Mary Cheatham King is a marketing powerhouse. Since entering the real estate business in 2003, the North Carolina-based Realtor has built a bulletproof community engagement strategy that uses innovative marketing techniques to keep her sphere engaged. The star student? A quarterly print magazine produced in-house by the Mary Cheatham King Real Estate marketing team.
According to King, not everyone within her SOI will be on the market for a home at all times. And, in those off seasons, it is important to ask yourself: What will keep them interested in what you have to say? The team’s magazine solves for this specific issue, while building additional goodwill among community stakeholders. In conversation with Gary Keller and Jay Papasan at Mega Camp 2020, King shared her top considerations in creating magazine magic. Whether you are in the process of leveling up your marketing materials, or simply curious about the behind-the-scenes of such a large undertaking, keep on reading.
Shift Your Marketing Perspective
Before diving into the physical work, take a moment to check in with your overall attitude toward marketing. “I think what agents forget sometimes is that you want to market your listings, and market yourself as a fiduciary,” King says. “You are the guide; not the hero of the story.” To that extent, her team has a three-pronged approach to marketing:
>Marketing the property: Setting listings apart via professional photography and staging;
>Marketing the community: Keeping their client base engaged by providing valuable content;
>Marketing the business: Establishing the business as a helpful guide.
“To me, marketing the business is the umbrella that’s over marketing listings and marketing the community,” King explains. “It’s using our listings and the spotlights we shine on the community to market ourselves.”
Magazine Magic: The Logistics
The team magazine, supplemented by weekly email communications, serves as the community spotlighting piece of the marketing process. By creating tangible, relevant content, the team is able to gain valuable mindshare within their market.
Audience Selection: Every quarter, the magazine is sent to 6,000 members of the MCKRE database. The audience primarily consists of past clients, as well as any SOI members that are part of specific neighborhoods the team is farming. Because many of their clients are second-home owners, the team makes sure to deliver the magazine to their primary address during the distribution process. They will also distribute the magazine to local businesses around town. Because there is no associated cost for emails, the audience receiving them widens to 10,000 members.
Associated Costs: The total cost associated with the printing and distribution of the magazine comes to $6K per quarter. According to King, this cost does not include photography or the creation of the content itself, as everything is produced in-house. (although, she estimates the total dollar amount including these services comes up to $10K) In order to reduce these costs, the team turns to local businesses for sponsorships – either through feature articles spotlighting specific businesses, or ads included within the magazine’s pages. In doing so, the team recoups about half of the magazine cost each quarter. “When we ask sponsors for help, we have them write the checks directly to the print house,” she says. “Our goal is for the story to reach more people. We want to defray the cost, which is a win-win for us and the business.”
This project requires a hefty investment, both financially and in terms of time, but King finds it well worth it. “Our main goal of the magazine is to get listings, with a secondary goal of growing brand awareness and taking mindshare,” she says. “Overall, the positive impact is difficult to track on a granular level, but there is usually a spike of incoming leads following the magazine’s distribution. We KNOW that it is impactful based on feedback more than anything else.”
Content Is King
In creating the content, the MCKRE team focuses exclusively on the community – from statistics on their specific market, to the people and businesses that are making an impact within their area. When all is said and done, the final product is a 20-page magazine highlighting those bright community lights. For the holiday season, the page count ups to 24.
Each magazine issue contains:
>A letter from the rainmaker or team lead, which includes calls to action
>Articles highlighting local businesses/sponsors and individuals in the area
>Local business ads
>A shop-local gift guide for the holiday season issue
When it comes to highlighting small businesses, the team gets creative. One article that sticks out in King’s mind is a piece on out-of-the-box ice cream sandwich combos you can create at home – all of the ice cream flavors featured came from local ice cream shops. The team also makes sure to touch on listings, providing clients with info on how much homes are selling for and including graphs and charts.
Think Long-Term Leverage
Because producing the magazine is no small investment, the work doesn’t stop once the physical copies are delivered. “When you create original content, you have to chunk it down into pieces and reuse it,” King says. “Our biggest marketing challenge is probably wringing every ounce of leverage out of these pieces of content.”
To ensure the content is getting in front of as many eyes as possible, the team will spend the next four to five emails following the magazine’s release including links to an online version of each piece. The content is also shared on Facebook, and featured businesses and individuals are encouraged to push it out to their own spheres.
Using this strategy, the team has seen results almost immediately – and not just from former clients. “I can’t tell you how many times someone from a local business has said, ‘You chose our item for your gift guide. Now my daughter needs to sell her house,’” King says.
Building community through magazine magic is an overall win: For the team-building goodwill, for the clients staying up-to-date on local happenings, and for the businesses being highlighted.
Creating a magazine is one of a myriad of ways in which you can keep your sphere engaged and get in front of new faces. For more information on how top agents are making their businesses known, check out Outfront’s marketing archive.Level Up Your Marketing