The Brennan Group cultivates an audience of qualified buyers and sellers with a content-fueled marketing campaign.
By Michael Antoniak
Stephanie and Gary Brennan’s immensely successful marketing campaign has one mission, articulated in nine words.
“Everything we do points people back to our website,” says Gary, who along with his wife operates The Brennan Group as part of RE/MAX Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. “It’s our best opportunity to show them who we are and how we can help.”
From post cards to print advertisements, each tactic is created with the goal of motivating community members to log on. Of course, the website serves as much more than a digital billboard. Visitors to LakeBrennan.com will find that information about the communities the couple serves is front and center. Demographic statistics, updates on the local housing market and even a map of restaurants are just a few clicks away. This focus on relevant content means that former and prospective clients always have a new reason to visit the site, even if they aren’t in the process of buying or selling a home.
“The Brennans do an incredible job of driving people to their website,” says Jeff Krantz, Broker at RE/MAX Lake Of The Ozarks. “They’ve found a multitude of ways to put themselves in front of consumers, keep up with leads and incubate them until people are ready to buy.”
Gary and Stephanie have truly embraced digital marketing. In addition to the website, The Brennan Group has a branded iPad search app, is active on social media and distributes a monthly email newsletter to clients and prospects.
And it works. Gary reports that their website has received more than 1.8 million unique visitors since June 2009, when the couple formed The Brennan Group. In addition to speedy follow up and a customized search or listing plan for each client, the system is a big reason why Stephanie and Gary have increased their bottom line every year since 2009, with 55 sides and nearly $10 million in total volume.
“Everything we do points people back to our website. It’s our best opportunity show them who we are and how we can help.” Gary Brennan
Here are a few of their best tips for making a big impression in your own community:
Establish yourself as the local expert.
“Locals only” would be an appropriate tagline for the Brennans. Their hyper-local focus and understanding of what attracts people to the Lake of the Ozarks region – and a lake lifestyle in general – informs every newsletter, website post and advertisement they produce. This high-profile visibility and consistent, clear message shapes perceptions of The Brennan Group as enthusiastic real estate professionals who are eager to assist with information on housing, as well as boating, restaurants and services – anything related to the local lifestyle and housing market.
Adapt tools to best suit your needs.
The Brennans have made their website a marketing priority by investing in custom content and design. They credit integration of RE/MAX LeadStreet – as well as a 2011 RE/MAX Best Fest seminar that explained how to use it – as critical to their online success. “Once we learned how to use LeadStreet to attract visitors to our site, and engage them after they arrived, things really started to take off for us,” says Stephanie. The monitoring and tracking features of Google Analytics provide a window into performance and insights on which they can capitalize – such as that repeat visitors account for more than half their traffic as well as search terms visitors use to land on their site.
Offer a lot, and deliver on your promises.
A good website isn’t just about SEO, according to the couple. Once a visitor lands on your site through a specific search, it’s even more important to deliver quality content that they can use.
LakeBrennan.com, for example, includes more than 250 distinct pages, each developed in response to how someone might search for information about area real estate. Some pages – on specific communities, condominiums and housing types, for example – can also be accessed from drop-down menus on the site, while others are only found through search results. Each is filled with targeted content designed to service the reader. “It’s a lot of work, but an effective way to get ourselves in front of people specifically interested in our lake and homes here,” Gary says.
Keep content fresh, succinct and on point.
To boost search engine placement and give visitors cause to return, the Brennans update or add something new to their site at least once a week. Their monthly email newsletter always speaks to the interests and concerns of those who live and vacation in the area. In addition to lifestyle content, the Brennans also provide specifics on details such as when to pay property taxes, dock regulations or winterizing a lakefront home. “Tell them a little, but not too much,” advises Stephanie. “That way if they have questions, it gives them a reason to call us.”
Capture their contact information.
Site visitors can browse general information, but must register to learn more about listings or to take virtual tours. This helps the Brennans identify serious prospects and provides a starting point for making contact and cultivating a relationship. “Hopefully, they can see we provide enough value that they are willing to share their name,” Gary says.
Follow up quickly and strategically.
Once a visitor registers and a dialogue is initiated, the Brennans use LeadStreet to review activity, houses of interest and how much time they spent on various pages. Based on those insights, they then set up a customized search for each contact, which sends alerts as relevant listings hit the market. “Fewer than 1 percent of people ever set up their own custom searches,” Stephanie says. “By doing it for them, we show them we have their interests in mind and continually remind them how we can help.”