Authenticity + quality content = a thriving Living Room Realty brand

Authenticity + quality content = a thriving Living Room Realty brand

With scant money, two babies and a new brokerage in 2008, Jenelle Isaacson stared necessity in the face. It stared back and presented her the content strategy that would catapult Portland, Oregon-based Living Room Realty into a thriving company.

“I required every single agent that joined to write about the people they helped,” Isaacson said. Ignore the quality of the house, it’s the people that matter, she told them. She directed those agents to then share the blog post with their clients on Facebook, which, she hoped, they would share with the people they know.

That’s how she leveraged the hustle inherent in content marketing to build a sharp, authentic brand and company that nine years later has 108 agents, 15 full-time staff and did $443 million in sales in 2016, 24 percent more than it did in 2015.

How real estate team leader Melanie Piche’s smart content strategy grew her business 10X

How real estate team leader Melanie Piche’s smart content strategy grew her business 10X

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.

Zillow Group, content marketing and syndication

Zillow Group, content marketing and syndication

Amy Bohutinsky is the 10th the most powerful person in real estate. Zillow Group's former chief marketing officer and now its chief operating officer, her vision and execution helped catapult the Seattle-based giant to tremendous growth and an anticipated $1 billion in revenue in 2017.

She built Zillow's brand from the ground up. The term "Zillow" is now synonymous with "real estate" in many consumers' eyes thanks to her (just ask Google). When she joined Zillow pre-launch in 2005, its visionary co-founder and then-CEO Rich Barton tasked her with growing monthly traffic to 1 million by month six after launch without spending any money (on advertising).

She achieved a million visitors in the first three days and brought in 5 million visitors in the first month. A former broadcast journalist, she knew what to do when presented with a great product and an engaging unique value proposition (read "Zestimates"): turn to content marketing. She started a newsroom within Zillow and it began cranking out daily content.

Excellence doesn't happen by accident

Excellence doesn't happen by accident

We all witnessed Tom Brady's excellence on Sunday -- calm, poised and infectiously passionate. Did you doubt the Patriots would score a touchdown and end the game when the team won the overtime coin toss? (Poor Falcons).

A roll-out-of-the-bed style did not breed that mindset, and comeback and brilliance -- that's obvious. But what may not be so obvious is the intense work and commitment that enables Brady to sling magic on perhaps the world's biggest stage at age 39. It's easy to think of him as "other" -- a golden god with a supermodel wife and perfect life destined for greatness. Not it at all.

He was drafted 199th overall, in the sixth round, by the New England Patriots in 2000. Years of steadfast commitment, and a great franchise, gave Brady the opportunity to do what he did on Sunday. Oh, and he goes to bed every night at 8:30 p.m.

 Zillow Group, ‘COPE’-ing + content marketing brilliance

Zillow Group, ‘COPE’-ing + content marketing brilliance

“Great stories live forever.”

Zillow Group’s director of content marketing Stephanie Reid-Simmons described the core ethos of her firm's significant content marketing play this way. While self-evident, it’s also critical for successful content marketers to know in their DNA -- it’s an understanding that drives Zillow Group's powerful, successful content, especially since emotion is a fundamental tenant of its brand.

Zillow Group has captured some powerful stories, for both its consumer audience and its agent audience, the latter as the revenue engine that powers the big ship. See the firm's Zillow TV YouTube channel, which features high-production mini-documentaries of people and homes in themed shows such as “Sanctuary” and “Home Makers.”

The tyranny of trust

The tyranny of trust

As the nation hangs its head and philosophically (uncomfortably) stares at its navel and ponders whether there's really a there out there, trust crumbles all around us.

With alternative facts, fake news and partisan minds dominating the media landscape, where does that leave connection, faith, community? Besides indoors, those vital components of society stick even tighter to authenticity, passion and sense.

It also makes quality hyperlocal, community content (whether local applies to a niche audience or a geography) more relevant and engaging than ever. But we all know that isn't easy.

ICNY Wrap

ICNY Wrap

NEW YORK CITY -- Another Connect down. Brad and the Inman team keep executing, and expanding, the conference into a must-attend event in residential real estate. By all accounts, Hacker Connect -- the technologist-focused event, which debuted on Monday -- was a success, but left many exhausted who faced a week straight of the endless connecting that Connect stimulates. 

This was the first Connect I felt more pulled to the lobby and the demo floor than the sessions -- hope to avoid that consultant black hole in the future. 

Other than many real estate questions I pondered this week, a modern art one (from a visit to the Met) popped up -- what makes a Jackson Pollock so interesting to look at, leaves the brain tickled?

Machine learning + the great CRM integration

Machine learning + the great CRM integration

NEW YORK CITY -- Customer relationship management platforms are amazingly powerful and increasingly central to everything real estate agents do. That's why there's a glut of them in the market -- Contactually, Follow Up Boss, Top Producer, Chime, Firepoint, Wise Agent, BoomTown, Commissions Inc. (CINC), Kunversion.

I wrote about BoomTown, CINC, Chime and Firepoint five months ago during Inman Connect San Francisco as representatives of the burgeoning IDX website-CRM-marketing integration real estate software space. It's huge -- merging user-behavior information with a CRM that spotlights leads likely to transaction based off this data makes agents more focused and efficient.

Many of these CRMs are building in the ability to track where leads come from, conversion rates for specific lead sources and potential ROI for each channel spend. That's a huge promise but still appears to be mostly smoke, as firms have yet to really deliver on that promise. (If you're one of these companies, reach out, I'd love to dive in and profile you).