Melanie Piche’s Toronto real estate team, The BREL Team, did $85 million and 251 deals in 2016. The 12-person team she runs with her husband doesn’t send post cards, cold call or door knock.
Instead its business centers on its blog full of rich content, a unique voice and value. Without advertising, the blog draws in between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors each day and, as Piche told me, gets leads to like and trust the brand, so when they reach out conversion rates are sky high.
The five-year-old blog does two things all marketers love: lowers customer acquisition costs and ups conversion rates considerably. The blog accounts for 80 percent of the team’s business and drives 90 percent of its leads.
The BREL Team’s smart, irreverent content engages its audience and anchors its business. See one of its most popular posts "The Market is Smarter than You."
In the past five years, Piche’s blog-anchored business has grown from 29 transaction sides in 2012 to 251 and $85 million in sales in 2016. That kind of growth should make your head spin.
The blog pulls in between to 10 leads each day with a conversion rate hovering between 7 and 10 percent. Piche defines a conversion as someone the team makes an appointment with.
In 2016, the site pulled in over 630,000 visitors, over 450,000 of those from Google, where The BREL Team does not advertise. No matter how you spell it, that reads “quality content.”
Why a blog?
In 2011, three years into their real estate business, Piche and her husband were at Inman Connect New York City when the light flipped on. It was her husband’s birthday and they had planned to stay the weekend after the event and enjoy the city.
Instead, the content marketing insight they gleaned at the conference lighted a fire in them, and they spent three days in the hotel room, eating room service and mapping out their content-based real estate future.
The result: explosive annual transaction unit growth.
2012: 29 units.
2013: 49 units.
2014: 118 units.
2015: 172 units.
2016: 251 units.
The team publishes three posts of at least 800 words each week: two original posts and one “listing of the week.” Piche writes all the content.
Like any good operator, she batches her blog work. When I talked with her in late January, she had blogs loaded and ready to go through February. Can we exhale and collectively give that a “Wow!”
Mechanics of content marketing success
Content is so much more than content. The BREL Team’s strategy reflects a system built to get results.
Any smart content strategy starts with two core elements: brand and audience. If you don’t understand these, your content efforts will be inefficient and eventually fall off a cliff.
The BREL Team has a very clear idea of who it's trying to reach. Piche defines the team's primary audience as “accessible ballers” -- successful, non-douchy professionals who are repelled by typical real estate agents. Her description of that audience should also give you a window into the team’s brand.
You’ve got to know where you’re coming from before you know where you’re going. That’s what brand is, and it took BREL years to find its authentic voice epitomized by the short phrase: “No B.S., no fridge magnets.”
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In addition to a four-part email distribution strategy to get its content out to its 3,000-person database, the team boosts every post on Facebook, which comes to between $2,000 and $3,000 per month. Let that sink in for a sec.
The team turns its best-performing pieces of content into evergreen resources that become guides and static pages on its website. For example, see The BREL Guide to Selling.
The team has also built the framework to capitalize on the warm leads its content delivers -- a critical and often-overlooked component of content marketing strategies.
Piche serves as her team’s inside sales agent and responds to all leads within five minutes. She transfers those leads to one of her agents, who have a three hour window in which to get back to them. Leads receive un-canned email. The team follows up with each lead six times within the first two weeks. That’s how you convert.
Smart content’s multivariate value
Content not only drives leads, conversions and business, but does something perhaps far more powerful: it makes you a thought-leader and opens interesting, previously unseen doors.
For example, Piche's Nov. 4, 2016, blog post about a news expose on rigged bidding wars in Toronto caught the attention of multiple publications, who ran it in their real estate sections. The premier of the province saw the piece and is now a regular reader of the blog. What’s more, when we talked in late January, Piche was scheduled to meet the head of the Ontario Real Estate Association for drinks the next week to discuss ways the real estate industry could improve.