10,000 estate agency leaflets dropped for brand awareness.

I was talking to an estate agent the other day, when he said, ’I really love what you say, about becoming the local property expert. I want to become the local property expert, the property guru of my town’, to which I replied.’ Great, tell me what you are doing to get that?’. He replied, ’Chris, I just had 10,000 leaflets delivered to my town’. ‘OK, Andrew (name changed to protect the innocent), what did the leaflet have on it?’. Andrew replied,’A5 leaflet, with our logo on it, saying free valuations, wonder what your house is worth, bullet points on the services we offer, yeah, something like that, primarily we have done it for brand awareness’ .

If you think your estate or letting agency is suffering because you don’t have enough brand awareness, the solution isn’t to drop 10,000 leaflets, because 99.999% of those will go straight into the recycling bin with the pizza and kebab leaflets. True the law of averages dictates that you will get one or two valuations, because out of 10,000 leaflets, a couple are bound to want a free val on the very day your leaflet drops on their door mat .. but a couple out of 10,000 isn’t a good use of your money, time and effort.

Ok, the telling thing here though, was his need for brand awareness. I am going to offend some people now .. but only two people care about you, your estate / lettings agency and your brand. Let me explain. If the only reason you print and deliver 10,000 leaflets or pay £1000 per month for a weekly page in the local weekly newspaper is for brand awareness .. I am sorry to say, you are wasting your money, time and effort Mr(s) Estate or Letting Agent

Next time you get invited the local Rotary Club, or the local Chamber of Commerce or even that nice up market wine bar – all places your where the sort of person who would be a landlord would hang out (most landlords live local and are middle aged and middle class ie your target audience) why don’t you start up a conversation with someone you have never spoken to. Ask them if they live locally, where they work, and especially their family. Within ten minutes, you should be able find out what makes them tick, what things in life are important to them (eg work, family, hobbies, holidays etc etc).

The conversation will come round to property (irrespective of whether you are an estate agent/letting agent or not … remember, after the weather, it’s what the Brits love to talk about), but I can guarantee you, they will talk about house prices, the future of house prices, returns and investing, where to buy, where not to buy, their mate has just bought one and the trouble he had with (delete as appropriate (builders/plumbers/planners/architects/sparkies) , but at no time will they mention the different estate/ letting agency brands. You may spend most of your waking hours thinking about your estate / letting agency brand, as well as the facts and figures that make your agency so much better to the competitor agents, but your target audience really could not care less. The two people who care about your firm, your brand is?? YOU …. and your Mum.

Truth hurts.. and sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. Be honest, you don’t care about the all the solicitors, accountancy/lawyer brands/companies in your town .. so why should others care about YOURS! It hurts to think this way, especially when you consider how much time, money, energy and hard work you put into your agency’s services that you’re trying to sell to landlords and potential house sellers. Bottom line is this kids .. Punters do not care about your estate / lettings brand nearly as much as you do.

98% of agents think their job is simply to convince potential landlords and potential house sellers that their estate / letting agency is better than the competition. Agents spend way too much time (and huge amounts of money) focused on letting potential landlords and potential house sellers know what new services we have, (with gimmicky tv channels, the number of portals they go on, guaranteed rent schemes), or simply making the advert have more bullet points than the other competitor agents in town.

STOP THE PRESS … people are just trying to get to the end of the day. If only 5% of property is on the market at any one time, that means 95% people aren’t on the market. (Obvious I know, but stay with me on this). That means 95% of people (who aren’t on the market) are just looking at your advert to see if they can find a property like theirs in their area, because all they want to know is ‘how much is my house worth?’.They’re just trying to get through each day and they don’t even stop to think, ‘Oh, that agent opens until 8pm, the next time we sell (in 5 years time), I will use them’. Get real agents.. no one cares about your brand.

But that doesn’t mean that you should not do your utmost to develop the best estate and lettings agency you can, with attention to detail, to make your agency perform outstandingly. Be honest, these finer points will not do the job of selling a brand all by themselves though and might hinder the potential punters (ie landlords or future home sellers) from connecting with what you are trying to say about your agency. People don’t analysis everything to n’th degree, people go with gut decisions.

Our heads prefer using intuition, making decisions based on what feels right. The last time you bought a car, bought a stereo, and lets bring it in to our sphere, professional services .. chose a solicitor, chose an accountant .. real people don’t sit down with a tick list, comparing the number of services, when someone opens, how many qualifications they have, and the most certainly don’t judge you on which deposit scheme you use, which redress scheme or whether you are a member of ARLA or the NAEA. People aren’t logical, we aren’t machines. It takes too much time and effort to analyse one company, let alone the 20 or 30 agents in your town and sit down for two hours and weigh facts on each agent. Be honest we’re more likely to choose car insurance based on a television advert with a funny Dog or Meerkats, that we remember, than by getting a Which Magazine subscription or spending two hours trawling the web (because they all basically the same .. which is what people think of agents).

Your agency and thus your brand can most easily get to the gut of the consumer not by proving it is better than the competition, but by being relevant and interesting to the potential punter. As counterintuitive as it may seem, all of us need to embrace the notion that we should ignore our competitor estate and lettings agents and realise that the real challenger is not the other agent, it is life itself.

The solution lies in becoming an agent that is worth talking to. When you do that, your potential customers will do the work of getting you more noticed. When you produce something remarkable, that people talk about, then those people, who are taking about you, will do your job for you. You can dramatically impact the ‘brand awareness’ problem by investing heavily in a story that’s worth spreading.

That means, stop talking about yourself, stop talking about the services you offer, stop talking about your company, stop talking about what you have sold in their street (they know, they saw on Rightmove the second it went SSTC), stop offering free valuations (everyone has done that since the early 1980’s), stop listing bullet points about what you offer …. just stop.

Start talking about something that does interest potential clients (potential landlords and potential house sellers) .. and there is one thing that all homeowners are interested in …. the value of THEIR own home, what is happening in THEIR local property market, what will happen in THEIR property market in the next few years; and for landlords, on top of all that, where should THEY be buying the next buy to let deal, what is happening to yields and returns on THEIR property.

Here are some examples of the sort things you should be doing ..

Blogs ….

Newsletters ….

Now, if this sounds like hardwork, yes it is, but I can either teach you how to write these sort of blogs and newsletters on one of my ‘landlord farming ’courses or you can ask me to write them for you.

Does it work you might ask? Yes, I guarantee it works if you do as tell you and adopt, adapt and even improve the system for your own town. Here are over 40 testimonials on the system http://goo.gl/QVfVyE

You see, all you need to do is talk about something they are interested in, and you will have them. You won’t get them straight away, because no matter how valuable they find what you say is of interest , they wont use you until THEY need you. So once you start this process, this process of becoming the local property guru, you wont get business straight away. It takes months and months before you see anything (but if you are in the gane of property for until you retire, what is is six months on the whole scheme of things if it gives you an uplift in business.

There are a couple of catches though, Firstly, you have to do daily. Its hard work, but if was easy, everyone would be doing it! Secondly, there can only be one ‘Property Guru’ in your town. If you sit on the fence, how would you feel if another agent become your town’s guru?

For more advice and opinion on the system, go to the Landlord Farming Blog,www.landlordfarming.com where you will find over 230 posts, stretching back to 2013 on what to do and why it works , but that depends if you can be bothered to find out Mr or Mrs Letting or Estate Agent?

Christopher Watkin

I teach, guide, support, mentor, consult, counsel, partner many hundreds of UK Estate and Letting Agents in their quest to grow their estate and lettings agencies business. Old school techniques of touting, landlords wanted leaflets, ring us for a free valuation, we have sold this in your street leaflets don't work anymore. There are too many competitor agents .. meaning cheap fees are epidemic, overvaluing is almost a norm to get the stock and don’t even mention about the online/hybrid threat. So a few years ago, I set about looking around the UK and spotted that certain agents (not many mind you) in certain towns were still seen as the ‘go to person on property’, the person the newspaper editor rang up every week for a comment and I looked at what they did and they were doing some thing quite remarkable…. Only one thing but they were doing it so well .. and reaping the reward in terms of decent listings and decent fees, happy staff, decent sales pipeline and exchange income, managed lettings portfolios in the many hundreds .. but more importantly, they really enjoyed the job… they enjoyed getting up in the morning and people looked up to them Over 400 agents around the UK are on a mission to change the way our Estate and Lettings agency profession is perceived and looked upon, doing it town by town, city by city. I guide these 400 agents, teach them, mentor them and support them to be seen in a different light, to be seen as the ‘go to person for property’, actually be the ‘local property expert’ and prove it. Christopher Watkin 07950 147 572 christopher@christopherwatkin.co.uk

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