Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent the past six years working for Zillow Group. He retired in August 2018 but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His weekly Inman column publishes every Wednesday.
Being a successful real estate agent involves prospecting for new business, retaining existing clients and otherwise growing your database or sphere of influence (SOI). It’s a constant, never-ending task.
Fundamentally, everything an agent does with regard to prospecting is content marketing.
What is “content marketing”? According to the Content Marketing Institute, it is: “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.”
That really does sum up things pretty well.
Targeting different demographics
Although buyers make the bulk of the effort, one shouldn’t neglect other groups of potential clients. Everyone wants seller leads, they’ve been the “gold standard” of real estate leads, and the dream of many a startup and established company is to provide viable seller leads, which can command a handsome price.
Significant effort is also expended in marketing to and maintaining contact with past clients. These efforts can be fruitful, but they tend to take a lot of time and energy because people typically go years between real estate transactions.
Current homeowners are a large segment of the population, and they are also largely ignored in the marketing efforts of real estate agents. Some might wonder why any effort should be expended on current homeowners, and that’s a fair question.
Consider though that sooner or later, every owner becomes a seller. Although current owners certainly aren’t going be selling soon, eventually they will, and they have friends and family that might be looking to sell today.
As a neglected marketing demographic, targeting some content to current homeowners makes sense, and it does double and even triple duty in keeping you front-of-mind with past clients as well as helping educate homebuyers.
The big question: What content should you deliver?
Content is pretty much the fundamental component of “content marketing.” Sure the medium is important — written, graphical, video, audio — as is the platform the content is produced on or delivered to. But what seems to be the most daunting part of content marketing for many is simply what to discuss.
Some people try to help and say things like, “Deliver something of value.” Or “Give the consumers what they want (or can’t find).” Then there’s the super-handy, “Just be helpful.”
Even back in the dark ages of real estate blogging, circa 2005 or so, there were countless discussions what sort of content should be created and delivered to our growing reader base.
Sometimes, what you need is a good old-fashioned list of ideas. No deep insight or analysis. Just some ideas to help get you going or spark an idea for deeper dives.
Please keep in mind that there is no content that you can create that will satisfy the wants, needs and desires of every potential, current or future client. The deeper you go into a topic, the more selective your discussions, the smaller your target audience becomes. And that’s OK.
A mix of content topics and depth — variety in other words — is important. It keeps people engaged, interested and returning to your content over time.
This isn’t an article about content delivery. It’s really not even about content creation. We can get further into those topics in future columns.
What I hope this article does is get you thinking about marketing to not just past clients, but other future homeowners as well. Like many forms of prospecting, consistently engaging with current homeowners, being helpful to them and cognizant of their needs should lead to future business.
Although we’d all like a qualified buyer under contract today or a listing agreement signed tomorrow, I’m pretty sure we could all use business in the months and years down the road.
Without further ado, here are 60-plus ideas for content targeting existing homeowners. These can be distributed in a variety of ways: blog posts, short videos, Instagram and Facebook Stories, newsletters, drop-offs/pop-bys, Facebook posts.
The biggest hangup many have is just getting started with content creation. Take some of these ideas, and do something amazing (like get and keep clients).
Market data and information
- Recent sales (neighborhood, ZIP code, city)
- Just listed homes (get appropriate permissions!)
- Current interest rate trends
- Historical interest rate trends
- Buyer and/or seller market and analysis
- Pricing trends
- Pricing and time on market seasonality trends
Neighborhood activity and news
- New businesses opening
- Business closings
- Local area schools sporting and activity schedules
- Restaurant reviews
- Community activity calendars
- Holiday closings
- Seasonal and holiday activities
- Interview small business owners
- During elections: Profile local candidates for city council, mayor, commission seats, school board, etc.
- Interview local politicians: mayor, council members, commissioners, school board members, etc.
- Attend city council and commission meetings:
- Especially planning and zoning, redevelopment and related commissions and activities
- Challenge tax assessment
- Interview school board members
- Interview school principals, counselors and teachers
- Sporting and activity schedules and calendars
- Winterize your home
- Get ready for summer
- Spring planting
- Gardening tips
- Swimming pool maintenance
- Needing a new roof?
- Interview local roofing contractor
- Getting an energy audit
- Interview local painting business owner
- This year’s hot colors
- Preparing your interior for painting
- Preparing your exterior for painting
- Living in a historic home/neighborhood
- Solar power — lease or buy?
- Pros and cons of solar power
- The smart home
- Alexa vs. Google?
- Smart doorbells/video surveillance
- Controlling lighting
- Smart thermostats
- The Green home
- Green home / LEEDS certification
- Update or renovate?
- ROI of various home improvement projects
- Smart appliances
- Indoor or outdoor living
- Backyard kitchens
- Grilling tips
- Volunteer opportunities
- Crisis centers
- Homeless shelters
- Neighborhood watch
- Homeowners Association (HOA)
- Meeting notes
- Interview board candidates/members
- Link to/discuss CC&Rs
That’s 60-something ideas and suggestions for material for your content marketing efforts. Yes, they are broad categories, feel free to dive deeper into them and find a local angle that’s unique.
No, nothing on this list will magically appeal to everyone. But there is broad appeal in many of these topics, and it’s important to understand that you can’t appeal to everyone, every time.
If you consistently provide interesting and useful content, however, over time, people will remember you, find your help useful and be far more likely to consider you for future business (or refer their friends and family to use you) than if you randomly sling content out there, just hoping something sticks.
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Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree in Seattle, as well as the mastermind behind Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty.