Generate buzz using content and community, even when you’re not actually selling anything.

I’m sure you’ve heard, many times over by now, that using content marketing and creating a community is one of the most effective ways to generate buzz in your service or product, even if you’re not actually selling anything.

A number of online marketing coaches, such as Ryan Deiss or Michael Hyatt, spend lots of time and loads of money creating content and building a community, even when there’s no new product launch in their immediate future.

[RELATED: Using mobile updates to market your online coaching business – listen to the podcast here]

Folks like Amy Porterfield work this method to an incredible degree – earlier this year, Amy created a Facebook group to promote her friend Marie Forleo’s annual B-School launch, and within days, she had accumulated more than 10,000 Facebook users in this group.

Pat Flynn provides podcast updates and other marketing collateral week in and week out, in a (very successful) effort to create a community based around his marketing methods and to promote his Passive Income program.

I ran across a GREAT article about content and community in my inbox last week.

Nir Eyal, another super successful marketer, recounted a story about doing a presentation for a group of real estate agents, and being introduced as presenting something that was NOT his presentation.   While in an awkward spot, he gave his original presentation, but the Q&A afterwards, offered a fantastic opportunity to talk about content and community marketing and how it will generate buzz in ways that might not lead directly to sales, but can lead to interaction, which should lead to sales.

There are at least two ways to build a habit around an infrequently used product: content and community.

However, let me be clear: Not every business needs to be habit-forming. There are lots of ways to bring customers back, and many companies succeed without relying on customers’ habits. They buy advertising, spend money on search engine optimization, or open a storefront to capture customers’ attention as they walk by. But traditional methods of keeping customers engaged force businesses to rent space on someone else’s website, search engine, or street corner. By contrast, owning a customer’s habit is an asset that pays you.

What does this mean, owning a customer’s habit?

I’ll extend on the real estate situation, and relate it to mobile advertising and marketing, since that’s what we do best.

  • If you’re an agent with a web site of your own, consider a digital business card as part of your standard collateral that you give prospective customers.

Perhaps you have information on your site about schools in the area where you specialize, or possibly you post things like area crime stats, a things to do calendar, or other “auxiliary” content that is helpful to prospects but isn’t really about selling (or listing) their property.

  • The digital business card has the ability to let your community know when something new is happening – whether it’s a change to the monthly calendar or a link to an article about an award that a school in the area might have received.

By sending your community a lock screen notification, you can let everyone know something is happening – and you can do it in the manner that gets the best response rate.  Email is fine, but not everyone opens each of your emails, if you are actually getting past the spam or promo filters and into the inboxes directly.

Think carefully about how much time you want to put into creating content.

This is how you create a habit forming environment for your prospective customer.  They learn that you will keep them updated when things are happening in the neighborhood, and they turn to you as a resource, just like they would social media or other forums.

[RELATED: Real estate broker marketing with mobile updates]

It’s very important that you continue to provide the content that you have hooked them on – no one wants to see an abandoned blog, or a newsletter that hasn’t been updated in weeks or months.  It just looks bad.

We’re in the middle of buying a new home.  Well, actually I hope we’re at the end of the process of buying a new home – if all goes well, we’ll be closing about the time you’re reading this article.  And we have a FABULOUS agent – she’s worked her butt off for us.

We met her a year ago when we moved back to Phoenix, she helped us with a rental property – I should clarify, it’s me that’s moved back, my other half hadn’t had the pleasure of sweating through a desert summer so renting was the way to go initially.

[DOWNLOAD: Mobile marketing strategy worksheet, click here]

She sends out an email with things to do in the area each month, and she creates these by hand.  One month, we did not get ours when we usually do, and I emailed her to ask about it – we enjoy receiving and reading them, and we find a lot of interesting places to go and stuff to see from these, so I was quick to note that it was late.  She had some personal business come up and hadn’t had the time to do the newsletter on the regular schedule, and it turned out that we were not the only ones who contacted her when it was “late”.

I’m using her as an example – we, and the rest of her client base – are spoiled by her regular content updates and now she’s the one with the habit – the one of always creating them and sending them out on time.

It works the same with a community – take Facebook as an example, although it’s a bit more than a community at this point – every time they make a change, people are outraged!  And complain about it all over Facebook.

What’s the takeaway here?

Use content and community to generate buzz and stay in touch with prospects (and prospective referrals) but make sure that your commitment matches the expectations.  Otherwise all your efforts may backfire on you and you’ll lose your loyal base.