What do Starbucks, Marriott Hotels, Caterpillar and Patagonia have in common? They’ve become big name brands by curating lifestyle content. Tapping into the aspirations of their customers, they’ve become more attractive and increased revenues. You can do this too!
Why would these brands need to be blogging you may ask? Well, they’ve discovered that by creating fun conversations around things that interest their consumers and ingratiating themselves into the every day lives of these folk by talking all things coffee drinking, work and travel, they’ve extended their products into complimentary items such as fashion clothing and adventure wear. They’ve cottoned on to the fact that taking an interest in our lifestyles can result in a massive financial upside to their business.
You might be wondering what that has to do with you. The fact is, blogging is just as effective for the smallest of businesses as it is for large commercial brands. And what’s property and real estate if it’s not the ultimate lifestyle brand, our homes!
What is business blogging?
Business blogging is a form of marketing, but instead of sending direct sales messages you are providing your customers with valuable information that sparks their interest. The purpose of blogging is to establish credibility, encourage a rapport with your clients and to foster loyalty by giving them some benefit or perk for free.
According to marketing behemoth Hubspot, nearly 40% of US companies have a business blog. More importantly, Hubspot’s research shows that companies that blog have 55% more website visitors than their competitors who don’t follow a similar strategy.
The clincher? Blogging gets B2C businesses an incredible 88% more leads every month than their competitors who ignore this successful marketing phenomenon.
Blogging vs advertising
Advertising definitely has its place. However, when you advertise, you pay for a certain amount of exposure and then the window gets shut again. Advertising is an interruption – it’s the content on the page that doesn’t get looked at as opposed to the credible information that literally get’s consumed.
A newspaper ad is for one edition only. A direct mailout can wind up straight in the bin. A blog, if written as an evergreen or timeless piece of information, once published, lasts forever. For example, answering the types of questions asked of you by potential sellers time and time again is a great strategy for creating such evergreen content that any future seller could benefit from. If you make regular updates to your website, answering the questions your customers ask you day in day out, you can then refer new people you meet to your blogs for years after you have posted them online.
What to blog about?
If you’re in real estate, there are a vast array of subjects that you can cover, from mortgage options to decorating tips. Looking for topics? As an industry, you and other real estate professionals are actually in a unique position of speaking directly with people from your target audience every day. Take note of the questions that vendors ask you such as “Should I buy or sell first?” or “Can I use the equity in my existing property to invest?”. Turn the answers to these questions into blog posts for your website.
When you brainstorm ideas for your blog, consider what people might enter into Google, such as “best real estate agent in [my suburb]” or “Free home appraisal [my suburb]”. Make sure these ‘keywords’ and ‘phrases’ are included in the copy, or even better, in the title or subheadings on the page.
The trick to successful business blogging is to create content that is of interest to your target audience without being a direct sales pitch. For example, an accountant may blog about property investment through a self-managed super fund. A landscaper may share content on creating a garden that flowers all year round and a local gallery might discuss where to hang pictures in your home.
You can have a lot of fun with your blog topics and think outside the square – take for example Balmain Agent Ben Munro Smith’s blog A dog owner’s guide (to Balmain). This subject demonstrates Ben’s knowledge of the Balmain peninsula and their affinity to their fur-babies by mentioning dog friendly cafes, parks and the best local vets.
Another great tactic is to enlist the help of local business’s, include their voices in your articles to create content that they will also want to share with their customer network. This is a great example of local business cross promotion. Mosman’s Scott Thornton has also created some great examples of this by interviewing a well respected financial advisor in his neighbourhood and turning it into a blog that gives tips to the baby boomers on planning for retirement.
How often should you blog?
Basically, as often as time and budget permit.
Writing a blog that gets posted to your website is a great way to let Google know that you exist. If your site is updated regularly with fresh, relevant content then it is likely to find itself ranking higher on Google’s search result pages. Google also likes consistency, so even if you are only blogging once a month, make sure it gets posted as close to the same day and time as possible.
In terms of length, the longer the better. Google likes to surface content that is of undeniable quality, so the results that get displayed the highest have, on average, around 1,000 words per page. Sharing in-depth information with your audience, that only an expert in their field would be aware of, goes a long way to proving that you truly are the local real estate authority. If you’re trying to decide how often to blog, err on the side of quality over quantity and develop a strategy that means you can reuse the content you create.
Should you DIY?
It has been proven time and time again that blogging works as a strategy to bring in new leads. However, for many business people, including real estate agents, the issue is finding the time. You need to blog regularly for it to be effective but you also need to be able to create blogs quickly in order for them to be worth it. Even though you are the authority, writing might not be your forte and a short post can end up taking precious hours out of your day to write.
For agents who are better off focusing their abilities elsewhere, the simple solution is to outsource. For less than the cost of a mail card campaign or an ad in your local paper, a blog can be written that can potentially bring in thousands of dollars of business. What’s more, the content you create will be discovered by people who are actively seeking the help that you can offer. Plus, a blog can be used time and time again – it’s not just a one off cost for a one off result, it lives on the internet for the longterm and continually works towards catching the interest of potential clients and reeling them in toward your website.
You’ve blogged – now what?
The icing on the cake of business blogging is distribution. Make the most out of your blog posts by sharing them on social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, Google plus and Twitter. You can also promote them via a regular newsletter to your database, which will encourage people to visit your website (another thing that Google takes as validation that you are the real deal).
The beauty of running a real estate business is that you meet your clients face to face most days, so you get to know them and hear their concerns directly. Once you have made a new connection, you can send a selection of pre-written blogs to them via email over a period of several weeks. Then rinse and repeat for the next client without having to commission new content.
One of the best things about blogging is that it is relatively new in the real estate industry. This gives you the perfect, low cost opportunity to stand out from the competition and establish yourself as the go-to authority in your area.
Want help blogging and attracting sellers? Hoole Marketing provides blogs for busy real estate agents. Our team specialises in writing content and has an in-depth understanding of the real estate industry.
Contact me for a free 1 hour phone chat, where I will review your online profiles.