Vice President of
Bruce Norris is joined this week by his own son and vice president of the Norris Group, Aaron Norris. Aaron wears lots of hats at the Norris Group and has been responsible for changing the look of their education materials. The first document they did was the California Crash, where at the event Bruce heard audible gasps people were so amazed by the changes. They went from lots of information to Goldman Sachs type material. Coming from a Wall Street background and doing acquisitions and merger presentations, Aaron became nerdy at PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and Adobe. Once you start getting into some of the fancier programs and everything Bruce likes to do, it is the perfect blend.
One of the all-time best recordings Bruce kept was someone giving other real estate entrepreneurs advice on how to create their materials. He had never seen the Norris Group’s new materials and asked Bruce to send him a set. He too was amazed at the material and had never seen anything like it. What is interesting about the California Crash was that it was a document he gave over a two-day period that was 400 pages long. A year later it was still in exactly the same format where charts had aged. Now we are going to morph into something else pretty exciting.
The charts he uses that show when a market might be shifting are also the same charts that tell him what to do tomorrow as an investor. This is the whole idea of the quadrant system, specifically for California investors. When you see these charts, you know it is not only safe to do things, but you know tomorrow exactly how to spend your time to likely find the next wholesale deal. The problem thus far is everything in those courses has also been in print and very expensive. When they had somebody commit to buying the whole series, they were spending up to $4,000. A year later the charts were out of date.
It is interesting how much things have changed. California Crash was created back in 2006 around February, but had been in development before that in 2005. A week after this they did Essentials, and every month after this they released a new book. They created over 1600 pages of book material, which was a lot of work and expensive with full bleeds and custom binders. By the end of the day, they created 1,000 copies of each one. Since it was so expensive to print it up front, they recently had to decide if they were going to update and reprint it or to innovate. When they decided to innovate, they decided to start with the website. They moved to a mobile-friendly responsive website, which means it changes shape depending on what device you are using. Certain things will also go away to make a great user experience. Depending on whether you are on a desktop, tablet, or mobile device your user experience will change.
They spent all last year digitizing the 1200 pages of the How To material, and now they are moving to the When to material. Bruce is really known for this with his research in the market timing space with California Crash, California Comeback 2, and Proceed with Caution. They carried over the When to piece throughout the entire series, which makes it very special. It is very important to understand this as an investor. Bruce had spoken the previous night and went over a half dozen of the questions. You could tell the audience really did not know the answers to any of them. Bruce asked if we were done increasing, which they said no, and he asked them how they know that. Somebody said it was a feeling, but usually you do not feel your way to a right decision. You find out that it leads itself not only into the right buying system, it leads you to the right way to do repairs in that quadrant. All of a sudden you are selling, hence why there is also material devoted to Selling Systems.
What is great about having it not in hard copy at this point is that we have so much more flexibility as the world changes. This is a big change because there are so many things that used to work that are out of date now. Bruce used to make his entire living for the property-buying business for a decade running ads in the Press Enterprise. This would naturally be part of the original copy and not today’s buying plan. Now we have the flexibility to change not only what is in the documents and say it is no longer the way to do it, but we can think of completely different categories and add them.
They had just finished a mobile-friendly website, and now they have to think about the iWatch that was announced recently. Facebook and different companies are also competing for glassware, so maybe one day they will move away from screen and move towards wearable glass technology. One thing they also wanted to move away from was downloads. A subscription is $350 a year and includes the entire body of How To that they will be updating extensively. The intent is for the subscriber to be able to listen, read, or watch any of the content on any device. They are not downloading anything, which is very purposeful. He does not want them downloading an mp3 file on a chapter since they may want to be able to update it for the next time they sign in and are listening to the latest and greatest. This gives them a lot of flexibility.
The example Aaron uses is a chapter in California Only Investor Essentials that talks about entities. They are not an attorney or CPA, but in this book Bruce covers the four entities that he has seen people use in the real estate investing space and why it is appropriate for each. They expanded the chapter to include Keystone CPA, who came in to do an hour and a half session. Suddenly, this one chapter has exploded since it was done by people who do it for a living. This can really be expanded and grow into an investor tool. Another thing they are doing is building in some discounts. They have a staples account where if people had to do it on their own, what would normally cost them $300 annually is being paid for by The Norris Group. All of their subscribers would have access to this as part of the subscription, in a way paying for itself. Aaron said the goal is to have $1,000 worth of discounts for things investors actually use.
Aaron said they are also becoming a production company. They will be shooting a lot of video and doing a lot of audio. They hope to do videos in the field and on certain topics, including termite and mold inspection. They may even be able to throw up their auction videos that was done back in the ‘90s. On the website right now there are two choices, one being a fremium. Bruce wondered what was included in this, which Aaron said was actually being updated as we speak. He is going to include half of his presentation that he does in some of the clubs and the 12 questions asking how you know where you are at in the market. This will be a presentation people can watch or listen to online after signing up online. They will also put the slides from the presentation online that people can download at no charge.
Included will also be teaser chapters from some of their guest, such as Keystone CPA and Kaaren Hall from uDirect IRA. They spent an hour with her talking about some of the mistakes investors make when using their IRA to invest. It is very scary to listen to the presentation and realize what people are doing wrong. However, she saved a lot of people from messing up on their IRAs. During the years they have been working in this field, they have built relationships. They have a lot of people willing to participate and add their expertise, which is a big deal. They do not know everything themselves, although there is a part they do know really well. There are a lot of skilled people they can add to this on a constant basis, and this will add a great deal of content. Things will be more organized. They will still have the book format, but once you get off the written page you still have to rethink how a user will use the content. They will be doing upgrades throughout the year, but their main goal will be to go through all the material and make sure it is updated.
Aaron is very excited about the partnership opportunities, especially the marketing chapters such as Essentials and Foreclosures. They plan to work with Sean O’Toole from PropertyRadar to update this since he has completely revolutionized the space. Bruce said it used to cost 1,000s of dollars a year just for the data, and it was always falling in to see what the changes were. He put a lot of people out of business who were charging 1,000s of dollars a month, and now you get it for $49. It has become a commodity.
When you look at the real estate education space, Bruce wondered what websites Aaron goes to and sees they are doing a good job and the niche they are pursuing. Aaron said there are a lot, one belonging to Josh Dorkin from BiggerPockets. Aaron is very impressed with what he has created. You pose a question, and it gets attacked in a good way by people from all over the country. People cannot really appreciate something if they have not created it the way he has. There is a culture you create on these kinds of websites, and it is so funny to watch gurus show up on them. They keep it really clean and helpful as well as make sure no one says anything stupid. The culture he has created is very positive and helpful as well as cost-effective.
Josh Dorkin monetizes by selling advertising and working with Google. The Norris Group has their hard money loans up there, and they have a subscription. The benefit you have to having access to that many people is special. This is the hard thing to understand since you almost have two hemispheres of education right now. Bruce has some people coming in who have a tv show where you buy and sell a house and they are charging $25-$50 grand for their bootcamp. These are the people who don’t know too much about the field. It is frustrating to watch people put this money onto their credit card when you can access it. There are only a few websites you need to have so much depth of information or responses from people in the business. It costs so little now. Part of the problem is information overload, and this is the idea behind their site.
On one level, you have a BiggerPockets with a little more a national focus. However, there are people at the local level who will respond, and it is very helpful for networking. However, it is all online and not relationship-driven. On the other end of the spectrum you have the clubs, which they promote heavily at the Norris Group. They always tell people to get connected to their local club and go network face-to-face. It is important to know your local market.
Right now at the Norris Group they are in the in-between space. They have been doing their radio show for eight years now and interview everybody from government officials to local experts. They have a national flavor, and a lot of times people read their radio shows since they are transcribed. They also do the video headline roundup and blog every day in order to keep people abreast of local news and the big headlines in real estate from all over the country. What they hope to do with the subscription is marry those two worlds. They just had their annual brunch, the very first one they did in Temecula. They plan to record some of the chapters every year as well as take questions live and see people in person.
The Economic Newsletter is no longer on its own since they are backing in all their market timing information from the newsletter into their subscription. Once a quarter they not only release a newsletter, but a week later they will do a follow-up webinar where any subscriber can tune in live and ask questions. This will then be recorded and put online. This way there is a little more engagement, and Aaron is someone who needs a little more structure. Sometimes people subscribe or buy something, and it sits on the shelf looking at them for a while. Aaron bought the brokers material for a realtor’s license three different times. So far these things have gotten positive feedback, and people who know where things are going are excited about it and making suggestions to add more value.
Bruce said this was needed when they had this luncheon. The audience was some of their longest-standing customers, and they understood it. However, they also had questions about other things. Now, the Norris Group can really go after topics that may be out of their immediate expertise but they can have a content-enriched part of their website by somebody else who knows that specific business very well. The original buying systems course he created was 24, and they already identified 30. They can retire some, or leave them up there for a historic perspective and show how things used to work. It is important for people to understand that change is constant now.
Bruce remembers emailing his granddaughters and not getting a response for a while. He was concerned at first until he realized they had moved away from email and were now using other social media. Aaron even said he is becoming the worst at voicemail and uses email or texting. Bruce asked what function sites like Linkedin serve. Aaron said he always tells people in the real estate space that real estate is a few years behind in technology. In two years’ time, sites like Linkedin have changed a lot. It is a big competition.
Since Aaron is involved in public relations, he did a presentation on the state of PR in January. Things are moving so quickly. Depending on the social media site, such as Facebook, he expects them to release their own phone. You hear about Apple getting into driverless cars, so you never really know where they are going to go. If you see the amount of time people are spending on sites like Facebook compared to Google, you see Google + has not gone very well. It has not done what they wanted it to, so they have a new director who is changing gears. It has changed so much, and a lot of it depends on what you want to get out of it. There are investors who have used Google + and leverage Linkedin, but for the most part Aaron sees a lot of people abusing the sites. They like everything and connect with everyone, thinking it will be helpful. Aaron has approached these sites as if you are building a useless network, this is what you will get out of it.
Aaron said Linkedin is mostly used for business purposes and is like a living resume. He has always told people that if you do nothing else and do not have a website, having a Linkedin profile is a perfect way to use that website. You should at least have a professional profile so people will not get suspicious when they look you up and cannot find you. Bruce said the first time he spoke they had the squiggly lines on the back of a QR code. He was speaking in Northern California and was about to apologize for the mess when he realized the people were impressed that they knew what a QR code was. Now it is so passé that their next run of cards will likely get rid of it. It is funny how things change so fast. Bruce just met with a contractor going over figures, and he thought nothing about taking his phone out and just taking a picture of what he had done. He would have run to the copy room and made a copy, while the contractor just clicked it on his phone.
If you are a real estate agent, some of the surveys that CAR does are very interesting as far as how long you have to take to communicate back to someone who wants to be a client. They are very demanding, especially younger buyers; and the way they want to be communicated with is very specific. They want to use things like texting; so how does this translate into the marketing world. Aaron treats emails like gold, he does not abuse them. These people are on your list and should take whatever you have to offer them.
Aaron always tells people the story of Tuesdays with TNG. There were four weeks in a row where, because of the radio show, he thought they had something important to say. However, their readership went down by 10% every week. He did not think this was acceptable since they enjoy high open rates compared to other companies and do not abuse the privilege. Text messaging is a very popular form of marketing, but this is somebody’s cell phone and you cannot abuse it. The more targeted and specific you can be, the better. If Aaron lets somebody in Orange County know that Bruce will be speaking in Sacramento, they won’t care. The question to ask is how you can be highly relevant and highly targeted, and this is the direction they are going.
What is still very unique about the Norris Group’s website and education is it is still geared toward the California investor only. They do not have a competitor who wants this space or has the ability to say effectively what is next and have a history of being accurate. This is a very important piece of the “When to.” When Bruce spoke to the audience at one of his engagements, they were flying by the seed of their pants and it was not necessary. He showed a chart that was telling them where they were going in the marketplace, and because of that there are very specific things you do to create your next deal. Not to know this is to flounder, and it is frustrating to watch.
Aaron said a couple years ago Bruce was already talking about not expecting REOs and short sales to last forever since they will go away. For people new to the business who had only dealt with vacant homes, going into REOs, and not having to be distracted by a homeowner whose couch is hiding the black mold, this is not really something people consider. For Bruce to come right out with information and letting people know to develop negotiating skills and show them the buying systems they will be working with, it came as a surprise to people. What is cool about what they are creating now is you could be driving to talk to somebody about a subject 2 transaction, pull it up on your device, and hear the best responses from Mike Cantu, Tony Alvarez, Bruce Norris, and Ben Gay.
Continue to keep checking our website at www.thenorrisgroup.com to see the many changes and what is in store.
For more information about The Norris Group’s California hard money loans or our California Trust Deed investments, visit the website or call our office at 951-780-5856 for more information. For upcoming California real estate investor training and events, visit The Norris Group website and our California investor calendar. You’ll also find our award-winning real estate radio show on KTIE 590am at 6pm on Saturdays or you can listen to over 170 podcasts in our free investor radio archive.