Never Build your Home on Another Man’s Land

By Paul Schreiber

This may seem obvious, but if you were in a position to build your dream home, I bet you’d make sure you owned the land your new home would be built on. right?

Building your dream home on another persons property leaves you at the mercy of the landowner. What if the owner of the land has to sell the land? What if they fail to pay their mortgage and the bank repossess the land? I think you get the picture. Building your “dream house” on another man’s land opens you up to a world of “What if’s“. Maybe it’ll be fine, maybe it won’t. Personally, I prefer to hedge my bets.

Owning your own platform

Should you ignore social media and other platforms that you don’t have 100% control over? Absolutely not. Third party platforms are all important tools that should be utilized in a balanced marketing plan. That balance is determined by a number of factors including your product, market, goals, and budget.

Should you build your platform by yourself or partner up with someone? If you partner up, who’s the right fit for your business? Should you hire a one-man marketing consultant? A boutique marketing agency? Commit to 5 figure ads in a monthly publication or 6 or 7 figures with a larger ad agency? Again, it will come down to your market, goals and budget. Do customers in your area read that publication? Does the consultant or marketing company have a track record or come referred from trusted sources? Do you have the budget and infrastructure to handle the increase in business a big ad agency may deliver? All of these are important questions to ask yourself.

If the platform you’ve built your business on are functional, manageable, and generating leads then it’s all good, right? It’s where you connect with your customers and where they leave precious testimonials about your services. Yes, for now. These are all positives. Even if the platform isn’t owned by you.

But, what if the platform you built your business on changes? Maybe their business model changes and it’s not as easy as it once was for you to reach the audience you’ve built. Now you have to pay extra fees or run ads to reach your previously “free” audience. Maybe the company that created the platform goes out of business and with it, your audience, reviews, and content. Key components of your business vanish.

Now, platforms like Instagram, Facebook or YouTube aren’t likely to vanish overnight but in recent years they all have made moves that change their core functionality. In 2018, Facebook decided to change its news feed algorithms. It was decided that posts from family and friends would be prioritized and posts from businesses would take a back seat. For some individuals, this was good news. But for business owners, whose focus for several years had been the accumulation of followers, a key advertising channel is now at the mercy of the algorithm.

Brands have long used social platforms to connect with and build out their audiences. Collecting fans like baseball cards, they would pour significant ad spend into Facebook’s brand-favoring algorithms, relying on third-party data sources like Experian to deliver ads and reach potential new users. Obviously, this has changed significantly in the eighteen months as Facebook removed third-party data offerings and updated the newsfeed feature to prioritize user content over branded content.

Don’t get me wrong, these companies have developed highly valuable services and to their credit have given small businesses access to tools that a few years ago were out of reach. But, these platforms are also companies and companies need to make a profit. Companies make mistakes. Companies change their focus. Their “necessary” changes may be detrimental to your business. So what does this all mean?

The Grass is always greener where it’s watered

How do we build audiences that are safe from external forces? It means being prepared and making a plan. Building a brand presence that enhances your business takes time. These are my four critical steps.

First, be honest with yourself about your budget. There are no cheap short cuts or silver bullets. There are options for most budgets but keep in mind that fast, good, and cheap do not overlap in the Venn diagram of marketing.

Second, partner with a professional to help you develop a marketing plan tailored to your goals budget, and unique market. No two markets are exactly the same in terms of competition, costs and marketing options.

Third, don’t get lazy and don’t get tunnel vision. What worked two years ago may not be effective today. A publication that performs well in one market doesn’t necessarily work in another. Google Ads in your market might only be effective for larger companies.

I’ll conclude with a few what I consider the good and the bad of a couple of these tools.

Fourth, “The Grass is always greener where it’s watered.” I hate when I hear things like “Well, I’ve never gotten a lead off instagram so I don’t use it.” – I inevitably check their Instagram following and it’s low and only comprised of peers in their industry. They’ve done nothing to grow and interact with the right audience so to me it’s obvious to me why it’s not working for them. They haven’t watered their grass. The same goes for your website. A beautiful website is only half the battle. It also has to rank in order to be found by prospective clients. In some markets it takes little effort to do this while in others it’s an ongoing battle to remain at the top. Beautiful photos and videos are useless if they’re not being seen by the right audience. The grass is always greener where it’s watered.

Actually, I have five critical steps. Photo and video collateral. Back to the Venn diagram above. You get what you pay for and relying on poor photos or shaky phone videos to showcase your luxury projects is a big no no. Call Jimi Smith or NuFolk or seek out local talent to put together a portfolio of professional content.

I’ll conclude with a few what I consider the good and the bad of a couple of these tools.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

The Good

  • Room for improvement. You’re probably doing it wrong or haven’t done anything so there will be room for improvement.
  • Most people are doing it wrong so competition may be low.
  • Done right it’s residual and will last long term compared to paid options.
  • It’s done on your platform so you own it.

The Bad
It takes time, usually at least 3 months to start seeing results and requires a partnership with a trusted professional. Free or inexpensive website builders don’t allow you to properly optimize your site content and code. On that same tip, free or cheap website builder, no bueno. You get what you pay for. Again, are you building on another mans land?

Google Ads

The Good
Google Ads are fast. With proper planning and an appropriate budget you’ll see results in quickly.

The Bad
In most markets the Google Ads landscape is very competitive and therefore expensive. Your budget will be dictated by your competition as you’re bidding against them for placement above the search results or on Google maps results. Also, they’re not sticky. When you stop paying the ads stop.

Instagram & Facebook Ads

Although the wild west days of Facebook and Instagram are waining along with explosive, overnight audience growth as the norm, these platforms are still excellent tools for engaging with potential customers organically or through targeted paid ads

The Good

  • They’re Powerful – Interest and demographic targeting, geographic targeting, and the ability to re-target people who have already visited your website is powerful.
  • They’re Flexible – These platforms are flexible, allowing you to easily test ad variations, calls to action, and targeting options quickly.
  • No long term commitment – Start, stop or change your ads at anytime with no long term commitment or contract.
  • Transparency – Insights and statistics are available as soon as your ads start running. If, for instance, you’re running a campaign to increase the reach and engagement of a recent Facebook post with local customers you can verify that those engaging are in fact local people. With a click you can see who’s engaging and check their profiles to make sure they meet your demographics and location targeting.

The Bad
The “Boost” & “Promote” features. I don’t totally hate the “boost” option on posts in Facebook. The targeting and budgeting controls are limited but not as bad as the “promote” button available on Instagram posts. The promote button is a joke. No it’s actually a slot machine and the house always wins. If you have money burning a whole in your pocket and your goal is to have your post seen by as many teenage girls as possible then hit that promote button. My experience is that the ad targeting within Instagram is wildly inaccurate. We run 90% of our Instagram and Facebook ads through the Ads Manager, a tool in the Facebook Business Manager. It’s more complicated but you have more control and get better results. As with Google Ads, once you stop paying the ads and exposure stop.

Reach out anytime. I’m an open book, and you’ll always get a straight answer. 480.626.3036 or

— Paul Schreiber of YESIMAROBOT