You’re a busy real estate agent, in search of the competitive edge you need to drive your business to that elusive “next level” (or if you’re just starting out) to start gaining traction in a crowded market.
In response to an online article you read, or something you heard at a conference or in a coaching or training session, you’ve decided that now is the time to write a blog or social media post so you can ramp up your real estate content marketing efforts (and hopefully) your results.
If you’re anything like the average real estate agent, you do nothing. This is normal. But you’re not average – you consider yourself clearly above average, so you actually decide to tackle your lack of a content marketing strategy head-on and move beyond awareness to actually doing something about it.
If this describes you, then I can probably choreograph your next move: you’ll almost always do one of two things at this point:
- You’ll turn to your favorite web resource, Uncle Google, and seek his advice for examples of the kinds of blog posts other real estate agents are writing about, or,
- Knowing that there are some differences even within local markets that might affect what you might write about, you look for examples of what some of your competitors are writing about.
Regardless of whether you follow numbers one or two above, your very next move is nearly always the same: “Me, Too” Marketing. In short, you’ll see what others are doing, then copy it. You might not copy it word for word, but you’ll copy the key points. The result is the same.
If you want your real estate business to turn the proverbial corner and achieve a level of greatness in your market (and who doesn’t?) I’ll show you why “Me, Too” Marketing is such a bad idea and what you should be doing instead.
‘Me, Too’ Content Marketing is a Solution in Search of a Problem – and isn’t Real Content Marketing
Whenever you see a content marketing piece – it might be an article, a blog post, or even a vlog (video blog) – there’s a strong assumption that, merely because it exists, then the content must be accurate, relevant, and worth replicating on your own website.
Because people are lazy, or want to shortcut their way to success, or for any number of other reasons, real estate agents willingly put blinders on that keep them from seeing the truth: they really don’t know anything about that particular piece of content beyond what they can see with their own eyes.
Don’t be one of them.
At its core, content marketing is nothing more than a way of providing value to consumers, a kind of stepping stone to build rapport and trust with prospective clients as they get to know more about who you are and why you’re the right real estate agent for them to work with in the purchase or sale of their next home.
“Me, Too” Content Marketing warps the natural evolution of this process and risks your reputation instead. The reason I say this is because good, effective content marketing is a solution to specific problems and, as such, should be carefully planned and executed. What “Me, Too” Content Marketing does is try to reverse engineer the solution to find the problem – and this is never a recipe for success.
Reverse Engineering a Solution to Find the Problem is Bad Math
Now we’re getting to the heart of the problem: let’s call it bad math. When you were in school, you probably had teachers who taught you to check your work. In Junior High or before, you’d check long division with multiplication; in high school Geometry, it was proofs. In a sense, we’re hard-wired to reverse engineer solutions as a means of validating work.
When you do this with online real estate content marketing, you’re making a huge mental leap, namely that the creator of the content has:
- An accurate understanding of the problem and has crafted a solution that addresses it
- Has real estate market demographics exactly like yours
- Isn’t simply making things up or copying someone else
Trying to reverse engineer another real estate agent’s content marketing solution is a fool’s errand.
The only way to ensure that the content you produce is valid, will be useful to your prospects, and will help to drive your business forward is to create content specifically for your audience that is based on your experience, your background, and is based on relevant background information (more on that in a minute).
No two real estate agents are alike. Each has different engagement styles, audiences, and they often work in different niches (and have different levels of experience). This makes it incredibly difficult (I would argue, impossible) to reverse engineer a methodology that will lead to anything other than proficiency is posting content on that agent’s website – obviously not your goal.
Now let’s look at a different way of developing content that is head and shoulders above what we’ve talked about so far.
A Content Marketing Strategy That Serves Your Clients and You, Incorporated
Your goal as a real estate agent (just like in every other aspect of your real estate business) is to gain the trust of prospective clients. I’ll show you two methods here. One works very well if you already have an audience and you’re comfortable talking to a cross-section of your audience to get solid information that will help you develop a rock-solid content marketing strategy; the other is effective regardless of if you have limited real estate experience or you aren’t comfortable seeking answers from your audience. Both are simple and fairly easy to implement.
Strategy 1: Market Talk Mirroring Method
This strategy works well if you already have a following, an audience or the means of talking formally or informally with those individuals. The best aspect of this strategy is you can get the answers you need whether you talk with folks on the phone or through email, Facebook messaging or even text messaging (or even set up a simple survey using SurveyMonkey).
Here’s the strategy in a nutshell:
Set your goal– Decide whether you’ll be developing content marketing ideas targeted towards prospective buyers or sellers (listings). This is important because buyers and sellers have different problems and triggers.
Get the 411– Ask a series of questions that will encourage answers you can use in creating content that can be useful to your prospects. Here are some example questions (and possible follow-ups) to get you started:
- When you were looking for someone to help you list/sell your home, what were some of the biggest fears you had?
- How many times have you bought or sold a home?
- What is your biggest pet peeve about real estate agents in general? Can you give me an example?
- Do you care about local attractions, restaurants, schools, and upcoming events?
- What are your top three local attractions? What’s so great about them?
- What’s your favorite restaurant?
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- What’s the best part about living in (neighborhood/city)?
- Is there something you hate about (neighborhood/city)? What is it?
- What do you wish you had known about (neighborhood/city) before buying/selling your home?
- What do your kids like to do for fun?
- What steps are you taking to prepare to move? How are you doing that?
- What do you hate most about moving? Despite this, how do you get motivated?
- What is your single biggest question about buying/selling your home? Why?
- What do you wish your real estate agent had told you about the homebuying process?
- What do you wish your real estate agent had done better?
This isn’t an all-inclusive set of questions. Instead, I’m giving you some ideas to get you started and maybe get your creative juices flowing. Separate the responses you get to these questions into piles – one for each specific question.
Analysis– Once you’ve gotten some responses, 10-20 of each would be a good starting point, analyze the responses. Pay close attention to people who give longer, more detailed responses. These people are more engaged in the process. When looking at responses, some will naturally rise to the top of the pile in terms of things that matter the most to more of your audience. Use these responses to develop content marketing ideas of your own. It’s really just this simple: data-driven content marketing. The best part? It’ll be all yours and you’ll know for sure that the content you come up with in your blog posts will resonate with your audience. To make sure this happens, you’ll need to mirror some of the language your audience uses in their responses.
Strategy 2: Market Listening Post Method
The second method can also be an effective means of finding out what your market wants to know about (or what they think about different aspects of the real estate buying or selling process). With this method, you are simply finding places where your prospective audience might comment about real estate-oriented topics:
- Local newspaper websites (read social comments at the ends of some of the articles)
- Local TV websites
- Local real estate forums
- Local Facebook groups
- Local interest-oriented websites and/or social media pages
- Comments posted on competitor Facebook pages
The idea behind this strategy is simply to learn more about topics of interest to people who might make good prospective clients for you. Nothing more, nothing less.
Just like above, take special note of not just what people say, but how they say it. Again, compile a list of possible topics, then write about some of these things.
Content Marketing Isn’t Scary When You Know What you’re Doing
There you have it. Dump the “Me, Too” Content Marketing Strategy and replace it with your own words and your own ideas. If you need one more reason why you ought to be developing your own content marketing strategy, consider this: Are your prospects more likely to want to do business with you if they see unique material on your website… or a cheap copy of someone else’s? And what if your prospect happens to see the same thing on your website that they already viewed on somebody else’s? What then?
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it a lasting one with content marketing strategies that will help you stand out from the “Me, Too” Imitation Marketing crowd.
Ken Speegle is Realty ToolKit’s resident real estate industry expert. Every week he writes insightful, in-depth articles about topics related to real estate marketing, each designed to help make you a better, more profitable real estate professional. Ken is the founder of therealestatewriter.com and has been a real estate copywriter since 1994.