Five Tests Investors Should Try

At the heart of every truly successful business lies a core competency and a dedication to change. A unique value proposition and a thousand ways to communicate, share, deliver and live that value.

The current economic challenges are an opportunity, and in this era, more than any other, those who adapt the fastest will realize the greatest benefit. The core of that is continuous improvement, testing, discovery and the willingness to be wrong.

That all might sound really dandy, but you likely have JV partners to find, properties to buy or sell and suites to rent out.

Here are five things you can do right now (for free):

  1. Test which advertising media are performing best. If you have a business phone system, use multiple voice mail boxes. If not, you can use multiple cell phones, Skype business numbers, Gmail email inboxes, or post-office boxes. Keep the ads and pictures exactly the same, and use a different phone number or email address for each media. If you’re driving people to a webpage, use analytics to track which site is referring the most traffic.
  2. Test what emails get the most clicks. If you’re like me, emailing a potential level 1 JV partner is a big deal. They’re the best lead, the cheapest conversion and the most important relationship. Each and every one should get custom URLs so you can track their email. Google Analytics has a great URL builder where you can set the campaign source to what email you’re sending and the campaign name to the name (or initials) of your JV prospect. After you’ve sent out a couple, see which email templates worked the best.
  3. Test which listing formats refer the most calls or emails. Pick simple things and keep it to an A/B test. Try putting your contact info at the top  vs. putting it at the bottom. Maybe try putting the vital stats (bed, bath, sq ft, rent) in a table versus putting it into a paragraph. Measure the responce and when it’s done see which version won.
  4. Measure which types of pictures get the most attention. If you send an email or create a webpage, you can assign specific values to each of them using the URL builder I mentioned above. You can test everything. If you want to take a little extra time and test for the sake of testing, take a look at Google Website Optimizer or running test with AdWords. You’ll be amazed at how much difference one word in a headline can have. AdWords gives you a very controlled, relatively inexpensive test environment. You can also play with Craigslist or Kijiji.
  5. The fact that you don’t have anything for rent shouldn’t stop you. Use your own pictures, borrow some from other people or use creative-commons licensed photos from Flickr. I’m not suggesting that you mislead people; you should tell them as soon as possible that the suite is no longer available, should you choose to test a suite that may not currently be for rent. But there’s no rule against testing. And if you don’t figure out what really works now, when you’ve got a vacant suite and a mortgage payment to make, you’ll be wondering what advertsing copy will really work.

Things might be going really great now. They are for me. Am I taking it easy? Hell no! Vacancies will happen, so I’m testing and learning. Deals will appear, so I’m getting ready to buy. Appliances will break, so I’m strengthening my team. And rates won’t stay ultra-low for ever, so I’m developing my relationships with my JV partners, bankers and mortage broker.

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