Finally, we’re all on the same page about what matters most to today’s real estate consumers: relevant, consistent and timely information. In today’s Google-it-get-it world, it’s become paramount for agents to step up their content game to stand out as a credible source of the real estate information buyers and sellers need…and more importantly, expect.
Yet, the results of RISMedia’s latest industry survey, “Content Craze: How Do You Reach Consumers?” reveals that we’re still falling short in the information delivery department. According to the survey, the majority of respondents—68 percent—report that they rely on “content from other real estate news sites and/or social media” to generate copy for their websites and blogs. More than 83 percent report that they do not use a content curator to auto-post, yet the majority of respondents—32 percent—also admit that they “should update content/send content more often.” While the need and the desire are clearly present, most real estate professionals are still falling short on execution—using other people’s information, inconsistently at best, with nominal results in terms of building relationships with prospects and clients. This is where savvy brokers are stepping in to save the day—and increase business.
“Our agents have been telling us for quite some time that they wanted more information, and were asking us what we could do,” says Long & Foster President & COO Jeff Detwiler. “Everyone is always looking for more content…and valuable content at that. We create two daily electronic newsletters and also a quarterly emagazine. The industry news and perspective that we share through these vehicles is provided by RREIN (RISMedia’s Real Estate Information Network®), which truly gives us the subject matter and content for the industry type of info our agents are looking for. We began offering each agent their own account this year. They want to take industry knowledge and deliver it to clients so that the client can get the same kind of value and start connecting the agent to market expertise.”
What makes the system both effective and valuable for Detwiler is the fact that the content, while delivered and powered by RISMedia, is branded to Long & Foster, reinforcing the value of the brokerage to its agents. “In today’s world, brokers want to provide expertise to their agents, and agents want to be able to provide expertise to their customers. At Long & Foster, we’re able to do that by leveraging what RISMedia provides us. Whether it’s with the agent or the consumer, you want to be able to connect the valuable information you’re passing along to whomever is providing it. Since our newsletters are privately labeled, we are positioned as the providers of value.”
According to Crystal Gardner-Phillips, marketing and public relations director of Louisiana’s GARDNER REALTORS®, the reason brokers should take on the role of content hub for agents is simple. “We want to make the lives of our clients and REALTORS® easier,” she says. “Content allows us to show who we are: REALTORS® who want to assist clients in making wise real estate investments. Our content is designed to achieve one of the following—educate on a real estate topic, answer questions, provide guidance through a tough decision, or inspire a desired lifestyle or home design. Our goal is to develop an online relationship that will create a trust that eventually takes the relationship offline.”
While convenient access to information is critical for agents, the relevance and quality of the content is equally important. Brokers can play a critical role in ensuring agents are distributing the right information for their audience.
“Agents have so many demands on them these days that they need to get correct information for their areas quickly and easily so they can concentrate on servicing their clients,” says Tom Skiffington, broker/partner of Pennsylvania’s RE/MAX 440 and RE/MAX Central. “Also, as we always say, real estate is a local business, and much of the information for the nation does not always pertain to the local area; that is why it is important for brokers to help provide or decipher the information coming in. The broker needs to make sure the information pertains to the areas that their agents service, and the agents then feel the information can be trusted if the broker is involved.”
Skiffington uses RSS feeds to automate content delivery for his agents and works closely with content providers, such as RISMedia, to monitor what is being delivered: “We only allow articles that are positive, not negative.”
Brokers who take the reins in the content department also solve a huge creative need for agents. “Being an excellent writer is not a prerequisite to being successful in real estate,” explains Gardner-Phillips. “We want to provide our REALTORS® with effective ways to market themselves, which is why we provide valuable content they can share with customers. By sharing this content, they are building trust with their customers that they can eventually take into a working relationship. Content gives our REALTORS® a way to establish themselves as the real estate expert online so that they can spend even more time out doing what they do best—serving clients’ real estate needs.”
One of the ways in which GARDNER REALTORS® automates content marketing for its agents is through a monthly newsletter provided by RISMedia’s content program. Gardner-Phillips customizes RISMedia’s products with the firm’s own material. “We pick a real estate-related article from our blog, The Local Lantern, to feature at the top of their newsletter,” she explains. “They can also use any of our content from our blog to share through social, their website, or any other medium. This allows the REALTOR® to be a community information friend and real estate expert for their clients.”
Solving the content dilemma for agents not only serves consumers’ need for information, it increases an agent’s loyalty to their firm. “Our agents greatly appreciate the value that we’ve been providing them through our e-media, which includes content from RISMedia,” says Detwiler. “They’re truly excited about being able to easily take content and share it with customers. They know it’s a value, and it’s good to know that their customers will enjoy it.”
For more information, visit rismediacontentsolutions.com.