In July, Tacoma, Washington real estate agent Marguerite Giguere won the Popham Award, given by the local chamber of commerce for the resident who had done the most in the past year to build community spirit.
Giguere’s Tacoma community-focused website, MoveToTacoma.com, which features a blog, neighborhood guides and a podcast about the city of approximately 200,000 residents, won her the award. The 18-month-old site also anchors her thriving business.
“I have a gushing lead pipeline” Giguere, 36, said.
But she’s not itching to close more deals herself. Approximately 75 percent of her income comes from outbound referrals and that’s by design. She works exclusively with buyers and only in specific neighborhoods.
Her unusual business model centers on referring business to other local agents she trusts. MoveToTacoma.com, a genuine love for her community, and a content marketing strategy she calls “community marketing” powers this model.
MoveToTacoma.com anchors Giguere's "community marketing" play, and her business.
Attracted to the unique, valuable content on the site -- like commute hacks and insight from Tacoma’s mayor (who Giguere had on her podcast) -- visitors end up reaching out to Giguere for real estate reasons, primarily for referrals.
A low-key call to action sits on the right rail on the site: “Got a quick question about moving to Tacoma? Text 253-820-3784 (we won’t stalk you).”
Most popular MoveToTacoma.com podcast -- Commute hacks
In addition to giving her immense social capital, the site has opened up exciting opportunities to sit on local boards, speak on panels with developers and be a local media source.
“You put a piece of yourself or something you believe in out there and people respond to that,” Giguere said. Those are the greatest clients in the world -- they come to you and they love you.
Most popular MoveToTacoma.com blog post -- “Why I sold house in Seattle to Tacoma,” written by one of Giguere’s buyer clients.
Content marketing traditionally centers on producing interesting content that provides value to a target audience. This demonstrates expertise, builds trust -- that all-important glue marketers love so much -- and generates business.
Giguere’s community marketing spin adds a dash of love to the equation, which, as many know who bring that passion to an endeavor, has multiplying, positive effects.
It’s been good for business, and her health. It has improved her relationships with her friends and community. And, bottom line, it’s a fun, engaging way to win business and work. “The more I do this, the less I sell houses,” Giguere said of her work on the blog. She can see eventually even phasing out selling.
The tenor of MoveToTacoma.com represents a massive opportunity for real estate brokers and agents who want to win trust and attention and become community catalysts by producing quality local content in the void left by dying of quality local journalism.
Wilmington, North Carolina broker Stephanie Lanier has illustrated the power community marketing, too, with the custom, local map, she created for a core part of her city. See the story here.
“Can we (real estate agents) stop writing blog posts about mortgage rates?” -- Giguere
Giguere has another site, real estate-focused GetRealTacoma.com, which she launched in 2008 to blog about real estate in “an honest way.”
But, since she has such a narrow niche -- buyers and a few specific neighborhoods -- she started feeling bad about giving leads what felt like a bait and switch. They would want to work with her and she would send them to other agents.
MoveToTacoma.com was also an opportunity to produce non-real estate-related content that generates business results.
“There are other ways to evaluate a good neighborhood than a school report card,” Giguere said. “We’re Realtors, we should be leaders.”
At $8,700 per year to operate, which includes money for a Webmaster, a photographer, all podcast production and a writer, which she brought on in January and pays $500 per month.
The site’s made at least $50,000 in profit so far this year, Giguere said.
Sometimes colleagues question her time and money investment in her community marketing efforts.
However, she tracks her leads carefully. She knows that MoveToTacoma.com generates 75 percent of her income.
Giguere admits she’s not scientific with her process of measuring success. She’ll go into Google Analytics, see what’s more popular and less and qualitatively decide to do more of the popular and less of the not-so-popular content.
Most of her visits come from organic searches on Google and from Facebook, she said. The MoveToTacoma.com Facebook Page has over 1,200 likes, all of which are legitimate engaged followers, Giguere stressed, a big difference from spammy likes.
Her Facebook community is also engaged, as evidenced by the comments and feedback posts generate there.
Giguere also distributes content on Twitter, Instagram and through an email newsletter, which has approximately 250 subscribers.
The site has given back to her in so many ways, she said. One: While reporting a story for MoveToTacoma.com, she found her hip, new office, which she shares with her collaborator and work wife, real estate agent Anne Jones.
Giguere has a tip for content that will kill for newbie real estate content marketers.
Around the holidays, Google (or call) the bars that are open on Christmas and Christmas Eve and then list them in a blog post. “It’s my secret weapon for getting traffic,” Giguere said. She had to call each bar in her case -- a 45-minute investment of time. A gift from a sh$%%y Xmas awhile back, she said.
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