Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Interview #3: The Landlord With Secrets

Today’s interview is with Drew DeMasters, a Marketing Consultant and Non-Fiction Author of “Landlord Marketing Secrets.” I’ve had the privilege of working with Drew and can tell you honestly that he is an extraordinary marketer and genuinely great guy. That doesn’t mean he gets softball questions.

Hi Drew! Welcome to the blog. You’ve been working as a marketing guru as the main focus of your career. What do you like best about it? Least?

Thanks, Kerry!  Great to catch up with you again.
The thing I love about marketing is that every business out there needs help with it and the successes I’ve experienced with some companies really, truly do translate for others as well!  And I think that’s because good marketing is about understanding consumer behavior and making real connections with people.  No matter whether it’s a Super Bowl commercial, a new store grand opening celebration or a YouTube video that goes viral to millions of views . . .  the reason why any type of advertising or promotion ‘works’ boils down to whether it really connects to people.  So, helping businesses understand and connect with their customers better really excites me.

As for what I like least?  Well, when I see good businesses with well-meaning, sincere people get caught up in internal politics and turf-battles, it leaves me sad and wondering ‘why can’t we all just get along?’  You know that the business owners and founders never wanted it to be that way but the egos and insecurity of people a bit further down the chain can actually hold a business back from achieving great things and reaching its goals.  I’ve seen it so many times, and that’s definitely the worst in my view.

When we were working together, I remember you writing your book during lunch breaks. What inspired you to take on such a lofty goal while working full-time and what kept you going?

That’s funny you remember that!  Yes, I was a regular at that McDonald’s in Venice for a couple years!  I had thought casually of writing a book for a few years before I actually started it, and I think what inspired me finally to the point of actually putting pen to paper (as they say) was really two things. 

One, I had experienced a number of successes doing marketing for clients on the agency side and really getting excited from seeing them enjoy the high of those ‘ah-ha moments’.  Those successes proved in my mind that I what I was doing was not a fluke, but something really powerful that could help a lot of other businesses too.

And two, that individual landlords and property managers maybe more than any other type of business owner really need help with how they market themselves, their properties and how they provide service to their residents.  As a rental property owner myself, I saw this huge need and opportunity to help a lot of investment property owners succeed more than ever in their rentals.

The book is 240 pages, so it did take me many months of writing during lunch breaks and on weekends.  My wife was amazingly patient with me and actually did the cover art that brings the book to life in its final published form.
What has been the biggest challenge of being an author--writing or promoting? What has been your most successful method of generating book sales?

Oh definitely promoting the book.  It’s a completely different kind of marketing than I’ve ever done before so I’ve really learned a lot through this process.  But since I love the business of marketing, it’s not been hard, laborious work so much as just a steady, evolving challenge.  A challenge I’ve helped many of my own clients overcome . . . how to find and connect with new customers!  

The three most successful methods of book sales I’ve seen so far are –
1)     Public speaking and presentations at tradeshows and conferences
2)     Article marketing
3)     Radio interviews

And wow, radio was a wildly new frontier for me.  For my first interview, I was as nervous as I’ve ever been in my life.  Sweaty palms, dry mouth, couldn’t sleep the night before, etc.  Way over-stressing it.  But the best thing I’ve learned with radio interviews is that it’s just a conversation between two people, not to a cast of thousands.  So, now I just focus on sharing an important message that can help people.  And low and behold, listeners do connect with you.

Recently, your company eliminated your job (stupid heads). Do you find yourself living funemployed (vs. unemployed) and what are some of the activities that you’re engaging in?

Oh, funemployed for sure.  I loved the company but had ended up in a role that wasn’t a fit for me at all so I couldn’t wait to leave.  And I consider myself very lucky that in 14 years of experience, I’ve only had one bad boss.  So yes, I’ve really enjoyed the time so far.  Spending a lot more time with my kids.  School activities.  Finally took the Warner Brothers Studio Tour with my wife that I’d wanted to go on for 10 years.  Took the kids to Disneyland.  Occasional walks, brunch and biking on the beach.  Doing more writing, speaking engagements and being able to help other businesses find and keep new customers.  That’s my passion.

For your readers Kerry, I would say this … don’t let yourself be defined by your job.  Be defined by your personality, your skills, experiences and who you are as a person, but not by your 9-to-5 job.  Time is the most precious resource anyone of us has, so we really have to use it doing something meaningful that you feel makes a difference.  Famously, that was Steve Jobs’ philosophy and one I choose to live by as well.
Clearly marketing is your passion since your book is centered around it as well. Will you continue with corporate marketing, focusing more on landlords or both? Are you working on another book?

I’m going to continue helping landlords in various ways and am creating some new products to help them market themselves.  Other industries that I’m particularly interested in are law firms, independent insurance agents and mid-sized retail businesses.  So, I may eventually write some marketing guides for each of them and setup a couple of new websites targeted to those niches.

Thanks, Drew for sharing your story with us. Anyone needing effective and affordable marketing consulting, please contact Drew at ddemasters@landlordmarketingsecrets.com. If you’d like to buy Drew’s book or learn more about his landlord marketing tips, visit www.landlordmarketingsecrets.com

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My new article for online magazine Real City

I'm honored to have my first article published by online magazine Real City. Check it out here and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I have a new website!

No one loves blogging more than me. I felt that I also needed a web site that provided content specific to the ewBook, FUNemployed: Finding the Upside in the Downturn. Please take a look at my new site and let me know what you think in the comments section!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What does success feel like?

"What does success feel like?" asked the Russian psychologist with whom I found myself walking in a dog park. Needless to say, since Shaggy (my rescue wheaten terrier) has come into my life, I've met some interesting people. Since our dogs were playing, Vladimir and I started chatting. I told him about my book and we started talking about working hard, not having a work-life balance and that's when he asked me that question.

I had to pause and really think about my answer. It's relatively easy to talk about what success looks like. Having a nice house, a great car, a family that loves you and enough money to live comfortably would likely be typical answers. But that's about what you have, not about how you feel.

As Americans, we measure success by what we have. If you work hard, you'll be able to buy an Audi. But once you have it, after awhile you start thinking it'd be nice to have a Mercedes. If I work harder, then I can upgrade...and so on. If you're working so hard, do you have a god quality of life? If you took away all the material items, what is a measure of success?

Is success sitting with your family, having a wonderful meal and feeling that just shy of being too full feeling? Is it feeling the sun on your face as you watch your child playing and having fun? Is it being able to sleep late on Sunday morning? Is it snuggling with your dog while he looks at you with so much love in his eyes? What makes you feel content, happy, complete?

Maybe for you it includes a car, a house with a pool or a designer handbag. But I'm willing to bet that it involves something a lot more priceless. Because it's less tangible, it's easier to forget and lose sight of. You get caught up in a race, looking for that item that can validate all of your effort. See, I have a new car. It was worth it. But a hunk of metal can't love you back or fill you exhausted energy tank or make you have a great relationship with your spouse. Why can't success be the same as happiness?

What does success feel like to you?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Interview #2: The Eye Doctor Changing The World

Today’s interview is with Dr. Eric Dessner, an Adult and Pediatric Ophthalmologist in New York City. He is also the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Maji Umbrellas, an organization that supports efforts to provide clean water to people that are affected by the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa. He embodies the spirit of emPLAYment because he’s successfully pursuing his passions.

1.     Hi Eric! Clearly, you’re a busy guy so thanks for taking the time to share your story. Becoming an Ophthalmologist and building a practice takes a lot of time, dedication and hard work. What are the best and worst parts of your job? Do you have a super creepy story to share?

The best part is watching the reaction you get from a satisfied customer, patient that is! It feels good when a patient that you’ve done cataract surgery on in one eye is so eager to do the second eye that they say, “Can we do the left eye next week?” It lets you know that you’ve done a good thing for them.

The worst part, hmmm….well it’s a stressful job at times. Microsurgery can be that way. Also, sometimes it can make you feel like a bit of a pinball--one patient to the next over and over, which can be a bit numbing. That’s why I always have music on in the background and like to work in different locations throughout the week.

Helping people seems to the common thread between your jobs. Does Maji help you fulfill some aspects that you were missing from your Ophthalmology practice?

Yes. It’s a creative outlet in many ways. My partner and I really started this from scratch, from the concept to its implementation. Also, the project gives me a chance to do some writing which I enjoy.

Maji’s focus is to sell umbrellas to raise funds for those suffering from drought in the Horn of Africa. What are your long-term goals, e.g. expansion to other regions or different types of products?

Well, right now we’re focused on the Horn of Africa. However, in the future we would love to have a role in providing clean water to other parts of the world as well. For now, we're focused on umbrellas because the umbrella ties together the themes of “protection” and “water.” A Maji mini umbrella for kids has been discussed because we think it would set a good example for children. There have been some preliminary discussions of other water themed accessories in the future.

We take drinking water for granted. Can you share some of the effects of not having enough water or water that’s not clean?

Well, lack of access to clean water claims more lives around the world each year than any war claims through guns. A survey in 2008 conducted by UNICEF stated that 884 million people lack access to clean water. That’s pretty staggering.

That's horrifying. Let's sell some umbrellas. What the best part of the umbrella? My guess is they won’t invert on a super windy day :)

The best part of the umbrella is that it has a built in donation to Oxfam America. Each purchase provides 20 days of clean water to the drought stricken Horn of Africa. It also looks great and is really sturdy. It’s a much better umbrella than many that are selling for 3x the price.

Thank you again for sharing your story. If you need a top-notch Ophthamologist, please see Dr. Dessner. And, you know you never have an umbrella when you need one, so please support Maji by buying an umbrella or two and help do some good by spreading the word. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Four Paws For Love

One of the most asked about chapters of my eBook is the dating chapter and if all of those stories actually happened. Yes, they're all true.

After a year of shunning online dating, I got back on the train...and soon realized why I got off. After trading about 3 emails with a man who was very interested, he referenced his partner...and his baby. I double checked his profile and it indicated he was straight. Business partners typically don't adopt babies and "Three Men and a Baby" seems to far fetched for reality. I also didn't think he was a Jason Bateman-Turkey-Baster-Guy-in-an-Aniston flick, but before I let my imagination run too far away from me, I wrote, "So I take it that you're not single if you have a baby with a female partner?"

"Oh no, I challenge the concept of monogamy."

Hmmm, well, I challenge the concept of polygomy. Block!

But fear not. Before I sound like a much too bitter single lady, I have a hot little love. Burning at 100.7 degrees, my 4-pawed, wheaten terrier rescue has made me fall in love with him, more than I ever knew possible. He lets me sing and babble on and loves every second of it. With my heart open, good things are ahead.