Barn door with some boots lined up outside

This post originates from a webinar I did recently titled Get Through More Doors in 2020 – if you’d like the slides, just message me on Facebook here and I’ll send you them straight away.

Since we launched our independent agency, AshdownJones, we have doubled our turnover every year. We’ve only been able to do that because of the marketing strategies I’ve described in this post. Follow them, and you’ll achieve the success you seek and the results you deserve.

We speak to independent agents like you, every day. And most of you have a serious problem: you are wasting money on marketing. BIG money. But it’s not your fault. With so many industry suppliers, all trying to sell you a quick fix, how are you supposed to know what works? But is the marketing you’re doing working for you?

If you choose the wrong kind of marketing, bad things happen:

  • You will never have enough quality valuations
  • Your staff will run off to the competition
  • Every day will be a fight
  • You will be constantly overdrawn – financially and physically.

But when you find marketing that really works, it feels fantastic:

  • Your diary will be full of the best, quality valuations
  • Your team will love being part of a successful agency
  • You’ll have the tools you need to take your agency to the next level
  • A healthy bank balance = freedom in business, and in life
  • So you can make your own choices, driven by your personal goals.

A question for you: if you woke up tomorrow and your biggest business challenge was solved, what would be different for you: more valuations, higher fees, or increased profit?

I asked this question of hundreds of independent estate agents on a webinar recently and 100% of them said they wanted more valuations. Deducing correctly that once you are in a position where you can fill your diary – at will – with quality valuations, higher fees and increased profit will inevitably follow.


Introducing The Profit Pyramid™

Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL

These are the only three marketing elements – the 3 Cornerstones – we use In AshdownJones to get through the right doors – those ones we really want. As we find exactly what marketing works for us, and teach it to our clients, who then feed back their results to us. This means that all our ideas have been tested again and again, to make sure that we only teach techniques and tactics that actually work, so you can be confident of implementing them into your agency and getting the same great results we and our clients get.



Firstly, let’s clarify what we mean by ‘direct mail’. The easiest differentiator, is that it’s mail addressed to a person, address, or both. Unlike leaflets, which are usually sent indiscriminately, door-to-door.

So think of Direct Mail as being a letter, in an addressed envelope, and perhaps with the addressees’ name.

Of course leaflets are so much easier –  but are they effective?

Industry response rates for leafletting are dismal: you’re lucky if you get one good enquiry per 10,000 leaflets. That’s a response rate of 0.01%. I know a quality, independent agent who sends out 30,000 leaflets per month in the hope of getting just one market appraisal. With an average fee in her area of around £7k, she can justify it, but I still have a problem with this approach:


What about the other 99.99% of people who didn’t call you?

If you keep sending out thousands of leaflets on a regular basis, you’re simply teaching your audience to ignore your marketing. And that’s a dangerous precedent to set. Mass canvassing damages trust. Not to mention the environment, and your bottom line too. Better by far to be selective in your mailings, targeting small groups of homeowners, with a carefully crafted series of letters. A stamped, handwritten envelope is certain to be opened, and anyone who does take the time to read two or even three pages of a well-written letter, is far more likely to take an action at the end of it. After all, they will have invested several minutes absorbing and engaging with your content, as opposed to a few seconds it would take them to digest the text on a leaflet.


What are you going to say in your direct mail?

The medium of a leaflet tends to lend itself to something urgent, like an offer. I’ve seen dayglo leaflets offering free conveyancing, ‘sell for £999’, half price fees, and worse. With its attention-grabbing font and ‘what should we put on the back?’ approach to design, a leaflet is never going to attract anyone other than a bargain hunter. If that’s the type of client you want, a leaflet campaign should work well for you.

If however you’re looking for quality vendors, like the independent agents I work with are, then it’s time to change your approach: from leaflet to letter; short text to long copy; mass mailing to targeted campaigns.  You need to invest some time and effort into creating the right letter. Thinking carefully about your core message, and spending time writing with your ideal client in mind, means you’ll create a letter that could still be winning you quality instructions years from now.


The proof is in the pudding

In our first year of opening AshdownJones, Direct Mail was directly responsible for £351,964 in fees for us. In fact, we worked out that every single letter we sent generated £977 in fees. Not a bad rate of return, wouldn’t you say?
And only last month, we sent out just 55 letters to targeted homeowners, and got back 7 responses; 6 phone calls, and 1 email. So far, 5 valuations booked. And as we’re pretty much converting at 90%, even at 1.5% (highest in our area by far), we know we’ve probably generated at least £40k – £50k – from just 55 letters.

“Nothing consistently drives money and business more than direct mail”

We hear a lot of myths around direct mail:

          X It’s outdated
          X It’s irrelevant
          X It’s unwanted
          X It’s an intrusion
          X It’s too expensive
          X It’s too time-consuming
          X It’s too difficult
          X It’s unwanted
          X It doesn’t work.

..none of which is true.  Instead, these are the facts:

Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s consistent
Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s predictable
Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s profitable
Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s systemisable

Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s highly targeted
Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s differentiated
Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s a filter

Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s evergreen

Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s trackable
Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL     It’s simple (but not easy).

The 5R ActivatorsTM

Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL Over the last one and a half decades, I have sent out at least half a million pieces of direct mail. In the last two years, Phil has sent out thousands of letters for AshdownJones, and our Firewave Flare clients combined. Our experience has shown us exactly what does – and doesn’t work, in the world of direct mail. And we’ve condensed all of the metrics, results, tactics, techniques and tricks into just five success factors:

1. Research – to be sure you’re sending your letters to the vendors you want, and who will actually welcome your approach, you need to do your research. We target properties on the marketing in the top three council tax bands. Whatever your target market is, you need to make sure you do your research thoroughly.

2. Rip – getting your direct mail opened is crucial. After all, if the recipient doesn’t even open your mail, there’s no chance they’ll respond, and your wonderful letter will be wasted.

a. Use a standard sized envelope; we find DL is best.
b. Mix your envelopes up – use colours sporadically to make sure your letters aren’t identified by their colour.
c. Don’t use your brand colour, or you’ll raise their sales barriers before they’ve even opened your letter.
d. Hand-write the address, so it looks like a personal letter.
e. Use a stamp, not a frank. Bills are franked; personal letters are always stamped. And use 2nd class; our research shows no uplift in response from 1st class stamps, so save your pennies.

3. Read – to get your recipient to read your letter, make it long. Long copy always performs better than short copy. Long letters look more important, and you can make it more educative, and therefore more helpful. Break up the text with short sentences, punchy paragraphs and images.

4. Response – it’s not enough to get your letters delivered, opened and read. The point of your letter is to elicit a response. The best and most successful strategy to get a response is to make your call to action (CTA) easy and compelling. If you ask them to call you, you’ll get less responses than if you invite them, for example, to download a checklist or a free guide.

5. Rinse and Repeat – the only way to determine which direct mail tactics work, and which really don’t, you need to keep accurate records. Monitor elements like the colour of envelopes used, the day of the week you send them, and the images you use in your letters. Do more of what works, none of what doesn’t, and make sure you get your direct mail send-outs on a schedule. If your direct mail campaigns rely on you, they may never happen. Assemble a ‘mailing box’, full of envelopes, printed letters, stamps and a list of addresses, so that you can delegate the mail-outs and ensure they get done regularly, no matter what.


In a nutshell…

  • We could not have built AshdownJones without Direct Mail
  • One good letter can be worth hundreds of thousands of ££s. 
  • Your competitors are doing it wrong (or not at all)
  • Take the time needed to write your letters
  • Test, test and test some more
  • Remember your reader may become your client
  • Start the relationship as you mean to go on. 

So there you have it – our complete direct mail strategy. Try it yourself, and let me know how you get on.

Or if you’d like to know more about how we can provide you with the letters and addresses you need to make your Direct Mail a huge success, maybe Firewave Flare is the answer.

Here’s what we can give you:

  • The best direct mail letters in the industry
  • Perfectly designed and professionally printed
  • A hand-picked address list of 200 researched and provided to you
  • A new letter every month

Just press go and see your new leads come in within days, for just £250 a month (+ vat), on an exclusive area basis.

To discover more about what Firewave flare can do for you, and whether your area is available, visit Firewave and register your interest today.


PS Questions before you register your area? Talk to us now on 015394 40892 

Get Through More Doors in 2020 CORNERSTONE 1: DIRECT MAIL

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