Focus Discussion of the Week:
You’ve heard the saying – content is king. But what exactly is content? We’ve heard plenty of definitions but to clear the air, Thaïs Cuffy, Group Two’s newest Content Strategist, joins the show to discuss why strong and clear content can lead your newest customers to a journey of self-education and alleviate their fears and mistrust.
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Two thought leaders come together to explore all things sales and marketing from their unique perspectives. Each week, Mollie Elkman, Matt Riley, and others from Group Two dive into a focus discussion to talk about the latest trends, changes, and best practices.
[00:00:00] Thaïs: Content marketing really starts with knowing your audience. So knowing your customers inside and out, knowing what they, what they’re interested in, what their pain points are, where they get stuck in the process where they get frustrated. And you want to think about what would make them. More informed what type of content would solve their problem?
How can you as a builder or as an organization, be a resource and an authority without selling. So how do you serve your audience without necessarily. You know, selling them and that’s really what content is. Content marketing can lead to greater, web traffic, a boost in your SEO strategy. it can position you very well as an authority in your industry, among your peers.
and it [00:01:00] just makes people want to do business with you because you’re regarded as such an expert in your field.
Hi, and welcome to building perspective with Matt Riley and Mollie Elkman.
Mollie: We’re here to bring value to you and your team by exploring all things, sales and marketing related all from different perspectives. Welcome back to another episode of. Building perspective. I am so happy to be here with my friend Thomas kufi, who is the newest addition to the group to
So welcome. Thank you so much. I’m happy to be here. You’re going
Mollie: to be taking over this podcast soon, I
Thaïs: think. Oh boy.
Mollie: today we’re talking about. Content strategy and you are the expert when it comes to content strategy. So I’m super excited to talk about this and why it’s important right now, but before we even get into that, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you and
Thaïs: your background? So hello listeners? I am, Thaïs Cuffy.
I have been in. Real estate, sales and marketing for. I think 14 years now. I got my start back in Atlanta with a company called the marketing directors. We were a, a sales and marketing full service brokerage firm, for condo developers in Atlanta. and at the time Atlanta was and still is a huge market for of development.
and I was a. Director of marketing for a portfolio of condo projects in the Southeast. and that’s how I got [00:03:00] my start in the industry. So I’ve been in and around new home marketing for a long time.
Mollie: I think the first time we actually met. You were doing a webinar and I might’ve been the guest, so we have like a little reversal here.
Thaïs: Yeah. So that would have been with lasso and that’s, I went to two, I was with lasso for goodness, six years or so. and that’s really sort of where I got my start specializing in content strategy, working with Angela over at lasso. So those were a great six years. And of
Mollie: course we have to give Angela shout out because she is the one who connected us.
Thaïs: Angela is great. One of my favorite people of all time, same.
Mollie: So we talked a little bit about just like how you got into housing. Now let’s jump into some content strategy. So. People throw this around a lot like, Oh, content content, content is King. And [00:04:00] what’s funny as people define content in such different ways.
So for our purposes today, what do we mean when we’re talking about content
Thaïs: strategy? So content and marketing really starts with knowing your audience. So knowing your customers. Inside and out, knowing what they, what they’re interested in, what their pain points are, where they get stuck in the process where they get frustrated.
And you want to think about what would make them. More informed what type of content would solve their problem? How can you as a builder or as an organization, be a resource and an authority without selling. So how do you serve your audience without necessarily. You know, selling them and that’s really what content is.
Content marketing can lead to greater, [00:05:00] web traffic and boost in your SEO strategy. it can position you very well as an authority in your industry, among your peers. and it just makes people want to do business with you because you’re regarded as such an expert in your field. So that is in a very small nutshell, what content marketing is.
I love how you
Mollie: explained that. So, you know, I always think content is important. Obviously it’s a big part of marketing, but I think right now it’s probably more important than ever. And you touched on a couple of reasons. Why that’s the case? One being, just keeping people informed. I mean, right now we have seen that, you know, with delays or, you know, Being behind or whatever reason we have builders who are having a hard time keeping their current customers engaged.
And it sounds like content is a really great way to do that and to keep them excited about the process while you’re building [00:06:00] and keeping them informed about potential what’s going on in housing in general.
Thaïs: Yeah. So content really puts the customer first. So content is really not about, you know, you, the organization it’s really about what your customer, what your audience needs at that time.
So right now, you know, if people, if your customers are sort of getting lost in the process or they’re getting frustrated because they can’t start with you start, start their home right away, or they just don’t understand why things are taking so long. You know, every builder I think has an opportunity to.
Act as its own publisher. And to just put out, you know, truthful content that solves a problem and tells their own story in a way that benefits the customer. So always with content marketing customer is always, always first that’s the hero of the story. that’s who you are writing, producing, filming, recording for is always the customer.
[00:07:00] Mollie: that can be really hard when the message, isn’t always a positive message. So for example, right now there’s so much about lumber pricing. Of course, this is, you know, making the price of homes go up. There can be a fine line, right? A builder doesn’t want to come across as negative, but they also do want to inform the customer.
They know the customer is getting information from other places. So. Ho, how do you balance that?
Thaïs: Some people we’ll refer to a content marketer as sort of a, a brand journalist. So this is someone who’s going to approach these topics objectively and, you know, tell the truth about whatever is going on. instead of your customers hearing about, you know, scary stories about lumber prices from X, Y, and Z.
Why not, you know, let them hear about it from you. you know, in a way that, helps them become [00:08:00] more informed and just understand what’s going on so that they aren’t nervous and they’re not, you know, scared or they’re not, upset with the process.
Mollie: Yeah. I think one of the things that builders do is they tend to, I like what you said about being a brand journalist, because they tend to apologize for things that aren’t their fault.
So we’re so sorry. you know, because lumber pricing is going up, we need to do X, Y, Z rather than approaching it from an. Information standpoint.
Thaïs: Does that make sense? Yeah, exactly. And that’s the whole gist of it. you know, if you lay it all out there instead of, sort of a conversation that’s tense or, that could go any kind of way with your customers, it’s more of a, just a conversation about this is what it is.
This is what’s going to happen. This is what, how we can help you. And this is what we can do for you, but it’s just more of a two way. Conversation where the customer at least feels that they’re on [00:09:00] equal footing and can talk intelligently about what’s going on with you.
Mollie: I love that. I love that whole direction just because we tend to think of everything we put out as this like sales and marketing voice.
And it is okay to have an, a voice of informing. And I think that that really helps build trust and really sh you know, strengthens the relationship at every stage of the process.
Thaïs: Yeah. In fact, And I don’t know if we can say Zillow, if not, we can edit it out. we can, we love Zillow. Okay. So Zillow just came out with their latest, consumer trends report.
And one of the pain points of, home buyers right in the last year was being able to feel like they can trust the, the builder trust, who they were building a home with. And that’s so important because. It’s someone’s home. We all know what the, what the word [00:10:00] home means in the English language. and I think builders needs to do everything that they can right now to.
Build that trust, establish that credibility and view themselves as a partner, with their customers. So, and you can accomplish a lot of that through content, as long as you know, what your customers are going through, why they’re feeling, they can’t fully trust you. and getting that information out of them so that you can put information out that will alleviate their fears or mistrust or whatever else it is.
Mollie: I love that there, you know, here in Philadelphia, there have been a few small builders, just infill builders who have put up some, some homes that have left a lot to be desired and had some real issues. And there is nothing in the world that makes me more mad than a builder who does that because it really hurts the entire industry.
It [00:11:00] hurts everyone when. The buyer has a negative experience with new construction and they are not the majority of builders, they’re the minority, but that’s the one that gets a story. So that drives me
Thaïs: crazy. Yeah. I mean, you bring up a good point, you know, if, if it sort of elevates the whole industry, right?
So if you have a few builders that are doing just a phenomenal job at, informing the consumer and building that trust, it really only. hopefully can influence others to do the same, and just sort of elevate the whole industry and make it a much more positive experience in the eyes of, of, of home buyers in general.
Mollie: So where should builders start? Like how do you even start this? I think some builders think they’re doing it, but they’re probably only doing a tiny bit, like how do they get going?
Thaïs: So the first step is just to, to know your customer, and to develop, excuse me, buyer [00:12:00] personas, some of this information can be taken, you know, as you go through the qualifying process and the sales process, you could get some of the information, but also just interviewing.
I mean, we do video testimonials, but even testimonials are really only a small part of understanding. The motivator, the motivating factors that led someone to make a decision, in, in video testimonials, often people are talking about what was great about the builder or what was great about the process, but they don’t really get to that second and third level of, okay, what was going on in their lives that led them to need a home, wants a home and to contact that, that builder.
And that’s the type of information you want to. When I say, know your audience, that’s the type of information that you want to, to, to get from them. You know, what did they like to do on the weekends? Where do they work? You know, what, when did they retire? You know, or why did they retire or, [00:13:00] you know, do they have grandkids that they are trying to be closer to?
All these things can go into creating a buyer persona. And once you really know your customer, then you can start and their pain points, then you can start developing content that provides. solutions.
Mollie: Yeah. So I am sure our listeners will agree that most builders and most sales and marketing people would say, well, we’ll build for anyone.
And they start with, we have something for everyone. And that, what would you say to that?
Thaïs: Well, but there could be something about what you build and where you build that is. You know, striking a nerve with people in a good way. That’s really making them stop and take notice and say, that’s the builder for me.
That’s the community for me? Why are they saying that? You know, what’s the specific reason, what. You know, what was going on in their previous, you know, the, where they lived before that wasn’t [00:14:00] working for them. What is it about your community that that’s attracting them? so it never hurts and you can have several buyer personas and it’s never going to be just one.
I mean, the more, the better to be honest.
Mollie: I think that’s the key right there. So instead of creating content that you think works for a broad audience of, we built for everyone, it’s knowing all those different buyer personas and creating very specific content to all of them.
Thaïs: Yeah, exactly. I think I forget who says it, but there is an author who writes about marketing that says we don’t want to build an audience of a million.
We want to build a million audiences of one.
Mollie: I love that. That was one of the reasons I love social media marketing. When we first started doing social media, because you could get so specific. Civic that you could actually target the advertising down to one person. And to me that just was so eyeopening and so exciting.
And it’s exactly what you’re saying when it comes to content [00:15:00] strategy.
Thaïs: Yeah. Because I mean that one person will become almost, I mean, they’ll become a brand ambassador for your organization too, so, and there’s nothing, there’s no marketing, like, like word of mouth. So I think we all probably can agree on that one.
Mollie: So when we say content strategy, can you give me some examples? Like obviously we know blogs, like, what else is it? What would you include in this overarching umbrella of content?
Thaïs: So with content you want to first start with, so what idea, what is your. Focus, what are you trying to get across? and once you have sort of the concept of, of the information that you’re trying to get across, then you want to think about the best way to present it.
So a lot of times that takes the shape of a blog post that can also be a video that could be some type of guide that could be a social media campaign or a social media post. that could be a podcast. And even with the podcast, it could just, [00:16:00] it could just be a series of audio recordings to explain a concept.
it doesn’t have to be like an ongoing podcast. but. You know that this is also why you have to take into account knowing your audience, because you also have to meet them where they are. you know, if you ha, if your audience is commuting, when we start commuting again, and they’re in the car a lot, you know, is a blog posts really gonna serve them.
You know, these are just things to, or if you have an audience who loves to read and, you know, you just have to think about all these different, Factors that goes into creating content. So content can really be, it can be an event. I mean, it could be really, it could take so many different different forms.
Mollie: So I want to know where our audience is right now. So wherever you are right now, take note. And I want to know, because I have a handful of, you know, builders who listen, who they’ll send like a picture, of them listening in the [00:17:00] car. They’ll have it on there. Dashboard. Like you can see the podcast up.
I know a lot of people listen on their commute. I’m sure people are exercising or listening in the background while they work. So just take note of what you’re doing right now. And I am going to ask you in the Facebook group,
Thaïs: here we go. I’m a treadmill podcast listener. That’s like the time. That’s what I do on the treadmill.
Mollie: I’m not
Thaïs: the treadmill long enough. I want to talk about like a 20 minute podcasts though. Like. That’s about as much as I can do on the treadmill these days. So
Mollie: what about, let’s talk about results because you know, we’re always measuring and analyzing, of course, everything is based on data. You don’t want to just, you know, this takes a lot of time, like we’re not just talking to hear ourselves talk, so we want to make sure that we’re bringing value, that it’s working for our audience and also working for us.
So how do builders measure the results of their content? [00:18:00]
Thaïs: well, analytics is a good place to start. Google analytics, your Facebook analytics, you know, all these normal ways of measuring online engagement with any campaign can be used to measure content marketing too. So you want to pay attention to, you know, what people are clicking on, how much time they’re spending on a particular piece of content.
How they’re getting to your site to a particular piece of content. If it’s on social, you know, what are they engaging with? and you, you know, what questions are they asking? you know, if it’s offline, people may be emailing you questions that they saw or read in some article. but just. Making sure that you’re checking your analytics and that you’re looking to see what is resonating with people because not only will, you know, that that piece of content was successful, but that gives you spin off ideas for, if you know that this topic is what resonates you can, you can then [00:19:00] spin off on three or four other different ideas within that topic that people would find useful.
So analytics is always where I start. That
Mollie: makes sense. So I know there are, are a lot of people who are on social media, who are engaging personally from their accounts. I’m curious what your perspective is on people engaging. Or sharing content from the builder’s account across their personal social media accounts.
A lot of our listeners are in sales. I tend to see a lot of salespeople who kind of separate their company from their personal stuff. And then I also see the opposite where it’s, you know, they are the face of the builder and they want to really elevate the builder and also have their name associated.
So they’re sharing a ton of content. Which strategy do you think is.
Thaïs: Oh, it can only be helpful for you to share the content. if it’s being published on your builder’s website, it’s, [00:20:00] it’s like, it’s like a goldmine of resources for you to use. you know, I encourage builders to do a content audit so that they know what has been published on what topic and sort of.
Create these little content hubs around that are topic specific and make sure that salespeople know that they can access, you know, these five blog posts on this particular topic. When they get a question that’s only going to make them seem more credible in the eyes of their customers. If they have these resources they can pull from, because that means that their builder has, is already a step ahead in trying to solve their customer’s problems.
So definitely use share, you know, in your emails, make sure you link to your content to the builder’s content. definitely I would say share it, whether it’s from the builder page or straight from the direct link from the website, There, I don’t think [00:21:00] there’s any wrong way to share it as long as you’re, again, it just, it just, it makes customers know that they’re being considered and they’re not just being sold to,
Mollie: yeah, this can be like a really tough subject because of course, if you’re going to be speaking on behalf of the company, you need to make sure that your social media is reflective of a professional, you know, Point of view, but you also, if you don’t interact with your company and you’re in sales, it really does give the impression that you don’t believe in the product you don’t believe in the company.
So I really think that the people who were most successful in sales and marketing are. Brand advocates and believe in the brand and believe in the company. And if there’s, if the company is putting content out there that you don’t want to share giving feedback on saying, you know, why you think this misses the Mark, really taking an active role in it.
I know [00:22:00] for. as an employer, when I see someone at group two sharing, you know, some of the things that we have going on, it makes me so happy. So if I could give one piece of professional advice to sales people and marketing people, it’s to think about that because you definitely are. if you put this like line between yourself and your work, you, you could be holding yourself back professionally.
Thaïs: Well, this also shows the importance of sales and marketing, communicating because marketing cannot work in a silo. You know, marketing has the, the talent and the resources to be able to execute a content marketing strategy. But without that input from the frontline salespeople marketing won’t know what.
To write about what the pain points are, what people need help with figuring out. [00:23:00] So it’s incredibly important for frontline salespeople to give feedback to the marketing department constantly, especially as our market continues to shift and change, and every week, every month, it’s something new. just making sure that line of communication is open and healthy.
We’ll only. Help the marketing team create the content that you want to share and that your customers need to see.
Mollie: Yeah, I think all consumers want to be educated consumers. And on the sales and marketing side, it can feel like a lot of time to put new content out there and to do it consistently.
Sometimes we overthink it and put up our own roadblocks rather than just putting information out there to help our customers. But when we think about that, They really are absorbing the content. Like people want information. So like, you may think, Oh, nobody’s going to read this [00:24:00] or nobody’s going to watch this.
And the truth is people are going to read it. They are going to watch it. And that’s a good thing. It doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect. It has to be helpful and supportive and, you know, address everything that you’re saying. So, yeah, that’s, that’s my big thing is I, when someone says, Oh, nobody’s gonna read this.
Yeah, they’re going to read it, especially if you build for active adults, they’ll
Thaïs: read it twice. If you know who you’re writing to, if you know who you’re speaking to in your content. And if you’ve already identified that what you’re writing about is something that they need help figuring out they’re going to read it.
And to your point about, content taking a lot of time, it does content. Good content takes time, but there’s all kinds of ways to repurpose content. you know, that’s what I was saying. Look back through your analytics. Look for what’s already resonating and chances are your audience is gonna want more of that.
You know, if you’ve, if someone [00:25:00] has created a great video, You know, you can, you can repurpose bits and pieces of that video on your website and put it in a blog format. Or if you have a long blog about something, consider, you know, creating some type of graphic, an infographic or something that like shows your process in a consolidated quick way or your company history or something like that.
So there’s all kinds of ways to repurpose, content in ways that are meaningful for your audience. So how, how do we know how much is too much? Huh? I personally think that you can’t have too much content as long as it’s serving its purpose. If you are producing fluff content that has not been fully vetted, to serve a purpose, then you could have too much of that.
but if your content is on target, then. I don’t believe you can have too much, but on the flip side, [00:26:00] you don’t want to get buried in content. You want to, you want to create content at a pace that is doable for it to be quality. If that makes sense, and that’s going to vary, you know, builder to builder department to department, it really is going to vary, but as long as you’re putting out quality content that serves a purpose, then I’d say, keep going, keep doing it.
Mollie: I, I tend to think that even though this is a, a topic that people talk about in our industry, it really is not something that most builders are doing extremely well. It really isn’t. I think they kind of are doing the bare minimum. They know that they should be doing it, but they aren’t necessarily putting resources towards it.
So why is this important right now for sales and marketing?
Thaïs: I think it goes back to what we touched on a bit ago that things are changing so quickly with, real estate in general and, and markets and, [00:27:00] and the new home buying and building process. It really is an opportunity right now to, To step up and take your customers by the hand and say, this is what’s going on.
This is why things are happening. and like I said, just be that voice for them be that resource so that if someone has a question, they know they can go to your website and they can, you know, Self-educate and they can get the answers that they need. and so that when they’re ready, you are top of mind, you’re the person that they reach out to.
so I think anytime that there’s, confusion or the T, or it’s a complicated or complex topic, it’s the perfect opportunity for content.
Mollie: I love how much the industry and just marketing in general has shifted in the past decade. Because when I first started in housing builders, weren’t even giving their pricing.
It was like, unless you make an appointment, unless you come [00:28:00] in, they were not giving information. And it has just completely shifted. I mean, In order to build that trust. You want to give all the information, put the power into the buyer’s hands and really, content strategy is exactly where you start.
And I love what you said earlier. It’s not about selling, it’s about solving. And that is just, that’s something that we tend to forget. Like if you write something just with the purpose of selling, it’s probably not as helpful as you think.
Thaïs: Yeah. You know, and especially right now, when many builders are not all, but many are, have too much traffic, too many leads, too many people calling put your content out there on the site and let people, self-educate let people get through the process.
so that they understand exactly what’s going on. So that it, you know, by the time they do come to [00:29:00] you, they are a well-prepared, they’re knowledgeable about what’s going on. and you know, they’ll hopefully be a good solid customer at that point. So I say, put your content out there. Don’t hold back.
Just don’t gate. Just put it out there. I love it.
Mollie: So tell us, what are you personally reading, watching, or listening to. Currently.
Thaïs: Oh boy. Okay. So I just finished a book called building a brand story by Donald Miller. this was a pretty good book. it’s all about telling, so he’s, this guy has written, screenplays and like movies and things like that.
So it’s all he uses this formula for telling. Your meaning of an organization’s brand story in the way that you would write for a movie, putting the, your customer in the heroes position and, and you, the organization becomes sort of the guide through the [00:30:00] process, which I think is a perfect way to look at content marketing.
So I just finished that, in terms of what are reading, what I’m reading are, what else I’m reading, I’m constantly reading. Blogs on this topic. So marketing props, content, blog, or Copyblogger. a lot of Ann Handley with marketing profs. She does a separate newsletter and her information is always spot on.
I don’t watch a lot of TV right now because I just never have time to sit down and like get into TV right now. But in terms of what I’m listening to. gosh, I’m actually into clubhouse right now. I’m a PA I love listening to podcasts, but lately I’ve gotten into clubhouse. And it’s not necessarily like builder or industry specific stuff that I’m listening to, but, club cop-out is an interesting place just to get perspective on.
All kinds [00:31:00] of interesting topics. So when I get the alert, if it looks interesting, I will. I mean, I follow people that don’t even know on here because they look interesting. So
Mollie: I did a 10 minute meditation with like a thousand people from around the world. It was kind of cool. Awesome. And you’re connecting with people who are just live a totally different life and you’re connecting through this app and you’re all togethers.
It was neat.
Thaïs: Yeah, I like it because you can actually, like, it’s almost like one-on-one with like these. Could be very large figures in whatever industry and you’re sitting there listening to them speak, and normally you would never get that type of opportunity. So, yeah, clubhouse is cool. I like it.
Mollie: I know what I’m reading right now.
You’re going to feel I’m really inspired. I’m reading the second book in the Bridgehampton series.
Thaïs: Oh, really? Okay. I watched five minutes of production and I was like, I’m really needs it. And I was watching it while I was like trying to cook dinner. Well, I couldn’t [00:32:00] really, but I want to watch it. The first five minutes were really interesting, but I need to like sit down down and like just focus.
And it’s hard for me to do. I have a five-year-old who is constantly wanting to like, Do stuff. So, yeah. So I’ll get there one day. I’ve
Mollie: decided to read the books because I always liked the books more than the show or the movie. So I’m reading the second book. If anyone wants to join me. I think a couple other people at group two are reading the series so we can have our own little, You know, kind of teenage trash, a book club, but that’s been fun.
And then my favorite part of the actual show is the music. it’s the vitamin string quartet. So if you have not heard of them, look them up. They’re so good. And it’s now my go-to is the vitamin string quartet. So good.
Thaïs: So yeah, I, the last Netflix series that I watched was, What was it? It was this guy and a lady [00:33:00] from England Prince, a great Britain.
I don’t even know how to say the country anymore, but anyway, they go around the world, like, touring, like the world’s most like innovative houses. I can’t remember the name of it. It was, there was only one season of it on Netflix,
Mollie: but it sounds like something our audience will have we’ll
Thaïs: know. So good.
Yeah. I just, I was. I didn’t want it to end, but, yeah, that was a really good one. That was one of the last things I watched on Netflix. Right.
Mollie: Well, when it comes to content marketing, are there any final thoughts? Anything you want to leave our audience with?
Thaïs: It may seem content marketing may seem sort of like this vague concept, but it really can be very, impactful too.
Your organization’s reputation. And you know how people think about you and talk about you in the market. so I encourage everyone to first make sure that you are understanding [00:34:00] your, your customers, but really figuring out what is driving them. What is motivating them? You know, what their sticking points are, and really just think about how you can serve your audience because.
People really don’t like to be sold to, especially in real estate and especially in housing. but if you position yourself as a partner on this journey, I think it, I think it could be really impactful, not just to your, your customers, but to the industry as a whole. I love
Mollie: it. We’re so happy to have you at group two.
Seriously. I just, I love talking to you. I love brainstorming with you and you know, we’re taking our content to the next level, doing the same thing for builders. So, I think this’ll be the first of many podcasts with you,
Thaïs: so thank you. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks for having me. All right. Take