Ep. 56: Interview with Mike Cuevas: Why It’s Important to Be Yourself in Your Business

Mike Cuevas, also known as the “Real Estate Dude,” started his career as an agent and a broker—seeing great success in both. He has since branched out to start his own marketing company, which specializes in personal branding services, content creation, websites, and video marketing—among others.

In today’s episode of Stay Paid, Josh sits down with Cuevas to discuss the importance of building relationships to sustain leads and maximize profitability for your business.

Key Points:

  • You can’t attract business without building a relationship
  • Being yourself will bring more recognition for your brand
  • Set aside time for content creation and developing your brand

About Mike Cuevas:

Mike Cuevas was in the real estate business for 15 years before deciding to switch gears and form his own marketing company. He never enjoyed the sales aspect of his business—refusing to pay for leads or even put on a sales pitch in order to attract clients and prospects. Instead, he decided to be himself, and found that generating attention around his brand brought him business naturally.

Over the years, he created an attraction based marketing system that he used in his own success, and now shares with other agents and brokers in the industry to help them grow theirs.

Q: What do your attraction based systems look like, and how are you coaching people?

A: It all starts with the end goal. Mine is very simple: don’t forget I exist. I’ll start with the stats. A lot of us are trained that we need thousands and thousands of people. I don’t think that’s true. I think we just need a core group of strong relationships, and I’ll tell you why. In the real estate space, 10 to 15 percent of the population moves every year. Do the math, and reverse engineer that. Look at your list of where you can market and reach your database. If you have 1,000 Facebook friends, there’s roughly 100 to 150 of them moving this year. That’s just a mathematical fact. The problem is, not all of them know what you do. So, how can you stay top of mind?

One of the statistics that’s stayed true since I got in the game is that 60 to 70 percent of people still use the first agent they speak to. If 60 to 70 percent of people still use the first agent they speak to and 60 percent of business comes from referrals or past clients, what should be your number one goal in real estate? Be the first person they speak to! We don’t generate leads, we generate attention. We do that through content creation—creating media around a brand that is more authentic and relates to who they are as an individual. People are going to use the agent who they connect with. The biggest problem we get today is agents who come out and try to resonate with every single person. The truth is, you do not. All we’re doing is making it easier to create content that will keep your brand in front of your database and multi-purposing that same content to attract people who aren’t in your database yet.

Q: How much of that is organic, and how much of that is a strategy that you sit down and build?

A: I think one of the issues is a lot of times, it feels strange thinking of ourselves as a brand because we are individual people. Quit marketing your broker’s brand, and start marketing your own. But to market your own, you have to figure out what you stand for. To make it simple, your brand is really just a reflection of who you are, visually, messaging—your overall persona.

For example, we were working with a husband and wife out of DC who had been in the business two years. Their name is just their last name and group. So, we’re sitting there doing a deep dive with them and during that meeting the husband said, “I don’t know what it but people are always asking me for advice.” This guy was just a resource. His wife said that everyone wants us to put the pieces of their life together, and we thought, “Boom, that’s it.” We came up with a logo that has the couple as little cartoon characters, with their group name, but they’re putting a house together out of a bunch of puzzle pieces. The main theme or strategy is that they are the people who glue together the solutions you’re working for. That’s just what they stand for, so that becomes a central theme in all of their messaging. If you put everything in your storyline together, that’s exactly how you build a brand.

When I went from San Diego to Chicago, quit my real estate career, and did it all on a whim, everyone thought I was crazy, saying, “You’re going to move across the country and call yourself a real estate dude?” What I realized was, I turned off a lot of people, but people either liked it or they didn’t. It doesn’t matter, because everyone lives somewhere. It’s not a matter of if they move, but when.

Q: What do you say to people who think that leveraging the name recognition of an organization like RE/MAX is more powerful?

A: I would say the major reason I believe people do that is because they don’t have enough confidence in themselves. I was the same way when I first started. If you’re a brand-new agent, then you’ll need to leverage your brokerage, your team—anything you can. But if you’ve been in the business for 5 years and you’re still leveraging RE/MAX or Century21—and no knock on those companies whatsoever—you’re running a business, get it together. At the end of the day, look at what’s happening in the industry. People hate real estate agents because they think we make too much money or we don’t earn it. Unfortunately, 90 percent of the time, they’re correct. We have to do more to earn our commissions.

Every year, you’ll lose 1 to 3 deals because of what I call “little cousin Billy.” Little cousin Billy is that REALTOR® who just got his license, and you have a client who is ready to list their house, but when you get there, they say, “I’m so sorry, but I have to list with little cousin Billy because he’s my family.” The reason for that is, blood is thicker than water. If you don’t believe people who they choose someone they have a relationship with, I use that as an example.

Q: Being a local expert can separate you from the big-name brand recognition, and on your website, you have a great video of someone interviewing a local restaurant owner. Your business model is you will actually give your clients the equipment to do the recording, and then you’ll do the editing of the videos?

A: We call it selling without selling. The only reason people hire real estate agents is because they’re local experts. What we’re doing by creating content that’s focused on the community is saying we’re local experts without actually saying it. That’s what I mean by branding. You don’t have to sell anyone anything if you can just infer it. The content we create doesn’t hit people over the head, but it does subliminally suggest, “Hey, I’m in real estate.”

Q: How are you measuring the ROI on that?

A: You really can’t. I’ve tried to. Here’s the difference between attraction based marketing and lead generation. I’ll use Zillow, for example. Every 30 days in Zillow I have an ad spend. During that 30 days, you either made a positive ROI or not. With branding and content creation, I don’t believe you can put a dollar amount on it. I’ve gotten 4 leads this month from Chicago from content and videos I create 3 or 4 years ago. You can’t put a dollar value on your own personal brand. The truth is, some videos are going to do better than others. It’s the consistency of content creation that builds your brand. You cannot build a personal brand or strong local presence without consistency in messaging, and that’s really what we do with my company.

Q: Why do you think video is so important to get your message across to your audience?

A: Video is just a communication tool, and it’s an attention getter. If we look at how communication is perceived from human to human, 90 percent of it is based on tonality or body language. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Grandma was right.

Q: How do you stay ahead with the types of videos you’re putting out?

A: Let’s look at Facebook Live. When it first came out it was really cool, but now, how many lives are you actually watching? Video has evolved, and as of right now, you have to include an attention getter and it has to tie in a story. Preaching to someone about interest rates and market updates is just not fun. I’m not going to consume that content unless I’m in the market to buy or sell. That’s the power of branding, and why people need it even more.

Q: One of the things you talk about is turning your database into your audience. What do you mean by that?

A: I want to turn my database into the referral source. I know that 10 to 15 percent of them are moving every year, and I know 100 percent of them have a referral for me. The question is, will any of them connect the dots when that referral pops up? That’s why you have to be everywhere all the time. People are bombarded today, and everyone knows a REALTOR®. A database without consistent communication is nothing but a spreadsheet with a bunch of information on it. An audience and a database are two totally different things.

Q: What are 3 things you’re doing every day to drive success in your business and drive success in your personal life?

A: Consistency. All the time. I’m really busy right now, but I do my best to get my podcast out the same day each week. I do my best to write two blogs every month. Really, to do it right, it’s time management. I have it set up in my schedule that I’m writing video scripts for people. I have it set up that I do my own videos. It’s just a series of time blocking. It’s when we don’t have the media calendar that it becomes hard to do. We all brush our teeth in the morning—it’s a system we’re trained to do. I look at media and content creation no differently. I do like to write down my day. I write down what I’m going to do for the next day, the night before. That’s always something that I’ve done.

Q: Is there anything you would go back and tell your younger self?

A: Don’t get into real estate—I’m just kidding. I would say, be who you are. Just be you. The way the world is right now with social media, I think I lost some years trying to be someone I wasn’t. That’s a major issue for a lot of agents. Don’t be scared to be you. There’s a reason we all have our own fingerprint. Don’t hold anything back.

Action Items:

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

  • Go to realestatemarketingdude.com, and watch the sample videos. Look at the six examples of videos you can make for your own business to tell your story.

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