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Value creation, transparency, and authenticity

I started writing this blog a year and 10 months ago. 

At that time, I had no real title for it (it was just called “Cities”) and I had no idea where it was going to take me. All I knew was that I enjoyed the discipline of writing every day and that I wanted to talk about cities and city building. It was a way for me to neatly organize all of my passions – which span everything from architecture and real estate to technology and transportation.

Since that time, this blog got a name (Architect This City). It was named by the Guardian (UK) as one of the best city blogs in the world. I’ve met an incredible array of different people (send me an email if you like coffee and are doing cool things). I get invited to comment on city building issues on a regular basis. And an incredible community of almost 10,000 daily readers has emerged (you can email subscribe here).

A big thank you to everyone who reads and contributes to ATC.

But over the course of writing this blog, something else unexpected happen. I started getting referred to as a “brander, marketer, and content creator.” Now, I’ll admit that I’ve become increasingly interested in these fields over the years, but it was certainly not something I thought of or could have predicted at the outset.

What really happened though is that I simply started riding a wave that arguably took hold sometime around the mid-2000s and then focused my attention on an industry that has historically been slow to change (real estate). And that wave is the shift towards inbound marketing (as opposed to outbound or interruption marketing).

If you’re a marketer, this is old news. You already know this. But I think there’s still lots of room for this to take hold in the real estate industry. So let’s talk about it a bit.

To give you an example from outside real estate, take a look at Five O’ Clock magazine by Harry’s. Harry’s is a shaving company out of New York that offers moderately priced well-designed shaving supplies for men. It’s simple model that works very well.

Their positioning has been around the idea of “Own Your AM”, which makes sense given that they are a shaving company. And so what they often do in their Five O’ Clock magazine is profile the mornings of interesting people, such as professional skier Jimmy Chin (who happens to live in one of the best places on earth).

But if you do a search for the word “shave” in that Chin article, you won’t find it. Because it’s not about just creating content so that you can plug your business at every opportunity; it’s about creating value for your customers and building a relationship.

And that’s really fundamental to the change I’m talking about. 

Today, the marginal cost of reaching your customers has dropped to almost zero (even if you’re reaching out to them on a one-on-one basis over, say, social media). And so the opportunity exists for companies, brands, and individuals to do things that simply weren’t feasible before.

Because of this, it is now possible for everyone to easily establish their own personal brand. I think we’re going to see more, not less, of that. And it has changed how we message and communicate – whether it be via blogs, social media, or online magazines.

In my view it comes down to 3 considerations: value creation, transparency, and authenticity. If you can create value for your target audience and be transparent and authentic, you’re going to naturally draw people in. I try and do all of that on this blog and hopefully it comes through.

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