Curaytor: Why Online Marketing for Real Estate is Hard Work [Case Study]
By Seth Price
About Inbound Marketing
A little more than a year ago, we partnered with Curaytor, an East Coast startup. We were asked to help redesign their social listening platform, one of the first curated Facebook conversation platforms on the web using Facebook’s Open Graph API.
Once we got up to speed on their needs, we worked alongside their engineers to refine the Web application and UX, a project we considered fun and a labor of love. This evolved pretty rapidly when the Curaytor team, lead by Chris Smith, Jimmy Mackin and Andrew Leafe, decided that all those curated conversations had a consistent theme: Online marketing for real estate is hard work. Even worse, it often distracted from the “people work” required to provide exceptional value to clients. Curaytor saw an opportunity to address that huge void that agent and brokers were clamoring to fill and launched an online marketing agency focused entirely on helping residential real estate professionals win online.
We were pretty excited about working with Curaytor for many reasons. First, it fit perfectly with our roadmap of making our platform and restful API available to the developer community. Second, we knew that the dev team at Curaytor had Andrew Leafe at the helm and he was a fearless engineer. Most importantly, however, we’d already worked with Curaytor and spent time speaking at many of the same conferences. There was a lot of trust between us. That’s important when you choose a partner, especially when you’re pushing hard.
“Greatness is marked by how we deal with adversity.”
— Chris Smith
To give some background, I first met Chris Smith at ICNY 2011 when he was Chief Evangelist for Inman News, the largest real estate news website on the Internet. He was the Master of Ceremonies, along with social media expert Katie Lance. The team at Placester had just finished Techstars, a startup accelerator out of Boston, and we were beginning to talk more publicly about what we had built. Over late night drinks during a pub crawl in New York’s Times Square, Chris & I talked a lot about the challenges of the real estate industry, how fast technology was moving, and how that momentum seemed to be bypassing real estate professionals. That’s when he dropped the first hint of wanting to launch a startup of his own. If you’ve ever met Chris in person, you know the guy fires on all cylinders. He wanted to make things happen.
“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.”
— Thomas Edison
Fast forward to Janurary 2012 and the concept of pivoting Curaytor from a social listening platform to a full-fledged digital marketing agency was now more than a mere idea. It became clear that the Curaytor team wanted to build online marketing machines for each one of their clients in a way that allowed them maximum flexibility with the data they received. Their goal was to be a hands-on marketing agency, devising market-specific strategies for their clients, then speeding to launch by implementing, testing, and iterating in a continuous cycle. From our first dev planning meeting with Jimmy and Andrew, we knew that we would need to give them full access to the developer stack and API that we had built to scale our own business. They needed granular access to listing data and a flexible way connect the platform to all the tools they planned to incorporate for their clients. Without it, the agency just wouldn’t work.
“Behold the turtle, he makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”
— Bruce Levin
Curaytor set an aggressive 5 week timeline for launching that first client site, which included design, coding, content, and data integration. It’s was definitely a challenge. I can’t say that there was a lot of sleep during that time but we hit the deadline with a few days to spare and got some rest. Since then, Curaytor has added 80 clients and continues to expand, adding new clients at an astounding rate – about 1–12 a month. What’s fascinating about the company, however, is not just how fast they’ve grown their agency but the results they’ve helped their clients achieve. Curaytor empowers their clients and they’re not afraid to take risks. If any of us has learned anything, it’s that technology is moving way too fast to be risk-averse and Curaytor takes that fact to heart. A quote by world-class race car driver Mario Andretti says it all: “If you feel like you’re under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” Those are the kinds of folks that we love to work with – innovators who push boundaries and accomplish big things.
Published on January 16, 2014
Written by Seth Price
Seth is a brand and marketing strategist with 20 years of digital marketing experience. He’s a founding team member and VP @Placester, author of the bestselling small business marketing book, The Road to Recognition and host of The Craft of Marketing and Marketing Genius podcasts. As a speaker, writer, and marketing workshop leader, Seth brings levity, mentorship, and a dose of reality to the businesses and entrepreneurs he coaches.