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Effective SMS engagement is not about blasting out messages to thousands of contacts; it’s about building trust and relationships with individuals. By treating each interaction as a valuable opportunity to connect, SMS engagement can be key to successful real estate deals. Our guest in this episode is Michael Bartolomei, Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Launch Control. They offer an SMS engagement platform exclusively designed for real estate investors and wholesalers. Michael shares his expertise on how to effectively use text messages for engagement and communication with potential clients. Michael provides insights into Launch Control’s customer success model and how their platform can be integrated with various CRMs for easy lead management. By the end of this conversation, you’ll be able to understand the surprising benefits and impacts of SMS engagements on your real estate deals. Tune in now!

About Michael Bartolomei

RETG 5 | SMS Messaging

Michael Bartolomei is Launch Control’s VP of Sales and Business Development. He helps subscribers optimize SMS engagement and profitability through Customer Success and lead conversion strategy initiatives.

Launch Control is an SMS engagement and re-engagement platform designed to generate leads and increase revenue via text marketing. It’s loaded with features designed to generate responses from leads and fill a pipeline with potential deals.

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The Money Making Power of Texts – Michael Bartolomei

Hey, everybody! It’s Jordan Fleming here with another episode of That Real Estate Tech Guy. Delighted to say that my co-pilot for today’s episode is Michael from Launch Control. Michael, welcome to the podcast. Why don’t you introduce yourself and Launch Control?

Thanks, Jordan. Happy to be here. Yeah, my name is Michael. I’m the VP of sales and business development for Launch Control. Launch Control is an SMS engagement platform. Our core customer group is our real estate investors, wholesalers for the most part, but we’ve also got some real estate coaches, people doing fix and flips, that kind of thing. It’s SMS engagement to help people land deals in real estate investment.

I’m excited to hear more about Launch Control. Could you dive into a little about the way you guys help people get started on engaging via text?

One of the things about Launch Control that really makes a difference is the way that we approach it. The way that we approach it is through strategy and routine. You know, unfortunately, I don’t know how it got started. And I’d love to talk to the first person who started doing it this way. But the term text blast makes my skin crawl. I absolutely hate it. So what it really comes down to, and what we really preach, is having a real sales-based lead conversion-based approach to SMS engagement. And if in any line of sales anywhere, and this is 1,000% true in real estate investment, it takes a series of touchpoints. SMS messages, calls, and emails on-site, that you’re stringing together touchpoints, building trust, and coming to an agreement on what is a piece of property. It’s a home. We’re not trying to buy bicycles here. We’re trying to buy houses. So you’re not going to build that level of trust just by blasting out a text. It’s inefficient. What is efficient is taking a set of data. It doesn’t matter where you got it. 

It always makes me kind of smile when people say, Yeah, I got, you know, 10,000 leads from a named lead source. No, you got 10,000 names that fit a filter. And that person had a home. It’s at some level of distress. It’s not a lead until that person is engaged with you. The absolute fastest way to get someone is to get them, and I’m not against any other way of engagement for real estate investment. But the rest are passive. You put something in the mail, and you wait for it to come back. You post something online, and you wait for it to come back. Those are great leads because they came seeking you. But you pass it. You have to sit and wait for it to come back. SMS marketing is active. If you walk into a Monday morning, you’re like, I’ve got nothing to do. I don’t have a site visit till 4:30. I need some leads and get some leads. As long as you have a little bit of data to put into the system, you can get those, say 20, 30 active conversations generated. 

What makes it different for Launch Control is that we give you the tools and features, as well as the training and advice via our success team. And I’m not talking about real estate investment advice. I’m talking about SMS engagement advice on how to really convert leads because there’s an art to it. Everybody knows, and they don’t often associate it with SMS engagement, but you don’t just go into cold calling. There’s a reason why some people are very good at cold calling and others are not. There is an art to it. Same thing with SMS engagement. So what we try to do is get those active conversions. 

All of our focus is on what comes into the inbox, and then how to take those and push them towards the point where they are pre-qualified leads or qualified leads that then you can close the deal. But without those discovery details, without some inkling of an understanding of the homeowner’s motivation, timeline, you know, whether they’re aware of their alternatives, all of that, it’s going to take you multiple touchpoints to get there. And that’s what we preach. Get them active. Get them looking at their phone. That’s how text messages work. They pull their phone out of their pocket, and they’re looking at the screen. You’ve got them, you’ve got their captive attention. So now, but what’s the move? Do you call them? Do you text them? Like, what’s the move? The move is gonna have to be a series of touchpoints. And we really stress that and try to get people to really focus on SMS as a lead conversion strategy, not a blast.  

The term blast makes my skin crawl. And most critically, what you said was the word engagement. You are particularly in a distressed environment where maybe people are under duress or stress. You’ve got to build trust. You’ve got to build engagement with them so that you can make everybody comfortable enough to be able to proceed with a conversation. So in terms of Launch Control, one of the things that people ask me about all the time is opt-in and what they have to think about when it comes to text messaging. Can you speak a bit about that? 

In an ideal environment, you’ve got data capture that is truly opt-in because they went to a landing page. They clicked, yes, I want some more information. And you’re engaging from there. Think of it as getting a text message from a favorite artist, brand, or whatever. This was wanted information. But within the world of SMS engagement, there is a restriction on a TCPA guideline level. You cannot sell a product or service. And that’s where other groups, non-real estate investors, get into trouble. I’m talking about, like, people selling auto warranty renewals, and these big like, hundreds of 1000s, millions push. I always lump all that together as spam. But the two trigger points that cause trouble, and it’s just so everybody’s really clear about this. You can’t auto-send text messages, which is why if you’re in Launch Control, or truthfully, any SMS engagement platform, you have to take physical action. If you’re going to send out 150 messages, there is a button being pushed in order to do that. It takes less than a minute, but you are taking action, and you do have visibility into every message that you’re sending. So there is a one-on-one engagement with it. So there’s nothing auto, nothing robot about it. And then the other element is that you don’t sell a product or service. 

If you’re wholesaling, you’re offering to buy someone’s house. Yes, they’re in a distressed situation. Yes, you do have to build trust. But ultimately, they end up in a good place with you because you helped them. You got them an alternative solution that, in most cases, they didn’t even know existed. And you got them to a better place in their life. You had to take a little work to build that trust and get there, but you got them there. So it ends up being very much a wanted thing. And so, as long as you’re following those rules, you’re 1,000% fine. Where people make a mistake is that they don’t understand that compliance isn’t necessarily 100% on the application. Launch Control as an application is 100% compliant. There’s well within all their TCP SMS. Now, if I go on and say that I’m just going to use Launch Control to, I don’t know, sell cars. I’m like, Hey, man, I got a great sale 40% off on a new Ford Ranger, boom, bang, bing. They’re gonna be mad about it. And people can be of their behavior and not be very compliant. 

There are simple rules that you can follow. No matter what platform you use, there are a few rules that you can follow. If you’re worried about the safety element, be anonymous. This number is coming from an unknown number. So if you’re saying something like, Hey, my name is Jordan, I regularly purchase properties in the area. Wanted to see if you were interested in discussing alternatives for 57 Green Street. And that’s it? Well, you’re just Jordan, there are a million Jordans. And you’re just making an offer to discuss alternatives for their house. You’re not selling anything. You’re not providing a service. You’re not selling anything. It’s just one person reaching out to another. Now, if you were to take that same message and say, hey, it’s Jordan at I buy houses for cash over on Greenlee Avenue. Wanted to see if I could come by and offer cash for your place. Let’s set up a time. Here’s my website. Well, I mean, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes, if they’re mad about it, to figure out who you are. And even if they are, nothing’s gonna come of it. You didn’t actually break any guidelines. But why put yourself in that position? If you are texting with honesty and a little bit of anonymity, and you wait until you have true engagement from that person, and true interest from that person, then you will never have any issues. It’s a pretty simple route to safe engagement long term.

RETG 5 | SMS Messaging

I’m gonna go back to the first thing you said, which was treated as an engagement tool. Be sensible, and build the relationship elements like you would if you were calling them or sending any sort of other communication touchpoint. You’ve got to treat each of them as though you’re building a relationship, not like you’re just throwing somebody out of a wall.

I was talking to one of our affiliates. And she had a student that was hesitant to get back into SMS engagement because she’d done it years before in the past. And she was like, you wouldn’t believe it. And she was, well, she sent one text to the person. And they replied with something like, who is this? Or how did you get my number? And then they pushed that lead to their CRM and proceeded to call that person eight times every day for four days. And her logic was, well, because of texting. And our affiliate was like, What do you mean because of texting? That behavior that you’re talking about, of not taking a human angle to it and not treating it like a real lead conversion? I’m talking to another human being who owns a home in a distressed situation. How am I going to build trust? How am I going to make myself a no-name and trusted resource? You’re not going to do it by sending 500 texts which is why we throttle and don’t allow anyone to just text, text, text, text, text unless you have a real active conversation and why we would never suggest that you just cold call like that. Like you’re essentially crank calling them at that. 

It’s very simple, right? Would it convert you? Like if you were on the other end, if you had that distressed home, would this work? And if the answer is no, don’t do that.

If people are gonna get started with doing these sorts of text messaging engagement exercises, and they’re looking into Launch Control, can you speak a little bit about how to start engaging? How are they able to measure the response rates? Do you have clear metrics that you can show them which bits are working and which isn’t so that they can compare and see what’s engaging better?

There are two levels to using Launch Control. You can come in and do it yourself, in which case you’ve got on your dashboard. We’re gonna let you know exactly how many unread messages you have, how many leads you have, that haven’t been given some kind of disposition, hot, warm, nurture, etc. We’re going to let you know which campaigns, which datasets matched with mass messaging are working the best. We’re gonna let you know what drip automation you have lined up for that day. There’s a lot of that in the metrics that you have available just right on the dashboard. You can come in response times to messages. It’s very detailed. You can come up with your own kind of set of prioritization on those metrics. And I use them. 

There is advanced usage. All you have to do is talk to our customer success team. Because I don’t care what application you’re talking about SMS engagement, Spotify, or anything. If you do not know how to use it, there’s no way you can. So we have in-house experts, and you should talk to them. Because I’ll give you a simple example, right? 

Everybody spends money on data. Everybody spends money on skip tracing. You want to get the most out of that as you possibly can. So let’s say you’re using three different data sources. Well, we would advise you to set up those campaigns in Launch Control and name them based off of data source. And then send them content that is similar but not exact, so that you can then A-B-C test to that. And at the end of 90 days, if you’ve gotten five deals from Data Source A, two deals from Data Source B, and not even a couple of appointments set from data source C, where you can put your money. So it’s in the advanced usage, which our team can help you with. It’s things that people might not think of right off the top of their head, because it often isn’t really real estate investment tactics. As I said, at the top of the call, it’s more sales and marketing tactics and marketing tactics specific to SMS engagement. So when you can marry what, you know, the real estate investors are great at, which is talking to homeowners and getting deals done, with what we’re great at, which is SMS engagement, and make taking a text response and turning that into a qualified lead and giving you advice on how to do that within the system, the outcome’s really powerful and equals a lot of deals.

I think people may be nervous or not really sure how to get started. The fact that you guys have sort of a customer team that can give that guidance and can help set those best practices up, I think that gives an enormous sense of security that they’re not doing it blindly. I don’t have to stumble around. 

I don’t blame people. I think it’s pretty fair to assume that in most organizations, the success team is just going to be there to pick up pieces, right? They’re not consultants. They’re not highly educated on things. It’s just that they’re problem solvers, right? But the opposite is true, like in Launch. They are trained and continue to be trained to be SMS marketing experts with a high level of real estate investment knowledge. And that’s invaluable, especially at any level. Imagine if you came in and were a brand new real estate investor. And you’re talking to coaches and figuring it out. And this is just one more thing that you have to hoop you have to jump through. One more thing, you have to learn. But if you can have guidance, and it’s not costing you, it’s built into the cost of your subscription, that’s fantastic. 

If you’re a big shop and you’ve got VAs and acquisitions people that you want using Launch Control and doing all that day-to-day prospecting, you don’t want to coach them or teach them, knowing that that’s built into your subscription cost and that training will be handled. All they have to do is raise their hand and say help. And that’s an incredibly powerful tool. And one thing that I think a lot of people don’t realize when they’re researching the platforms is just how in-depth we go on that level. And so it can be extremely helpful at any stage of your career.

You had such a great customer success model. It also leads me to my next question, which is, would you say that entering into this game with Launch Control would be something that even people at the relatively start of their real estate investing careers could do? 

Absolutely. I don’t think anyone else can offer that. And it’s something that I think is really vital at that point in people’s careers. We absolutely love helping people. It’s the fun part of our job. It’s getting in and actually working with individuals, getting to kind of geek out about SMS marketing and how it works. And really being able to talk about the businesses. We love that part. But there is a part of it as well. If someone comes in and they sign up for our light subscription, which is our lowest level subscription, and they’re just getting started in the business, we want them to be customers for the entirety of their careers, you know, three, four years down the line. We want Launch to be a fundamental part of their REI operation. And we want them to be able to scale up to the point that they’re hiring 2, 3, 4 more of them to just keep up with the deal flow volume. But that’s not going to happen if they don’t get past the early stage of frustrations. And everybody gets the early stage frustrations because it’s scary until you have a bunch of deal flow going in and go a couple of downloads. I’ll take a vacation, right? It takes a long time to get to that point. So if we can get them past the frustration stage by giving them really great advice that equals profitability on the other end, then it’s a no-brainer that will stick with us, which is good for us in the long run.

In terms of getting data from Launch Control, and being able to push it to whatever of the 100 different CRMs that people could be using, how easy is it for them to push to the next step or get to a CRM where they can manage acquisitions and move to dispo?

We can integrate with any CRM. A lot of it is done via a webhook, but we’ve got a team that can walk you through it if you’re not able to do it yourself. And then, again, like going back to just working through our whole system, working with our team, and coming up with the right exit point.  

One mistake that some people make is, let’s just say you send out 1000 total messages and you get 200 active conversations from those. If you push all 200 of those to your CRM, your team is gonna get frustrated because they’ve got unqualified leads that they have to filter through. Now if you keep it in the system and you work through a system of touchpoints, and you get some level of pre-qualification or at least strong interest before you give it that push, you’re taking it down to leads that are getting people excited. This isn’t about Launch Control. This is about us converting this deal. What’s our conversion percentage on CRM push leads like that? So coming up with that cadence of when to push is another thing our team can kind of help you with in terms of best practices, but it’s a vital thing when using it. So you don’t flood yourself with, “How’d you get my number?”

As a guy who used to build CRMs for real estate investment companies back in the day, the amount of times I would see crappy data in the CRMs. And it clutters. It causes friction. It causes frustration. I would wholeheartedly agree with having a good strategy to be able to know when to push a lead from Launch Control into CRM so that it can really be to the point where it’s going to be able to go into a closing stage is absolutely vital.

Fast Five questions

  1. What feature of Launch Control has the biggest impact on your customer’s business?
    The drip automations. So as we all know, if a customer or client is not ready to sell at the moment, they’re in a distressed situation. It’s a matter of time, right? So the drip automation is running in the background. You’re continuing your active prospecting. The  conversation that you started in June, may close in November, December, because it’s coming up on the first of the year. It’s that time of year when they’re ready to make big decisions in their life. And you’ve been in constant background presence. They come back around, so you’re earning money, six months down the line on conversations that you started, and we’re just on autopilot.
  2. What is the biggest mistake people make when they integrate Launch Control into their business?
    They don’t establish a series of touchpoints. They just text it and forget it.
  3. What’s your best advice on how to integrate Launch Control into a business?
    Just follow through with our team. Talk to the sales guys and make sure that they get you the package that is right for your business right now. You can always scale up, but get in on the packages right for your business right now. And then, once you sign up, you’re immediately going to get pinged by our customer success team. Answer and talk to them. Because that’s going to be the real difference maker on getting you up to speed and closing deals as fast as possible.
  4. What is the one thing you wish everyone knew about Launch Control?
    I think that they type in the word itself. Number two, they don’t understand how focused we are on the success of their business. And we have a lot of subscribers, and we make a genuine effort to get involved with everybody because we want to see them closing a bunch of deals and sticking with us. But not everyone takes our calls. So you know, take our calls, it’s worth it.
  5. If someone’s just starting out in real estate investing, and you’ve seen a lot of real estate investors over the years, what are three bits of technology you would recommend they bring on first into their business?
    SMS marketing and engagement. It’s the cheapest entry point from a marketing standpoint, and it has the highest ROI. So get involved with SMS marketing as your first foray into the marketing side of lead generation and deal flow building. Second, even if you’re not ready to have a CRM, adapt to the CRM mentality. So it kind of goes into what we were saying about building out campaign touchpoints, always knowing when to loop back, making sure that you do loop back, and really don’t treat any active conversation that you get as a text and forget it. But really have a routine and a system of touchpoints. It can be inside of Launch. You can push it to a CRM at that point when it’s ready, but go in with the CRM mentality even if you’re not tech ready for it yet. And then the third one was, I know this is kind of easy, but it’s also true. Just leverage social media for networking. Because if you don’t know, the more you can build up your network, the more you’re going to learn. The more opportunities you have, the more shared opportunities that you’re gonna have. Don’t go it alone. Network, and you will get past those frustration points that I mentioned a lot quicker.

Fantastic. Michael, it’s been an absolute pleasure for me to learn a bit more about Launch Control. And I think everybody should learn about how they can engage with the system. If everybody is listening, please head over to thatrealestatetechguide.com where you’ll be able to see all the links that we talked about in today’s show. I’m going to end the episode with you, Michael, tell everybody a bit about how they can get started with Launch Control, and close us out.

How to reach Michael

The fastest way is just to go to the website, launchcontrol.us, and schedule a call with our guys. And then they’ll immediately hand you over to the success team, and from there, you’re off and running.

Fantastic, Michael, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. For everybody else, have a great week. All right, thanks, everyone. Thanks.