Blog - Content Marketing
Jonathan Butler of the Brooklyn real estate blog Brownstoner and Kael Goodman of BlankSlate have been working together since 2010.
The business relationship started simply, Brownstoner partnering with BlankSlate to create a directory of home service providers such as contractors and architects. Only five years later, BlankSlate was handling all of Brownstoner’s advertising and content marketing business, in addition to having added robust features such as real estate listings to the site.
Over the last three years, one topic of conversation came up from time to time: Would Butler consider selling Brownstoner to BlankSlate?
Goodman eventually got his answer. As of this week, Brownstoner is now owned by BlankSlate.
Brownstoner, launched in 2004 to chronicle his home renovation, has occupied ten years of Jonathan Butler’s life. With over 42,000 posts under its belt, the site has served as a chronicle of Brooklyn’s explosion as one of America’s hottest real estate markets and cultural destinations.
The site has been featured numerous times in publications like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker and New York Magazine. It was honored in 2008 by the Historic Districts Council for its role in preservation. Since 2012, Brownstoner has also offered coverage and listings of the Upstate New York market, and in May 2013, Butler launched the sister site Brownstoner Queens to offer coverage of Queens real estate.
BlankSlate has been the driving force behind many of Brownstoner’s expansions over the years. The agency handled Brownstoner’s advertising and content marketing efforts, and revamped its website, its property listings, and Local Home Pros, a place where readers can compare home professionals from real estate agents to carpenters to architects. Even Brownstoner Queens started out as a BlankSlate site called QueensNYC, before BlankSlate sold it to Brownstoner.
But Goodman had other ideas about how Brownstoner could make the transition from Brooklyn’s leading real estate blog to a destination for anyone interested in living in Brooklyn or Queens, or for New Yorkers thinking of moving Upstate.
A little over a week ago, Butler and Goodman met up for a periodic check-in, and once again fell into discuss the possibility of Butler selling Brownstoner to BlankSlate. The next day they had a deal. A few days later, the documents were drafted and signed.
Many things about Brownstoner will remain the same. Brooklyn real estate, renovation, history, and culture. Brownstoner will stay true to its mission of being the go-to site for people obsessed with Brooklyn real estate, renovation, history and culture.
The new ownership, however, will be bringing some exciting changes to Brownstoner. You can expect to see more coverage of interior decoration, renovation, and living in Brooklyn. This acquisition will give Brownstoner the resources to expand and refine its editorial scope, and connect readers with each other, experts, and brands they care about.
“Brownstoner is the go-to site for the impassioned Brooklynite,” said Goodman. “The editors and their audience love Brooklyn. They love where it’s come from, and they love where it’s going. And this is exactly the type of person that a brand wants to address when they introduce themselves into the Brooklyn marketplace.”
As for Jonathan Butler, he is optimistic about the future for the site he founded.
“Starting Brownstoner in 2005,” said Butler, “I could not have imagined what an incredible community would coalesce around the site and all the exciting opportunities it would lead to for me personally. After ten years, though, it’s time for this old-school blogger to hand off the baton to a company that is perfectly positioned to make the most of the site in the current media environment. Meanwhile, I look forward to continuing to devote myself to my other businesses — Brooklyn Flea, Smorgasburg, Berg’n and 1000 Dean — watching with interest as Kael and his team execute upon their vision for Brownstoner.”
Brooklyn wasn’t car2go’s first rodeo. The innovative international car sharing service had already launched in 29 cities in Europe and North America, and in late 2014 it was about to bring its fleet of adorable Smart Fortwo vehicles to Brooklyn. So how does a global brand like car2go go about speaking to a specialized local audience in a meaningful way?
Car2go, and their new agency Razorfish, knew from experience that content marketing would have to be a big piece of their local marketing activation. They needed to find the right audience — early adopters in their key demographic — and help them picture how having easy access to car2go vehicles on the streets of Brooklyn might improve their daily lives.
Razorfish came to BlankSlate for help. As experts in local content marketing, our company’s deep knowledge of the Brooklyn market allowed us to custom-build a content strategy that included sponsored posts, dedicated emails and email newsletters across our network of Brooklyn-centric publishers, amplified by social media and display advertising. Every piece was conceived with the local audience in mind.See More
Creating a positive association with something of emotional or intellectual value helps to establish brand value. Content marketing presents an opportunity to create this kind of brand value in an authentic and informative way.
Douglas Elliman is the fourth largest real estate brokerage in the US (over 5000 agents), with operations in NYC, Long Island and the Hamptons, upstate New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Their marketing efforts include both corporate and regional branding. BlankSlate was tapped to help with regional marketing in Brooklyn.
The combination of historic brownstones and modern new developments, plus its youthful and multicultural environment, have turned Brooklyn into a worldwide brand. The result is increased demand, rising values, and an attractive market for brokers. Elliman’s marketing team wanted to reinforce its position as a leading real estate brand in Brooklyn.
Rather than focus on Elliman’s listings, offices, or agents, we would educate the reader with detailed, informative content produced by local bloggers that follow the Brooklyn real estate market day by day, creating a positive association between the Brooklyn experience and Elliman.
Joe uses his phone on and off throughout the day. He checks to see what his friends and family are up to, what’s happening in the world (ugh), and what’s happening in his neighborhood. He accesses his calendar, email, maps, web search, and instant messaging. And sometimes he just takes a break during those downtimes – like when he’s standing in an elevator – and looks at pictures.
He seeks out the things that entertain him, teach him something, or relate to him personally – and shares them with friends and colleagues.
Traditional advertising goes mostly unnoticed by Joe: pictures of cars telling him to find his nearest dealer, celebrities telling him what to drink, paid reviews about the magic of a household cleaning product, and so on. Joe has been using the Internet long enough for him to unconsciously identify and ignore blatant advertising messaging. If ads disrupt his flow – such as a pop-up or video that starts playing automatically – he might even have a negative reaction to the ad.
Sometimes, though, Joe comes across the kinds of content he already likes, only they happen to have been brought to him by a brand or a business. For example, he takes note of a real estate company that has curated a list of cool places in Joe’s new neighborhood. Maybe he’ll stop in their office down the street and see what it would cost to actually buy an apartment! He also sees an article comparing the price of a cronut to the cost of renters insurance. Lo and behold, renters insurance is something he needs.
Thus begins the content marketing journey…
Contact BlankSlate to see how we can begin the journey to bring Joe to you!
Some businesses are — let’s face it — less than sexy. When your business depends on direct response, you need to find a way to get the attention of potential customers, and convert that interest into a lead.
This is where content marketing comes in.
Gotham Brokerage is a NYC-based insurance company specializing in renters and homeowners insurance. Direct response advertising had been their mainstay for years, but they were looking for new ways to gain new leads and separate themselves from other local players. They started to dip their toe into content marketing, placing sponsored posts on local websites and blogs. Having enjoyed some success, they reached out to BlankSlate to help them develop a more complete direct response content marketing strategy.
In order to make insurance relatable, we created visually strong, image-heavy blog posts that were light and enjoyable to read, providing just enough information to show why people absolutely need apartment insurance. The topics of the articles created connections to everyday life while stressing how affordable insurance could be, and how fast and easy it would be to click a link and fill out a form.
We then placed this content across the BlankSlate Publisher Network, along with other local sites, including Gotham’s own blog. The content was also promoted through social media, various content networks, and reinforced the brand messaging with retargeting and display ad placements on targeted sites.
Post headlines included:
The success of our approach for this campaign is ongoing. Content marketing provided the creative means to make insurance interesting, easy to understand, and most importantly, increase Gotham’s lead flow.
Even “unsexy” industries are capable of creating engaging material for their target market. Contact us to find out how we can help create and distribute attention-grabbing content that will fulfill your company’s marketing needs.
Photo credit: cumi&ciki via Flickr