Be a market maker - 5 foolproof tactics to get you into the best homes first blogpost for estate agents by Sam Ashdown

If you don’t know who we are, we’re Sam and Phil, and together we own and run the AJ Group, which consists of three companies:

AshdownJones – estate agents for unique homes in the Lakes and Dales

The AJ Mastermind – THE PLACE for independent estate agents who are committed to doubling their business in the next 12 months

Firewave – social content for estate agents


Bragging rights

We turned over £953,000 in sales only last year

We’ve sold two of the highest priced properties in the Lakes, both at £3.5 million

We’re the undisputed (except by our competitors) agent of choice for homes in excess of £500,000

We’ve been featured in all national press, from ITV to the Times

Sam’s written a ‘bestselling’ book

And we’ve had some world-class guests on our podcast, including Gary Vee and Michael Bruce

Ignite Podcast with Gary Vee and Phil Jones

But enough about us, let’s dive into exactly how to get into high-value, ‘not-on-the-market’ homes before your competitors do.

Plus, we’ll tell you here how you can join the AJ Mastermind, and shortcut your success.


The problem (why this information is so vital, right now)

Your competitors are getting into the best homes in your area.

This means you’re seeing surprise boards go up outside those homes you really want to list.

You’re not even getting the chance to pitch for them.

Instead, you’re stuck with middle-market properties, at middle-market fees.

But despite working long hours going door-to-door, relationship-building and going the extra mile for the clients they have got, it’s just not working the way you’d hoped.

But you’re not ready to give up. In fact, if you’re anything like many of the agents we work with, you’re determined to make it work, somehow. If only you can figure it out.

Phil and some agents at our Birmingham direct mail workshop

Phil and some super-ambitious agents at our Birmingham direct mail workshop this year

The truth is, that it’s not your fault. The problem isn’t you. It’s the fact that no one tells you how to run a profitable agency that doesn’t cost you your savings, your health, your family, your friends and your sanity. 

Big ad budgets for SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, print advertising and mass leaflet campaigns are not the route to a successful independent agency. These tactics are for corporates with deep pockets and head office marketing departments. Those guys can wait for years to be profitable, testing campaigns and building brand awareness. But you can’t afford to wait that long. 

You need a strategy – a plan that’s designed specifically for independent agents who want to crack the ‘high value homes’ code. And that’s exactly why we created the AJ Mastermind. And along part of your Mastermind journey, you’ll discover our 12-point plan to optimise your agency, building it so it gives you the personal income you deserve, without you needing to waste money on marketing tactics that don’t work, or getting stuck on the overwhelm wheel, going round and round without getting anywhere.  

What you need is a way of reaching those high-value vendors BEFORE they get in touch with your competitors.

Invitation card

So you get the chance to make your case to them without your two biggest competitors breathing down your neck, undercutting and undermining you.

When you are the only agent in, you get to charge the fee you deserve, not the fee you have to settle for.

You need our secret weapon


The NOM letter.

Our ‘Not On Market’ letters work so well, it’s scary.

The right letter is the next best thing to being in their home.

But the wrong letter will put them off you, forever.

Letters that work are complex. We should know – we’ve sent tens of thousands of them over the last four years. So we know exactly what works, and what gets binned.

If you want a NOM letter that gets results, you have TWO CHOICES:

1. You write it yourself

2. You join the AJ Mastermind


Here’s the DIY approach:

Your NOM Blueprint

Whilst writing your own successful letter isn’t easy, with the right ingredients, you may be able to create a letter that gets responses. And when you’re targeting high-value homes, just one instruction can be worth the hard work it will take to write it.

Here’s what you need to do to create your very own NOM letter:

1. Start with an attention-grabbing headline – your reader may never get further than this if it doesn’t speak to them.

2. Tell stories – people love stories and case studies. Just make sure you position yourself as the mentor or guide, and your client as the hero of your tale.

3. Make it about them – otherwise they will lose interest fast.

4. Don’t hide your personality – it’s the reason a reader becomes an enquirer.

5. Break it up with photos and formatting – otherwise it looks too hard to read.

6. Make it long – our most successful letters are at least four pages long.

7. Hand-write the envelope – make it look personal and arouse curiosity.

8. Stick on a stamp – no franking, stamps look more important, so letters with stamps are much more likely to be opened.

AshdownJones sales letter

Get your letter right, and it could be the most profitable and lucrative marketing you’ll ever do

Here are our results from the letters we sent last month:

1200 letters at a cost of £840

RESULT: 11 valuations and 6 instructions to date (none lost)

Instructed fees £102,600


Last thoughts

Don’t overthink it – this is probably the biggest obstacle to your progress. If you want to be a market maker, and to get through the doors of the homes you most want to list, you have to do things you perhaps haven’t tried before. Trust in the process and tread in the footprints of agents like us who have been there and done it before you.

AJ Mastermind 2022

Work smarter – we all know people who work harder than anyone else, but are they the most successful people you know? Working smarter is about using mentors to guide you and proven strategies (like these) to shortcut to the success you’re capable of.

Don’t give up too early – so many times have we sent out ‘just one more letter’ or tried to follow up with someone one more time, only to finally win that instruction and get another sale in the bag. You may be closer than you could possibly imagine, so don’t give up, keep going.

Dont give up

Your success depends on you – no one else. It’s not your team’s fault if you don’t get that instruction; it’s yours. It’s not the economy’s fault if your revenue falls – it’s yours. And it’s not the fault of your clients if they’re demanding and difficult – it’s yours. Take responsibility and accountability and OWN your results.

Success depends on you

Finally – just do it! If you want something you’ve never had before, you have to do something you’ve never done before. Like…


Join the AJ Mastermind

The AJ Mastermind gives you access to the very best estate agent marketing, training and peer group in the country. 

Click the big gold button below to take a look for yourself, and let’s see if we’re a good fit for one another.

Click here button

Sam and Phil

PS prefer to chat to a friendly human? Give us a call on 015394 40892 or drop Sam an email at

AJ Mastermind 2022 with Sam and Phil

Sam and Phil at our AJ Mastermind Summer Retreat – see more here

What to read next: Customer acquisition – the cold hard truth

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