Have you ever had a business secret so valuable you wanted to clutch it closely to your chest and not let it see daylight?

A HageyMedia real estate agent client has one of these. On a post that went live this week, he earned 472 listing leads in 24 hours with a Facebook boost spend of just $206. This is “better than any other campaign I’ve run,” he said. A content newbie, he’s grown his database by 25 percent to approximately 2,500 in three days. This is his first content play (he requested anonymity to protect his newfound strategy, despite my imploring and the fact that savvy strategy is no secret — barriers often aren’t ideas, but execution).

He’s hooked on content now.

He started with a problem many agents face nowadays: as the digital age matures and basic digital marketing becomes easy and prevalent, how do you stand out? Just take one look at the options to check your home’s value in your market — you’ll drown in agent lead-gen sites.

 Don Don’t let your marketing drown.

The way out is content. Putting brains to need and actually providing service-related value to your target audience (homeowners looking, thinking or even years away from buying or selling in many cases).

Lifecycle Marketing

Here’s how my client did it. As an agent with years of local experience under his belt, he knew his audience and the patterns of local homeownership. This is where the savvy comes in. He racked his brain — he came up with an answer, something I, and many others, call lifecycle marketing.

As we all know, real estate is a unique beast: the business centers on infrequent, high-value transactions. This is where lifecycle marketing shines. Each geography and audience will have its own particular homebuyer and seller timeline, but given the long timelines involved in real estate, they typically track with the live stages of a typical human.

Life stages of the typical real estate consumer:

  • Young professional, likely renting, but, depending on job, may own a small home or condo. This person is often single, enjoys bars and restaurants and close proximity to exciting areas of town. SAVVY CONTENT IDEA: Do a post on the five up-and-coming hipster neighborhoods in your market.
  • Maturing relationship, our consumer meets someone and they get serious. Housing needs and wants evolve. Proximity to job becomes more important, but with access to restaurants and possibly parks as the couple starts thinking about beginning a family. (There are plenty of maturing single buyers in this stage, too. As in all cases, know your market and audience). SAVVY CONTENT IDEA: Think of fun, genuinely cool things to do four or five neighborhoods you serve. Every local knows the perfect lunch spot, the best hike and brunch. Leverage that knowledge into a blog post.
  • Young family: things are changing, and fast. The kids are young, the commute is good, but now the looming real estate giant emerges: good schools. As we know, parents are rightly obsessed with finding the best school for their children, but they must all think about commuting. SAVVY CONTENT IDEA: If the schools in your market aren’t great, for example, research nearby towns with sane commutes and good schools, and create a blog post outlining the top five standouts.
  • Growing family: Two words: bigger house. Depending on your target audience, the local job market and the relative appeal of area neighborhoods or towns, you’ll know whether the growing families in your market (or, importantly, those potentially looking at YOUR market) are looking to move up in the hills, into a golf community or some place with land. SAVVY CONTENT IDEA: Highlight the lifestyle features of neighborhoods and communities with larger homes that will appeal to your target client. Build a top five post.
  • Empty nesters: These homeowners are ripe for selling. The kids have flown the coop and they’re left with more than what they need. This is a big change and not easy. SAVVY CONTENT IDEA: Ideally, you could profile a past client who downsized and loved it, allowing them to put the great experience in their own words — how they came to terms with it, what they like about living smaller and more nimbly. If this isn’t available, do profile five areas within one hour that offer high quality of life, and feature homes with less square footage.

This real estate lifecycle obviously varies market to market and person to person; this just provides an example of the power of merging content with the nuances of your market and audience. The same thinking applies to brokerages and early stages startups — think clearly about the lifecycle of your target market. We can come up with hundreds of engaging, useful, on-brand content ideas that will grow audience

You know your audience, what buyers and sellers are looking for —  the triggers that make them move to, from or within your market. Those triggers are your content goldmine.

Not just content

Content without process is dead.

It also requires commitment to stand among the living. This goes without saying, but these ideas only work when the content actually provides value: is well-researched and well-written, with engaging imagery and calls to action.

But quality is just the beginning. For content to get the results my client saw, a smart, seamless digital marketing system must be in place, or effort and all the savviness in the world will fall silent in the forest.

A smart content system involves marketing content properly and efficiently on Facebook, gating the content effectively (forcing a Facebook registration to access content is gold, as email addresses and phone numbers tied with Facebook accounts are predominantly accurate).

And then, to convert (which is what this is all about), you must have an effective follow-up system in place with technology that alerts you when your database contact is making the digital moves that suggests he or she is ready to transact.