If you’ve ever wondered how sales and marketing overlap, where they differ, and how to improve at both, you need to read this.
Snappack co-founders Shannon Milligan and Dustin Brohm interviewed Chris Smith, founder of Curaytor and author of The Conversion Code.
Chris is an undisputed monster in the real estate sales and marketing world. He’s a USA Today bestselling author. He’s spoken at Inman.
Oh, and he founded a company making nearly $15 million in annual, recurring revenue without raising any venture capital.
His work has been featured in AdWeek, Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fortune, The Huffington Post and by many other publications.
Prior to Curaytor, Chris worked for a near-billion dollar company (Move Inc.), a startup that was acquired by Zillow Group for $108 million (DotLoop), and two billionaires—Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Lou Pearlman, manager and producer of both NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.
The man knows his stuff.
Shannon and Dustin hit him with questions about Facebook ads, lead funnels, and sales strategy.
Here’s what we learned.
Table of Contents
- The Interview
- Where to start
- Why clients say no
- Curaytor can help
- Facebook Ads
- CTAs & Landing Pages
- Boosted Posts vs. Ads Manager
- Maximize Facebook ads reach
- Social Proof
- Seller Leads
- R.E. Sales Strategy
- Sales Mindset
- Technology vs. Talking
- Boiler Room
- Realtors’ biggest mistake
Check out the Snappack’s interview with Chris Smith in the (recorded) Facebook Live video below.
This interview is packed full of actionable sales and marketing advice from a certified expert.
Shannon and Dustin get a masterclass from Chris on—
- Overcoming customer objections
- Finding inspiration for marketing campaigns
- Facebook ad reach
- CTAs & landing page psychology
- FB Ads Manager (vs. just boosting posts)
- Best FB ads objective to grow your audience
And that’s only the first 15 minutes.
Where to start: Listen to Calls with Chris
Calls With Chris is a podcast that features actual client and team calls with Chris Smith of Curaytor.
What better way to learn the day-to-day operations of a marketing experts than to hear them execute authentically?
Calls with Chris does just that.
He’s not telling you how to run your business, he’s letting you listen as he runs his.
Curaytor is a company with 2 offices and dozens of remote employees, so Chris spends a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of each.
On an all-company call with his employees, he shares his advice for maximizing your time and energy no matter where you work.Hear ACTUAL client & team calls with @Chris_Smth of @CuraytorDotCom. Won't tell you how to run your business. Listen as he runs his, on CALLS WITH CHRIS podcastClick To Tweet
Let’s get into it: why clients say no
Chris is a salesman. He’s got years of experience working for some high-competition companies and industries. He calls it the Boiler Room.
Chris explains a few important sales lessons he’s learned. Here’s the first big one—
If clients object, it’s because of one of those 3 reasons. Identify which one, and speak directly to their objections.
- Features: can you match or beat a requirement or feature they need?
- Timing: if they’re not ready, they’re not ready. This is especially true in real estate.
- Price: uncommon to hear this objection in selecting a real estate agent, but it’s obviously huge in choosing a house!
In real estate, the objections vary throughout the process: clients obviously haggle over property price, and sometimes over agent fees.
The property features are front-and-center, but it gets more interesting when considering “features” of an agent: is that marketing? Local expertise? Franchise brand name?If clients say no, it's for 1 of 3 reasons: features, timing, or price. Identify which one & address it—@chris_smith of @curaytordotcomClick To Tweet
- 1:50—Why people don’t buy: features, price, or timing
Curaytor can help
You don’t need a website. You need a system. Yes, you need a website too. But that’s not enough. Once you have the website, then what?
Curaytor gives you the website, and they provide you with everything you’ll need to run it and to make it effective.
Their clients get to see each other’s emails and Facebook ads, and then repurpose them as their own.
They’ve analyzed $20 million in Facebook ads, and the most popular and effective campaigns float to the top of their system, so you can see what works best.
Why is that important?
Too often, indecision or fear of “will this work?” stops real estate agents from even starting something new.
Curaytor’s hidden benefit? Inspiration.
Nobody’s perfect. We lose momentum. We get distracted. We let our insecurities slow us down. Nobody can do it all.
But when we feel inspired by an idea or passion, we’re much more likely to start, persevere, and succeed.
The Curaytor system has inspiration built into it—in addition to the tools, tactics, and data to help you maximize.
The inspiration to help you get over writer’s block, indecision, or lack of confidence is worth its weight in gold.@curaytordotcom analyzed $20 *MILLION* in Facebook ads 💰💰 Most effective stuff floats to the top of their system so you can use it tooClick To Tweet
- 2:50—You don’t need a website. You need a system
- 3:05—Curaytor clients see each other’s emails/ads & repurpose them
- 3:50—Analyzed $20M in Facebook ads
- 4:05—Fear of “will this work?” stops many RE agents from starting.
- 4:20—Every great marketing campaign starts with a great idea.
- 4:35—Log into Curaytor for inspiration, not tasks
Let’s talk Facebook Ads for Real Estate
What’s the best-performing Facebook ad for real estate? It’s not an ad at all.
If you’re marketing a listing, use an album of 10+ photos. These photo albums perform very well on Facebook organically. Curaytor recommends mimicking that organic success with a boosted post.
But here’s the really important part—
Don’t reveal price or location! Only give out the amenities & photos in the album/ad.
Users will have to click the ad to see price & address of the property. Users’ natural curiosity and window-shopping tendencies play to the strengths of this ad setup.
Bonus: emojis make your ads perform better
Why do emojis improve ad performance? Because they don’t feel like ads.
If you went on vacation, you’d come home with 100 pictures. You’d upload them to an album, and you’d fill the post with 🌞🌴🍍🍹🏝👓👒
Chris wrote on Entrepreneur.com that the top-performing Facebook ads have emojis and lots of pictures. That’s because the top-performing organic posts have those things, too.
This is social media, after all.
Incorporate the conventions and best practices native to each platform in your ads on that platform. The best ads are not ads.
On Facebook, that’s emojis, cell phone videos, and photo albums. On Twitter, that might mean hashtags and short taglines. On Instagram, it means lots and lots and lots of hashtags.
Art imitates life. Ads should imitate organic.
Disguise your ad to look like a native post, and it will perform better every time. Publishers and advertisers should use people’s natural tendencies to their advantage.
Make the ad feel like content.
Chris calls this the microwave mindset. People don’t read—they skim. So write your ad copy to match. Include white space in your Facebook ad copy, much like this blog post!
Long paragraphs are out. Short one-liners are in.Best-performing real estate FB ads aren't ads. @curaytordotcom says mimic organic posts: albums w/ 10+ photos. DON'T give out price or locationClick To Tweet
- 5:05—Curaytor’s best-performing FB ad
- 5:45—Listing ads: all photos, no price or location
- 7:00—Give out the amenities & photos. Click for price & address
- 7:35—Why emojis improve ad performance
- 7:50—Best ads aren’t ads. Use platform’s best practices in your ads
- 8:35—Top-performing Facebook ads have emojis & lots of pictures
- 8:50—Include white space
- 9:20—People don’t read. Write copy for skimming
Calls to Action & Landing Pages
In user experience, people want to be told what to do. There’s even an entire book on web UX called Don’t Make Me Think—in fact, it’s basically the bible of web UX, especially for beginners.
This is why most calls-to-action on websites are big, bold, obvious buttons, just begging to be clicked on.
So how can you tell users what to do? What’s a good call-to-action for your ads?
Best CTA for Real Estate ads
The words aren’t the most important part—it’s the idea. The best CTA entices users to get more info beyond what’s in the ad:
“If you like this house, click here and I’ll show you two more that are even better”
This is called an information gap. It’s like making your landing page into a finish line.
Users start the process when they see your ad, and it’s not until they take some action that they gather all the information. If you give them everything at the starting line, they have no reason to reach the finish line.
There’s an important detail to this method: coupling.
Your ads and landing pages should match in copy and visuals—they should be coupled together. Your users need to know they’re running to the right finish line.
Landing pages that don’t match their ads lose lots of potential leads.Best CTAs for Real Estate ads build an information gap. Treat your landing page like a finish line.Click To Tweet
- 9:50—People want to be told what to do
- 10:15—Best CTA: get info beyond ad
- 10:25—Build an information gap
- 10:50—Landing pages are a finish line
- 11:00—Coupling: make ads & LPs match
- 11:35—Ads/LP mismatch costs leads
Boosted Posts vs. Ads Manager
Lots of FB ad rookies ask “should I run ads or just boost posts?” But that question doesn’t actually make sense— boosted posts are ads.
The reason people don’t think that is that they can be created outside of the Ads Manager platform. That makes them both powerful and dangerous.
Since we’ve already covered how the best ads aren’t ads—they’re native to the platform’s conventions—I won’t go over that again.
But that’s why boosted posts are powerful: they’re native, organic posts—exactly the kind of material Chris recommends advertising with.
Chris and Curaytor’s clients boost posts all the time. And he recommends that you do too.
But be careful.
Here’s why lots and lots of FB ad pros say not to boost—
Boosting can be too broad or generalized. If you’re not careful about whom you’re boosting to, you could waste a lot of time and money.
So what to do?
Chris says you should open up Ads Manager one time.
Go in there and create custom audiences. He recommends starting with at least 3 groups:
- Buyer leads
- Seller leads
- Past clients & sphere
Once you’ve got those audiences created, you can close Ads Manager. You’re not running any ads from in there.
Go back to your organic post, and click boost. Throw in some budget, and choose an audience to boost to.
Now you’ve got organic-flavored material boosted to a custom audience.
There are still some drawbacks to boosting, but you get the idea. It can be an awesome way to increase the reach on your organic material.Should you run Facebook Ads for Real Estate or just boost posts? @chris_smith @curaytordotcom says build custom audiences—buyers, sellers, SOI—then boost organic posts to themClick To Tweet
Maximize reach with Engagement objective
HUGE TIP: set your ad objective for Page Post Engagements, NOT Website Traffic or Conversions.
The more engagements you get on a post, the lower the CPC, higher the relevance score, the higher the reach.
Let’s talk about why—
Facebook is a business. They want to make money. If you use their ad platform, they want to take your money.
They do this, of course, by offering a service— getting your ad in front of the right people.
They understand that, if they want to take more of your money, they need to be as good as possible at providing that service.
Therefore, they have gotten really good at getting your ad in front of “the right people.”
Who are the right people?
That depends on your campaign objective.
Because “who are you trying to reach?” probably means something different to you—a businessperson with an intimate understanding of your typical client—than it does to Facebook’s algorithm—a mathematical formula which can neither think nor understand.
So when you set up an ad campaign and you’re thinking “show my ad to people who want to buy a house,” Facebook has to translate that into criteria its algorithms can measure:
People who want to buy a house (future tense) becomes people who have taken actions on Facebook that demonstrate an interest in buying a house (past tense).
Why is this important? Because this is how the ad platform works.
Facebook is Skynet.
Facebook knows how each user will react to posts. Their entire platform is based on their knowledge and prediction of user behavior patterns.
They profile your interaction with your friends’ posts, strangers’ posts, and ads that appear in your News Feed. They have months or years worth of historical data that they use to predict future behaviors.
Because of this, they know—with remarkable accuracy—whether or not you’ll click on something (or like, share, comment, etc).
And the scariest part? They know it before you know it.
Back to “who are the right people?”
If you choose Engagement as your objective, the right people will mean people who are likely to engage with (click, like, share, comment, etc) your ad.
If you chose Conversions or Website Traffic as your objective, Facebook will show your ad to people most likely to click links or fill out forms.
But there are WAY more people who’ll like your posts than people who’ll fill out a form.
So if you want to increase your reach and let Facebook’s algo do the heavy lifting for you, you NEED to broaden your scope and use the Engagement objective.Maximize reach! Set #FacebookAd objective to Page Post Engagements, NOT Website Traffic or Conversions. Your ad will reach more people.Click To Tweet
- 14:25—Page Post Engagement objective
- 15:10—Facebook is smarter than you
- 15:30—Engagement goal broadens scope
Social Proof & Video Ads
Shannon crushed a recent video with 15,000 organic views in 24 hours. When she ran an ad to promote that video, she chose Video Views as her objective.
That video ad got views for $0.01-0.02 each. $0.01 per view on Facebook video ads is great, IF your goal is branding & reach.
But what if your goal is leads? Video ads don’t convert leads very well.
Back to FB’s targeting: they’ll show your video ad to people who love watching videos, NOT to people likely to convert.
If you have a video to promote, don’t optimize the ad for video views. Don’t even run the video in the ad.
Instead, tease the video in a text/image ad: “If you want to see a video of this listing, click here to access it,” etc.
Everyone WANTS to watch the video. But now they have to click the ad first, and Facebook can optimize the objective for likely to click.
Social proof: organic first
Curaytor’s organic first method lets you proof your ads without draining your budget. Publish the content organically (like Shannon did with her video) and, if it performs well, add some budget to improve reach.
This way, you’re only spending money on ads you already know will perform well.
Then, sprinkle in some social proof.
Curaytor has come up with a genius process to improve ad performance on new audiences: they runs their ads to existing fans first—because they know their fans will like, comment, and/or share the post.
Then—after their fans provide social proof with all the likes, shares, and comments—they run a second ad on the same content (with its social proof in tact) to non-fans/strangers.
And if you start with the organic first method, you only have to run the ad once, via a boost. It’s a perfect way to bump up the effectiveness of new-audience ads.Facebook video ads are great for reach/branding, but TERRIBLE for conversions. Chris Smith says to promote videos via text/image ads with 'click to see video' CTAClick To Tweet
- 16:00—Shannon’s 15k video views
- 16:20—Publish organically & boost (maybe)
- 16:35—Social proof first, new audience second
- 16:50—1¢ views for branding
- 17:45—Video ads don’t convert
- 18:00—Tease videos in text/image ads
How does Curaytor get seller leads via Facebook ads? It’s hard. And it’s not really about the ads, per sé.
It’s about the agent.
Why do some agents get lots listings, while others strike out—regardless of Facebook ads? Because they have a strong reputation and history of success.
The challenge of become a good listing agent is not a matter of marketing. It’s a matter of branding.
What sellers want
When choosing a listing agent, sellers want 2 things: experience and marketing.
It makes perfect sense. How many listing presentations have you done where the questions were all crazy technical about market fluctuations?
No, the questions are general to test your knowledge, and make sure you’re a good fit.
- How long have you been doing this?
- What are you gonna do to get my house sold?
What agents advertise
Knowing that fact, you’d think agents would advertise their experience and tools. But no one does.
Instead, agents run “What’s your home worth?” ads. That’s a disconnect.
Sellers aren’t wondering about their home’s value by the time they’re interviewing listing agents. They already have some idea, and they’re past that.
That means that these ads miss the mark, and there’s a gap between what agents say and what clients want to hear.
There is no shortcut to seller leads. Curaytor provides custom market reports, breaking down all the stats each month, including every home that sold that month.
That data, especially over time, makes you an expert on the market.
Sellers can look at a list of all sales in the last 30 days to see comps. In providing those lists, agents are delivering strategy, not just simple stats.
Everyone can do basic market reports from public data or Zillow trends. But only the experts go the extra mile with exhaustive, custom reports.
That provides real value to sellers.
Remember those home value ads?
Valuation ads are fine, but getting the full lead info is tough. Got a partial? At least you know their address.
Now do the work.
Print the CMA and drop it off in person. The fortune is in the follow-up.
Dustin runs buyer ads to homeowners. Own and buying? That probably means selling (listing) too.
Curaytor clients find that 20-30% of buyer leads are also sellers
Listings are hard to get—on or offline. Facebook won’t change that. Be self-aware.
Listings are longer, tougher, more expensive lead than buyersChoosing a listing agent, sellers want experience & marketing—most agents running *What's my home worth?* ads. Seller leads are hard—@chris_smith talk through @curaytordotcom methodClick To Tweet
- 18:35—How to get seller leads?
- 19:10—Listing agents need reputation
- 19:35—It’s hard to be a listing agent
- 19:50—Home value ads miss the mark
- 20:10—No shortcut to seller leads
- 20:35—Comps = stats & strategy
- 20:50—Hand-deliver CMAs to partial leads
- 21:50—Buyer ads to owners
- 22:00—20-30% of buyer leads list
- 22:20—Listings are hard to get
- 22:55—Listings leads are expensive
Beyond Leads: R.E. Sales Strategy
Chris is a SALES expert. Let’s shift gears away from marketing for a minute and talk about selling.
Is “selling” becoming a dirty word? Consumers are so savvy these days, and most of them have a strong negative opinion about sales tactics. What are salespeople supposed to do?
This is nothing new. Selling always had bad rap. And the bad rap makes sense Snake oil has been sold forever.
But look at the success stories for inspiration—
Gary Vee doesn’t preach “don’t sell.” He says “don’t ONLY sell.” That’s the entire premise of his NYT Best-Selling book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
Sales is hard. Haters gonna hate, especially on salespeople. But people with no kids can’t tell you how to parent.
People who don’t have first-hand experience with sales and marketing can’t tell you not to sell.@GaryVee preaches *don't ONLY sell.* That's the entire premise of *Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook*Click To Tweet
- 23:15—Is “selling” a dirty word?
- 23:55—Selling has always had a bad rap
- 24:05—Gary Vee: “don’t ONLY sell”
- 24:30—Sales is a hard job
- 25:00—Haters gonna hate
- 25:40—Bad parenting advice
- 26:00—Snake oil is nothing new
Sales mindset: “lions don’t ask sheep for food.” How does Chris set his mindset?
Your work mindset is a reflection of your personal life. Positive Mental Attitude doesn’t clock-in or clock-out with the workday. It’s your whole life.
The best salespeople have an infectious personality. They’re full of enthusiasm for life and their work.
But there are still some little things you can do to improve your mindset and your confidence:
- Stand up & move during calls
- Listen to the right music
- Do whatever gets you pumped up
Ultimately, you’ve got to turn on beast mode. Remind yourself that today’s NOs got you closer to tomorrow’s YESes.
Sales is about dealing with the no’s. Keep your composure in between yesses, in the face of no’s. Don’t let bad leads ruin your mind for the next call.
The best time to get a deal is right after you got a deal. Because you feel confident.
If you’re not naturally confident, how do you get it? Try harder. Learn more. Get a script. Role play over the phone.
If you’re afraid to sell, you’ve probably never role played, used a script, or taken notes on your recorded sales calls. Marketing can’t help that. Only sales skills can.
It’s a skill. Practice it.Lions don't ask sheep for food. — Chris SmithClick To Tweet
- 26:55—Lions don’t ask for food
- 27:20—Work mindset starts at home
- 27:45—Sales people have personality
- 28:00—Stand up during calls
- 28:20—Go beast mode
- 28:30—Dealing with no’s
- 28:45—Don’t ruin your mind
- 28:50—Confidence: deals beget more deals
- 29:20—Use sales scripts & role play
- 29:50—Marketing can’t help salesmanship
Follow-up is hard. What tools/systems does Chris recommend?
At the end of the day, no CRM or drip campaign can replace rapport and hustle. It comes down to the sales person.
Don’t use your CRM as an excuse. Systems come and go, but the difference is people. We don’t sell products, we sell the human connection.No CRM or drip campaign can replace rapport & hustle. It comes down to the salesperson — Chris SmithClick To Tweet
- 30:20—Best Follow-up?
- 30:55—A human.
- 31:05—CRM is no excuse
- 31:25—Don’t sell products. Sell human connection
Technology vs. Talking
The Snappack group members posed a question to Chris: what about Messenger bots for agents? The trend is so new that it’s not mentioned in Chris’ book.
But check out Conversion Code 2 when it comes out, you’re gonna love it! 😉
But here’s the thing—
Messenger bots are a cool trend. And they can be really helpful. There’s a place for them, and they’re only getting more popular.
Don’t let a robot talk to your customers before you do.
Conversations create customers. The technology is there to START a conversion, not HAVE one.
ManyChat lets Curaytor start private conversations with potential customers live, in-the-moment triggered by the user’s actions on Facebook (like commenting on a Facebook Live, for example)
Just like QR codes, Twitter, Vine, G+ etc won’t REALLY grow your business, neither will a chat bot. It’s a tactic.
Growing a business is hard. Very few of the variables involved in running a business include software.
Tech is everywhere, but clients want relationships. It’s not just customer service (that’s your job). It’s building an experience for your clients.Don't let a robot talk to your customers before you do. Conversations create customers. Technology is to START conversions, not HAVE them — Chris SmithClick To Tweet
- 32:05—Messenger bots?
- 32:35—Don’t let robots talk first
- 33:05—Conversations create customers
- 33:20—ManyChat starts messages
- 34:40—Chat bots won’t grow business
- 35:00—Business growth is more than software
- 35:15—Clients want people
Chris and the Curaytor team have a mantra: talking is better than typing. Stop writing emails, and start dialing the phone.
Technology is there to start a conversation, not have it—remember?
Too many people use typing (text/email, etc) to replace phone calls. Curaytor uses it to generate phone calls.
Chris’ “Boiler Room” talk explains it all: more calls = more sales.
It’s just a numbers game. We’re not talk door-to-door appliance sales. So phone calls are the next best thing. Phone calls will led to sales.
Bonus: You need to be better at sales than you are at Snapchat. Marketing tactics are hugely important, but they’re meaningless if you can’t close a sale.Talking is better than typing. Stop emailing. Start dialing. Don't use tech to replace phone calls. Use it to generate more of them — Chris SmithClick To Tweet
- 35:55—Talking is better than typing
- 36:20—Typing can’t replace calls. Curaytor uses it to generate MORE calls
- 36:35—Boiler Room: more calls = more sales
- 36:55—Be better at sales than you are at Snapchat
Final Thoughts: Realtors’ Biggest Mistake
What’s the biggest mistake Realtors make?
Chris gets his answer from Tom Ferry: the biggest mistake agents make is not knowing where their business comes from.
Did you guys catch Shannon’s grimace here?
If you don’t know where your business comes from, you don’t know where to double-down.
Agents don’t diversify their lead sources enough. Most rely on SOI and past clients. You ALSO need Facebook, and Zillow, and blogging, FSBOs, and expired, and Curaytor, and Dave Ramsey, etc.
If one source dries up or gets too expensive, you’re still covered.The biggest real estate mistake agents make is not knowing where their business comes from — Click To Tweet
- 37:40—Realtors’ biggest mistake
- 38:00—Tom Ferry says lead mapping
- 38:25—Knowing lead sources directs spending
- 38:35—Diversify lead sources more
- 39:25—If one source dries up, you’re still covered