Norris Bruce
Mar 09, 2018

How to get started in real estate investing with Bruce Norris and Aaron Norris #581

Aaron Norris

This week Bruce Norris is joined by his son Aaron Norris. They began by discussing their website and the education space. When Aaron first came on, they had a product that, before, was only the best Bruce could produce. When Aaron came on, it looked like Goldman and Sachs all of a sudden. Aaron had a Wall Street background and did acquisition and merger presentations for a Wall Street company for many years. Big bankers would come down and tell him they needed an 80-page book in a week, and it was all the research they were doing for a major presentation for a multi-billion dollar company. Aaron learned a lot about PowerPoint, Excel, and Word through this. He even knows the shortcuts.

Episode Highlights

  • How important is content, and why is it important to continually update it?
  • What is the Norris Group’s new mission statement?
  • What are some products they can buy at a discount?
  • What is the investor matrix?
  • What is the goal of the Investor Roadmap, and how do they base it off your personality?
  • Why does he keep up the news blog daily?
  • How did they end up on the cover of Think Realty Magazine?

Episode Notes

Bruce and Aaron were helping a friend of theirs with a product, and he would call in for some changes. He was shocked when Aaron made the changes while he was on the phone. Aaron likes numbers, but what he likes more is turning it into something that is readable and digestible. This was the reason he came in to help his family with the Norris Group: they needed help with a project and didn’t know it was going to be a 400 page report with over 800 charts. It was fun seeing the audience reaction. There were audible gasps as they opened their books, and it was like a new dawn to their buying product. They then did all the education on the buying systems, but this was all physical material. They created over 1200 pages the first six months he was with the Norris Group.

What is interesting about the transition is it used to cost thousands of dollars. Now, it’s on the website. Bruce asked the main difference. Before, you bought a product, went home with it, and it sat on your shelf. A year later, it was a year out of date. Aaron said Bruce loved the timing piece the most, and they had to rethink the education structure. They want to be the anti-guru, and it can get frustrating. He still takes phone calls at least once a month with a guru in the space. They will be teaching in the local area, and his last call was funny. It was a lady who was so excited to get into the foreclosure business since there were so many REOs. He asked her if she was by a computer, and she said yes. He asked her to Google Bank of America REO. She found the website, then searched Riverside. She was shocked to find there were only 5 REOs in Riverside. He told her the business in California has changed.

What is hard is a lot of these gurus license their names to major marketing brands and fascinating to watch. However, they sometimes get people in the room who should not be there. Aaron attended one of their sales seminars, and it was perfect from the testimonials to those in front of the stage to video testimonials. To compete with this, you have to be the best in the space. In order to be this, it cannot be something that is static. They constantly have to be updating and adding things of value. The Norris Group decided to digitize the entire investors series. They have a library of over 60 hours of information now since it is not getting smaller, it’s only growing.

One of the things they have been working on this year is the Buying Systems. A How To piece typically doesn’t change that much, but they are reviewing it for technology. They will do a radio interview and extended session with how it changes by quadrant. This is the first full cycle Aaron has been around for where technology has really changed the game in a lot of the ways they do business. Being able to interview people with the history and depth who can talk about how much it has changed over the last decade is really powerful. It also saves a lot of people time.

Bruce and Aaron focused on one chapter that focused on the outreach to people. When Bruce was first in the business between 1980 and 1990, he ran an ad in the newspaper and that was it. In 1990, the calls tripled, but they were upside down. The buying systems emerged from people now realizing that just because they know one way to buy, it does not mean it will always function like that. There are other things you have to do as well.

Outreach has changed; and the flexibility of having an online product versus a product that you bought on your shelf is you can now stay current. You can update things when laws change. This is what makes the Norris Group unique. They are California specific, so the timing piece is unlike anything else on the market and is valuable. When you start having a conversation about the Investor Roadmap, that is even more fun for Aaron. There is a lot of competition out there, and they are always looking to see how they can do things nobody else wants to do. Aaron is also big on being passionate about what he likes to do, or he loses interest really fast.

The Norris Group tweaked their mission recently: building wealth and legacy through real estate. There is a the building piece, but they have the really awesome fortune of having the hard money loan business where tenants call Aaron who are tired of tenants, trash, and toilets and ready to move on. They end up being the best lenders because they know the business and are ready to support the next generation. This means The Norris Group could have the life cycle of a customer for over 20 years, helping them to not only build wealth but also to figure out how to leverage it for them and their family.

Something else that is constantly changing is getting discounts for people who are members of the website. Bruce asked what some of the products are they can buy at a discount, and what is the future of this. Aaron said things have changed, and they have been negotiating with companies like FedEx and Pro Flowers. They have also had partnerships with the Apartment Owners Association, so products here include landlord software or credit check up.

The Community Buying Group just got bought out by the magazine Think Realty. They are doing some really interesting things in The Norris Group’s space, and they have a partnership with RealtyTrac, which is now ATTOM Data Solutions. It is beautiful magazine that has rebranded what used to be Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine and is now ThinkRealty. Because of that branding, they have a basket of discounts. The Norris Group doubled what they could offer, everything from Trash King to Sears and Lumber 84. Even their Staples discount alone is $300. Aaron’s goal is to make it a no-brainer. Just by using a couple discounts a year, they easily pay for it or do hard money loans and get it for free. He wants to be able to work with people long-term.

Bruce and Aaron next went on to talk about the investor matrix. People really appreciated that someone took the time to work with this. Aaron said this was fun with him. He gets to talk with people who are really experienced, but the switch in strategies is really frustrating. The Investor Roadmap is a half hour sessions whose goal is to back you into the strategies in this quadrant that you will like the most because of who you are. They ask four questions: The first is what their personality type is, whether they are an introvert or extravert. Next, they ask how active they want to be in the business. Thirdly, how much experience do they have? Finally, what is their financial situation? If they can give Aaron these four things, they will next start asking him questions about his background. Aaron will tell them where all the deals are coming from and what is working right now.

Based on all the things they just talked about, they next talk about their goals and what will really fit. If you tell Aaron you are completely broke, no credit, an introvert, and you do not have time to be active in the business, he will probably tell you not to go to a guru seminar or spend any more money. Take a break and get your real estate license if you would like to learn. Other than that, if you do anything else you will hate your life since this cycle will not be fun for you. The honesty is refreshing, and Aaron does not mind telling people this since there isn’t anything in it for him.

Another type of person who may call up with no money or credit but is an extravert may get immediately involved since he could likely attach himself with money and make a living wholesale. A lot of times you may be thinking you cannot do it since you do not have a specific thing, but then you may happen to be in a quadrant where what you have is really useful. This could include land. If you understand dirt and look at a 20-acre parcel and figure you can divide it into lots, this is not so great when it is REO time. However, there are times when that is very valuable. You are meshing the two processes: who you are and what is needed in the market place. From here, you figure how to do a direct hit.

The timing seminars are big picture things, but it really gets down to what you do tomorrow as an investor that is the best use of your time. Aaron said one of the next layers they want to add to the portal on the Buying Systems specifically is their radio shows. A lot of it is personality-driven, and they have over a decade of radio shows totaling 550. What is cool about them is you can listen to people who have a specific passion about an area in real estate. He talked with Common about co-living and was able to talk to someone else about this, and it worked perfectly with their background in her very specific niche. His favorite is when he gets to back into somebody’s expertise when it is competitive. How do you back into what they are already doing to find deals?

He got to talk to another person who was an experienced flipper and also an insurance agent. Aaron asked him if he gets burnout leads, and he asked Aaron why. Aaron said he was the only person he had ever talked to who may get wind of something like that. However, he had never even thought about this. Aaron wondered how many people, when they write checks, just want to be done and do not want to deal with what is to come. If they have a fire, for example, that is a one-time event and they do not know how to deal with that. The saying goes, “Use what you have to get what you need to get what you want.”

Sometimes people are just so overwhelmed. They go to clubs or to these guru seminars and are using a strategy that either no longer works or are trying so many different strategies that are unrelated. They may want to do Subject 2, wholesaling, and buying at trustee sales, and they are all totally different things. If you do not back into them, then there is somebody working a lot harder on just that strategy and it will kick their butt.

Aaron and Bruce next went on to discuss the news blog. He started this as a service to their clients. One of the hard things about being a real estate investor is not having a really strong advocate on a national level pulling all the stories important to their work. As a real estate investor, you have to know a little bit about everything. This could mean the mortgage industry, the real estate industry, the building industry. They are all competition, and regulation and legislation all effects investors. Sometimes when it comes to vacation rentals, they have to be thinking at a municipality level about the laws coming. It is all happening so quickly. The goal is to pull some of the biggest headlines in real estate, pull it forward. They do a blog every week day, then on Friday they do the fun video that pulls the top points from the week and what they think investors should know. They then put it into a video and put it out on every platform you can imagine.

Some people like the radio show, some like to watch it, and others like to listen to it, hence the transcription. You just never know where people like to absorb information. Bruce asked how important content is. Aaron said it is changing. Aaron has been in marketing PR for 15 years. When he first started the business the word “search engine optimization” meant if you were selling dog food and had a website, you could have one page with dog food 1,000 times and rank first on a site like Google. It has gotten a lot more sophisticated now.

One of the reasons they started their YouTube channel was because it is the second-largest search engine and had the ability to transcribe every single word he was saying. Aaron said every single one of his videos has his key terms in it. By the time the competition figured it out, he already had ten years in the can. It’s a game of trying to forecast and think where it is going. Now they have to think about zero interface. Aaron does a marketing and PR talk and a talk on technology and its effects on real estate, and he covered this in both. Surprisingly, it has been received well by the realtor associations, and he got to do two escrow conferences at the state level. He received great reviews, and at first he was afraid they were not going to like what he had to say. Overall, people are not opposed to it and are more interested in knowing how it will affect their work.

Bruce imagined this is the first time people are hearing these things. When he did his report “2% Interest Rates, $40 Trillion in Debt, and Other Surprise Endings,” he had Aaron start going to robo conferences. When he went to the second one in San Diego, he got to interface with the Amazon team. He saw the potential, but that was the first year Amazon Dot had come out that Christmas. It was brand new. He knew it was about to happen and was calling it Voice Search Optimization, but he really wanted to know one thing.

When he asked Alexa for something, what systems is it pulling from to deliver its answer? At the time, they told him he was ahead of the game and they did not know yet. It was clear when he asked for a realtor on the Amazon or Google, they were delivering answers. He had a theory he expected to change, but unfortunately there were five to worry about. You have Apple with Siri, which is by far the most established but they are late to the game now. Amazon Alexa is just killing everyone. You have Microsoft, who has Cortana, and Facebook, who has M. IBM has Watson. You have these five things where, just like any other social media, they will want you to learn you cannot cheat the system. They want you to interact in their platform the way they want you to. On Facebook, the Norris Group has been producing the videos there for years. When Facebook started launching their own video and Aaron started pasting the link to YouTube, it drove people away from Facebook and on to YouTube. All of a sudden, he got a lot less views. As soon as he started posting those videos natively on the Facebook platform, his views went through the roof. Seems they don’t like each other. The longer you stay on the site, the more money they make because of advertising.

With all these algorithms, the internet is trying to make us stupid. 75% of YouTube views come from the algorithm suggesting other videos that you should watch based on what you have already watched. If you were watching kitty videos, you could be watching similar videos for a long time. On both platforms, that is the game. It is like a singing show where you will have an emotional act, but then you have 20 more you can listen to and sit there for a while.

A lot of people are trying to replicate what The Norris Group is doing. Bruce wondered if it is harder to catch up now. Aaron said he does not think it is, but where a lot of real estate companies make the mistake is they may figure out how to do something and emulate it in their marketing, but they don’t know why. This is far more important and really backs into brands. When Aaron talks about marketing PR, he says if you do not have you brand right of what makes you special, then he cannot work with you. You may have a different path. If your target market is seniors, then he is not going to tell you to be on Snapchat. This would be a complete waste of your time.

Aaron was pulling metrics on the LA market, and in the city there is something like 3.6 million people. On Facebook, there is over 5 million. The daily circulation of the LA Times is around 400,000, but there are so far more Gen-Y and millennials are double the amount of Generation X. However, if he was trying to reach that target audience he would necessarily be selecting the LA Times of the LA Magazine. But it is so interesting to look at the demographics, breakdown, and the potential reach. However, if you are not very clear on your brand and who your audience is, then Aaron cannot even have a conversation with you about the technology you should use.

The Norris Group also has a trust deed investment book at their website. This is a very valuable tool. Since they are moving into Florida, Aaron is rewriting one for Florida since it is a mortgage state and has a different set of laws. When being asked about catching up, Aaron has seen people who completely copied the Norris Group website. Aaron laughed because in the internet world, Google sees everything. He absolutely loves his competition that hires people from other countries and asks them for ratings and reviews, which is important. What they don’t realize is that at some point, Facebook or Google will see that they do not do business in Pakistan and wonder why they have 150 reviews from overseas. This will bite them in the butt, and they may have to start over.

Aaron is all about white hat strategies since it is more important for people to be authentic and find out what makes them special. They need to know their audience, then build the strategies on that with which you need to communicate. It is a far more effective and sustainable way; and when you do that, you won’t get into trouble.

Bruce and Aaron next went on to talk about how they got on the cover of the Think Realty Magazine. Aaron started by saying it was fun as they were on shelves in Hawaii, and his nieces got to see them on a magazine cover. They got on there because of their relationship with the magazine, and they happened to be doing an issue on legacy. They saw Bruce and Aaron and the work they did with I Survived Real Estate and Make a Wish, and this was how it happened. They had been a sponsor of I Survived Real Estate for a number of years and had seen the unusual mix of people in the audience.

I Survived Real Estate the first year was a strange event. They had a hard time describing to those coming for the first time and didn’t even know what they were attending. However, people did come, filled the house, and have filled it ever since then. Typically they sell out early. What has been really meaningful is when someone like Doug Duncan pulls him aside and tells him it is one of his favorite events where he gets to speak. David Kittle from the Mortgage Bankers Association has said the same thing. Your reputation definitely follows you. The audience expects it to be a full night, and Bruce is always keeping up with what may come next. This year there may be a new face or two on there.

Tune in next week as Bruce continues his discussion with Aaron Norris and they touch on what things are disrupting their industry, whether you are a buyer or realtor.

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