Q&A With Bret Neuman of Arrived

Welcome back to our fintech content marketing Q&A. This week features Bret Neuman of Arrived. We cover a lot of ground and discuss educational content, engagement, fostering trust, and unique ways to leverage content. Let us know what you think in the comments. 

Ashley Poynter: Awesome. So a great place to start would be for you to tell me your role and a little bit about what you do and maybe some of your background as well.

Bret Neuman: Sure. My name is Bret Neuman and currently, I’m the Head of Brand & Content for Arrived. Arrived is a fractional real estate platform that enables everyone to invest in rental homes and vacation rentals for as little as $100. On my team, I oversee our content program that includes our blog, social media, email, and video content. 

AP: Wow. Quite a bit of stuff. Very cool. So what is your perspective and the company’s perspective on the importance of content marketing specifically in your space? 

BN: It’s hugely important for us and currently, we’re really focused on education, especially for learning investors. Real estate is typically a very desirable asset class and one that investors have utilized to build wealth for a really long time, but there has traditionally been quite a high barrier of entry for it. As part of our mission, we’re providing access to this asset class to folks of all kinds, whether that be accredited investors or people who are just dipping their toe in on their very first investment. 

But as part of that journey, it’s important to educate people along the way to show them the benefits of real estate, how it might fit in with their overall investing goals, and where it might not fit them. If people are only concerned with short-term returns, real estate is traditionally not the best option. It’s more of a focus on long-term wealth building. So we want to make sure people have all the information they need every step of the way to feel good about how they’re investing. 

We’re not only educating people about our brand and a new platform in Arrived, but we’re also building a whole new category of investing. It’s really important for us to bring people along, introduce ourselves, and give them the information they need to be successful through the content my team is producing.

AP: And what are some of the key objectives that you’re aiming to achieve with content? You mentioned educating an audience, but what about things like lead generation or conversions? How does that play into your content marketing strategy?

BN: Yeah, that’s always a concern. As a brand marketer, I tend not to focus as myopically on a more typical 30-day lookback window attribution model. I feel like that’s a very shortsighted view of building an enduring brand and trust in a platform. But I do work very closely with our growth marketing team. 

You’re always evaluating your resourcing budgets against what is ultimately going to drive the needs of the business, both in the near term and long term. So I am constantly mindful of that push and pull of short-term gains versus the long-term health of the brand. In the end, the litmus test for me is, is this piece of content a good piece of content? Is it something that our audience is engaging with? Is it helpful? Does it build trust in our brand? And if it’s driving additional dollars through the platform, that’s also a nice-to-have. I really think about building a trusted brand and engaging our audience with the content we’re producing.

AP: Trust comes up a lot. It’s integral to doing anything in fintech. When it comes to managing people’s money or helping them figure out what they should do with their money, trust is so critical. So how do you try to nurture and foster that trust with your audience in the content you create?

BN: For us, it’s really in everything we do. It’s in erring towards transparency, pulling back the veil, and sharing our wins, of course. But it’s also sharing things that didn’t go well. As an example, we put out quarterly financial reports showing the spread of returns and breakdowns by all the different properties – everything we leased within this quarter and what was up or down in terms of appreciation of the properties. For some people, it’s easy to be like, “Okay, well, if it’s something that shows us in a positive light, let’s talk about that.” And if it doesn’t, let’s just sweep that under the rug. But long term, especially when you expect people to trust you with their money or the long-term health of their wealth-building potential, we find it’s really important to level with them.

We want to be very upfront and transparent with investors, arm them with knowledge, and then let them decide what will work best for them. What drives a typical investor on Arrived varies greatly from person to person. We see everything from sophisticated, accredited investors looking to diversify their portfolio all the way to people that are like, “Hey, I’m just going to dip my toe in here and invest $100 in a vacation rental property because I think Florida as a market is going to pop off in the next five years.”  

AP: I think there’s a lot of value in that sort of customer-centric or, in your case, investor-centric approach. At the end of the day, what really matters is how your investors are responding to the content. So I’m curious about how you’re getting feedback from people about what works.

BN: We do have a lot of one-to-one conversations with our investors. As an example, we host two weekly webinars with our leadership team. So from the CEO to the VP of Investments, we’re giving these live webinar presentations that always include a lengthy Q&A session. That is a really good opportunity for people to ask questions and have somebody from our team respond openly and honestly and really pull back the veil. 

We also have our own subreddit that we’re very active on where we’ve fostered a surprisingly positive community amidst what can oftentimes be a [platform] difficult to manage. But you’ll get a response from the COO of the company at 11:30 at night that goes into crazy detail explaining concepts. So those are some of the ways that we interact with our audience. 

Another example is when we launched our mobile app, we did a soft launch and had a very lengthy beta program. We would just pull in anybody that would mention, “Hey, when is the app coming?” We’d be like, “Well, do you want to be a beta tester? Come on in.” And we iterated with the investor population until it was to a point where we were really happy with it. So we tend to think of everything in a very customer-centric manner at Arrived. It’s very important to us.

AP: That dovetails nicely into another question I have, which is around cross-team collaboration. It sounds like you have the entire organization involved in one way or another in content. Can you talk a little bit about that? 

BN: It’s really exciting because Arrived is a fully remote company. We’ve fostered a very inclusive and collaborative team despite the challenges of remote working. We’re working very cross-functionally with each other. And as a content person, my team tends to branch out and work really closely with all the different members. Let’s say we’re producing an article on how Arrived selects third-party property management partners. We will go to our Asset Management team and get them to produce a bunch of bullet points to educate us on the nuances and we’ll turn it into a piece of content that the average person can understand. 

So my goal is to be able to grab the information from these very smart, sophisticated, specialized folks with a minimal amount of time and effort. We’ll hop on a Google Hangout. I’ll record it, transcribe it, send it over to our blog manager, and we’ll produce a piece of content from that. So in a 30-minute conversation, you can break down very complex concepts and distill them into a piece of content that any person can understand. We tend to work very collaboratively in that way. 

AP: I think that covers all of the main questions I had, but I did want to leave a few minutes to open the floor to you and anything else that you think is interesting or your experience with content marketing and your business right now.

BN: It’s a really interesting time. I’m really excited, not just to be building a new brand, but to be building a new category of investing. And it’s been really fun seeing a company like Arrived have such a strong market fit. When I tell people about the concept, the typical reaction is, “Oh, wow, how does that not already exist?” Or “That’s a great idea.” So it’s been really rewarding. 

Everyone at the company feels very passionately about providing access to this asset class that has long needed to be demystified. It can feel daunting if you’re a person that does not have the capital to buy your own home or if you’re the type of person that has the capital but moves around a lot and doesn’t have the time to manage a property. Or if you’re a person that’s like, “I don’t understand the ins and outs of property management and it’s too daunting to teach myself.” So having an easy way to diversify across a bunch of properties and markets and having that more passive income experience can be really exciting. 

There’s so much content around personal finance and investing. I think that there’s a real niche for content that’s easily understandable and fun too, because investing can get a little dry. And I think that there’s a lot of opportunity to [use content] for “edutainment.” That’s what my team has enjoyed figuring out how to tackle. We’re still very early on our journey, so there’s a long way to go. But it’s been a lot of fun.

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