Why on earth does content marketing now have such prominence?
One word: Google.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear you saying, “bloody Google is apparently the answer to everything!” But, in this instance the buck really does stop with them. Google didn’t invent search, but they certainly refined it, minted it and backed that puppy up all the way to the bank.
And how does Google know the answers? It knows because its bots trawl 80 billion websites every day (that’s a fact I actually just Googled). And when the bots crawl, they are effectively looking for answers to questions. In fact they’re looking for the best answer.
This is why content is so powerful. Content marketing is about providing answers. Great answers that make the searcher think - “Wow! That was so useful/helpful/informative/exactly what I needed to know”.
Google ties up those best answers with your geographic location, matches it with factors that signals digital trust - like reviews - and then serves it up at exactly the right time that someone near you asks the question - who is the best real estate agent in my area?
SEO - or search engine optimisation - is really just a fancy term for all of this. It means that when the Google bots trawl your content, they find it easy to source great answers to the questions that your potential clients are asking.
How does content marketing build trust?
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
So how does content marketing actually build trust? Well, basically it does this by providing answers that are helpful, useful, insightful, and establishing the person who provides those answers as a guide or a coach. Someone trustworthy.
Think about who you trust in your life and why you trust them. They’re probably people who you feel safe with. They are people who are solid, who can be relied upon. You know that they are their words.
Now let’s think of the times when trust becomes really important. These are usually times when we’re vulnerable - maybe going through something stressful, when we’re trying to work stuff out, when we feel we are in unknown territory. That’s when we need people we trust around us. That’s when we want to know that someone has got our back. It’s when we look for help.
So now let’s think about real estate - whether that’s buying, selling, renting, or owning an investment property. Nothing stressful about that at all, right? Nothing that makes you feel vulnerable when you have no roof over your head, are trying to convince the bank that you’re good for a loan that could feed a third world nation, or your shower has no hot water and you’ve got a big job interview tomorrow, or you’ve looked at over 100 properties and your wife can’t find anything she likes. Nothing stressful about that at all. Nope.
Psychologists recognise that moving house is ranked in the top five most stressful life events (SBS). We dread it because we know it involves major disruption. We lose our familiarity. Things that don’t require thought, suddenly require a LOT of thought. So, the people that real estate agents and property managers are dealing with most often are people who are already in a heightened state of stress, who are feeling really vulnerable.
And what is their biggest fear? That the person they’re about to trust is someone a bit dodgy. Someone who doesn’t actually deserve their trust and who is likely to let them down.
Roy Morgan publishes the Image of Professions Survey which looks at the ethics and honesty of professions. Every year since the survey came out in 1976, real estate agents have been down around the bottom as the least trusted and least ethical. We’re even rated worse than politicians!
You’ll know from your own experience that simply telling someone you’re trustworthy, just isn’t enough. In fact, the more you insist, the more suspicious the other person is likely to become.
So what can you do to prove you’re trustworthy? Well, you have to create an environment where you don’t in fact, have to prove anything, because people already know and trust you.
Why you need content
- Improves awareness and recognition of who you are and your expertise
- Creates loyalty and trust, with both your current customers and prospects
- Helps you to build authority and credibility
- Generates traffic and leads to your website to make you less dependent on other marketing outlets.
- Helps your clients understand more about buying, selling and renting through you.
- Provides value with no strings attached.
Hopefully by now I’ve managed to convince you. You need to do this content marketing thing.
The rule of 7
Back in the 1930s, the movie industry developed a maxim called the rule of seven when they realised they needed to do a certain amount of advertising and promotion to make people see their movies.
The thinking goes that people need to see your message at least seven times before they will act or connect with the product or service you are offering.
Digital marketing has made it easier than ever to get your message out there, but the downside is that we are all completely bombarded constantly. To get a message cut through, you need to create an emotional connection, and that is best done with stories, not just straight promotion.
The power of a content funnel
Every real estate agent understands the concept of a sales funnel. It's the typical process that a prospect goes through before becoming a client.
The thinking goes that if you put a lot of leads into the top of the funnel, enough will shake out at the bottom to give you a viable income.
The more leads you put in at the top, the more that will convert.
This has led agents for decades to think that just putting more leads at the top has been enough to win more business. But the data is now showing that this is often not the case. It's the way you treat and engage with those leads at every stage of e sales funnel that will affect your conversion rates.
What content marketing seeks to do is to support your customer journeys by helping you convert more of your leads at each stage of the funnel.
This is one of the secrets of great agents - it's not that they have sales funnels with gazillions of prospects, but they are able to convert a higher proportion of the leads they do have.
What a content funnel does is recognise that there are stages most people go through before they will become a client. These stages may include finding their agent, learning about them, connecting with them, feeling they can trust them and then making the commitment to go ahead.
The alternative is one conducted by too many agents - which is to meet someone cold and immediately ask for their business (wham, bam, thank you m’am!). Please don’t do that. That kind of behaviour is for Tinder, not building lifelong relationships in real estate.
So what else is on the horizon in the ever evolving world of marketing?
As marketing continues to evolve we can expect to see trends come and go. So what’s 2020 got in store for use? Check out this blog to find out.