.  I predict that cash-flowing real estate will do great.  However, projects with risk will have increasing difficulty attracting debt and equity capital.
For the First Time in Years Opportunity Funds Will See…..Opportunities:   Yes, I predict that the really long wait is finally going to be over.  The years of no deals or few deals or just wishing there would be deals is finally going to end.  There will be opportunities at last.  These will be generated by troubled deals that don’t provide sufficient cash flow to be attractive to those fleeing the uncertain markets.
Opportunity Zones Will Continue to be Hot:  I have written about this before so I will devote but little space to it here.  I will just reiterate my prediction that capital will flow here eagerly. Indeed, the more the stock and other markets gyrate, the more capital gains will be created, which are tax fodder for these deals.  The tricky spot however will be the fact that opportunity zone deals are by definition “development” deals, and as I noted above there is going to be increased difficulty attracting capital to deals of that ilk.  All of this will require creative structuring (to provide investors the tax upside with as much protection against development downside as possible) and – dare I say – lawyers who understand development, tax, and opportunity zone deals and who are not afraid of intellectual challenges.
Opportunity Funds Will Become Big Players in Opportunity Zones:  A second point vis a vis Opportunity Zones is a prediction that Opportunity Funds will become major players in Opportunity Zone deals.  They just don’t realize it yet.   Indeed, we have a perfect structure for this.  I have been talking about it a fair amount but so far I admit no one has actually done it yet.  Any day now…..
Auction Funds Will Hit the Real Estate World:  Yes, of course…..hmmmm…..what is an Auction Fund?  Few know right now but I think by year-end this will become a significant force in the real estate fund world.  In a nutshell, it is a creative way to provide liquidity to investors in real estate private equity funds that is backed by NASDAQ and blessed by the SEC.  This concept is just starting out so I would stay tuned here.
The Tokenization of Real Estate Will Become a Real Thing:  Right now it sort of sounds like a mixture between millennials and bitcoin, but I think this is going to be a “big thing” over time as it will eventually provide great liquidity to real estate. 
If the Bubble Pops it Will be Bad for a lot of Disruptor Wannabees:  Okay, this is hardly a prediction since I start it by hedging with the word “if”.  So I don’t count it – happily I have “ten” other ones so my headline is still accurate.  But I will say that “greed” can turn to “fear” in the blink of an eye.  Once that happens, all that ridiculously plentiful cash seems to vanish with the speed of an egg-timer.  Real estate tech companies with an expiration date vis a vis their burn rates will go belly-up or be bought for a song by bigger players or shrink dramatically.  Real estate players with projects that need more capital than they have will either be seriously distressed or pay for that money at exorbitant rates (see above about Opportunities for Opportunity Funds).
Co-Living Will be Ready for its Close-up:  So far it has mostly been all about co-working and co-living has lagged because it is a lot trickier to pull off.  However, I think you will see some major things happening in this space this year.
Creative Players Who Are Willing to “Create Value” Will Outperform Those Who Are Not:  This is an old theme of mine but I think it will become more and more obvious that with the continued instantaneous flow of information it will become harder and harder to take advantage of market opportunities that are based on lack of knowledge of others.  Instead, economic outperformance will have to be based on people thinking of ideas and angles to “create” value.   Peter Drucker points out that the “purpose of a business” is to “create customers,” which requires innovation.  It is the same in real estate and this will be more and more critical in a choppy market.  For investors, I urge you to look to invest with parties that have something more creative than just “looking for good deals” and for those who are doing deals, I urge you not to sit by and wait for brokers to call but instead “create” the deals and thereby capture the value yourself.
Retail Will Remake Itself but Not in The Way Many Expect:  Everyone is talking about the “experience” of the customer in the store – or the mall – and my sense is a lot of retailers are spending a lot of money on upgrading the customer’s experience.  Sorry, I don’t think that dog hunts that well.  For coffee, yes I love the Starbucks friendly “experience,” but if I am shopping for blue jeans, I can’t imagine how the “experience” will change my shopping habits, except maybe once I might go into a store if I am curious about the fact that they serve me some mint tea while I try on the jeans.  I think what will “work” for retail is the good-old Power Niche.  My prediction is that retailers with something they own – through a brand or a Power Niche – will do great – Amazon and Walmart and mega-players with pricing power from sizing will do great – and parties spending time and money creating an “experience” will be wasting their money. 
Choppy Markets Will Bring Out the Best and Worst in All of Us:  Everyone says “my word is my bond” in an up market.  I mean it is pretty easy to be honorable when it just means you are accepting upside.  It is when things go wrong that we will once again learn – or re-learn – who we should be doing business with.  I hope – but not sure I can predict it – that those who showed their honor and integrity during the Global Financial Crisis (now ten years ago) will be rewarded with deals, investments and upside during this go-round.

How Senior Partners Can Help Associates Market

As I have mentioned in past articles, it is critical that you start marketing early in your career. I kick myself all the time about how I started marketing so late in the game and how much more I could have accomplished had I started at an earlier stage in my career. But of course I had no idea what to do — I needed training and was too dumb to even know that I needed training. Alas…. In any case, I have made it a mission of mine to teach others about what I have learned over the years.

For associates, you are working long hours and focusing on doing the best legal work, and so marketing may get pushed to the side, but I urge you to make it a focus at a very early part of your career and “define your job” as including marketing a component. And it is a lot easier than you might think.

There are many marketing resources that you can use and I have written about a lot of them. However, it is possible that some of the best resources are sitting just down the hall or even in the next office. Those resources are the senior partners you work with.

Many partners have gotten their clients and built their network through various marketing tactics and younger attorneys can learn a lot from them.

So here are a few simple and straightforward ways that associates can get marketing help from friendly Senior Partners:

1. Pick Their Brains — You should be asking the partners you work with as many marketing questions as you can. Let them know you are interested in learning how they got to where they are in their career. Maybe you could even take a partner out for coffee. I have learned that most people would like to be helpful and who doesn’t like to tell people about their accomplishments.

2. Ask Partners to Host a Marketing Seminar — At my firm, we regularly have partners speak to the associates about what marketing initiatives succeeded, but maybe even more importantly, what initiatives just plain failed. Indeed, it is very important to not only talk about successes, but to also mention that failure is common and indeed more likely than not for even the highest quality rainmakers. If this takes the format of a seminar — with multiple senior partners speaking — you can hear from a number of people with different personalities and ideas and see how they approach certain situations with prospects. Even just hearing marketing stories can give you ideas. And I promise — absolutely promise — you will be amazed at how just about all the senior partners have completely different and divergent views about what does and doesn’t work.

3. Tag Along — Ask partners if you can sit it on marketing calls or meetings — especially evening events. Indeed, there is no better learning tool than to see a master in action. Also, to convince a partner to bring “a young whippersnapper along,” you could make the point to the partner that clients often like to see, and get to know, the associate who will work on their matters.

4. Go Whole Hog — Ok, go right on into a senior partner who is a rainmaker and ask her if you could be her mentee. A lot of us senior partners are kind of, well, flattered, and it makes us feel good to take a young attorney on as someone to show the ropes to. I know I feel that way if someone asks me for help.

5. Make it Clear That Marketing is in Your Blood — If a senior partner knows that Toby (the associate) is hugely “into” marketing, the senior partner just wants to have Toby around for marketing things. Good things just start to happen without anyone making any particular plan. Toby just learns a lot and becomes a key player without doing or asking for any of the foregoing things.

Ten Capital Sources for Opportunity Zones

As an industry leader in Opportunity Zones, D&S has been working with all types of parties that are looking to make investments in Opportunity Zones.  We believe there are not only opportunities for US based investors but for global (yes, global) investors as well. 

This video gives you ten ideas for how to source investment capital for Opportunity Zone transactions.

‘I Am The Greatest’: A Powerful Marketing Secret That Shouldn’t Be Secret

What is a three-letter word in a crossword puzzle for “the greatest”?


Yes, many years after he hung up his gloves and years after his death, he is still synonymous with “the greatest.”  And why is that?

Very simple — he told everyone that he was the greatest.  Who can forget him on TV, in the ring, in front of the newspapers, saying again and again: “I am the greatest.”

I remember it and it was 30 or 40 years ago.  How could I forget it? It was blazed into my mind.

You know if you tell people you are the greatest at something, some of them will believe it.  Even if you are flat-out lying, some will still believe it.

Is that percentage of believers 1 percent or 99 percent?  Of course, that is subjective pertaining to the matter and your believability, but I do know that it will always be greater than 0 percent.

However, if you don’t tell people you are the greatest, then it is pretty sure that 0 percent will believe it.

So — using basic math, which I always love — it is very simple: in marketing you have to come up with something you can credibly say “I am the greatest” in and then tell people about it unreservedly.

And this is the essence of the Power Niche, about which I have written so extensively.

Of course, you can’t say you are the greatest lawyer in the world, as that is kind of ridiculous — but you can narrow down a “niche” that you can own — and with a moderate amount of work you can become “the greatest” in that niche.

Having been a veteran of several thousand pitches — no exaggeration — I have learned that there is simply no way to avoid this somewhat uncomfortable necessity in business development.

Except for commodity work, clients always want “the best” or, in other words, “the greatest.”  And you have to come up with a way to convincingly be the greatest or you won’t get the gig.  Of course, I don’t advocate lying or even stretching the truth — no way on that.  But it is perfectly legitimate to narrow your market so that you have ownership — greatness — in that market.  Then you are 100 percent telling the truth that you are indeed the best in this smaller Power Niche.

By the way, bolstering what I am saying with a bit more math, I believe I read in The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing there is a statistic that the leader in an industry typically gets 50 percent of the market, number two gets 25 percent, and the rest get the remaining 20 percent.  So you really want to be first in your market, don’t you?

As you read this, I bet you are shriveling up inside and thinking, “I just could never do that.”  If so, well, I suggest you just do it anyway and the way to do it is just practice.  First, in front of a mirror, then with your family or close friends, and then finally at work.  You will be amazed at what happens, which is a version of that famous Ted Talk, “Fake it Till You Make It.”

At first you feel like you are faking it and then, all of a sudden, you aren’t faking it because it is absolutely true and the Power Niche feeds on itself.

You can do this!