If you've sent out thousands of mailers and paid for print ads — all with little measurable return, you're probably eager for a new strategy. To attract more customers to your real estate business, the answer might lie along a different path.
The "outbound" marketing strategies of yesteryear are increasingly easy to ignore and bypass. Instead, companies of all kinds are employing "inbound" marketing principles to attract qualified, ready-to-buy customers who come to them, not the other way around.
It starts with thinking like a buyer. When you made your last major purchase, how did you begin?
Inbound marketing: An overview
At the most basic level, inbound marketing is really simple. It starts off with a basic premise: The internet has changed the way people buy. When customers are thinking about making a purchase, whatever it is, they start by gathering information. They do this with a computer and a search engine.
They begin by typing in questions, and they look for pages that answer those questions. They keep reading and they keep learning, all as they get closer and closer to making a purchase.
If they read a few articles on the same website, that company becomes someone they recognize and trust.
If you answer all of your buyers' questions, they'll trust you enough to buy from you.
And you won't need to spend money on an agency each month to get a handful of sub-par leads.
The people typing in questions related to your industry are way more qualified for your services than the general population who receives your mailer. Think about it: Wouldn't you rather send your offer to someone who just Googled "How much does property management cost?" than to every single person in your town?
So, how do we put this strategy to work?
Inbound marketing in real estate
In the abstract, inbound marketing is a methodology that any business can implement. No matter your industry, location, product, or business structure, potential customers can be attracted to your website by way of your website content (written and video), and they can subsequently turn into clients.
However, things have a way of not working quite as smoothly in reality as they do in theory.
Those of you who work in commercial real estate have a unique needs and challenges — even among other real estate businesses, let alone in comparison to software firms, law offices, or e-commerce shops.
So, will inbound marketing still work for you? Is there a content strategy that will serve your needs — as well as those of your customer?
The short answer is yes. For a longer answer (along with a strategy) read on.
To serve today’s buyer, you need to understand that the buying process has changed. Today, customers take to the internet to start their research. When they find the answers they need, they become more informed buyers. If your business is the one to provide those answers, the customer will begin to trust you. Trust is at the center of all inbound marketing. If you make content that is transparent and helpful, you're likely going to accomplish your goals.
Then, when those buyers enter the sales process, they are more educated — both in terms of their purchase and your company.
Remember, you need written and video content
Today, buyers want the content they consume to be in the format that most suits their needs. For some, this might be video. For others, text. Therefore, an effective content strategy makes use of both these mediums. What the balance will look like for your business will depend on your needs, staffing, and industry.
The beauty of inbound marketing is that it can be simplified down to this: Make sure you're answering the most basic questions that every buyer wants to know. These questions are industry agnostic, and they allow you as the content writer to share your expertise and build trust with your audience at the same time.
For example, no matter who they are and what they are buying, every customer wants to know about cost. They want to know they’re getting the best deal possible. They want to know they're not wasting their money.
But their questions go beyond money.
They also want to be able to compare their options and to know the pros and cons of each.
This is true no matter what the purchase — whether someone is buying a lawnmower or signing a lease for office space.
No matter the product or service being considered, cost is a central factor in that decision. How do you feel when a website does not reveal the cost of something that business sells? Are you likely to see a “Call for price!” button and immediately reach for your phone? Unlikely.
So, how should you address cost on your website? You might not always be able to communicate the exact price for something, but you should offer people a ballpark cost range and explain the factors that might make it go up or down.
Your buyers are realistic. They know that if you say something costs around $10,000 and then the final bill is slightly more or less, it’s still around that figure.
Here, an office design company called Office Interiors dives into the pros and cons of open-concept office layouts. You finish the video and feel more well-informed, even though the content doesn’t take a clear stance on the polemic. As with a lot of questions, the answer to “Which type of office design is best for me?” is it depends.
People love lists. When we can see our options laid out before us, ranked according to various metrics, we feel like we can make the best purchasing decision possible.
Check out Commercial Property Executive’s no-frills ranking of top property management companies. This is high readable, and you can click through to learn more about their methodology and to see previous rankings. We know it’s up to date, as the year and publication date are both provided.
For another example, here’s a video put out by eForms that covers the top five property management software solutions.
Notice how quickly this video builds trust as you listen to the presenter. She immediately establishes the essential aspects of property management: people have to trust you. How do you gain trust? By being dependable and honest. The right software can help you stay organized so you can offer that dependability to your clients.
Click through to the article and you’ll find the five best options, along with quick reviews on each. Aquila gives the background, including how long each firm has been in Austin and other key facts and figures, as well as a checklist for choosing the best tenant rep for you:
Providing more information is this video covering three questions to ask before hiring a tenant rep broker. Potential customers are asking this question in YouTube or in search engines. Aquila's content gets found by buyers who are seeking the information this content provides.
Hopefully these examples inspire you to get started with your content marketing. Remember always keep your buyers in mind. The essential question any content manager should be asking about their content is this: Are we answering the questions our buyers have?
In order to make sure you’re doing so, you first need to know what those questions are. Regular meetings with the sales team will help you compile a running list.
If you’re ever uncertain about how to proceed or what to cover, keep leaning into The Big 5. Think of what you would want to know if you were a buyer. Chances are, your central questions would focus on one of the topics listed above.