Want to get ahead of the game?
Look at the USA & Australia for inspiration
When you’re looking for inspiration to help you build innovation and marketing plans, who do you look up to? Where do you look? I want to give you just a couple of links to help you think outside the box when it comes to planning for the next 12 months.
From our 50 combined years-experience in the property industry, John and I are inclined to think we all look at our respective market leaders. The top agent in our town, city or region. We look at their housing stock, offices, website, social media, blogs, local ads, branding, PR, services, pricing, brochures…all to understand what they’re doing, the quality benchmark and, if we want to survive, how we can beat them at their own game.
Some of us might look beyond the local area and seek out the winners of the various industry awards. What’s the innovation award winner’s latest product? What’s the content for the digital award winners? What’s the latest campaign for the marketing awards winner?
Sadly, there are a number of agents who don’t think about this stuff at all. They see themselves either as small fry or immune to attack and think of marketing as a dirty word. Maybe that’s fine if you’re the only agent in the village but what will happen when one of the big boys wants a slice of your cake and opens in competition? Life’s not fair and business is less fair than that. There’s always someone side stage aching to make their appearance.
I’d argue that there is a paradigm shift underway. Agents are starting to realise that the better you are at property marketing, the more business you’d attract, but there are still hundreds of agents who have yet to realise they’re in the property MARKETING & sales business. They think they’re just in property sales. This scenario isn’t a figment of my imagination either. There are web sites dedicated to bad estate agents’ photos.
Here’s the thing. The savvy, and those who think they’re working under the radar with no need of marketing, need (if they want to survive) to look beyond the UK and seek out the latest insight, trends and inspiration from our Global Leaders in Property marketing – the USA and Australia.
Look online and there’s plenty of opinion that the USA are up to 5 years ahead of the UK cross-industry. Whether it’s entertainment, marketing, or customer service. There’s also a school of thought that looking towards America today will give a glimpse of the way we market property in the near future too…
Here are a couple of USA website links for your marketing inspiration:
⦁ Go take a look at ⦁ Zillow and ⦁ Trulia. They’re the States’ versions of Rightmove and Zoopla and in my opinion streets ahead of our leading portals. Trawling through these portals gives a good indication of how agents are selling their properties and I’d argue that in most instances, they’re streets ahead:
Here’s a few reasons why…
There’s a widespread adoption of video, much greater than the UK. It’s literally used with every property, at least during my research. There’s a trend of simple videos, taken on a smart phone, walking through the property. Editing seems minimal and there’s no sound so perhaps they’re not the most professional but it’s certainly engaging and a nice bolt on to their suite of photos.
Virtual Home Staging – Everywhere!
For those that have read our blogs you’ll know we’re virtual home staging evangelists. We provide the service at http://doctor-photo.co.uk/services/virtual-furnishing/.
In the UK, the market is still in its infancy but in the USA the market has seen a lot of growth. Take a look on their portals and you’ll find empty home after empty home enhanced with contemporary virtual furniture. Showing empty spaces as desirable homes.
Oh and just for good measure…Consumer vendor functions
Selling a house and relying on an agent for feedback or digital performance is a thing of the past with Zillow. Vendors now get a log-in of their own so they can track click throughs and local performance. This has benefits all round for the agent. It keeps conversations transparent, gives the consumer a sense of control and frees up time for the agent to sell. Rightmove/Zoopla, take note.
⦁ Go check out the National Association of Realtors – ⦁ http://www.nar.realtor.
The NAR is the American version of the UK’s NAEA and they have got some tremendous insights to fuel inspiration on their website. It’s a really useful space to seek out the latest commercial and consumer insight and a snapshot today will probably reign true over the next few years in the UK. It would be a really useful tool for the UK NAEA to adopt in the future too. Especially as so many agencies are small businesses that don’t have the resources to pay for research of their own.
One of their reports, The Home Buyer and Sellers Generational Trends, is especially interesting. It’s a bountiful library of the latest consumer research findings on what Americans think about when buying or selling a house. Everything from why they chose an agent to how they found their house. I plucked out a few interesting facts for you in case you don’t have time to read it:
⦁ When asked what consumers found “Very Useful” when looking for property on websites, 89% answered photos. This number actually increased the younger the audience – so in fact 91% of consumers under 36 Years old said they were very useful. This compares to 50% of consumers finding virtual tours very useful, and 26% finding videos useful. A surprising number, especially when there is so much growth in the video and virtual reality sector. It certainly makes you wonder why anyone would upload bad photos if they matter so much to 91% of consumers.
⦁ Another eye watering set of answers were to the question ‘method used to find real estate agent’ .. 64% of consumers said they were recommended them by a friend or had used them in the past. This number only increased for 36 years and younger. Only 3% of under 36 year olds said they used a website, 1% said direct mail. Which begs the question – are you being savvy with your marketing investment? Websites and direct mail may play a role but ultimately, refer a friend and maintaining a dialogue with past customers seem to be the most sensible ways of getting a return.
Whilst these numbers are reflective of the American market there are enough similarities culturally to take a stab that if a piece of research like this was conducted by our own NAEA to such a huge scale as the Realtors Association, it would likely get similar results over the next few years.
Hop across the pond the opposite direction and you’ll find that The Australian market takes an interesting approach. They’re known internationally as the ‘dons’ in property marketing and all you need to do is search out some of their leading agencies to find out why.
Here’s one short article from the leading real estate blog in the USA testifying to the idea that Australia leads the world in property sales imagery. At the end of that article you’ll see reference to PlatinumHD.TV – there’s an example of their work here. With videography as artistic and beautiful as this, it will be interesting to see who wins out in the luxury property market between the Matterports of this world and this new style of video editing.
Take a look at the REIA (Real Estate Institute of Australia) Awards here: https://reia.asn.au/awards/2016-reia-national-awards-for-excellence-winners/
Browse through some of the winners such as http://www.re88.com.au/ who won medium agency of the year or https://oneagencylaunceston.com.au who won small agency. With both of these agencies you’ll find one striking similarity. They’re not doing anything particularly different or clever or out there but what they are doing is presenting the property to an incredible standard.
Their home staging and quality of photography is second to none and these agencies, along with most of Australia, are presenting their properties to sell.
They are also making use of clever lighting, using dusk and dawn shots to really show the property off to an incredible standard.
There are great opportunities for agents in the UK who want to get ahead of the game. It really is a no-brainer, the better your images, the better your staging, the better your property marketing, the more you’ll enhance your brand and attract the right properties to sell, the further you’ll get ahead of the competition and establish yourselves as the agents to go to . If you’re someone selling a great looking house, the last thing you’ll want is your agent turning up with a compact camera or an slr and no idea how to use it. If your photos make your £60k kitchen look like the lower deck of Noah’s Ark after a nasty storm, then you’re probably not doing your job.
Author: Tom Durrant
Doctor Photo are a leading Image Enhancing Agency. We enhance and transform photos taken by leading estate agents, property developers and photographers, to maximise the appeal and value of their clients’ houses and commercial properties.