Yesterday I had a guy on the phone, trying to flog me Adwords. He insisted that it’s the only guaranteed way to get on the first page of Google and suggested a monthly budget of £500 for this result. I explained to him I had a strategy for ranking on the first page of the organic searches, and that I have no desire to pay Google to put me there.
In fact, I rarely click those sponsored results; do you?
It’s true, there are estate agents who swear by Adwords, especially in a hugely competitive area, perhaps you’re one of them. Some London agents are paying £1000 a month for the privilege of one of those top spots. And as my new SEO friend pointed out, “If they are continuing to do it, it must be working”. (But I know plenty of agents who are ‘insane’ according to the Albert Einstein quote.)
As our discussion became more heated (I do love a good debate), he asked me how agents typically generate new leads, and I listed, amongst other things, canvassing. “But that doesn’t work”, he protested.
But he’s wrong, isn’t he?
Canvassing can work
But it can also be a money pit. It’s all about how you use it. If you take a generic design – like that lovely one of a goldfish jumping out of a crowded fishbowl into an empty one (“Need more space?”) and blitz your local area twice a year, then yes – it probably doesn’t work for you.
I spoke to a lovely Surrey agent recently, and as part of her free marketing assessment (book yours here) I asked her if she did any canvassing. “Oh yes,” she replied – “when we’re quiet”. I think I can see the problem.
I also hear from agents that tell me social media doesn’t bring in leads for them. Then I look at their Twitter stream or Facebook page and see update after update of their new property listings. I can completely understand why social media ‘isn’t working’ for them either.
Then there’s newspaper advertising; that old agent marketing staple. We love to hate it, don’t we? Caught in a catch 22 that vendors want to see their property in the paper, but aren’t prepared to pay for it. So we have to advertise our vendors’ properties to advertise that we advertise our vendors’ properties, to get new properties, which we’ll have to advertise because that’s why that vendor chose us.
So what marketing does work?
All of it. Or none of it. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.
If you take the premise that one in seven of us are thinking about moving in the next year, then the size of your community will determine the number of people who may consider using your service.
Your community is made up of personal connections locally, your blog readership, your email list, and your social media connections. If these total say, 1000 people, then around 143 of them will be considering a move over the coming twelve months. Of course, if you are active on social media, and you’ve been building your email list over several years, and you network frequently in your area, that number could be 10,000, 20,000 or even more. Which gives you a nice pool of people that may want to have a chat to you over the next few months about selling their house or becoming a landlord, or even both.
Now we know that we may have all the connections we need right under our nose, what are we going to do to encourage them to take a step towards becoming a client
Let’s think about who they are, and what they need to know.
Meet Bob. He’s the owner of a local business, doing very nicely thank you, who lives in a nice area of town with a family beginning to fly the nest. Bob is considering two things: downsizing to a smaller house, and becoming a landlord. So he’s potentially two clients to you, (if you are sales and lettings). Is Bob going to respond to a goldfish mailer pushed through his door? Probably not. How about your Facebook page, with lots of properties: is he likely to enjoy browsing your updates? Doubtful.
Would he be interested in coming to a free event where he can learn about what’s involved in becoming a landlord and chat to other new investors? Now you have his attention.
How about Debbie: she’s a single mum, works full time, and desperately needs to move to a larger house. Is she going to be watching your Twitter feed for new property listings? Hardly – she’ll be browsing on Rightmove to find her next home. But Debbie could very well be interested in your blogpost entitled “When is the Right Time to Sell my Home”, and even intrigued by your free “Ten Steps to Selling Your House Effectively” downloadable ebook from your website, which she’s happy to exchange her email address for.
The most important element of any marketing you are thinking of doing, is the recipient of that marketing. If you don’t understand the needs of the person on the other end of your leaflet, email or update, it’s not going to work. Only once you have identified their pain and desire, or problem and solution, can you start thinking about the best way to reach them, in the place they are most comfortable, with a message that resonates with them. And yet, time and time again, we put design at the top of our list or priorities, when creating a marketing campaign. Thinking “”if it looks good, it will work” is a flawed approach that will ultimately cost you time, effort and lots and lots of money.
Instead, put yourself in Bob’s shoes, or Debbie’s, and think about what it is that they need from you, right now. Then build an audience of Bobs and Debbies, and anyone who could benefit from your knowledge and experience, and make sure you are the most helpful, useful person they know in the property industry. We need to know, like and trust people, in that order, before ever giving them any business, so you have some work ahead of you before you get that instruction. But do it right, and the instruction is all yours. And it will stick, too.
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