brand-communication-for-estate-agents

How getting your communication right can lead to better brand awareness and business success.

I’m a marketing coach for estate agents.  (In case you didn’t know.)

I absolutely love what I do; I get to go to some fantastic places to discover innovative ideas, and best of all, I get to work with wonderful independent agents, like YOU.

A challenge of being an independent estate or letting agent, is that unless you’ve been established for years and years, local awareness of your brand can be low. If not enough people know you exist, you don’t get called out for valuations, so your stock levels remain low, so you don’t have many boards out, so you don’t get called out for valuations….

It’s a vicious circle that you need to find a way to break.

The good news is, you don’t need the marketing budget of Foxtons to improve your brand awareness.  You just need better brand communication.

The way you communicate your message will either keep you small fry and struggling, or spring board you to greater and greater success.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best independent agents in the country, and over the years, have distilled the elements of brand communication success into these four essentials:

  1. Memorable communication
  2. Helpful communication
  3. Positive communication
  4. Honest communication

In this post, I dive deeper into each one of these four factors of successful brand communication and show you which agents are getting it right.

I’ve also created a slide deck to give you a pictorial version of this post that you can share with your team, and which includes some examples of great communication. http://www.slideshare.net/SamAshdown/brand-communication-for-estate-agents

  1. Memorable communication

Be sticky – by this I mean, you need to find a way to communicate so it resonates and really sticks in the person’s mind.  In their book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath share their acronym for being sticky: S.U.C.C.E.S.

  • Simple: find the core of any idea. Be a master of exclusion and stick to the core.
  • Unexpected: grab people’s attention by surprising them. Generate interest and curiosity to endure your idea.
  • Concrete: make sure an idea can be grasped and remembered later. Use concrete images to aid memory.
  • Credible: give an idea believability. Look for ways to help people test your ideas for themselves.
  • Emotional: help people see the importance of an idea. Let people feel something.
  • Stories: empower people to use an idea through narrative. Tell stories.
  1. Helpful communication

In his brilliant and ground-breaking book Youtility, Jay Baer explains that the difference between helping and selling is just two letters. If you’re wondering how to make your service seem more exciting, you’re asking the wrong question. You’re not competing for attention only against other your competitors; you’re competing in the newsfeed against your customers’ friends and family, and viral videos and cute puppies. To win attention these days you must ask a different question: “How can we help?”

Your communication must be truly, inherently useful. If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.

  1. Positive communication

I’ve been in countless agency offices, listening to the staff on the phone – or in person – talking to clients. Sometimes I cringe – not at the information that’s being relayed, but the way in which it is being told.

An agent’s job is not an easy one, and sometimes it means delivering bad or just unwelcome news. A recommended price drop; negative viewing feedback; a sale fall-through: these are all tricky conversations to have. But they are also an opportunity for you to shine. If you are positive, genuinely helpful and supportive, your client will leave the conversation feeling better than they would have done otherwise, or with another agent.

Whether these people are vendors, purchasers, landlords or tenants, they are all your clients. You have a duty of care to all of them, no matter in what capacity they come to you. And remember, today’s tenant could be tomorrow’s landlord…

Stay positive; emotions are contagious, so make sure you’re spreading happy, positive emotions that inflate, not deflate. Remember that you have the power to change people’s lives – to help solve their problems, and to reach their goals.

  1. Honest communication

“Be yourself; everyone else is taken”

So said Oscar Wilde, and he was so right. Your competitors can copy your website, your fees and your designs, but they can never copy YOU. Keep your sense of humour (you need it) and try to detach yourself from the outcome. Remember that not everything is about you. If you have a shouty client, maybe they’ve just had some really bad news, and they are just taking it out on you.

Your clients will feel frustrated if they don’t know what you’re actually doing on their behalf. I’ve had many HomeTruths’ vendors complain to me, “I haven’t heard from my agent for months; they just aren’t doing anything”.  This may or may not be true, but if you’re not keeping in touch, what do you expect your client to think?

Show them what you’re doing, and what’s working: take them ‘behind the scenes’ on social media; share your stats with them; be visible at every step.

Unpack your service so they know exactly what you’re doing on their behalf, and how hard you are working to help them achieve their goals.

Agents who are getting their brand communication right

Here are some agents and clients who are getting their brand communication right, by being memorable, honest, positive and helpful:

Angela Westgarth

The Personal Property Shop

Bishop’s Stortford

With a great intro video, hugely helpful blog, and a genuine commitment to sharing her personality, Angela is attracting some fantastic clients who love her personal approach and transparent communication

Adiel Arshad

Howce Estate Agents

Bristol

In a really short space of time, Adiel has made a big impact on the Bristol property market. Offering innovative technology that really helps the vendor, and a comprehensive blog with titles that people actually search for, Howce represents the modern estate agency at its best.

Victoria Green

V-Move

Lancaster

Victoria really takes estate agency marketing to a whole new level. She uses creative property styling and beautiful images to not only help her clients get the best possible price for their home, but also to effectively communicate what’s most important to her brand in an incredibly powerful way. Victoria has really committed to her brand communication, and it shows in everything she does, including her gorgeous newly opened office in Lancaster!

Cherylle Millard-Dawe

Propology

Alnwick

Everything about Propology’s brand communication is clear, bold and different. The words Cherylle uses on her website, like ‘fuzzy’ and ‘pizzazz’, and phrases like ‘hold your hand’, really convey a sense of quirkiness and personality that her clients love. The overall site design and imagery is very ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’, with a splash of lifestyle chic.  What I love most about this brand, is that I feel I’m not engaging an estate agent, I’m asking a friend for help. And that is brand communication at its best.

If you still aren’t sure whether your brand communication is working effectively, and conveying the message you want to, ask your clients this:

“What do you think of when you see our board?”

Is their answer: “That’s the _________________ estate agent”?

 If this is a description you don’t want, then you have some work to do.

I help agents just like you to get their brand communication right. If you’d like to know what your website and social media is saying about you, and how you might be able to make your message stronger, I’d like to hear from you. Just send your website address to sam@samashdown.co.uk and I’ll tell you honestly what it says to me about your brand. 

brand-communication-for-estate-agents

 

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