Are you ready to take your short-term rental business to the next level? Join Mike Denman as he reveals the secrets of strategic advertising and market research that will skyrocket your bookings and profitability. But be warned, the stakes are high, and the game is just beginning. Will Mike’s playbook be enough to overcome the challenges and leave you wanting more? Tune in now and find out.
In this episode, you will be able to:
- Discover the crucial role that digital marketing plays in boosting short-term rentals.
- Unearth effective advertising and market research tactics, hidden from sight, crucial for your business.
- Understand the hidden connections between view count, click-through rates, and occupancy in your business.
- Learn the secrets to budgeting and coordinating daily expenses for Facebook and Instagram ads.
- Grasp the significant impact of building an online presence and mastering retargeting strategies, a game changer for your business. List 2:
Introducing Mike Denman, a diverse professional who carved a niche for himself in the world of advertising and real estate. Straddling the line between filmmaker and digital marketer, Mike navigated the complex waters of these industries with ease and precision. His journey from working for Warner Brothers to becoming a successful real estate investor is inspiring. Mike’s methodologies are a testament to his belief in the power of testing and data-derived results. His ability to turn properties into profitable ventures using digital marketing strategies is impressive.
Connect with Mike:
The key moments in this episode are:
00:00:08 – Introduction
00:01:17 – Mike’s Background
00:03:17 – Testing Advertising for Short Term Rentals
00:05:20 – The Power of Digital Marketing for Real Estate
00:08:30 – Getting Started with Digital Marketing
00:11:29 – Understanding the Correlation between View Count and Occupancy
00:12:43 – The Numbers Game of Advertising
00:14:52 – Maximizing the Impact of Ads
00:17:15 – Leveraging Facebook Pixel for Remarketing
00:23:26 – Understanding the Cost of Running Ads
00:24:15 – Importance of Treating Vacation Rentals as a Business
00:25:16 – Direct Booking Success Summit and Breaking Barriers
00:26:24 – Basics of Running a Digital Marketing Campaign
00:27:56 – Mentoring and Helping Property Owners Find the Right Path
00:35:49 – The Host vs Guest Dilemma
00:36:26 – The Myth of Passive Income
00:37:02 – Leveraging Technology in the Industry
00:37:49 – Balancing Work and Leisure
Sign up to the Free Direct Booking Success Summit 2023: https://directbookingsuccesssummit.com/
Show notes are available at: https://directbookingsuccess.com/podcast/
Follow Jenn on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/directbookingsuccess
Join the Marketing Hub Free Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/marketinghubforholidayrentals
Sign up for the free masterclass – The 4-step framework for a profitable direct booking sales engine: https://directbookingsuccess.com/masterclass
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Direct Booking Success. I'm Jenn Boyles, your host, and today I have Mike Denman with me. Now, Mike introduces himself as an advertising scientist, and I want to hear a bit more about that. It piqued my interest. So welcome, Mike. Great to have you here today.
00:00:53 - Mike Denman
Thank you for having me on, I’m very excited to talk about direct booking, especially as I've been testing these things against Airbnb and VRBO platforms and seeing how well they do and what works with advertising. So I'm excited to talk about this.
00:01:07 - Jenn Boyles
Oh, so am I. So let's start by saying that if anybody doesn't know who you are, maybe you can tell us a bit about who you are, your background, and where you are. Yeah.
00:01:17 - Mike Denman
So I'm based out of Denver, Colorado. I'm a filmmaker by trade. But I started making marketing my job because I realized it's hard to make money in movies. But I've always had an eye for marketing. I wanted to start doing commercials when I was younger, so I started doing all that. I realized, especially as I got into real estate in 2015, like, doing marketing for realtors and mortgage officers and people of that nature, it was like, oh, this is really fun. There's a whole slew of people doing all these things. And so I started really kind of like, learning a lot of the nuts and bolts of those industries, and all the while still just doing marketing. People like, why aren't you getting your real estate license? I was like, yeah, no thanks. I'll help you guys with that. It's all good. I'm not interested in that side. But I really like communication, helping people find things. And so I found using social media pretty early on. I actually started working with social media in 2008, and it was like maybe a year before I learned how to use Twitter effectively. And I was like, this is bizarre. But I was using YouTube and all the things really early on business wise. When Instagram came out, I was working for Warner Brothers. I was tasked with figuring out how to use that for video. For the video games we're working on. I did a lot of Lord of the Rings video games and Batman games. So there's a mixed bag of things that have been done. And ultimately, at the end of the day, in 2018, when my ex and I started getting into real estate investing, and just kind of like I was like, oh, be a real estate investor. This is how you these are some people we need to know. This is like the Denver scene. This is where we can go. This is what we buy. And all these things kind of like transpired so few years of that kind of process. We got into short term rentals in 2021 and 2022. We closed. Like January. We had two properties. One in Texas, one in Joshua Tree, California. So it was a wild thing. And I was like, oh, we're getting any bookings. We just were on the airbnb platforms. It was a whole kind of like, I don't really know how to do this. Let's figure it out. But I was like, oh, I've done advertising for real estate for years. I'm just going to throw some ads on. This should be fully flying. I was like, I'll put $100 towards it, and I'll see what it does over ten days. $10 a day. $100. That's a reasonable sort of test. I'm always testing. So every single thing I try and do, I'm like, is it going to result? I don't know. What's it going to do? Let's find out. Spaghetti and it's like, we see what sticks to the wall. And then ultimately we're like, yeah. And so I found after an iteration of maybe a week or two of doing ads, I was able to get bookings that covered the mortgage for the first month. I was like, this is great. Okay, this is awesome. Like, the second iteration of doing the ads and launching them on a Sunday, spent $2.43 or something like that, and I got a $6,000 booking. I was like, you know, I think that this is actually going to work. I think it's going to be alright. It's like, all right. And I started increasing how much I charge nightly rates, and I started really expanding on all the areas. I was figuring out which tactics I need to do for the digital marketing piece. And so I've run three digital marketing agencies over the past decade. Ultimately, my current company, Sgradising.com, has just been the offshoot of my major brand, which is better than awesome. And ultimately, I've been trying to just use everything I can and all the different digital marketing toolkits I've had just to help out real estate investors. And I'm like, oh, this is a whole beautiful world where it's like, you can do short term rentals, you can do midterm rentals, you can do long term rentals. You can make the prices work on any one of these things and still make your money work for you. So I love all that. And I think it's really cool because when I get people to reach out to me, they read my book, and they're like, hey, your book really made me money. This is amazing. Yes. And so I'm like, heck yeah. Let's make those incomes grow. It's like all this retirement money that we're putting into these real estate investments, it's scary when you have something that's not getting bookings for like a year and you're spending like $5,000 a month on a mortgage. That's terrifying. Yeah, but I've been able to with advertising. I've been able to help people find the viability of some of their own properties. And so early on doing this, I was just helping out some random folks that I was meeting in the Real Estate Investor Circle, and I started talking to people and started finding that no one really knew about digital marketing. I was like, I should just start saying stuff, start teaching people about it.
00:05:19 - Jenn Boyles
That's right, yeah.
00:05:20 - Mike Denman
Started posting things on social media, started being a little bit like a little bit connected. It was really kind of a wild experience. I've been banned from people's Facebook groups for talking about how to do these things. I've been told ads don't work and that they don't waste your money and it's too expensive. I was like, man, I can spend less than $300 a month and I can make way more money than the people who are not spending that $300 a month in the same areas. So I really don't see it as a big cost. I see it as like, well, I'm going to increase my dollar nightly rate. That way I cover all of my advertising costs and then I feel really good passing along the cost to my guests and I'm still making more money.
00:05:55 - Jenn Boyles
Well, and that's it. And that's why I've got you on the podcast today, so that we can talk about these things and we can bust a few of these myths as well. But going back to your title of advertising scientist now, because it's all about the experimentation, isn't it?
00:06:14 - Mike Denman
Yes, it really is. And actually it's funny. I was on a podcast called Live Let Thrive, and these two guys, Micah and Siva, where they were basically like, you're like some sort of advertising scientist with how excited you get by this data and numbers. I was like, yeah, actually resonated with now it is one of those things that I can say, hey, let's take a few weeks or even a month. Let's find out what people want. I'll run an ad campaign that costs minimal amounts of money. We can get a market research campaign result out of it that normally costs like 10,000 or $15,000. And the cool thing is I can find out which photos people click on most, which pieces of text they're interested in, all these different little elements that you can put into advertisements on social media that you can say, I know what people are going to click on. And then you can translate that to the PLooking platforms or even your direct booking site. And like, okay, this is how it's going to go. And ads always dump a lot of traffic to whatever website. So I know that from the SEO or search engine optimization side of things, the more traffic we drive to a site, the more relevant traffic, the more people going there for the purposes of booking and that kind. Of stuff, the more likely we are to show higher rank on Google and with Ads, I've been able to prove pretty quickly that you can go from any page on airbnb to the top page to be put enough money into advertising. Do it long enough. I had one guy who was like page twelve at the beginning of this year, and he's like, I have no idea what to do. I was like, let's just do ads for a month, man. I have no idea. After a week, he was already on page four. And so it was one of those things just like it doesn't even take that much time and effort. But ultimately it's like when you see your property showing up in that first position organically, you're going to get more. People booking from those platforms and on the direct booking site if you're going to show up anywhere because you're competing with hotels, other vacation places, all of those kinds of aggregate websites out there trying to get people's attention. Yeah, you can really make a cool brand for yourself and your property and get noticed. That's also why I'm like, I'm really interested in helping people build out digital marketing networks of where people can find them and how they can interact with them. Because people are all over the place. I don't know, weird, but you go where the people are.
00:08:20 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah, well, that's it. So let's think of that. People are listening to this. They're thinking, oh, this sounds really exciting, but I got one or two properties. I don't know what to do, where do I start? How do I get into this? And I think we need to start by talking about digital marketing as a whole, right? We need some kind of system there.
00:08:44 - Mike Denman
In a plan. In a plan, yeah. So I think that one of the things you do really well is you've been able to help people cut the crap, get you right. Like, this is what you need to do. This is like the established line. If you follow these structured procedures, you can have these things rolling and in. Digital marketing is just really like a playbook. It's like, okay, if I'm going to use Instagram, right, I'm going to create an Instagram profile for my short term rental, for whatever the thing is I'm trying to promote. Then I have the links appropriate to where people can find me to book, where it's at the most important information. And so then you have a couple photos, maybe like nine photos to give people something. Some people like to design their Instagrams, make a little mosaic, and have one photo turn into three, whatever. I like to use Instagram like a digital billboard. Same with Facebook. Honestly, it's like you really just want people to be able to find you. There's all these processes that people talk about for direct booking and how to get there. And it's like, some people are like, you got to post on Instagram all the time. You got to post on Facebook all the time. Like, wow, let's talk about what 2023 or even the future looks like for posting. So you don't need to post all the time. In fact, Facebook, you're posting on a business page that people are probably not going to see unless they go specifically to that business page. In 2018, Facebook changed a bunch of stuff because it was hit with a $5 billion fine for some of the advertising practices that they have, and they made it very different for people, especially in the real estate field. And so one of those things is you always have to use the housing category when you advertise this stuff. It's always under real estate. It's always a short term or temporary rental. And so all these things have regulations associated with them. And so some of the things people like, they're terrified of running ads. I'm like, you don't have to run ads. You don't have to do this. You just create those little landing pages. A Facebook page is your landing page. Your Instagram page is your landing page. Pinterest, YouTube, all of the content you're making for your own listing site could go great all over the place and then bring people to you. That's what their goal is. That's why I use Pinterest a lot, too. Yeah.
00:10:35 - Jenn Boyles
And what's more important than whatever you're creating is what you do with it in marketing.
00:10:42 - Mike Denman
Yes, it really is.
00:10:44 - Jenn Boyles
It is. And it's the experimentation of what is working for you. So whatever works for you, lean into it. So if it is Pinterest, lean into it. Let's do more of it. And you talked about data at the beginning there. You've got to know your numbers and what is going on so that you know what's working.
00:11:08 - Mike Denman
Yeah. And some people think about, like, what is a key performance indicator? If we can talk about this for a brief moment, I think this is really important because I think at the end of the day, any real estate investor will tell you, well, it's like, am I getting bookings? Am I getting the numbers met? Am I making the mortgage? Right? So that's kind of like it's only an indicator for like, well, they see what their bank balance is, and they see what the payments are coming in as. I don't see some of those things. But what I do see is I see traffic, and I see people. I see people clicking. I see click throughs on different aspects. And so when I look at really if something's going to work, the correlation I found is if you have a high view count, you'll have a high Occupancy account. So if you don't have a high view count, your Occupancy might be just where it might regularly be. If people are finding it organically. But if you have a high occupancy because of a high view count, then you're getting a lot of people looking at it. It's the law of averages. I've been able to determine it's. Basically out of everyone who sees an ad, 10% of them ultimately click, and it ranges from like five to 15%. So it's average out around ten. I think when I first started doing it, my properties were like 8.9% or 8.5%. So I was like, okay, for every 100,000 people, I get 8500 or so. Of those people, one to 2% of those actually book or save it or do some sort of communication. And that's actually a statistic from Airbnb and some of the other platforms. We all see that kind of stuff.
00:12:32 - Jenn Boyles
I don't want anyone listening to this thinking, okay, I want to do ads. This is amazing. And I'm going to have a million bookings like in the next week. And it's like, yeah, not really. There is a small you've got to hit, it's the numbers game. You've got to hit like what you said about Spaghetti on the wall. That's a perfect analogy because you're throwing all this out there and people have to come across it. We know social media, the algorithms and all that kind of jazz. You have to be consistently out there so that it picks up on what you're doing and more people see it. So you need a lot of people to see it, a lot of people to click for a few people to book.
00:13:15 - Mike Denman
Yeah, and we don't really need a lot of people to book because we don't even have a full calendar available to have a lot of where you go. We have a finite resource, right? Yeah, finite.
00:13:23 - Jenn Boyles
And if you've got one or two properties, yeah, if you're sitting if you're a vacation rental property manager with 50 or 60 properties, well, you need a few more. You need a lot more people to be looking at the book.
00:13:41 - Mike Denman
And I found that if you do $10 a day on Meta, which does Facebook, Instagram and other Facebook networks, which is like website ads, usually it's like the sweet spot, $10 a day. There's about 700 to 3000 people that can fit into that. $10, depending on how long you've run the ads, how well they're polished and all these factors. But essentially, if you think about it, 10% of those people click, right? So it's like 70 clicks a day. So sometimes we think about clicks like that. And this is always a cool thing. Like if people have a short term rental, they usually have Airbnb set up. So you can go into the Airbnb Insights section, which is really cool because they have a lot of really cool insights that people don't even really know how to fully utilize. You actually even have to turn on professional hosting tools to turn a lot of those on to give access. And so when you go into them, you can look at booking, lead time, nightly rate, all these things. You can see your real competitors in the local area, so you'll have a line of the similar listings and then you can see where you relate to them. And so, like doing ads, I was able to consistently price mine hundreds of dollars more a night than other properties and still get bookings at those nights without worrying about it. Because the people who landed on my property were like, oh, that price, whatever. Then they go look and then they book at my neighbors. All of a sudden there's an indirect benefit to the neighbors around me. Yay. Because the person who's finding my ads wasn't on some sort of booking network trying to find a vacation at all. They were just like scrolling on their Facebook. Oh man, my life is Wednesday. I need to look through what is happening this weekend. And then they're like, oh hey, I should take the family down to this beach. That sounds like a great idea. And then they start planning it. And so you'll plan to take six months, a year or whatever, but then they're like adding that wish list or dealing with that thing. So whatever it is, all these little trigger points, it's definitely something that the more people you show it to, the more chances someone is going to book. And that's really the end of it. I found people in some areas like $10 do not work a day. And it's like a really high competition, a really intense one. I'm like, let's go $12 a day.
00:15:37 - Jenn Boyles
Let's see what that does.
00:15:39 - Mike Denman
$13 a day. So there's incremental steps that you can take. You're ultimately like, I'm getting too many bookings. Your prices are too low. I'm getting barely any bookings. Your prices might be too high. So you have to kind of wiggle through all these little pieces or all the tool sets we have.
00:15:53 - Jenn Boyles
Yes. They could also be clicking through to your website and going, oh, that's not what I got from the ad.
00:16:02 - Mike Denman
Right. And really a lot of the ads are interesting. So I found that most people don't click on any of the ads that are like interior images, like the living room, the bedrooms, any of that kind of stuff. They really like the exterior photo of the house and they like the view of where you can hang out.
00:16:17 - Jenn Boyles
00:16:19 - Mike Denman
Yes. And so it's like the view and then the house. And so it's funny because I've had people, they look at the numbers, I'm like, well, these are the most popular photos. And I don't believe that. I don't know the answer to that. But this is how many people clicked on that one compared to all the other. You know, you can do it as you please. I recommend people replace their current whatever profile photo is with the high click through ones. That way any of the organic stuff works through. I know that Google my business shuttered the ability for people to be on Google for the short term rentals. And it was definitely one of those bummer moments because they're trying to roll out their Google vacations for the past years. There's a whole slew of that stuff. Now if you're on with some of those, like there's some Google platform stuff that you can get into, but you can still compete with all these Google places by doing ads and having to spend that much. And you could even compete with them by having just a bunch of different links going to your direct booking site. And the cool thing about direct booking sites that none of the other platforms have, this is my favorite part. You can put a Facebook pixel on there and every single person who lands on your page, you can know where your Facebook account exists. You don't know it, you don't know their name, you don't know the details, but you know that you can tell Facebook. I'd like to reach people that touched my website and they're like, oh yeah, you mean this person over here? They love your site. They're running for this amount of time. We're going to send the ad to them. And so that kind of retargeting remarketing piece is one of the best pieces of the puzzle. In fact, on retargeting, I find that the click through rates are like 20% click through rates. I'm like, oh, these people love this because they're seeing it for the 7th time, maybe or the fourth time.
00:17:51 - Jenn Boyles
It's not that they didn't book because maybe they've forgotten life got in the way. Maybe their wife's husband came and yelled at them, the dog pooped, whatever happened, everything distracted and then yeah, and they go, oh yeah, man, I forgot to book that trip that I wanted to take.
00:18:09 - Mike Denman
And I was working with this guy over the summer, he's got like an entire lake in California. I was like, you have a lake? Yeah, airbnb a lake for like $190 a night. I was like, so what happens here? He's like, well, people fish, we have boats, we have all these things. I was like, a lake? That's amazing. So it's like, yeah, there's some interesting things out there. I think that people, when they see about these, they're like, oh, I didn't even consider going to that weird missile silo thing in New Mexico until you told me about it.
00:18:38 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah, there's some really cool places to go to, aren't there? Really unique places out think, you know, we're covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time here. So I hope people are just staying with us tonight. But I think the bottom line here is that yes, you can do advertising. It is accessible. You don't have to spend millions. I know that when people come up to me, there was a question, I was speaking at an event in the spring, and somebody put up their hand and they were like, yeah, but direct bookings are so expensive. And I almost fell off my chair. I'm like, what are you talking about? And they were under the impression that they had to go right to ads, that ads was the only way to do it and that it was going to cost so much money. And I think it's important to know that you need a plan to start.
00:19:36 - Mike Denman
And you need to establish a presence. And so if we had ads running without some sort of landing page for people to go to, or some sort of Facebook page for people to see what it is to even run the ad in the first place, there's some stuff you got to do. And in fact, even when I start people off with working with me, there's a 30 point thing that we have to work through to even get going. I was like, well, you got to make sure there's no alcohol. You have to make sure there's all these things, there's all these laws and requirements they have to follow. Otherwise we as advertisers get shut down. And that's another thing I've run into is like, I've run into a lot of people try to run their own ads, but they don't use the correct category, like housing. And then they get their ad account shut down because they listen to some people who are like in New Zealand, where you don't have to follow the ad category because it's not a law. But in the United States, in a lot of parts of Europe, this is something actually Canada, United States, and parts of like, those are where some of the real estate laws are the hardest. So some of these things for regulation, like, we just have to be like crossing our T's and dotting our I's and appropriately looking at things, checking twice. But I've got a pretty good system to help people onboard how to do this, because that's a lot of stuff. Luckily, I keep up on these advertising changes, the policy changes, and all the shifts. There's so much that even going through this whole year, they changed the marketplace on Facebook to where now real estate things go into the marketplace where they weren't necessarily before. And I found people were spending a lot of money into the marketplace, but they weren't getting bookings. I was like, oh, I have to turn all the marketplaces off because that's not where people are going for that. That's where people are going for midterm rentals and long term rentals. And so if you have mid term or long term, that's a good game to play. But like, the short term rental, like, you got to tread all in the areas. It's going to be appropriate. You're going to find people who want to book you. Yeah, it's a delightful thing trying to figure it out. It's always changing.
00:21:26 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah, well, that's it. And you've got to keep up on it, all the different changes. Definitely, yeah.
00:21:32 - Mike Denman
And keep people informed through like I have a Facebook group. It's like a short term rental marketing advice powered by BTA, my main company. And so ultimately a lot of the stuff I learned just threw out there for me, like a lot of my how to do the ads and how to even identify some of the trends. You're going through a lot of the discussions there, step by step too. So it's been pretty cool. We are at over 1100 people now. It's been growing since last May. It's adorable. It's really cute. And I think that a lot of the people out there, they've got really cool properties and they're really intimidated about sharing them with people on social groups because they have so many groups out there. They're like, don't share your listing, don't promote, and all these things I'm like, I want to see your listing so we can talk about how you're promoting it. And so it's like all these things I'm like, this is a safe space for that. And after I got so many bands from other groups, I was like, I just need to make a group where people can talk about marketing without anyone, like putting the band hammer on them. I think that these discussions are helpful and some of the discussions are really important because some people out there tell people to spend less than $8 a day on advertisements. And I know from working with Facebook ads people like, they have meta marketing pros and they have this whole thing you can sign up for and talk to someone there, which I highly encourage, but they will guarantee and tell you. Yeah, if you don't spend at least $8 a day or $200 a month, actually, what they recommend is like $29 a day. Really? What do they do? And so they want you to spend enough on the actual system, the algorithm will present your ads to the right people. Like if you spend $3 a day, you're going to get the ads presented. But they might be like at three in the morning, two in the morning, random low people. Facebook qualifies all of their views and all of their visitors and all of the actual people on their clicking. So every time someone clicks an ad, it's like, oh, Facebook's like, oh, you are a valuable advertising recipient. Every time someone clicks on an ad and makes a purchase, you're a very valuable advertising recipient. And so some of those things, like, I've spent $40 to reach some people on Facebook before through, like, lead generation stuff, but through some of these things, cost per clicks can go pretty low, but they can be a little scary at first. When you start running ads, they will all reduce in cost as the machine learns how to deliver the ads best and most effectively. And so it's scary. But it's okay. It's all good if you need to. We have tons of things. People can hold hands throughout the whole process. I think that the journey that people are on with the direct booking sites and getting even a website general, where they can have the no fee control and have the ability to track people's email addresses and gather that stuff, it's so crucial to have just as a business in general. I think that's another thing I really try to make a point of. A lot of real estate investors are not going to this is a very business, mind centric person. They're going in as like, Well, I'm an investor, and they don't really think, oh, this is just you're investing in business. You have to work, you have to do the business. And so sometimes you have to spend money on the business to do the things. Like, we spend money on cleanings for like, one cost of the cleaning, or even sometimes two costs of cleanings. That's what I'll spend in a month on advertising. And so I'm like, oh, I'm getting more clean. I have to spend more money anyways, I'm getting more money. So that's great. End of the day, it's like, there's just got to test out, see what works.
00:24:45 - Jenn Boyles
Well, it's good because if anybody's listening to this and going, oh, my goodness, there's so much I want to do. Well, Mike's going to be coming to Direct Booking Success. He is one of our speakers this year, and he's going to be talking more about advertising. And I just think it's great because it's breaking down those barriers when you're thinking, oh, I can't do that. I'm not somebody like Airbnb who has this massive budget. What can I do? Yeah, exactly. So I'm glad that you're coming this year to sort of break down those barriers even more, and again, for free, doing the presentation, can you maybe give us a little bit about what you're going to be speaking on at the Direct Booking Success?
00:25:36 - Mike Denman
Yeah, so essentially, one of the first things I'll end up doing is, as part of signing up and getting into it, there'll be a little bit of a cheat sheet, kind of a one sheet guide as to these are the top learnings you need to know about running a digital marketing campaign for your property. And so it's really all about the basis of it. So we were like, okay, where do you need to go online? What platforms do you need to get on? And then how do we present ourselves in the first place? If you have a direct booking site, making sure that people have links, all the stuff, it's all important, all that's necessary. And so once you have those things set, good quality photos, all of that that you feel really solid about, then you can have a solid digital marketing experience. And I'll go into some of the ad structure, the doing of traffic ads, how I structure them, how I do complex retargeting and also traveler ads. So I do, like, a three hit punch where it's like I'll do, like, a top funnel ad. Everybody in this certain area kind of thing, I'll do a mid funnel ad like, hey, everyone who saw that, come back and look at it again. And then I do a traveler one where it's like, hey, you might be in here temporarily, maybe you're visiting, perhaps you need to stay in a different place. I know that you might be interested in this for even your next trip here. So all those little questions.
00:26:50 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah. I never thought about people that are already in the area. That's really interesting.
00:26:56 - Mike Denman
It's wild, actually. When I started doing that this year, for some of the people I was just running my standard advertising campaign for, I was like, oh, we're catching more bookings from this. People started really seeing it. When I started really adding the retargeting piece into it's, like, those start going up even. So, like, I worked with a gentleman. He's got, like, three properties in Crystal Beach, Texas. And I only had, like, one property, Crystal Beach. His three properties did better than mine. With the ads I was running, I was like, wow, this is even more complex than I've ever done on my own. Intense. I was like, all right, this is a good learning. I feel like I've gotten a good system down, but I've only been doing this for, like, two years, so it's like, I'm still new at the short term rental game in general, but for the advertising stuff, luckily, I've been doing it for long enough that's, like, I got this, this is fine. And it's a pretty good system. Ultimately, you have to tweak a little bit. But I've been able to help people find out that their properties are not that viable, that they should sell it, and it's not really going to work out. It's not visually appealing. There's a whole slew of folks that I'm like, well, we've tried ads for X amount of years, not really, but, like, month stays, that kind of thing. And so when it was like, one gentleman I was working with from like, three months, I was like, what is going on? He had, like, a minimum night stay requirement for his local city ordinances. It was like six days, but no one wanted to book six days. I was like, You've got to do midterm rentals, man. You can't do short term rentals in that area. You're obviously regulated out of that opportunity. And so he was, like, adamant of still doing it. I was like, you're not going to make money this way, though.
00:28:21 - Jenn Boyles
This is what I think a lot of people need to realize, too, is that the services you provide, the services I provide, the core part of it is being a mentor and helping, so that if somebody's going down the wrong path. Like this guy with his I can't believe that they would make six nights or whatever. That's crazy. But you're there to mentor him and try to explain other ways of going because he could be sitting there just banging his head against the wall and throwing money after money after money out there with ads and not realizing that actually he should be on a different path.
00:29:02 - Mike Denman
And I think there's so many different paths to this stuff. Like if you are into the short term game, if you aren't making money, you can get into the midterm game, start talking to insurance companies and be a person that can provide long stays for that kind of stuff until the house burns down. There's so many people out there doing really amazing stuff with investing in general, so you can find even arbitrage people are doing these gangbusters situations and they don't even own property. I know, they're just still making it work. So it's like when we look at this stuff, I was like, yeah, if you've got the hustle, you want to learn. There's a lot of steps, but man, there's some really good people that support these networks and it's like what you've been doing for as long as I started paying attention, I was like, oh, this is what's up. So when we started talking, I was like, my people are good, because we're all about we want to share information and help people go through these things to be successful. And we really have given more than what we could ever have earned through these things. Try and help people work through these things because we see it's important. I don't like people getting taken advantage of having some sort of, like, $10,000 guru spend where they walk out of like, well, I don't know how to do this. I'm like, oh, man, that's like, it hurts me. And I'm like, Dude, I will charge you $10 and we can do this. Not really that, but at the same time, I don't want people to be out so much that it's like it's a negative impact. No, I do think it's an important thing to think about.
00:30:28 - Jenn Boyles
Yeah. And it's finding the right person, the right fit for you as well. Because I've had people come to me and they've said, I've just spent all this money with so and so. They'll remain nameless, but they've spent money with somebody and then they come out and they go, hang on a second, what did I get for that?
00:30:47 - Mike Denman
I had conversations with people who have even hired some of those entities to ads for them. I'm like, well, hey, did you have any of the data from the ads? I'd love to see your ads manager. What's the report look like? They're like, oh, I didn't get a report. I was like, oh, it scares me, the data. I'm like, yeah. Because I'm like, well, there's a whole thing you could log into and see it's your ad account, it should be right there. So I think that when people kind of take moments where they're just trusting, it's like this. A lot of trusting people go in and they're not gullible, they're very smart people. There's just a lot of people who get really excited about taking their money. I'm like, I'm very excited about helping people make money. I know that that's how you are. And it's like, this is one of those things, by doing even the Direct Booking Success and having everyone come together around this topic and helping people understand what this is. And if they end up buying the All Access pass and they get all the other access poodles of access pieces, I know that there'll be a cool thing for me, there'll be a cool thing from a lot of other people, like this couple of books. So I think that for a lot of what people are going to get out of this summit, it's going to be a really cool, eye opening experience. It's not going to break their piggy bank.
00:31:55 - Jenn Boyles
No. Well, that's it. And this year, it's bigger than it's ever been. It's the third year, and right now I'm sitting at 22 presentations over three days. Like, my goodness, we've got all sorts of subjects. I'm going to be talking about building trust and moving away from how you can compete with Airbnb. Other people are going to be talking about search marketing. I'm trying to think of what else. There's lots of copywriting, creating more content in less time, using AI.
00:32:30 - Mike Denman
00:32:33 - Jenn Boyles
It's going to be really brilliant. And I think having you there talking about advertising is sort of the cherry on the cake, because the AI and the advertising, you need to have a basic plan of what you're doing, and you've got to have all those pieces in place, like your site and your social accounts and things like that. You've got to have them set up in the right way to then be able to layer these things on top. So if anyone's getting overwhelmed by just listening to us, just take a step backwards, have a deep breath, come to the Direct Booking Success and you will have a wealth of information for free. And yes, there is a paid product, which is the all Access pass, which will have so many goodies in it for you and as well as the replays of the presentation. So brilliant. I can't wait for your presentation, Mike. I will be there taking notes. I will know. I learn a lot from you. I know we're in a similar mindset, and it's really brilliant to speak to you today. Now, before you go, I need to ask you, this is the big question. What does direct booking success mean to you?
00:33:53 - Mike Denman
Yeah, it's interesting. I've been thinking about this since you sent that to me, and for a lot of the success part. I know that success is always like an internal subjective thing, but I think that when someone's like, oh, this thing is working and it's doing its thing and I'm just like, I kind of sit back a little bit more and I don't have to go out every single week promoting it on Facebook groups. I don't have to do all these things to really get it. I don't have to. Like, I've got one of those things that people give me their email addresses through my direct booking site and I have all this other access where through the other systems you have to have things like Stapi or have some sort of creative way to capture email addresses and pay for that extra stuff. And so I think that with some of these things it's like, yeah, you can have a nice book and then just create a simple email structure to remind people about you seasonally and say, hey, we loved having you here, would you like to come save for a discount or whatever. They're like, oh, this is way less than I paid on the other platform. They're like gangbusters. And so I think that the success part is when you see those mechanisms start functioning for you that bring more money to your situation and you actually stop working a lot. I know that some people who do it's like, we work more than I think any normal person who invests in anything does. When they invest in short term rentals, it's like there's a lot of stuff, there's a lot of coordinating, a lot of that networking, which is why some people are like, I'm just doing a property manager. So it's like less those property managers out there handling all that stuff for people, but still at the same time, if the property managers aren't doing ads, then they're also not necessarily getting a lot of the booking opportunities to those places. And so it is really one of those things if you want direct booking success, to be able to direct book with somebody is a success. And so I think that getting those things going without having reliance on another platform that can shut you down and red flag you for any time, any reason and whatever or someone's just mad at you because you wouldn't cancel their thing, they had to cancel it because whatever the drama was going on I don't know, it's complicated. People lose super host status, they don't like that. So there's always this host versus guest kind of thing. I'm like, well, the guest is trying to do their best they can to work the system so that way they can have the best kind of vacation for their dollar. The host is like, I'm just trying to get the most out of my investment. So at the same time, how do we meet in the middle with hospitality and building trust? Oh, we're going to have to look through. Jennn Boyles I think that this is like really what it all boils down to.
00:36:12 - Jenn Boyles
Well, that's it. And I think you've also hit the nail on the head about there's gurus out there that are all about, oh, it's a passive income. Come and do this, come and do that, and it's all passive. And it's like there is nothing passive about hospitality. The only thing passive is if you give everything to everybody else, which you're giving them most of your profit. So, yes, then it could be passive if someone does all the work, but if it's your business, it's not passive. However, you don't want to get into that burnout cycle of being busy and doing this, that, this, that, and just keep going. Having that plan and an advertising yes plan, having that plan and advertising can be part of that will help you. Just things happen. And the technology now is amazing with AI and what's coming out and your email program, scheduling emails and segmenting guests and the things you can do with the tools you've already got, it's amazing. It's just setting it up. Yeah, that's exactly it. It's mind blowing, isn't it? You can set it up so, you know, chasing your tail all the time.
00:37:29 - Mike Denman
Man, that sounds so nice. What's it like having a weekend off where you just can actually go golf, do some sort of thing?
00:37:35 - Jenn Boyles
But there's also people like you and I, Mike, that I think you're probably the same as me, that we love what we do so much that we are at our desks in the evening, we are at our desks at the weekend, and it's like, we've got to stop doing this.
00:37:48 - Mike Denman
But anyways, I mean, I was up until 04:00am mountain time this morning working on ads for St. Louis Real Estate Investment Group. So like yeah, I know, it's all those things, like, they're happening Saturday. Can we make it happen? They're live this morning. Man, it's good. So I think as we go through these things, I'm just so thankful for your time and for having me on. I appreciate you doing all this and for the summit. This is great.
00:38:11 - Jenn Boyles
Loved it. And I'm going to have to have you back because there's just so many topics that we could talk about in digital marketing and hospitality and investing, all this space. I'm going to put a link to your website, Sdradvertising.com. I've got your link tree. We'll put that in the show notes so people can get in touch with you. The best place to see Mike, though, is at the Direct Booking Success, which is coming up in October – October third to the fifth. Registration is open, so head to Direct Booking Success to sign up for the free event. Thank you, Mike, so much for coming today.
00:38:54 - Mike Denman
Thank you for having me in. Have a great rest of your day. Appreciate you, Jenn.