Interview with Ed Stulak: Taking Your Marketing and Lead-Gen into the Digital Age

Ed Stulak, aka the “The Millennial Realtor®,” has used his youth to his advantage—taking the industry by storm with his innovative and relevant social media tactics.

On today’s episode of Stay Paid, Luke and Josh talk with Stulak about how he has turned his creativity on social media into huge deals for his real estate business, and how he is coaching others to build their personal brands, both nationally and internationally.

Key Points

  • Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are great tools for lead generation and communicating with clients
  • Use social media to build your personal brand and attract a relevant following
  • Build a community on social media, and provide that community with highly valuable content

About Ed Stulak

Ed Stulak began his career in a very different direction than real estate, after being recruited by Penn State to play ice hockey and study in its pre-med program. During a game, Stulak seriously injured his shoulder, and was no longer able to play. With his schedule no longer packed, and the freedom to make his own path, Stulak discovered his passion for business, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

He decided that real estate was the perfect combination of his creative inclination and business interests, and in his first year he hit the ground running—closing over one million dollar’s worth of deals. Stulak is now helping others achieve their own level of brand recognition, using the tools and strategies that he’s developed in his new and successful career.

When you wake up in the morning, how are you finding clients and getting leads?

I believe in the old, classic fundamentals of any business, and in real estate specifically, this is door knocking, sending out mailers, cold calling, and FSBOs, which a lot of people try to steer away from—but I can’t. It works; the books have proven that it works, so you have to stick to it. However, I will adapt.

Right now, social media is that adaptive route, so if you’re not on there, you’re missing the bus. I’ve come to realize that on social media is free marketing. It’s free real estate. Everything on social media is free. When you think about personal branding, you get to post for free. You get to talk about what you do for free. It’s just how are you going to creatively portray it where people will say, “Wow, he’s a cool REALTOR® I want to work with” instead of “Here’s another salesman trying to shove his services down my throat.”

When you got into Instagram, did you have a strategy in mind? How did you go about posting and what did you post? How did that evolve for you and take off to 37,000 followers?

In the beginning, it was a lot of my friends and family, so I grew a little bit of a following there but it wasn’t as relevant as I wanted it to be. So, I started thinking about what would make people start following me and stick. What I always like to say is, if I’m walking around the mall and I’m going down to the food court and I have people giving me free samples, you can believe I’m running there and getting free samples.

I took that concept and it applied to social media: what can I give for free so that people run to me? I started giving a “tip and trick”—here’s a tip on how to grow a following, here’s a tip and trick on door knocking. For example, when Christmas came around, I wanted to do door knocking in a creative way so I took my business card, put it on a candy cane, and put it around doorknobs.

Another example is there was a REALTOR® from Virginia following me for over a year, and I always provided him value, always gave him a tip and trick, whatever it was. We kept the communication going. He reached out to me and said, “Hey, Ed, I was door-knocking in Virginia and I asked this guy if he wanted to buy or sell. He said ‘No, but I do have a property in New Jersey.” What did he do? He thought of me. And I just listed his property and sold it the other day. That came from someone who followed me.

When you started out in real estate, how much door knocking were you doing? How many phone calls were you making? Were you tracking this stuff?

In the beginning, it was tough to track something and keep metrics of everything I was doing because I didn’t have fancy tools like a CRM. I just did what my mentor told me. It was a lot of “Let’s try it and see how it works.” Someone told me you have to make ten phone calls in order to get one person to commit, so I thought I should apply that to door knocking. I’d rather go in person and shake someone’s hand instead of calling. So, I did door knock a lot. I hit probably 1,000 houses plus my first year. I hit about 200 in one day.

You’ve branded yourself online as “The Millennial Realtor®.” Why did you choose to go that route, and how has that worked into the value you’re presenting online?

“The Millennial Realtor®” really just came from the concept that I’m a young guy, I’m a real estate agent, but I know I don’t want to just be called Ed Stulak. I want a fancy title like everyone has. I liked “The Millennial Realtor®”—it clicked—and something in my heart told me to go with it. From that little name right there, I’ve gotten a lot of connections.

What has been the biggest struggle in creating your own personal brand?

Honestly, a lot of doubt. Someone told me, “Don’t go with ‘The Millennial Realtor®.’ People look at millennials as lazy and irresponsible. You don’t want your clients thinking of you as lazy.” But I thought, “How about I just call myself “The Millennial Realtor®” and show them what I can do.” Then they can base their judgement off of how I did.

Everything I’m doing as “The Millennial Realtor®” makes sense. I’m a millennial on social media. That’s what millennials do: they wake up and they’re glued to their phones. Now I want to take it to a next step—a valuable step—and that is teaching REALTORS® to do the same thing. Take social media and run with it the right way.

What advice can you give to our audience who are trying to build a platform on social media? Is Instagram better than Facebook in your mind? How can they start from scratch?

 That’s definitely a topic you could run with for hours. Everyone has different opinions. There are people—big social media influencers—who think posting three times a day is too much. Some people think two times a day is too much. It really depends on what you post, how many times a day you post, and where you post. But, if we’re looking at statistics, right now Instagram has the most eyes per month. Why not expose yourself to a platform that has the most eyes? When someone asks me if I have a business card, I say just follow me on Instagram. A lot of my business came from exchanging social media profiles, not business cards.

I tell people if you want to continue this relationship with me follow me on Instagram because I would love to see what your family is about and what your life is like outside of real estate. That’s how I will really connect with you, and that’s how I connect with my clients. Follow me on Instagram. See what I’m doing when I’m not working with you, when I’m not at an appraisal or a home inspection. These things really connect with people more.

How do you overcome the fear of what people will think about your social media posts?

People ask me a lot about how I overcome the fear of posting or even what do I post, and it’s honestly whatever I’m doing in the moment. But I want every post to at least be somewhat valuable to whoever is viewing it. Every time I see another view on my Instagram story or another like on my post I appreciate it, because someone took time out of their day to look at that. So, if you’re giving me your time, let me give you something of value.

What are the things that sell the most? There’s entertainment, there’s humor, there’s babies, there’s animals. It’s looking at what I have. Maybe I have humor and I could make some people laugh? At the end of the day, it’s providing that value.

What are some of the digital advertising or lead generation methods you’re using to get qualified leads in your CRM?

I do Facebook advertising. Again, as “The Millennial Realtor®,” I better be doing it. I’m running local ads, where if someone clicks on it I get a text message saying, “This guy is looking for a house.” I’ll reach out to him, saying “Hey Mr. Jones, I heard you’re looking for a house under $400,000 in this area.” Now I have a lead.

Going through Instagram, which is my favorite platform, the way I’m generating leads is just by being me. I’ve made about four or five sales this year just through Instagram. They were people who saw and liked what I was doing, and asked me to sell their house or help them buy a house. I have about seven or eight leads I’m working with right now through Instagram.

When you’re tracking your marketing budget, do you struggle to quantify what you’re spending in hopes of getting it back?

I kind of go with it and commit, and then see how it works. I’m throwing different numbers out there, different tactics, different methods, and seeing what works best. When I see something that works, I stick to it and I strengthen it even more. If I see something that I’m weak in, let’s just say cold calling, I’m going to put that aside and focus more on door knocking, or whatever is getting me results.

You’re a REALTOR® with RE/MAX, but you also do this social media stuff for real estate agents. Is that where you’re headed—getting out of real estate to help agents with their social media?

Real estate is definitely something that I want to be a part of for a few more years—that could be ten, that could be twenty. Until I realize my real vision of helping other real estate agents around the world strengthen their social media presence and their personal brand, that’s when I’ll feel it’s time to separate myself. But for now, I’m a New Jersey licensed REALTOR®. I realized that I’ve joined a very oversaturated market where there’s tons of REALTORS®, but I’ve found an untapped niche, which is social media. The average age of an agent is about 55—not too many of these folks want to be on social media. I want to be that guy that really takes them from A to Z, holds their hand, and tells them how to do it.

Whatever industry you’re in, build a community that is relevant to you. Once you realize what that is, sell to them. I’ve built a community of REALTORS®, and I said, “What am I going to sell to REALTORS®?” I said, “Oh, I know, social media.” I’m really good at it. I can teach others how to use it. That’s where I’m really trying to take off with it. My goal is absolutely to travel the world—to teach agency to agency, national and international agents—how to grow their social media presence the right way and how to grow a personal brand that matters.

Is there something you do every single day, or every week, that you focus on to drive success personally and in your business?

I focus on my strengths. Right now, my strength is social media. I focus on that every day. I wake up and I see what kind of value I can provide to someone. Who am I going to network with? What can they do for me? What can I do for them? If I can help someone, that makes me feel good.

Knowing what you know now, what would you go back and tell younger Ed?

Number one: do what you love. Once you find what you love to do, commit yourself to doing it. Number two: associate yourself with like-minded individuals. If you’re thinking about the Lamborghini, the island, the yacht—associate yourself with others who think the same way. They know something you don’t and you know something they don’t. At the end of the day, when you collaborate, it’s a beautiful thing. And ask questions. That’s a great piece of advice that I was given. The bigger the question you ask, the bigger the answer you’re given.

Action Items

Following this podcast, our goal is to provide you with as many actionable tips as possible. This episode includes…

  • If you don’t already use social media, go to the app store and download those platforms.
  • Go through your CRM or database of people, and mark the people you can help. Then ask yourself how you can help them.

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