My house has been on the market for four months. In this time, not one person has come to view it, not even when it was on show. Not even a nosy neighbour. It's almost as bad as if no one comes to your birthday party.
But in the past week or so, the real estate tables have turned in my favour. Out of the blue, three different estate agents have contacted me, chomping at the bit to sell my house.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing – because I really want to sell it – what I wanted to know was how these agents got my contact details.
One of them shamelessly lied; the others admitted to getting my phone number (and email address and home address) from the deeds office, a practice that is frowned upon in the industry but is not illegal.
Hold the phone
When the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act comes into effect, it will be unlawful for any party to disclose personal details of their customers to another party without their permission. Marketers will not be able to contact consumers who have opted out of such communication, which I definitely plan to do because I can’t listen to another cellphone contract pitch in my lifetime.
Essentially, unsolicited communication is going to become illegal and brands will have to work a lot harder to stand out among the endless stream of content competing for my limited attention.
The problem, however, is that most brands go about this in the wrong way. They think I care that they’ve been around for decades and that they’ve won 50 awards.
In the past, companies could rely on their reputation and the size of their brand to attract new customers. But the reality today is that the start-up company has as much of a chance of winning my business as the established enterprise does.
Do you even know me?
The deciding factor will be the realtor who understands that I don’t care that they’re area experts, that they have an existing pool of buyers, or that they have a strong track record. In this industry, who doesn’t have all these things?
I’m going to sign a mandate with the realtor who understands that I care about whether I can afford my dream home. That I care about how I can make my current home more appealing to potential buyers. That I care about understanding the process of buying and selling a home because I’ve never done this before.
But it’s more than that. It’s about reaching me in that exact moment that I’m thinking about all of this – in an authentic, unobtrusive way – and giving me this advice for free, no strings attached.
It’s about understanding that I worry most about these things in the evenings, when I’m sitting on my couch with my phone in my hand, browsing social media and researching these exact topics. Not during the day when I’m at work, on my laptop, and don’t have time to think about my house that’s been on the market for four months.
The brand that reaches me at exactly the right moment with authentic, useful content, that helps me understand the complexities of real estate, is the one that’s going to convince me to pick up the phone and beg them to sell my house.
It’s about meeting me where I’m at, both in terms of the platform I’m using at any given time and in terms of my current circumstances. And once you’ve made that connection with me, it’s about forming a relationship with me; it’s about walking me through this process I know nothing about.
Build it and they will come
It sounds like a lot of work on the brand’s part, and it is, but at the end of the day, when a friend asks for recommendations for real estate agents, I’m going to send them your details. I’m going to praise the service and advice I received. I’m going to tell stories about the agent who was comfortable enough to swear in my house (because authenticity), who kept my expectations in check, and who delivered on their promises made to me, not the promises they make to millions of people through standard marketing speak.
And my friend will trust me. Because she also doesn’t care about your awards or how many years you’ve been in business. She cares about the relationship you’re now going to form with her, about the emotional connection you’re going to make with her in exactly the right moment.
Every piece of content that a brand produces should be crafted with this moment in mind. Every tweet, every blog, every opinion piece should ask ‘why should my customer care?’
Does your content strategy do this?
Originally published on Bizcommunity and Media Update.