David Huey, Founder & CEO: Prior to RFF, Dave built and sold SOAR Solutions, an MLS data aggregation company, to HouseValues, Inc and helped the merged companies grow to over $100 million in annual revenue leading to a successful IPO within 18 months.
- Describe your business and what you do?River Forest Financial is primarily a lender. We lend money to real estate investors who are acquiring properties, typically at auction and below market value, who then fix it up, and sell it – hopefully at a profit. Each time we write a new loan, that becomes a security – a deed of trust. On the other side of our business, we have a second set of clients who want to invest in real estate, but in a more passive manner. They can capitalize on our first deeds of trust as an investment vehicle secured by property worth almost double the investment with 10-13% returns.
- What objective did you have in mind that led you to seek outside help and Heinz Marketing specifically?From the origination side of the business, we have sales staff attending auctions on a daily basis. We needed marketing collateral for them. Additionally, we needed to foster our brand and develop a marketing system to promote our first trust deeds. We chose Heinz Marketing because we had an existing relationship with Matt. Matt was/is one of the smartest guys I know and I knew they would be very focused on the ROI of their marketing efforts.
- What specifically did Heinz Marketing focus on for your business?Heinz Marketing did a lot of work around building our business, brand, and website – a necessity for every business. They developed a direct response lead generation campaign to attract first trust deed investors through testing a variety of channels from industry websites, pay-per-click, and online display ads to more traditional direct mail and newspaper ads. We found the most success with the newspaper ads and through an industry website that targeted real estate investors.
- What impact did Heinz Marketing have on your business?While this is difficult to measure, I think they had a huge impact on our growth. We grew by over 500% this last year. They provided the marketing pieces we needed to establish ourselves as a credible business. Our notes sales team grew from one to five people, which required a significant increase in the lead volume we looked to Heinz Marketing to provide.
- Where did Heinz Marketing surprise you in the value & insights provided?I’ve known Matt for so long; this is a hard question for me since I knew what I was getting with Matt. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly Heinz Marketing understood the needs of our business.
- What’s it like to work with Heinz Marketing?One of the things I appreciated was the independence with which they acted. We would agree on path and I knew that would be followed without me constantly needing to monitor and intervene.
- In a referral situation, how would you describe Heinz Marketing and what they can do & enable for another business?Of course, it depends on goals of that business as I wouldn’t want to speak to their abilities in an area I haven’t experienced. If they need direct marketing, I would say Heinz Marketing is someone they should talk to.