Dustin Oldfather, who runs the 21-agent coastal Delaware-based real estate team The Oldfather Group with his wife Mariya, is a thorough content marketing disciple.
Oldfather spends over $100,000 each year directly on producing and distributing content as part of his content strategy, which includes salaries of a full-time writer and photographer. (I profiled how his remarkable strategy catapulted his team to record sales in 2015 on real estate marketing and tech firm Curaytor's blog earlier this year).
His team's blog anchors its content marketing plan, where Dustin and Mariya share a byline on each post.
Oldfather answered some questions about his content strategy as part of HageyMedia's ongoing "What is content marketing" Q&A series. See previous profiles: Seattle broker Sam DeBord; New Jersey broker Joe Rand; Seattle agent team leader Kim Colaprete.
Oldfather has a simple vision for his immense content bet: provide value, generate trust, win business. The exercise, frustratingly, is a bit of a black box -- ask any content marketer.
As bad as you want a quantitative ROI for all that goes into an effective content plan -- to the moon and back, trust me -- a black-and-white output is eternally elusive, or requires so much measurement and analysis to defeat the purpose.
Oldfather has a straightforward measurement for his monumental investment: beyond clicks and engagement, which the firm does monitor, he asks "are we providing value?" A big part of the answer is anecdotal.
"You wouldn't leave a cocktail party and write down every one you spoke with and how each conversation went and rate the food and whether they had the air conditioning too high or too low," Oldfather said.
Oldfather answered questions (in bold) about his content marketing strategy.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing involves creating useful content for your target audience and then connecting and building a relationship with it through online platforms.
What content do you frequently produce? (i.e. blog posts, podcasts, videos)
We have a dedicated blog strategy including: our weekender blog, which highlights area weekend events and local points of interest; agent and client personal interest stories; and properties.
Who’s your audience?
Our audience are residents in our primary buyer and seller markets Coastal Delaware and Maryland and our primary feeder markets, which we geo-target content toward: Wilmington, Delaware; Southern Pennsylvania; New Jersey; Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and Virginia.
What are your goals? Why do you do it?
Our goal with content marketing is to build relationships with online consumers by offering information we think is insightful and valuable. So much marketing is about "capture" and taking -- content marketing allows you to give to the consumer first. It not only engenders goodwill, it’s just an enjoyable way to market -- sharing what you love and enjoy with others that may not know about it.
Instead of telling per se, it’s really more like sharing. So, we highlight events, people, places and things that our audience may not know about: where to get the best cheesesteak, James Beard Award up-and-comers (the James Beard Award Foundation recognizes the country's best restaurants), best time to visit local lavender fields or get locally-made ice cream. It’s super fun to find things worth sharing and paying it forward.
How do you measure content marketing success?
Part of how we measure content marketing is anecdotal and part is mild metrics. You wouldn't leave a cocktail party and write down every one you spoke with and how each conversation went and rate the food and whether they had the air conditioning too high or too low.
You would leave and have a feeling about whether you had a good time or not and that you had some nice conversations. Was there a couple having a heated argument? Were some people having an interesting conversation about a local event?
You are looking for engagement and noting which stories get engagement, shares and people talking. It’s much like hosting a party -- you want to make people feel comfortable, to enjoy themselves and keep the conversation going where you are.
"It’s much like hosting a party -- you want to make people feel comfortable, to enjoy themselves and keep the conversation going where you are," Dustin Oldfather of successful content marketing.
We keep track of how many people like our Facebook page, which has almost doubled over the past year, but really we are looking for steady audience growth by providing value.
You do look at clicks and engagement, but our philosophy has been to just provide value. If we give to our audience in a spirit of gratitude and sharing, we'll always attract people who like our style. Of course, we could become granular technicians and squeeze out a few more likes and views, but why not let the network find your best and move it forward? Since we started this commitment, our audience has continued to grow.
What’s content marketing done for you and/or your business?
Content marketing has been a key in helping us find new clients, agents and key personnel. Sharing your message and giving has been an integral part of our plan and has a great deal to do with our sales success.
What’s been your best performing piece of content?
Performing to me means that people are excited and engaged, appreciative of the content and thinking about us in a positive way.
One of The Oldfather Group's recent best-performing pieces of content: a top-10 ranking of Delaware towns.