Since attending her first Digital Lighthouse event, property investor Christina Hine has set up a networking group, created a website, learnt to write copy and press releases, been published, built a mailing list from scratch and been invited to form joint alliances.
The networking group is proving to be so popular she’s now being approached by more established investors hoping to be allowed to speak at her events.
What’s more some have asked if she will consider forming joint venture partnerships.
The idea for the networking group, the Stansted Property Meet, was inspired by what Christina learnt at a Digital Lighthouse event. Digital Lighthouse delegates are encouraged to set up their own networking groups as a way to accelerate their networking reach, raise their profile, build trust and credibility, and enhance their expert status. Christina set up the Stansted Property Meet for like-minded property investors in her area.
“My main objective in setting up the group was to be able to build a list so I could up-sell relevant services and products at some point. I also wanted to help other professionals. On top of that, there wasn’t a group in this area and I got fed up driving to events so far away. I knew hosting a networking group would be a great opportunity and that it would give me a high profile and I would be able to joint venture and have access to top people. It’s quite hard to get to talk to some of the leaders in property investment if they don’t know who you are.
“Even though it’s quite small in property terms, other investors are now saying to me, ‘I’ll promote your events to my list if you email your list about my upcoming events.’ I didn’t want to deceive any of them and so I told them the size of my list and they were still happy to do it. They may have lists of 10,000 people and I’ve got a list of 50 but they’re still happy to do that swap which is great for me. It’s given me leverage and credibility. The more my list grows the more opportunities will grow with it.
“I just received a phone call from The High Flyers Network, a virtual Property Networking Club. They said that they had heard about Stansted Property Meet and would like to come and professionally video my next event. After some discussions and negotiations I decided this was a good thing, as I would be given my own page on their website with my photo, bio and web link.
“Also they agreed to provide me with a clip of the video recording for my website. I will become an affiliate for their website earning a commission of 25% for each investor that signs up through me.
“That is 25% of the monthly fee each investor pays for as long as they continue to subscribe to The High Flyers Network.
“The London Property Network is also now promoting my events in its newsletters. All I have to do in exchange is to sometimes give away free tickets to ‘first time visitors’ to my club.”
Christina established the networking group after learning how to create a website landing page at a Digital Lighthouse Business Development Programme workshop and then emailed property professionals a link to the newly-created site.
“One of the great things about the Digital Lighthouse Business Development Programme is that it’s practical: you do the marketing work there and then.”
In the years before Digital Lighthouse, Christina had struggled to promote her property investment company GoodFindProperties through conventional advertising.
“Previously I had run adverts in the local papers and had done extensive leaflet drops. I’d spent quite a lot of money and hadn’t received any viable leads.
“Earlier this year, someone sent me a link to Digital Lighthouse’s website and I went on it and I was so impressed with the marketing and the content. It was just so cleverly done and I just thought, ‘I really need to learn how to do this.’ I was very impressed and I decided to book and to go on the weekend and to learn about marketing. “Not long after attending her first Digital Lighthouse marketing weekend, she signed up to become a member of the Business Development Programme.
“I joined the Business Development Programme because I wanted to get more in-depth knowledge.
“The great thing about the Business Development Programme group is that it’s small. You have a whole day to learn about things like PR, copywriting, or aspects of internet marketing like Google AdWords.
“The one-day events are practical they’re not just sitting and learning and you have the opportunity to do the work there and then. [Digital Lighthouse’s Founder] Jonathan Jay has specialists come along every month like [PR expert] Paul Green and [small business web marketing expert] Ed Rivis. There are other business owners to interact with too.
“At one of the meetings we learnt how to design a landing page and I was able to get that up and running. I began to email all the property professionals that I knew so that they could be directed to my page and opt in.
“I also joined FaceBook and set up a group for Stansted Property Meet and put a link to my landing page and invited people to join the group.”
At another Business Development event, Paul Green taught participants how to attract free publicity for their companies. Christina used what she learnt that day to get editorial coverage in “Axis” magazine and a local paper. She also has a listing in “Your Property Network Magazine.”
“I’ve had four pieces published. It’s fantastic free advertising for the network club but it also helps promote the speakers who talk at each event. They’re really pleased. I’m getting all these speakers approach me because even though they don’t get paid for speaking at my events they get publicity and a chance to up-sell as well.”
Seven months ago, Christina had no public speaking experience and lacked the confidence to try it but as the host of the Stansted Property Meet, she has been forced to stand up and address people each month.
“I was really nervous about talking at the first meeting. I am still very nervous but the feedback that I’m getting is that I’m very natural.
“Jonathan suggested putting your personality into your business and I was a bit dubious about the idea to begin with. I didn’t think people would want to hear about me, but I did want to establish credibility and to show that I do have experience buying and selling property. I decided that when I introduced each event, I’d tell a little bit of my story. I’ve been a property investor since 2003 and now have 15 units in my property portfolio. I say, ‘Next month, I’ll tell you the next instalment because I don’t want to take up the speaker’s time.’ I spoke to somebody at a networking event the other day and asked him if he was coming along to my next Stansted Property Meet event and he said, ‘Yeah, I want to hear the next bit of your story!’ So Jonathan’s suggestion does work.”
She’s also begun to ask for testimonials something else she learnt from Jonathan Jay and now has a dedicated page on the Stansted Property Meet website for testimonials.
While the practical marketing techniques have been enormously useful, Christina says one of the biggest benefits of attending Digital Lighthouse events has been the boost in her confidence. “From the moment I finished the first course, I was just so empowered. I realised marketing is not that difficult and that there’s no harm in approaching people. It gave me a format to do it really.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned from Digital Lighthouse and the Business Development Programme is confidence – to have the confidence to get out there and do things.
“There have been points where I’ve had to write a sales letter or an email and I’ve sat there with my head in my hands and thought, ‘I can’t do this. I don’t know what to say.’ Then I have remembered what Jonathan said: ‘If you can speak, you can write.’ That has given me the confidence to do it really. He’s been very supportive.”
Now that she’s mastered writing press releases and sales letters, Christina is now considering launching her own blog, creating a newsletter and writing Special Reports and a book as well as other property-related information products. “I’ve been very busy setting up the networking club and doing other things but I now want to produce Special Reports on property, as well as a book. I shall probably do some audio too. And I’m going to be offering consultancy and mentoring and putting on courses.
“One of the very helpful things on the Digital Lighthouse marketing weekend was when Jonathan explained the marketing ladder.”
The theory behind the marketing ladder is that you need to provide prospects with an opportunity to experience your services or products at different price points. Many service professionals struggle to convert prospects directly into high paying clients. They make the mistake of trying to sell high-end services without first developing a relationship with prospective clients and they only offer a high-priced service without any lower-priced options. The marketing product ladder encourages you to offer something for free to entice as many people as possible to get to know, trust and like you and your product or service and then gradually lure them into becoming paying customers by offering slightly more expensive products or services as they progress up the ladder.
“I have actually started to put that into practice level one for me is the networking events, which I’ve achieved. Level two is the Special Reports and books. Level three is offering property mentoring or property sourcing.
“I don’t think I would have created the Stansted Property Meet without the help of Digital Lighthouse. The ideas I received from the Digital Lighthouse seminar and, more importantly, from the Business Development Programme are too numerous to mention.
“I have only acted on a few of these ideas, but have been blown away with how effective they are. I plan to press on with more of the suggestions and make the most of the new opportunities that are presenting themselves to me.”