Nestled in the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Sunset Plaza Drive is the Oppenheim Group, a preeminent real estate brokerage in Los Angeles.
The Oppenheim Group serves buyers and sellers of luxury properties in Los Angeles and beyond.
You’d probably drive past the brokerage without giving it a look.
Unless of course you’ve heard of Netflix’s Selling Sunset, a reality TV series that revolves around the drama that unfolds within the brokerage.
The show is now in its fourth season.
And it’s about a lot more than selling houses.
It’s about selling a lifestyle and an aesthetic many of us associate with Los Angeles: palatial houses in the hills with a side of sun, skin, stilettos, surf, and the frequent cameos of the iconic California fan palms that define Southern California.
Sure, there’s drama, too.
It’s the drama that keeps the audience engaged.
And like all stories, Selling Sunset will have a healthy dose of haters.
But I’m not here to write about whether Christine is the biggest villain we’ve seen on reality TV in recent memory. Or whether the beef between the cast of characters is real.
I’m here to look at why Selling Sunset is an amazing work of content marketing.
Content marketing is about attracting an audience through engaging storytelling to help a company generate leads and garner brand awareness.
As a content marketer, I would love to see the key performance indicators behind Selling Sunset and how that’s driving business for the Oppenheim Group.
Selling Sunset also does something else for the Oppenheim Group.
The luxury real estate market in California is competitive, with thousands of brokerages vying for business.
Selling Sunset allows the Oppenheim Group to stand above the crowd. It creates brand ubiquity for the brokerage.
After all, how many other real estate brokerages come to mind when you think of the sizzling luxury property market in LA?
The show has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy and has trended on social media several times.
Selling Sunset’s Executive Producer, Adam DiVello, illustrates how powerful storytelling can be for a brand’s growth.
In the latest season of Selling Sunset, we learn that the Oppenheim Group is expanding.
It’s fair to say that the brokerage’s content marketing efforts have been a success.
And the tourists outside the Oppenheim Group’s LA office prove it.
Being authentic is hard.
If it was easy, more companies would be real in how they share their stories.
But we’re now living in era where lying doesn’t work. Customers don’t want to be sold to through clever ads.
People are putting up ad blockers in an attempt to bypass irritating and intrusive advertisements.
Today, companies have no choice but to be authentic, which is a powerful way to connect with audiences.
This was the main message that came out of marketer Gina Balarin’s talk during this year’s Content Marketing World Conference.
Why does authentic content convert? It converts because it allows people to see themselves in the content you produce.
This creates connection.
When content marketers talk about humanizing content, it means focussing on the needs of people rather than on your product or service.
If you want to know whether your company is ready for authenticity, ask yourself these questions:
1. Does your company leadership really know what your customers want?
2. Do they care?
Balarin offers the example of Merchant Capital, a money-lending company in South Africa catering to small businesses.
The company twinned authenticity with empathy in its marketing campaign and got impressive results.
Just as small businesses were going under amid the pandemic, Merchant Capital created back to business COVID toolkits, which got 2,600 downloads. It also developed a COVID-relief funding page that got 1,140 views.
The company also offered helpful advice to an array of small businesses, including a, "How to run a petrol station" article that saw more than 16,000 views.
Rather than asking customers for payments at a time when small businesses were struggling, Merchant Capital offered support through an authentic and empathic content strategy.
And it was a success.
Twenty-five percent of the company’s total new business revenue was influenced by its content marketing strategy.
“We connect with our users/customers on more than just a transactional level because we produce content that shows that we understand their needs and troubles as an entrepreneur,” said Amber Sarrimanolls, head of marketing at Merchant Capital.
For a company that has the challenge of being labelled a money lender, that is big.
There's a lesson here.
If you’re looking to creating content that connects with your customers, and offers them value, don’t think of them as a business.
Think of them as human.
Is it ‘healthcare’ or ‘health care’? Should you use a $ sign or spell out ‘dollar’?
If you work in marketing, you know how important it is to keep your content looking consistent across all channels.
But unlike most newsrooms, where you have a large team of copy editors keeping content looking crisp, marketing departments don’t invest nearly as much in the editorial process, even though consistency in your language is key for developing a trusted brand.
It’s why every content marketing team needs to have a style guide. Some organizations build up their own content guides in house—something that caters to the needs of their respective audiences—and others use style guides in the market.
When I worked in Canadian newsrooms, we had access to the Canadian Press Stylebook and the Canadian Press Caps and Spelling guide. It made sense since we were writing for a Canadian audience.
At my current organization, however, since most of the content we create is for an American audience, I stick with The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook.
Yet even at my current organization, there are some words we spell differently than those in The AP Stylebook—healthcare being one of them (AP Style recommends spelling 'healthcare' as two words).
It matters less what style you use, but that you remain consistent in your use. And if you’re like me, you’ll depend on an already respected style guide, but you’ll create your own in-house style guide to address the idiosyncrasies specific to your organization.
And while style guides are great, nothing beats having an in-house copy editor.
I help companies grow by telling their stories.