Using Content Marketing to Attract and Retain Clients

July 16, 2019

- By Eric Berman

It’s hard to be successful in real estate. The competition for a limited pool of buyer and seller clients is fierce. In Massachusetts alone, there are 25,000 REALTOR® -members, and that doesn’t include non-REALTOR® licensees. So, how do you stand out? How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? How do you become the REALTOR® that clients choose over any other REALTOR®? The answer is simple and that’s marketing. Of course, you already know this. This is not a new concept. In fact, marketing has been around since the time when people first started competing over the selling of goods and services. What hasn’t been around for nearly as long is content marketing.

What is Content Marketing?

Content marketing takes a different approach than “traditional” marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

The CMI simplifies their own definition even further:

1. Content should be at the core of your marketing; and
2. Instead of pitching your products or services, provide relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues.

Know Your Client Personas

Before getting into content creation, you need to know your clients and desired clients. And one of the best ways to know who your clients are is to create client personas. According to Sam Kusinitz, in a blog post for HubSpot, a Cambridge, Mass.-based global marketing software company, a client persona is, “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” According to Kusinitz, the benefits of a detailed client persona are that it will “help you determine where to focus your time, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.”

For a REALTOR®, creating client personas means going beyond just buyers and sellers and digging deeper into who the buyers and sellers are. For example, one persona could be high-end buyers who are looking to buy in the next six months. Another persona could be sellers who have growing families and are looking for a move-up house in the next two years. The more detailed you are in creating the personas that are important to you and your business, the better the chance you have of creating meaningful content.

What is Content?

If content marketing is about the marketing of content, then what is content? As described above, content is information that your clients would find “relevant and useful.” How you get that relevant and useful content to your clients and prospective clients is through blog posts, white papers, email newsletters, videos, infographics, e-books, social media posts, or any other number of examples. To keep it simple, content is the information that is contained in the various media you use. To real estate social media consultant and speaker Katie Lance, content has an important function. She describes it in a video on one of her content channels, “Content tells the story of what it feels like to work with you. The story of a home is not four bedrooms, two bathrooms, open Sunday 1-4 ‘come on by,’ those are the facts. What does it feel like to walk through the front door of your brokerage, that’s the story you want to tell.”

For Chi Yan, a REALTOR® at Keller Williams Metropolitan in Baltimore, MD, the push to get into content marketing came after he heard digital marketer Gary Vaynerchuck speak. “He basically said you need to become a media company first and a REALTOR® second. Once you do that, the content you put out will be so different than the typical REALTOR®.”

With Vaynerchuck’s motivation, Yan created a YouTube channel in early 2018 called “HChiTV” with the tagline “Real estate, food, lifestyle: An adventure you don’t want to miss.” It was a play on the name “Chi” and the cable network “HGTV.” Chi creates a variety of videos for his channel. Some are about his listings; some are educational with experts in the industry and some are just fun parodies that show the lighter side of being a REALTOR®.

“I gave myself at least a year to know that the content I put out will have a return,” said Yan. “I truly believe because of that, that this spring, my listing sales prices have jumped quite a bit. I’m consistently closing above my average price range. I think because of the content I put out and the law of attraction, my videos attract a certain type of client and they feel comfortable with the energy of the video, that they have gained trust in me to market their properties.” For Anthony Lamacchia, broker-owner of Lamacchia Realty based in Waltham, the decision to move into content marketing started in 2011, “I made the conscious decision back in 2011 because I knew the best way to draw people to us was to educate them and push out education,” he said. “It’s been successful because we write about real things that people are interested in.

We’re fortunate to be in the business of real estate where people are interested in reading and learning about it.” However, it has been an evolution for Lamacchia and his company along the way, “in the early years, I got too deep into the numbers
and didn’t explain things simplistically enough. Now we work hard to make it
really easy to understand.”

To Boost or Not to Boost

Social media continues to be one of the best ways to get your content to very targeted audiences. However, over the past several years, in order to get the greatest reach, you have pay to boost your content. While this is not news per se, the decision to spend on social media is a personal one. Anthony Lamacchia has a significant social media spending budget for his content, “we spend roughly $5,000 per month on all of our social media channels and it is worth every penny,” he said.

This isn’t the case for REALTOR® Lisa Sevajian, senior vice president with Compass in Boston, “I’m no longer paying to boost my marketing because I’ve found that the social channels premiums are just not sensible,” she said. “What I would rather do is pay to get in front of people in the community through in-person events or direct mail and give them a reason to sign up for information so that I can send them my content throughout the year.”

Content Process?

If there are any challenges to being successful at content marketing, it’s making sure you have a content creation process that you are able to maintain. This means having a plan to create content on a regular basis and making sure to think about ways you can repurpose that content. There are many ways you can organize content creation, but an easy way to do it is with a content calendar. According to social media strategist and Bay State REALTOR® Magazine contributor Teah Hopper, content calendars lead to more strategic and relevant content.

“When you have a content calendar, you can sit down and plan out your content in advance instead of coming up with it on the fly,” said Hopper. “If you plan it out in advance, then you can ensure that what you’re talking about is relevant to your audience. Without a strategy in place, content is often thrown together last minute, and instead of knowing it is relevant to your audience, you just cross your fingers in hopes that they like it. A content calendar allows you to plan out and create more valuable and strategic content.” Being flexible also helps with the content you’re able to create according to Sevajian, “my content calendar might say that Wednesday I’m supposed to do three Italian restaurant blogs but I might bump into someone who is opening an art studio and that may seem much more interesting at the moment. So, I have to go with it. That’s when I create things that are most interesting to the people who follow me.”

Sevajian also considers the process of creating content as content itself, “I might tell you about how tomorrow I’m going to be meeting with the owner of a restaurant, I might show you photos of my calendar or the list of questions I’m going to ask them. That morning I might post photos of the business or the neighborhood that it’s in. Later, I might post behind-the-scenes videos or photos of me and the owner or me and my team at the establishment. And then a few days later it might all come together in a video. I will also re-purpose it throughout the year and in conversation with people who are moving to the area,” she said.

Part of your content process should also include a review of what you’re creating and what is working or not. There are numerous ways you can analyze your content such as likes, shares, views, comments, and downloads, etc. Determine what measurement is the most meaningful to you. Once you do that, then review the content. Figure out what works best for meeting your marketing goals and focus your time and effort on those content types and platforms and move away from the lower-performing ones.

It’s Personal

Whether you’ve been a REALTOR® for several years, or you’re just starting out. You bring experience and perspective that you can use for your content marketing. Interactions with past clients and questions they had can generate content marketing ideas that will help potential clients in the future. There are plenty of resources to help you get started that are both free and for a fee. Or you can get help from a consultant. But most importantly, if you decide to start a content marketing program, commit to being in it for the long haul. You need to have a plan and it might require not doing something else, so you can spend the time to follow the plan.

“When it comes to marketing, when it comes to content creation, the agents and brokers who are getting the most business…they’re leaning into who they are, and who they’re not,” said Katie Lance in a video about content marketing. “If you want to Google and search the top 10 ways to get your home ready for the market, there are probably a million hits, but nobody is going to say it, how you’re going to say it. Nobody is going to give the experience that you’re going to give.”

Content Marketing Resources

Content Marketing Institute

Hubspot Academy

American Marketing Association