Recently we covered the concept of Youtility, the art of winning over consumers by helping (not selling) them with inherently useful and relevant information that they actually want. We defined the three driving forces behind Youtility as self-serve information—building loyalty by providing instant access to information, real-time relevancy—specializing in a particular niche in your local market, and radical transparency—being open with information be it the good, the bad or the ugly. Now let’s talk about real estate businesses that are truly embracing Youtility and reaping the rewards.
On a recent episode of the Watercooler, “The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Marketing,” host Chris Smith discussed the case studies presented in the new ebook, Youtility for Real Estate: Why Smart Real Estate Professionals are Helping, Not Selling written by New York bestselling author and consultant, Jay Baer, and co-author, Erica Campbell Byrum, Director of Social Media at Homes.com.
First, let’s explore the term “friend of mine awareness,” which is a strategy that all of these case studies and businesses have adopted. This term essentially says that with the Youtility marketing approach, businesses should provide real value in the information they put forth versus throwing up flashy, gimmicky ads that come off too strong, turn people off and cause distrust.
Our personal and business relationships are merging at a rapid-fire pace like never before as consumers are increasingly immersed in online media, five hours and nine minutes per day to be exact, more so than time spent watching television (Advertising Age). Consumers are now saturated with messages from friends, family and businesses on their social networks and inboxes alike. That leaves businesses having to compete with real people that consumers trust (and love) to get their attention. That said, real estate agents and brokers need to be as useful as consumers’ friends and families to earn their trust and advocacy, and ultimately create that “friend of mine” awareness.
Here’s how other real estate businesses are taking Youtility to the streets (literally).
1. Girl’s Guide to Real Estate – Founded by Joda Mize on the premise that women tend to seek out advice from other women, this online publication is the friendly female voice for all things real estate. This comprehensive guide breaks down many aspects of buying, selling and owning a home from the finances to home decor ideas and reveals non-transactional type tips as though you were chatting with your girlfriend (who happens to be a real expert!). Mize embraced the “power of eventually,” which Baer says is akin to “planting a green tree and the singing bird will come.” In other words, she focuses on helping, not selling to build relationships that will ultimately use her real estate services. Traffic and time spent on the site continues to soar and more writers are being vetted to add even more value and guidance for women interested in real estate.
2. Brad Bell Real Estate – Developed by owners Sarah and James Bell out of Queensland, Australia, the firm wanted to beef up its operations to be more useful and transparent to the local community. So the husband and wife team launched The Hub 4122 after their postal code, to serve as an online newspaper and resource center for area residents, which also included content contributed by other area businesses, dubbed “Hub Partners.” Not only could locals digest information from this ‘chamber of commerce’ type of site and their pages on Facebook and Google+, but they could visit the company’s coffee shop, also called the Hub 4122 and located in the same building as the Brad Bell Real Estate office. Here the community can interact and the Bells can subtly position their firm as a community meeting spot. For their agents, they can meet clients in a relaxed setting and also showcase their listings that are tastefully posted on one wall of the shop. With the Youtility marketing strategy, the Bells have succeeded by helping and providing value beyond their core business.
3. OCF Realty – This Philadelphia-based real estate group wanted to find a way to generate leads online more economically. Aside from owning three coffee houses, which accomplishes the passive sell, the team created a daily blog called Naked Philly that covers all things real estate in the Philadelphia market. Topics run the gamut about things like up and coming single-family neighborhoods to multi-family and commercial real estate developments that are actually written by freelancers and editors that travel the city in search of related news and trends. Their vision and Youtility marketing approach has indeed paid off as the Naked Philly blog generates more traffic than other city blogs and real estate sites combined.
4. Joe Manausa Real Estate – Former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger, Joe Manausa has been in real estate for over 23 years and knows a thing or two about the power of self-serve information and Youtility. Manausa focuses on his local niche in Tallahassee, FL – the $200,000-400,000 home seller, and writes articles that answer the questions that he gets from this group. From there, he “atomizes” that content, taking his knowledge and breaking it down into smaller, easily digestible pieces and repackages that information into other formats like his blog, downloadable resources and a series of email campaigns.
His downloadable guides like “Should I Short Sale My Home?”, “Home Buying for Smart People” and the Tallahassee “Best Buy List” have been a huge hit. For instance, “How to Sell a Home on Your Own” a comprehensive guide that advises homeowners how to sell their home without the assistance of a real estate agent (i.e. For Sales By Owner). While it may seem counterintuitive, Manausa contends that by providing this information, it shows that he has nothing to hide and he’s actually gained clients from it. This resource is so extensive and illustrates how much work it is to sell a home on your own that it actually becomes overwhelming to the homeowner, which eventually creates new clients for Manausa.
To read the full versions of the case studies highlighted above and for additional stories of success using Youtility marketing, download the eBook, Youtility for Real Estate: Why Smart Real Estate Professionals are Helping, Not Selling or watch the recording of the Watercooler episode, “The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Marketing.”