Michelle Obama's dress and choosing your real estate content marketing audience

You want an audience as eager for your content as political journalists and an election-crazed populus was for the leaked Democratic National Committee’s emails revealing its disinclination for Bernie. Or for Michelle Obama’s speech, if not her dress.

It’s easy to ignore precise thinking around audience. “I just want smart, affluent people ready to buy or sell a home” or “I just want leads” won’t cut it in a smart real estate content marketing strategy.

You need to dive deeper, like swim-with-anglerfish deeper, as uncomfortable as that may be.

Understanding your audience ranks up there with knowing your brand (stay tuned) as critical content marketing fundamentals.

Without knowing who, exactly, you’re trying to reach, you won’t know how best to get their attention. For example, here’s how audiences could vary in my hometown of Oakland, California:

  • The young tech employees (24 to 30-ish years old) flocking to the East Bay to take advantage of more affordable housing (relative to insane San Francisco) and a budding local tech scene.
  • The older professional executives (30 to 45-ish years old) with young families who want a house and a yard, and a sane commute to San Francisco.
  • The older still East Bay locals (45 to 60-ish years old) who have homes and may be looking to upgrade for a growing family or downsize as they become emptynesters.

It’s smart to pick your audience based on two things: how they align with your brand and the market opportunity.

As for the former, marketing savant Seth Godin preaches speak to your tribe; this especially holds true in real estate. More important than the outward branding here is that it genuinely reflects the passion, persona and flavor of the firm or team -- from top to bottom.

As for market opportunity, look at the numbers. Who’s moving to your area, who’s selling, and why? Look at migration patterns, changes in local economy and demographics if you have access to that data. Your MLS might. Other data providers will.

Ways to understand audience:

  • Do some research, yes, research. Contact some of your best clients, who you think represent your target audience, and take them to coffee and ask them a prepared set of questions about their real estate, lifestyle preferences. Ask friends of friends who you think are in your target audience for a sit-down and ask them those questions, too.
  • What questions does your target audience have about real estate? The best content is that which answers your potential clients’ questions before they ask. Have fellow agents or team members throw out questions their clients and potential clients have. You can then design a mix of evergreen content (like buyer and seller guides) with topical blog posts they care about (like a list of up-and-coming neighborhoods or the best deals on the market right now).
  • What client lifecycle stage are they in? Are you trying to fill top of your sales funnel or going after those closer to a transaction?
  • Create a draft buyer persona, as cheesy as that may sound. Get specific. For example:
    • She is a young married relatively affluent woman looking to begin raising a family in a vibrant, safe neighborhood with good schools.
    • He is an older, married man, reads The New York Times religiously, and is considering downsizing to a smaller home or a condo.
  • Develop a more precise buyer persona, if you really want to drill down. Take your research and create a fleshed out buyer persona complete with:
    • Background, job, family makeup
    • Demographic info, household income, location
    • Communication preferences
    • Real estate goals
    • Real estate challenges
    • How you can help
    • Quotes from real clients and potential clients pulled from research
    • How to win her over, messaging that may resonate, key message

Developing a 360-degree view of your audience in this way has multiplying effects on your content's effectiveness: you'll choose more relevant topics and execute them in more compelling ways.

Image credit: PBS NewsHour