Your Advertising Budget – are you wasting your money?

The biggest costs of running an agency are staff, rent and rates and marketing .. all costs, all expenses. Traditionally, marketing spend has always been seen as an expense. Take newspaper advertising; you create your newspaper advert, the newspaper prints it, the punters read it and you hope that will turn into people wanting to rent/buy houses from you and landlords/vendor wanting to give you their properties to sell or let … but 99.99999% of newspapers then end up in the recycling bin or wrapped round a bag of Screen-Shot-2014-12-02-at-13.15.23-300x175chips (yummmmy!) . Think about it, your lovely newspaper advert that costs you £200, £300, £400 a week, will be read then thrown away, either to be soaked in chip fat and oil or recycled to make looroll tubes! Then there are your 10,000 leaflets you get designed lovingly for brand awareness , printed and delivered … 9,999 that will join the pizza and kebab leaflets.`

You create the ad and distribute it over a fixed time frame and then it’s over (ie the newspaper goes out, gets read, then chucked). Hopefully, that expense will transfer into some brand awareness or landlord or vendor asking you for free valuation, but if doesn’t, the opportunity itself is over.  I don’t know about you, but I have hardly heard anyone say, ‘I rang you because I saved this leaflet you delivered 6 months ago’ or ‘I remembered your newspaper advert said a month ago, landlords wanted…I’m a landlord’.

But what if there was another way of marketing? I believe there is and they call it, ‘content marketing’. You might hear me use the phrase ‘landlord-farming’.

However, all ‘landlord-farming’ is, is ‘content marketing for letting agents’ ….just by another name.

Whatever you call it, it is marketing that is different and so it needs to be viewed and treated differently.

Whatever you want as an agent—whether its landlord retention, free valuation generation for the lettings , SEO, Twitter, FB or Linkedin presence, even sales free valuations (Paul Tobias-Gibbins, an agent from Essex started ‘landlord-farming’ nearly a year ago to get more landlords. His lettings business has grown by around 100% – not bad when you consider he was a well established agent in the town taking a decent market share before he started the program. However, his sales exchange income is 130% higher – but more of that in an up and coming video interview with Paul) .

No matter what you want , if you adopt this type of marketing, you are in essence, spending either time on writing the content or paying a ghostwriter to write it for you. Then you are distributing it to all the movers and shakers and landlords in your town. For that reason alone, you need to think differently about sorting that content. Content-Marketing

Whether you write it or ask me to ghost write for you, it shouldn’t be seen as an expense (ie cost), but purchasing an asset! An asset you say Christopher? Yes an asset. By becoming your town’s ‘Property Guru’, by talking about your town’s property market, how values have gone up in one area, but down in another, how yields are rising in one town but dropping in another .. writing this awesome content is a form of marketing/advertising that isn’t an expense but could be seen as an asset. According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of the word asset

“An asset is an economic resource. Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value and that is held to have positive economic value is considered an asset. Simply stated, assets represent value of ownership that can be converted into cash (although cash itself is also considered an asset)”.

Writing articles about the local property market remain out there on the internet for ever, be that on blogs, on social media, on podcasts on video, those pieces of content create value in a number of important and significant ways. The first is the fact that the finished content is used over and over, over a long period of time; it has an indefinite shelf life. The content you create has value long after the investment is paid off (fitting the definition of an asset – see above).

googleseoMy blog posts from 2013 and 2014 (link below in the sign off) have enabled me to be at the top of Google rankings for phrases as ‘Attracting More Landlords’, thus those posts are creating value and delivering returns a couple of years after writing. Agents contact me today because they have been reading my blog and listening to my podcast for weeks and months .. they create value.

Even today, I received a lovely phone call from an agent in North London, who left a message on my answerphone. On the blog, I said pick up the phone anytime. When he left his message, you could tell in his voice he was uncertain I would call back. A few hours later, I called back and we had a lovely chat. It became quite apparent early on he couldn’t afford my ghostwriting skills, but I didn’t finish the call, I gave him some advice about what to do and at the end of the 20 minute phone call, he was thanking me profusely. Why, because I believe in mantra of paying it forward. What is paying it forward? The phrase is used as the opposite of payback in Catherine Hyde’s book: when someone does a good deed for you, instead of paying them back, pay it forward by doing a good deed for someone else.

Secondly, content can be and should be recycled, again creating value that will produce 85353-377x318-Recyclebusiness. You may start by writing the blog post, but then if you record yourself dictating it, you could turn that into a podcast. You could combine two or three articles to form a newsletter . You could buy a selfie stick and start videoing yourself, you could post it on Facebook and Linkedin. Instead of thinking like an agent, think and act like the local property guru, a publishing machine of lovely content about the local property market. When you think like a publisher, everything you do is built towards building a long term asset. You will stop spending money on advertising and marketing, as some (if not all) will pour down the drain never to be seen again and spending time and money investing in the building a library of awesome content ( in blogs like this one in Derby ) , all about the local property market, thus creating long term engagement with existing and potential customers through impressive content.

It’s all about creating impressive content that you have written (or you have had ghost written for you) about the local property market.ghostwriter-249x300

But just as vital in writing the content is the delivery of the content to the landlords in your town. I know of one agent who had 1,000 ‘drawdroppingly’ good newsletters written and printed for him. Two months later, 800 were still sitting in the box next to his desk. However, if you treat content as an asset, the people in your lettings agency won’t treat content as that fluffy thing, that they can take or leave.

Local people are obsessed about the local property .. but they have to be made aware of the content. You need to bring it to their attention. If you don’t, you have a marketing problem, not a content problem. I know it sounds a little daft, but you can’t expect to sell a house if you don’t put it on the market, so how to expect to attract landlords if they don’t see the content? Yet, a lot of agents do just that with their content, they produce the content but then don’t let landlords and prospective landlords know about it.

I’ll give you some advice, use Linkedin, its full of220bbcf33f6f55e1d96142729824b5d2 40 to 70 year old middle class males in senior roles in your town .. connect up with them, this is the demographic of a typical landlord, isn’t it? Once someone connects up with you, go to their Contact Info and nine times out of ten, you get their email address .. how good is that?

Use Facebook and its truly awesome ‘Custom Audiencedfdfssss Lists’, where I have seen click thru rates (CTR) of ranging from 4.5% to 15.4% (yes four point five per cent to fifteen point four percent) . According to Google, the optimal CTR on Facebook ad is 0.11%-0.16% and Average CTR is 0.04%-0.05%. If you want to pick up the phone, happy to tell you what you need to do.

Get those newsletters hand delivered to every business in your town. Again, if you need any inspiration, just follow these examples, by hardly mentioning your firm, and let the content shine.



Tunbridge Wells

By writing content like this and getting it out to the landlords, movers and shakers in your town, I guarantee you will get more landlords wanting to come and speak to you… they won’t come straight away, but put in the sweat-equity, put the time in and with me, by your side, together we can grow your lettings agency .

Why, because being a letting agent is hard work .. really hard work. With landlord apathy, those agents doing silly fee deals, touting hardsell tactics by the bully boy agents and more competitor agents than you can shake a stick at .. it’s never been as hard than today to be a letting agent, to grow a lettings agency and be successful. I have walked in your shoes and it’s hardwork. However, I made a commitment three years ago to discover a new way to attract landlords, a new way to be a letting agent that wasn’t hard sell, that wasn’t in your face, that harked back to the old days. After many trials and errors, I discovered a way to attract landlords, a way that worked everyime if it was implemented correctly. Whether it’s called ‘content market for letting agents’ or ‘landlord farming’, it’s the same thing …

Its all about creating impressive content about the local property market that you have written (or you have had ghost written for you) … then delivering it to the landlords in your town.

Anyway, I have said what I wanted to say today. Have a lovely weekend



Christopher Watkin pic

Want to read more?  I am the Author of the Landlord Farming Blog which has over 280 posts going back to 2013, on attracting landlords to a letting agency

Want to listen to more about the ideas I mention? Listen to the UK’s first iTunes approved Podcast for Letting Agents, a podcast on how to improve your lettings agency.

Got something on your mind? I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic – please leave a comment, or if you are shy, email me on

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

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