In the past couple of posts, we’ve defined content marketing and discussed a few examples of it in practice. Let’s dial in today on what content marketing may look like for a key Discover Publications client segement: real estate agents.
Defining a Real Estate Agent’s Audience
The content we create will be relevant to our target audience, so who is in this group? Let’s begin with a few general assumptions:
- Agents help clients buy and sell houses.
- Agents operate in well-defined, geographic areas.
- For many clients, buying or selling a home is the largest financial transaction – and life event – they will undertake, so their trust and personal relationship with their agent is important.
- There is no shortage of agents, but there is a shortage (now, in 2018) of housing inventory.
Using these assumptions, let’s further refine our audience, beginning with the territory our agent works. Let’s say it’s a middle-middle to lower-upper class, established neighborhood adjacent to the downtown of a major city. There is a great school district and a walkable, renovated “downtown” area with things to do. How about the people we serve on either side of real estate transactions? Due to increasing home values, they’re a healthy mix of second-time home buyers with school-age children and empty nesters in the primes of their careers who want to be near the major city center, but in a part of town with its own sense of community and walkable amenities.
Our agent recognizes the value of community and livability in this mythical place – let’s call it Brick Town – and comes to these final assumptions about her audience:
- Our clients/potential clients are generally thirty-two or older and earn between $75,000 to $200,000 annually.
- Many buyers have school-age children.
- They find the older, but well-maintained housing stock and local businesses, restaurants and other neighborhood amenities key to their buying decision.
- Bricktown tends toward low turnover – residents generally settle there for several years.
- Her clients find the amazing local schools a key decision point
In the end, our agent decides that to be relevant to her audience, she needs to build her content marketing around concepts that tie into the concept of community around Bricktown. It’s something that people who live there cherish, and something that people who wish to move there long for.
So, What’s the Content Plan?
Let’s set our audience aside for a moment and consider two things before we start creating content: 1) How much time or financial resources are we committing; and 2) what channels are we using?
When it comes to resources, it’s down to whether our agent will spend her own time on this endeavor or whether she’ll outsource her content marketing. If you like to write and create and research – and share – then by all means, at least for a start, carve out the time to DIY your content marketing. But, remember, successful agents are busy people. Do you have a minimum of four to eight hours a week to create blog posts, post on Facebook, craft emails for that list you started building and slide in the occasional video? If not, then the question becomes what can I budget to go to a freelancer or agency to work with my business and manage this?
You can hire a company like Discover Publications that has a content marketing component (shameless link here) or find another agency or freelancer. Just make sure that your contractor/consultant is willing to spend time understanding your business, asks questions about your story, isn’t phased by picking up the requisite real estate industry basics to authentically create, has a plan and a system of accountability for delivering on the plan. Remember, managing this relationship and ensuring you’re getting something that pays off will also take some time and attention.
Our Bricktown agent decided on a hybrid model. She’ll work with a local freelance writer for blogging and social media posts, but will keep her hands on the wheel for now. Since she’ll be doing some of the content creation, she’s decided her channels will be a personal blog on her agency website, her Facebook business page and Instagram. She will add a newsletter signup to her website and on her blog and begin building an organic list of folks who have shown interest in her content by filling out the form and ‘opting in.’
Now The Content
Our agent has decided that Bricktown is a special place and what her audience needs is a community guide to Bricktown with a dash of practical residential real estate and home ownership advice. She names her blog, “Bricktown Life.” She decides that she’ll post one great quality article per week. Each month, two of them will come from her freelancer and she’ll write two. She also decides an article mix of: one local entertainment/lifestyle, one regular feature highlighting good news from the Bricktown Schools, one homeowner how-to and finally, one real estate oriented piece showcasing our agent’s knowledge and setting her off as an expert.
It’s a perfect world and we’re jumping ahead six months. So, how’s it working with our Bricktown agent?
Over the past six months, she’s logged more than 24 blog posts and several times more social media posts on Facebook and Instagram. About a quarter of her social media posts promote back to her blog. She’s also grown an email mailing list from newsletter signups of more than 300 people.
By far, her most popular posts are those featuring Bricktown Schools success stories. In fact, she’s paying her freelancer a bit more to provide photos for those posts featuring the kids and staff discussed. These posts are getting linked in parents’ emails and driving traffic to her website from all over the metro area. Her posts featuring local businesses – especially the restaurant stories – are also popular. Over the past six months, our agent is becoming known as “the Bricktown expert.”
Another cool thing began happening more often in month four. More of her new clients began telling her they found her through Google. Her relevant, quality content – where she is giving and sharing – not just soliciting – is ranking her website very high in searches for things like “Bricktown real estate.” One of her Bricktown schools posts is even ranking number two when people simply search for the name of the school district. Our agent’s content marketing efforts have established her as an important part of the Bricktown community in a way well beyond just touting her sales numbers to prospective clients.
Was this crafted as a perfect story in a perfect world? Of course! The point here is to show the potential of content marketing and demonstrate the depth it may add to yours or your business’ identity. There will be bumps in the road and this isn’t a marketing strategy to try for six weeks and give up on. Real estate agents are in a competitive business where long-term success is tied to establishing and burnishing a personal brand. Chances are, high performing agents are already doing some form of content marketing, why not make it a focus, put a plan behind it and continuously communicate?
At Discover Publications, we employ a mixed concept of content marketing for agents that includes our direct mail community newspaper and postcard products. If you’re interested in real estate content marketing and want to learn more about our services, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her you read this post!