What is content marketing and why am I so obsessed with it?

 

Almost 30-years ago, I discovered the power of public relations. So, I built my own PR firm and it grew into a top-50 agency with a really strong niche in real estate.

Our focus during this time was on getting our clients as much positive exposure in the media as possible via press releases and media relations. Harnessing the power of media was an incredibly effective way for companies to build their business.

Today, PR is still a really powerful and effective tool in the arsenal of brand building. But, it’s not the only tool in the box anymore.

Content Marketing is truly the most innovative marketing trend I have seen in my career.

What is Content Marketing?

It’s simply the strategy of a brand, or professional, telling their own story using content that they create and share over social media and other platforms and communications tactics. In the corporate world, virtually every major corporation is using it…

Why does Content Marketing work so well?

Content Marketing is so effective because it bi-passes the dependency on media to tell a company’s story. Since media is declining in readership and relevance in many sectors, it’s the perfect trend for these times.

How does Content Marketing work?

  1. Company creates content
  2. Company shares it across several platforms
  3. Company becomes a thought leader and a dependable source for insights and trends

One of the things I love about Content Marketing in particular is that it appeals to companies of all shapes and sizes. It’s absolutely not reserved for the largest companies. In fact, I honestly think it’s perfectly positioned for smaller, niche companies. And typically it’s extremely cost effective.

Content Marketing in the real estate sector

If you are a brokerage firm, using Content Marketing to inform your target audience about things like local and macro market trends, tips on lease negotiations, trends in space utilization, etc., are all terrific content strategies.

If you are an architect, there are so many topics to write about including design trends, energy trends, interiors and so on.

If you are a developer, creating content on locations, building materials, overall space trends, amenities, etc., are just a few of the stories that can be told.

While real estate has historically been a laggard in terms of embracing new marketing techniques, it’s exciting to see that many are already embracing this trend.

Some great examples of companies using Content Marketing:

Some great examples of individuals using Content Marketing

Content Marketing is not just a trend or fad, it’s going to be a cornerstone of marketing going forward.

And any company not adding it to their marketing mix is missing out on one of the most impactful and cost effective strategies I have personally seen in over three decades.

Great insights on the rise of platforms…

Platforms, platforms, platforms. They are impacting how we consume content in so many aspects of our life. I am personally fascinated by the rise of platforms. So much so that I have spent the past few years building my own platform for the real estate industry.

Here are some insights from a well regarded expert in the field….

Online Media Is Tested When Social Platforms Come to Town

Online media is being abruptly transformed by social media platforms and centralizing apps. But Andrei Hagiu, an economist, sees familiar patterns.

I don’t think it’s true that transitioning from independence to life on a platform necessarily has to make things worse. One thing that I think a lot about — in conversations with venture capitalists and others — is the notion that platforms or marketplaces inherently commoditize. I think more likely what’s happening is the following: I think platforms, or marketplaces, make it a lot easier for, say, the content providers or app developers that are very, very good to rise to the top, and pretty much commoditize everyone else. So if you’re average, it’s definitely going to be very bad. Life is going to be worse on a platform, because you’re exposed to more competition. If you’re very good, life on a platform is a lot better.

– Andrei Hagiu

READ MORE HERE

LinkedIn vs. Twitter?

I am newcomer to Twitter — my team at @TNF_RE and my friend @JNeuer19  have been all over it for years. I have been, however, a regular user of LinkedIn for a very long time.

It’s pretty obvious which network I prefer…

First of all, I know that each site is different and offers different things. And to me, that’s a clear distinction of why I am more active on one than the other.

Secondly, I have very specific reasons why I am active on these sites. My real goal is NOT to look for a job, but to promote my brand and connect with professionals that I want to learn from and hopefully engage in business opportunities with. So for me, it’s about content and connectivity.

And with that in mind, it’s no contest…TWITTER IS SO MUCH MORE USEFUL THAN LINKEDIN!

I have always been driven by the philosophy of doing one thing, doing it well, and do it over and over and over again.

I remember when I first started my PR firm, we were a full-service marketing agency. And you know what, we were really good at it for a while…until we started to suck! The reason was that it’s just really, really hard to do a lot of things well. Ultimately, something begins to suffer. When I decided to pivot and focus just on PR for real estate, we crushed it🙂 I built an awesome team and together we built something truly great (I may be a little biased though).

So when I started my newest venture, a content marketing and news curation platform for real estate, I knew I was going to focus on doing one thing well. And we are still trying to do that every single day.

The main reason I prefer Twitter is because they are focused on one thing…news. I check my Twitter feed a few times a day and am always finding great content. And it’s targeted to what I want to read and discover. Granted, I think Twitter is still very challenging to use, and I am not alone in that regard, it’s still a great tool to use for real estate professionals to stay informed with relevant news as it happens.

As far as LinkedIn, I do post my own content regularly, but I don’t use it as a news source. It’s not focused. It’s full of crap I don’t care about, like inspirational quotes, people’s political views and personal messages. I also hate HATE being solicited so often by people I just connected with. And that’s the problem – it has no filter. And the site tries to be all things to all people and that simply doesn’t work in my opinion. Again, do one thing, and do it well. What is LInkedIn these days anyway? A jobs site? A networking tool? A news tool? I think they are trying to be all those things and that’s where they start to lose people.

Check out this really insightful study for more analysis of LinkedIn’s core issues of engagement….

Do one thing..work it, study it, perfect it.

In that regard, I think Twitter has a better shot at being a useful tool for business professionals than does LinkedIn.

Would love others perspectives…

Content Insights from Market Leader, JLL

I had the pleasure of interviewing Gayle Kantro, director of corporate communications at JLL, about their content strategies. In my opinion, JLL is a real pioneer in real estate media and content marketing. On The News Funnel, JLL Real Views is one of the most popular sources amongst our readers.

Content marketing in the real estate sector is something I have been focused on for the past few years. It’s why I built my site – to provide a platform to host all of the industry’s content in one location. More and more companies are discovering the power of content to build their brand, tell their own narrative and position themselves as a thought leader in their respective niche.

Here is how one industry leader views their own content strategy…

Me: When did you first launch Real Views and what was the original strategy behind the launch of the site?

Gayle: We recognized the opportunity to tell our own stories and distribute them directly to our target audiences by incorporating content or brand journalism into our communications mix. As a global content-driven website, Real Views was an exciting step for us to take and marked a first for the real estate advisory sector when it launched in May 2015.

Real View offers JLL’s perspective on the trends and developments shaping the global real estate industry through a mixture of written and multimedia content presented in a style and design that’s distinctive from the rest of JLL’s communications.  

We focus on high quality, professionally written articles that complement other content and marketing communications initiatives from the firm. We’re not trying to take on newswires or trade media – we’re very clear we’re producing brand journalism. We showcase our knowledge and expertise within our stories rather than explicitly promoting JLL services.

Me: How does producing this type of original news and trend content help build the JLL brand?

Gayle: By producing fresh and engaging content focused on the bigger picture issues affecting the global industry, Real Views makes it clear that we are experts in real estate and the development of cities. JLL produces a huge amount of research and has thousands of real estate experts working with clients on projects around the world so we’re certainly not short of good stories to tell. With Real Views we have a great platform to be able to connect with our audience, contribute to conversations in the industry, and promote and build the JLL brand.

Me: Where can industry professionals find Real Views? How do you distribute it to the marketplace?

Gayle: Real Views is a global standalone website that everyone can visit. The site is mobile responsive so readers can easily catch up on the latest stories on the move (we know about half of our traffic comes from mobile devices.) We market our content through social media, including the JLL LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages. We also send subscribers weekly wrap ups featuring all content published on the site (www.jllrealviews.com/subscribe.)  

Me: Where does the content come from? How do you arrive at your editorial strategy?

Gayle: The content comes from our internal and external writers and from our business experts. Our stories cover four main categories – Trends, Places, Economy and Industries – and look to the real estate industry, the business world and local markets for inspiration.

We pay close attention to metrics to help us fine tune our content strategy and ensure that Real Views is adding real value to the business and our stakeholders. Although Real Views stories may cover regional topics, we strive to make them relevant for our global audience. We aim for a mix of content – some light-hearted slideshows, some serious features, some topical news pieces – which are driven by what’s going on in our industry and the world.

Me: What are your longer term objectives with the site?

Gayle: We want Real Views to be a destination site for professionals seeking insightful, interesting and timely stories about trends in the real estate industry and how real estate is impacting the world. We have achieved a solid grounding in the year since we launched Real Views and we have plans in place to reach a wider audience and further build the reputation of the site.

We consistently seek to find creative and interesting ways to produce high-quality content that engages readers. While much of our current content is written, we are expanding our use of high quality multimedia to reach our audience in different ways.

Me: JLL has historically been recognized as a market leader when it comes to marketing. What other media strategies does the company focus on these days to tell its story to the marketplace?

Gayle: In our multi-channel world, we have a broad view of the mix of marketing channels. We have a strong track record in media relations and this remains a priority for us. We love broadcast and put a lot of effort into training our spokespeople (for both print and broadcast media). We see Real Views as complementing our media efforts, not replacing them.

Thanks Gayle for these amazing insights! Check out JLL Real Views here.

 

The most important advice I would give to a blogger…

Find your own voice!

As someone who has been blogging for a while, and also someone who consumes a lot of content from bloggers, I am often asked what’s the one piece of advice I would give a new blogger, or any blogger I guess.

My response is always…Be true to your own voice!

What do I mean by that?

Your blog is an extension of you, and it should therefore be written in your authentic voice. You should write the way you talk. You should write about things you are truly passionate about. And you should always, always let your personality come through in your writing style.

Of course if you are writing a corporate blog, you might have to change your tune a bit to reflect the corporate values and branding. But if you are writing for your own personal business, the more original the content the better.

How do you ensure your voice comes through?

The easiest way, and what continues to work for me, is to pretend you are having a conversation with your closest business or personal connection. How would you speak to them? What words do you use most often? In other words, how would you speak to someone who you are really close with…that’s how you should write.

Follow that tip and your blog will be seen as something truly authentic and original. And to me, that’s really really important. Not convinced? Here are a few great examples….

Jon Schultz

Allen Buchanan

Duke Long

Jeremy Neuer

Chris Clark (CRE Outsider)

Bo Barron

Joe Stampone

Coy Davidson

These are the blogs I consume the most because they are the most unique, authentic and truly reflect the unique personalities of the authors.

They are good models to follow!

5 mistakes real estate companies make when creating content…

 

The good news is that there have never been so many real estate companies creating content.

The bad news is that there have never been so many real estate companies creating bad content.

Not trying to be a downer…but after spending almost 30 years creating content for real estate companies, I realize it’s just the standard evolutionary process for this sector. While content marketing is not a new phenomenon in the overall business sector at large, it’s a totally new trend in the real estate world. So, it’s expected that, 1) it took forever for real estate companies to recognize the importance of content marketing, and 2) there will be a great learning curve to master good content.

I am a passionate believer that content marketing will one day, hopefully soon, revolutionize the way real estate companies tell their stories, build their brands and drive business. I have written about it extensively in this blog and I have spent the past few years building my own content platform to host all of this content. Prior to that, I spent 25 years building my PR firm, Beckerman PR, into one of the leading agencies representing real estate companies.

So for those that are thinking about creating content and building a content marketing program, here are the top five biggest mistakes I see companies making:

1) Self-serving content

Unfortunately I read a lot of content that is so self-serving that I doubt anyone will read it (or if they do they will not return for more). Writing a blog about how wonderful your product, property or company is isn’t the best way to engage prospects in your brand narrative. Be more subtle. Provide content that actually has a benefit to the reader. Educate them. Inspire them. Provide insights that they can use to enhance their business. That’s how you build your engagement, and in doing so, promote yourself and your company as a thought leader in your particular niche.

2) No clear strategy

So much of what I see lacks a coherent strategy. Before you launch any new piece of content or a content plan, it’s critical that you have a clear strategy. What’s the objective of the program? Who is the target audience? What are the core messages we want to communicate? What is the CTA? Creating content for the sake of creating content isn’t a strategy!

3) Not sharing

What’s the purpose of creating great content if no one sees it! Too often, companies make the mistake of thinking the world will travel to their website and consume all of their good content that resides there. NOT! That thinking is very old school to be honest. Most people aren’t visiting websites anymore. And that trend won’t reverse itself. The world of news and content is all about platforms and networks. People are getting their information from places like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, The News Funnel and more. So, if you aren’t sharing your content across multiple social channels and platforms, you aren’t getting your message out effectively.

4) No engagement with others

In the same vein, not getting other bloggers, professionals and sites involved in helping tell your story and build your narrative is nuts. Again, too often content is being created in a vacuum and the incorrect assumption is made that people will come find it. WRONG! Getting your content on other blog sites, doing Q and A’s with other thought leaders, and interacting with other bloggers is a really effective way to engage others to share your content and build your audience.

5) Not being consistent

The thing that drives me crazy the most is when I see such inconsistency in the frequency of content. If you’re going to write once a month, it’s not ideal but at least stick to it. Weekly, awesome! But when I see no activity for several months on a blog, I feel compelled to reach out and tell that company or professional that you are actually doing more harm than good. What you are saying is that you are someone that cannot follow up on something you started. I would then ask “Is that how you treat your customers?” “Is that how you run your company?” Being inconsistent is more than just not being effective at your content strategy, it’s a reflection of who you are and how you run your business. If you are going to commit to something, commit to it!

I hope this helps brands refocus their efforts and create even more great content. I am absolutely convinced that creating content and brands becoming media are the most important, impactful and effective marketing strategies I have seen in a very long time.

But rather than just doing it, do it well!

A great read about content marketing…

Content is Eating the World — Contently’s CEO on Winning at Marketing’s New Hotness