I’m browsing the market these days, getting a feel for what’s out there because I’m thinking of moving out of my too-large house. As a content writer and marketer for folks in real estate, I was curious how long people casually look for a house before they actually search in earnest. I did not find a time-related answer, but I did discover that the average buyer visits 10 – 20 homes before finding the right one to call home.
Now, I do know one thing for a fact, though. People nose around real estate even when they’re not really looking to buy or sell… right now. Yes, your clients and future clients are browsing on Zillow, sweeping around Google Earth looking at hot neighborhoods, stopping at open houses and shopping at home stores for upgrades.
Realtors, real estate brokers and agents, real estate investors, home inspectors, and anyone else marketing in the competitive world of real estate, you’re familiar with this home search technique: When buyers are ready to begin a home search, they usually begin by narrowing the field online.
Jeanne Feenick, a New Jersey realtor, describes the typical behavior of someone ready to buy:
What I find very interesting is how the dynamic changes with market conditions but also how the popularity of the internet among buyers has altered the process. Today’s buyers do a great deal of their initial searching online, so that when they enlist the support of an agent, they tend to be pretty far along in the sales cycle. As a result I recognize that online buyers are close to ready, and the number of home we see together may be lower than in the past. Why? Because they have already “seen” many homes on line and are ready to really hone in on real contenders.
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It’s no secret that consumers are more informed than ever when it comes to purchasing decisions, not only for houses, but for items related to home ownership, design, repairs, and decorating.
Many people love to look at houses and dream of owning real estate that increases in value over time. Whether shopping for home goods, accessories for rooms and yards we currently inhabit, or dreaming about spaces and furniture seen in magazines, on TV and websites like Pinterest; human beings like to feel safe, stylish, sexy, and at home in our dwellings.
Now the big question: Are you taking advantage of this basic human craving to market your real estate business?
As a content marketer and copywriter for real estate businesses, I’ve noticed (far too often) that many real estate marketers are overlooking one of the most connective and attractive pieces of their marketing mix: Curated Content.
What is curated content?
Curated content is content that YOU don’t have to produce, but which you’re happy to share because it serves your potential market. It’s already out there on the web, and your clients are reading or watching it. Others in your field may have produced it (not your direct competition, but someone in another locality), or specialists in related or complementary fields may have written it.
The point is, it’s already “done,” it strikes a chord with your potential clients and customers, and it’s there for you to share.
Why aren’t you using curated content?
So why aren’t you using it? Over my years of writing and marketing, I’ve gathered a few common reasons. I’m going to discuss why I believe more real estate pros aren’t using curated content.
Then I’ll try to dispel the myths that are preventing you from using it to stand out.
Above all other reasons for not using curated content is a strong belief in your originality and unique point of view. You have a unique perspective and way of doing things, and you may feel like all your content needs to come directly from you. Especially on social media, you may be under the impressions that it needs to be written and posted by you.
The images need to come from your jobs, your case studies from current or past clients, or the work you’re doing today. Maybe you even feel like you need to be the one snapping the picture, or writing answers to questions, coming up with ideas, anticipating your clients’ concerns, and providing solutions.
Well, if you can do all that… kudos! I’d never stop someone from personally marketing his or her own business. But let’s face it, original or “owned” content that you create is valuable because it takes work and reflects your well-thought-out point of view. When you hit that sweet spot between what people want and need and what you uniquely provide, you’ve struck gold. Hopefully others appreciate and share it.
But here’s the secret. It’s not up to you to spin gold from everything you see, hear and read! Content you create and “own” should make up about 20 – 40% of all content you share. But the other portion can easily come from curated content. The beauty in sharing relevant content created by other bloggers and business owners is that it lets you piggyback and benefit from others’ great content, and even allows you to add your spin.
First, let me preface this topic with the reminder that you should never swipe someone else’s content without giving them credit. It’s not only decent, it’s required that you provide a link to the originator of any content you share. So naturally you may worry that you’re sending a perfect client away from your social media page or even into the arms of someone who might get their business. Why would you send someone to another source of news, information, or services, you ask?
Of course you might not choose to direct a potential client away to a competitor’s website or social media page. Instead, you can curate good content that complements and adds to your services. In doing so, you actually attract customers by sharing something relevant to them.
There are hidden benefits to this, too. Folks start to rely on your for your discerning eye. If you only share high quality articles, videos and images, people will grow to rely on your curating skills, and pay attention to what you share. More on that soon.
Myth #3. Curating content takes too much time.
Who has time to scour all the websites and report, share and comment on every trend or local news item? That would mean making time every day to find great content that your clients might like, and then upload it to your blog or social media sites.
To be honest, for most professionals, content curation is a time suck you can’t afford when you have people to call, lead generation to do, paperwork, and contractors to meet. Not to mention a personal life to live. (You do have one of those, don’t you?)
When there’s so much else to do, can you carve out a little extra time to find all this relevant content? Some people can, and of course there are certain tools that make this task easier. I can recommend plenty of useful tools and tips for finding awesome content if you want to take this on yourself. If not, a good alternative is hiring a virtual or local assistant to do this work for you.
This is probably the most common rebuttal I hear regarding curating content. It’s a big enough job creating content of your own, let alone logging into all your sites and posting and sharing others’ content. It can make you crazy if you don’t have a system for easily putting interesting curated content into Twitter, Facebook, and other sites. You know you need to keep populating those pages and feeds, but it’s either feast or famine where that’s concerned.
Social media and content marketing usually starts with the best intentions. Maybe you went to a marketing meeting and got stoked to be active on Facebook where thousands of people will see you, remember you and engage with you. You have your phone on you all the time, so how hard could it be to post regularly so that people who’ve liked your page keep seeing your stuff?
With fresh motivation, you vow to build your clientele from fans and followers on social media. You post regularly for a few days in a row, and then, a couple times per week, and finally you fall out of the habit. You just can’t keep it up on your own. You feel like a hamster on a wheel and it’s difficult to see the value, so you stop posting altogether.
It’s OK to admit it if you don’t enjoy spending time on social media. I talk to many people who view it as just another job to do, and one that doesn’t seem to yield results! So why bother? Unfortunately, if you ignore it, your business will suffer next to someone who works Facebook, Twitter or Linked In like a star. Sure, it may be easier to simply send out a postcard every month or two to your neighbors, but if they don’t see you daily in person, it’s easy to forget about you.
Social media allows you to be around all the time for very little cost to your marketing budget. At least the sites themselves are free to use.
But I’m not going to tell you that content marketing is a no brainer. It takes some time — and a system, including regular use of social sharing software like CoSchedule or Buffer. Click here for more information about these tools, and a couple others we use.
Also, the business owner (realtor, inspector, agent, investor, etc.) who’s spending the day writing and posting sparkling commentary is probably not doing what he or she should be doing. Their most important job is selling houses, finding houses, talking with people, making phone calls, attending meetings, inspecting houses, etc. Creating or even “just” curating content takes time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get done magically, or even effortlessly. But if there’s no time, then you need to outsource the work.
OK, so lets say you’ve jumped all these four hurdles. You agree that you can and should market yourself with the savvy use of others’ content, you recognize that you’re not casting out your best potential clients at your own expense, you make time to curate, you find time to post, you even adopt a system for sharing, and a handy means for scheduling regular posts in the future. Even if you have all of those things, there’s still something holding you back from curating content…
Bottom line. You just never thought content marketing was all that important. Some people make it look easy, and you appreciate the effect, but secretly you wonder if the return on investment really worth it, for you? Well here’s the scoop on that.
It’s important. People who use content and social media to market their businesses know it for a fact. Just yesterday, I viewed a speech from Social Media Marketing World last year in which Mark Schaefer, author of the great book The Content Code, said ROI was difficult to measure 7 years ago; and it’s no easier to measure today!
Content ROI is difficult to measure, but it still matters.
The act of sharing content helps people understand you. Since curating content requires less hands-on time to create and produce, yet portrays you as someone who is friendly and helpful, why wouldn’t you spend some time incorporating curated content in your marketing mix?
The number one reason for posting daily, curated content, at about an 80/20 ratio to your owned content, is so that people know, like, and trust you. By sharing others’ content you become, in their eyes, someone who is active in the community, someone real, with a voice and a point of view. Simultaneously, you become a leader in your market.
You want to be remembered, so your marketing is the crucial piece of the puzzle that quietly positions you as the go-to expert for future business. Curated content is the glue that enables others to know that you are active, and that you care about the same things they care about.
Think about the benefit of posting an article on first homes with technology new families would appreciate, or an article on organizing your possessions for a move to a smaller house, a statistic about the latest school bond up for a vote in your school district, etc. People who care about those things will note that you are someone who understands the same issues.
Curated content shared by you is like the glue that holds their attention when you’re not actually “marketing yourself.”
Content you distribute and pepper with your personal commentary shows that you read, watch, and are paying attention to trends, people and ideas that are important. While this type of content isn’t actually “selling” anything you actually do, it initiates and furthers the conversation between you and your ideal clients.
The real return on your investment in curating content is proof that you are active, involved, and helpful (whether directly or indirectly) regarding real estate, your community, and properties in your area. If you provide what people want and need on a small level, chances are they’ll think of you when they’re ready to make upgrades to their house, help their adult child buy their first property, or maybe even list their house soon.
Isn’t it funny how people’s memory seems to hinge on what they saw recently on their phone? Sharing curated tips, pictures, news, recipes, etc. assure you that your customers will remember you because you’re someone who’s reaching them right there, in all the little ways people connect, laugh, worry, brag, and share.
When you get the opportunity to connect face to face, be there. When you can’t be there in person, make use of social sharing and curated content.
If you’d like to discuss your content strategy, and how My team Connects can help you grow your business, please call anytime at 512-351-3329. Or simply give us a shout via email.