Since the dawn of time, people telling stories to each other (ie story-telling) has set the way we work and operate as human beings
Our society, principles, culture, learning, knowledge have past down from father to son, grandfather to grandson, mother to daughter to a point where it has become the bedrock of human society and the only true way humans have understood the world around us.
The importance of stories is rooted in the way humans think, act, work, live, communicate, interact and enjoy ourselves, so it’s no surprise that story-telling keeps returning to the marketing limelight.
Cracking the code to story-telling has the potential to allow you to generate something that is more notable, remarkable (ie to remark about) and memorable than anything your fellow competitor agents are doing.
Yet, how do estate and letting agents even begin to tell “The Awesome Story of Your Estate / Letting Agency Brand”?.. a story that people want to listen to and ultimately get you the vendors and landlords you want (and deserve)
Here are the 5 steps I believe I need to adopt to ensure you get the listings, instructions and fees you want (and ultimately deserve)
Step 1 – Ask Yourself Why
To start with, before you start, let me tell you .. this story-telling $hit works really well .. I mean done well, it can easily double an estate agency turnover in a couple of years and increase lettings managed stock by the same in three years ….BUT (there is always a but) … there is a problem to it story-telling.
Estate and Letting Agents, in fact humans, are notoriously lazy, always looking for the easy short cut to save time and effort and here is the killer …. very very impatience. We want all it .. but we want it now.
This story-telling isn’t just another ‘type’ of marketing.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The task of story-telling in business is arduous, difficult, protracted and laborious. It will take you out of your comfort zone so much, most of you won’t have the balls to start, and those that do start, most will fall by the way side
Storytelling in business isn’t about having a nice brand.. or nice website with hip and groovy Pantone colours and ace Font, or an about us page that says you are a ‘part of the community’ or a few testimonials from a few clients .. nothing could be further from the point. I see so many agents with social media posts and websites where everything is awesome, pantones and fonts on message, telling storys they are selling sooooooo many houses, and its all happy f**king valley at their agency. Do that and your social media and website followers will see it as ‘bull$hit’ sales patter, which is quite frankly, very insincere, and this will have a dreadful impact on your agency’s brand
Instead, I have been perfecting the story telling technique with agents for nearly five years. It is constantly evolving, but at its core is a premise that it forges a richer and deeper connection with the humans you are trying to reach (landlords and homeowners).
Step 2 – Make The Connection
Awesome stories have the potential of making real connections with real people. ie empathy
Nobody can deny that a relationship is made with the people reading/watching your story when they discover something of relevance TO THEM in your story. Think how people queue up for the latest Apple product (but don’t with Windows products), think how people have an affinity with Harley Davidson … I mean people tattoo themselves with their logo ….
When was the last time someone tattoo’d themselves with a Foxton’s tattoo?
You see, when the potential landlord/vendor hears something that persuades them they should care about your brand, magic happens, because they can perceive something of themselves in your agency’s story.
Step 3 – Understand Your Delivery Method
There are only three ways you can communicate as a human (unless you are my wife – then its four)
- Written word
- ESP (and my wife can read my mind!)
Putting that into context, the written word is you reading this, reading newspapers and books and reading stuff on the internet. Audio the use of telephone and podcasts. Visual is face to face, television, video etc etc
Whatever you put out, one thing I have learnt is that you need to be true to yourself and your story.
Be open to the fact that you might need assistance to tell the story in the right way for estate and letting agency market. All of us have seen so many people come into the property industry from outside, be they Corporate MD’s, PropTech giants, Online agents etc and not have a Scooby-do about it. Just because they were a whiz at CarPhone Warehouse, Head of Marketing for a national CarHire firm or ran a Burger franchise.. doesn’t make them any better to understand the strange peculiarities of the UK Estate/Letting agency game and how to tell a story that will actually get you the landlords and vendors you want (and deserve)
Step 4 – Straplines v Storylines
I bet your current marketing for your estate / letting agency is the normal run of the mill prescribed and standard agency messages, message that have been around for decades, messages that boil down to …
“Look at our great agency, we will sell/let your house much better than the rest, buy our services now.”
Every agent does it .. and thus we all sound the same
.. and the worse bit .. every industry does this ..
Yet the issue is we (as humans not agents) have learnt to ignore those sort of messages .. yet as agents we still chuck this stuff out ..day in.. day out.
To attract your audience, you need to give them a subtler scenario.
What I have found, mentoring the MD’s and Senior Mang’t of my 100+ estate and letting agent clients around the UK, is the stories that really work are the ones about overcoming problems and difficulties o landlords and vendors. Or the challenges of finding the right property, be that a buy to let deal for a landlord or an owner occupier house. Even showing one’s faults, then taking responsibility for them to become a better human, really does fascinate us as an audience (and it all sounds rather fluffy b*ll*cks – yet trust me – nothing is further from the truth)
Yet, the stories that are making the largest impact, the ones that are getting thousands and thousands of people to tune in (yes I said tune in) to a particular estate and letting agents social media feed is something you would never dream of doing.
It’s the story of two agents combined with their estate/letting agency brand. People are stopping them in the street as they are becoming relatable, three dimensional human beings who we care about.
Again, it sounds utter b*ll*cks … and 80% of you reading this will dismiss what I say. To be frank – I don’t care. I know I am right and proved over the last 5 years this stuff works. Its not for everyone – and thank God it isn’t .. I wouldn’t want everyone doing this ..
If you want to continue on the treadmill that every other agent does with your homogenised, archetypal, one-dimensional estate agency marketing …. pronouncing how awesome your agency is, how many properties you have sold, how you get closer to the asking price than anyone else, how you have been open since 2BC, how your A5 flyer has the most number of USP bullet points than any other agent, or you open 26 hours a day …. And how really the authentic and unique your estate /letting brand is…. Well I have news for you (and you know this in your heart) …
Nobody is listening to your marketing message.
You ignore adverts ..and people are ignoring you (and your expensive marketing)
Why ..because nobody believes in this anymore. We are sick and tired being shouted at and being sold to. And we have so much info being thrown at us with TV ads, banner ads, ads, ads …… virtually nobody is listening.
Stop selling … and start telling
Step 5 – Patience
If you think you can, in a matter of one afternoon, cook up a strategy that will tell the story of you and your estate agency .. film or write the content the following week and get the landlords/house sellers you want the week after … you my friend are sadly mistaken.
It is very assumptive that your content will make the impression and effect in the hearts and minds of landlords and house sellers instantaneous. If you think I am talking BS, well my friend, that is a practise of working in old school estate agency marketing.
Don’t forget, “The Awesome Story of Your Estate/Letting Brand” is more than a timetable or a list of your triumphs, successes or how awesome you are as an agent.
You need to be ready to react and grow when your story starts spreading. Be prepared to reply to questions, interest, nosiness and wait for it …. Negativeness — an additional reason why it is hugely significant your story is not perceived as a BS or a fib.
I can guarantee you this, you will not win everyone over, nor should your goal to do so, but let me tell you one think I have learnt from doing this journey myself …. at least you will have their esteem and reverence for your honest and transparent approach.
The question is this … are you ready to tell “The Awesome Story of Your Estate/Lettings Agency”?
If you are.. maybe we should chat over the phone?
Author: 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.
07950 147 572