I was on a call with a lovely client of mine recently. She’s in south Manchester, and when she first approached me two years ago, she only had a couple of properties on her books. “How can I get through more doors?” she wanted to know.
Like most agents, she’d tried blanket canvassing and some newspaper ads, and dabbled in social media. Nothing was working and she was getting frustrated, feeling like she was pouring her money down the drain.
Fast-forward two years, she currently has over forty (quality) properties for sale, she’s increased her fee by 50%+ and with some help from me, she’s finally worked out what marketing works, and what just doesn’t.
So what marketing secret did she discover? Where’s the silver bullet and the magic wand?
Here’s what she says is the answer to successful estate agent marketing:
“No one thing works 100%. Everything works a bit. Therefore you have to do everything.”
Of course, there is no magic bullet/wand/spell when it comes to estate agent marketing, but some methods and tactics do work remarkably better than others. Some activities are just too expensive or time-consuming (or both) to use effectively in your business, so I’d recommend avoiding them. And before you all rush to your email to tell me otherwise, these are simply generalisations from across the country (and beyond) working with lots of different agencies. (I know that there are always exceptions – I just don’t need to hear about them…)
Here’s what doesn’t work:
Spending a ton on Google Adwords
One independent agent in Wimbledon I spoke to recently, spends £800 a month on Google Adwords. This brings her in, on average, two enquiries a month, so £400 each. But these are not quality market appraisals. Anyone who has to type into Google, estate agents in Wimbledon, is probably not the best quality vendor for you. Of course, they could be out of area, but more likely, they are at best, looking for a third agent valuation to make up the numbers, and at worst, simply looking for a transaction at the lowest cost.
Keeping your Rightmove rep happy with expensive extra features
Unless you’re a shareholder, don’t bother. There are plenty of better places to spend those extra few hundred pounds a month, for a far better return on your investment.
Advertising every week in the paper
(Do people still do this??) Advertising your properties every week in the local newspaper to prove to vendors that you have plenty of quality stock so that they too will want to list their house with you, even though buyers do not read the paper and book viewings through it, is a very odd way of attracting new vendors.
Why not just market to vendors direct??
A beautiful and pricey website
One of my clients, Alison, from Bedford, commissioned a website from a local web company for £4,000. Within six months, she’d scrapped it, and built her own, for free, on WordPress. It looks better, and does exactly what it needs to do – capture leads from interested vendors and landlords.
Complicated customer relationship management software
Another of my clients – Peter from Aberdeen – was using the leading industry CRM software, spending £600 a month on it, as he had a large database. Within a month of working with me, he had cancelled the contract, and switched his email marketing to my recommended supplier, at £12 a month. It’s simpler, easier to use, and has features he needs, that the expensive version did not.
Sending out thousands of leaflets each month
Canvassing isn’t dead, but it does need the kiss of life. If you just keep sending out thousands of leaflets to every man, woman and child in your area on a regular basis, then of course you will get some valuations. Throw enough mud at a wall and it will stick. But whilst you’re getting 3 new enquiries from 10,000 leaflets, you’re teaching 9,997 NOT to respond to your marketing. Can you afford to burn out your audience in this way?
Time for a change – or become irrelevant
It’s time to stop sending out leaflets that people don’t want, and paying for expensive print advertising that people don’t read.
All you need is a marketing system.
If you’ve been following my content for a while, you’ll know all about my six step marketing system to get you through more doors.
It’s simple, it’s proven, it works.
Step 1 – create a subscriber briber. Something valuable that will motivate a prospective client to exchange their email address for it. Try an ebook, or a checklist, but make it relevant for the target market you want to attract.
Step 2 – take them to a dedicated page. There’s no point in driving website traffic to your home page; there are simply too many distractions on it for them to notice your freebie, and click on it. Create a distraction-free zone, called a squeeze page’, and your conversion rate will skyrocket.
Step 3 – connect an email service provider. This lets you collect email addresses and organise your mailing lists, and keeps you legal by offering subscribers a way to unsubscribe easily.
Step 4 – add an autoresponder series. Write a series of emails that your readers will love to receive. Add it to your email service provider and you have an automated ‘touch campaign’ to keep you top of mind.
Step 5 – drive traffic. Make a list of all the places you can drive traffic from, so that your squeeze page always has fresh leads to convert.
Step 6 – implement! A system isn’t a system until it’s documented and resources allocated. Create a spreadsheet of the daily, weekly and monthly activities, then delegate and monitor progress. This system shouldn’t rely on you to implement it, otherwise you remain the bottleneck.
The top 3 marketing activities to focus on right not (these really work)
1. Direct mail
2. Facebook Ads
3. Instant online valuation tool
Simple? Yes. Easy? No…..
1. DIRECT MAIL
Do you still send out mass canvassing? Does it work?
With industry response rates as low as 1 in 10,000 leaflets, I’m here to suggest a different approach….
As the proud and excited owner of a new estate agency – www.ashdownjones.co.uk – I’ve taken a very close interest in what kinds of direct mail really works, and what gets ignored.
Without sharing all my secrets (after all, you may not be a client yet), here are some fundamental ways you can change your direct mail to improve the response you get:
Remember what’s important:
In that order. There is no point in having a terrific call to action (something they need to do) and be beautifully designed, if your landlord leaflet lands in a student house. However, a receptive recipient may respond (loving the alliteration) to a poorly designed postcard if the message strikes a chord for her personally.
Try: profiling all your previous respondents. Age, sex, location, type of house, life stage, etc. Going into detail with interests, occupation, family status and more, will help you laser-target those potential clients and reach out to them in your next canvassing campaign.
Thinking longer term
Forget property; think people. Focus on how you can get that one person to respond to something you send out, so you have their contact details. If you have selected the right streets for your campaign, you’ll know that 5% will probably move in the next year, and 15% are thinking about it. If you’re in touch with them when they decide to take the plunge, you’ll at least be in with a chance of an appointment.
Try: something completely different. Make the call to action really easy, like a contest, or a survey: something that needs a response.
Canvassing shouldn’t be a standalone activity. It needs support from all of your other marketing campaigns. Social media, newspaper advertising and your email campaign, should carry the same theme and message at that time, for the chance at the best return.
Try: ask your graphic designer to create a multi-channel campaign for you. Pick three media and ask them to design the different formats you need.
I was just talking to a lovely client of mine (they’re all lovely), Jason from Lancashire, at the recent Matt Giggs’ event, where I was speaking. (Sharing the stage with Karren Brady, no less. Get me.) He told me he’d sent out 50 of my ‘Magic Letters’ and had 4 instructions. Wow. Just goes to prove that direct mail is not dead, but it does need the kiss of life.
2. FACEBOOK ADS
Your guide to getting Facebook ads working for you in just four easy steps:
Step 1 – Start building Likes
The best type of advert to start with is a ‘Like’ ad. This is a great way to promote your page, and gets you used to the dashboard, and all the dials and knobs. As an added bonus, it’s much cheaper to advertise to your existing fans than to strangers, so a Like ad, which you can run from just £1 a day, can be an investment in your future advertising campaigns.
The Facebook Ad structure
When you go to create an advert, you’ll see three sections on the left hand side: Campaign, Ad Set, and Advert.
Campaign – this is the WHY of your advert. What are you trying to achieve? You can select one of the 12 options Facebook gives you at this stage.
Ad Set – this is the WHO and the HOW MUCH of your advert. Who are you trying to reach, and how much do you want to spend to do it? You can also decide the way you ‘bid’ for your advert, and create some custom audiences, using your database, or visitors to your website, but that might be a little advanced for some of you at this stage…..
Advert – this is the WHAT of your ad; the image and the text. Some images work brilliantly on Facebook, and some tank. You just have to test several versions, and kill the ones that don’t get responses. Facebook recently changed their 20% text rule, but it still remains best practice to keep text to a minimum on images, if you want your ad to be seen by the maximum audience.
Step 2 – Set the right budget
Don’t spend it all at once – the rule of thumb with your budget, is to start small and increase slowly. Best to start your ad with 25% of your maximum budget, and increase by 25% every three days until you hit your maximum, but only if your advert is bringing you results.
Lifetime budget versus daily budget –use the lifetime budget option; this allows Facebook to spend what it needs to, when it needs to, to make sure your advert is not only getting the reach you want, but also getting actual clicks.
Cost per 1000 impressions (CPM) versus Cost per click (CPC) – Facebook will always charge you more for a cost per action, like a click, as your advert may not perform, and this means they have given up the advertising slot but not made any revenue from you. So the CPC option carries a £5 a day minimum spend, whereas the CPM is just £1 a day. Until you test your adverts, you won’t know whether they perform at less than, or higher than, the Facebook average. Test yours and see what happens.
Step 3 – Target the right audience with the right ad
The effectiveness of your ad is dependent on how warm your audience is.
Your image and text need to reflect this.
Hot – these people are already known to you; they are in your database, perhaps as previous market appraisals or buyers. They are much more likely to respond to your advert, and as your brand and probably face are familiar to them, make the most of this by using your image in the advert.
Warm – these are your blog readers and social followers, who are aware of your brand, but have never interacted with you in a meaningful way. You need to solidify and build the relationship with them through your ad, using helpful information and advice they will respond to, and find useful.
Cold – these are strangers to you, so your image and text needs to offer something compelling that they need. They don’t care about your brand, only the promise it delivers on.
Step 4 – get your text spot on
The text you use in your ad is super important, and you can only really find out what works by testing different variations of it.
I always use this simple formula in my ads:
Trigger point + solution + call to action
The trigger point is a word or phrase to capture the reader’s attention in the newsfeed. The standard marketer’s rule is to use one of ‘gain’, ‘logic’ or ‘fear’ to compel the reader to click.Eg – sell your home for more, faster.
Solution – offer something that will help them in their current situation.
Eg – discover the steps to your dream home
Call to action – what do you want them to do?
Eg – download our free 10 step guide to your dream home today
Text is tricky to get right. Your message needs to be compelling, but not salesy, and this will take practice.
Facebook ads are brilliant
They are an untapped resource by most agents. If your competitor is using them at all, chances are they are doing it wrong. This is a fabulous opportunity for you to really up your game and take your business to the next level, without spending a fortune to get there.
3. INSTANT ONLINE VALUATION TOOL
There is a lot of controversy following round the use of these tools at the moment. Some agents point-blank don’t like and won’t use them, feeling that they undermine a professional, in-person valuation visit. Others are using the tool but getting very little in return, and are considering giving them up.
I think they are great.
Well, just like that expensive drill you bought that’s still in your garage in its packaging, a tool is only any good if you use it properly. Otherwise you may as well save your pennies.
Here are the arguments against using an instant online valuation tool, and my responses:
“The valuation is always miles out”
It doesn’t matter – it’s just there to create the conversation opportunity.
“We want to visit in person”
Of course you do. So do I. Our job is to turn the valuation lead into an appraisal.
“We’re not getting any leads”
You’re not sending traffic to the tool then. I use Facebook ads. If you want to generate leads, pay for the traffic.
“The telephone numbers are fake”
Nurture the enquirer through an automated email funnel instead.
I use ValPal. There are lots of other providers on the market, and truth be told, none of them are accurate for Lake District properties, which are mostly unique; but it doesn’t matter – the tool is there to create a conversation opportunity with someone who you wouldn’t have heard from otherwise.
(If you want to sign up to ValPal, using my special link will give you a discount and me a free glass of Prosecco, or the monetary equivalent.)
So there you have it; the top three marketing activities that are working right now across estate agency, for my clients, and for my agency.
I’m currently working with six clients, creating and implementing a marketing system for them. It’s my unique Client Attraction System – a complete marketing system that once created, just brings the leads in, every single day.
How much time are you spending on marketing that doesn’t work?
The average agency owner I speak to is putting in 10 hours a week on leafleting, designing print adverts, prospecting calls and even door-knocking. And what’s really frustrating, is that not only are you spending all this time every week, but you have nothing of substance to show for it.
Think about that for a minute: no more prospecting; no more leafleting. Instead of your team just sitting round waiting for leads, imagine if you could get them through more doors effortlessly, every single day.
Imagine having those 10 hours a week back – for the rest of your career – what could you do with all that time?
Valuations on demand
Automating your marketing isn’t easy, but it is simple. My complete client attraction system is made up of just four ingredients:
1. Landing page – a page without any navigation, where you can direct visitors
2. Lead magnet – something of value you can offer on this page; an ebook, checklist or online valuation
3. Automated emails – a series of emails that is sent out to each new subscriber automatically
4. Facebook ads – these keep your marketing ‘funnel’ full of fresh new potential clients
This four-part system works for every size and type of agency, from Paisley to Portsmouth.
I’ve been perfecting this client attraction system for a decade, so that you don’t have to. I’ve designed it to be ‘evergreen’, meaning you can mostly set it and forget it. In fact, my system I created and put in place four years ago still works for me today, and every day; and I haven’t touched it since then.
My client attraction system – when set up properly – is proven to bring in an extra £100k a year for my clients – every year.
Pre-register for my next Client Attraction System
My current programme is now full, but I’ll be inviting new applications for my next programme, starting in the next couple of months. Would you like to pre-register your interest? There’s no commitment at this stage, just an indication you’d like to have a chat to see if my Client Attraction System is right for you. You’ll also get first refusal on a place, which is only offered if none of your competitors have applied to join.
Pre-register your interest here
Look forward to talking to you
What to read next: The very best marketing is free (except when it’s not)
What to do next: Do you get my Supertips? They’re jam-packed full of great tips and marketing strategies just like this one, and best still – they’re free! Get yours here -> www.samashdown.co.uk/samsupertips
Speak to Sam: If you’d like to know how I think you could improve your marketing, just answer a few short questions here and I’ll tell you if and how you could be more effective.