Simon Whale has a brand – Does your agency?

Last week a company launched which provides independent estate agents with a platform to become a buying collective.

It’s called Kerfuffle. And the person at the helm is a chap called Simon Whale.

If you have been in the industry for a while you’ll probably have heard of Simon.

You may very well have worked with him when he was a key figure at the software company Reapit.

A lot of people in the estate agency world know Simon. He doesn’t suffer from shyness it seems.

I want to make it clear at this point I’m not working on Simon’s behalf. He’s not a client.

Neither have I ever met him or spoken with him.

We’ve exchanged a couple of emails in the past and a few Facebook messages. But that’s all.

Despite this I feel as if I know him.

And that I like him.

And I get inclination I could trust him.

And that’s because he’s got his brand’s messaging spot on.

I feel I know what Kerfuffle is and what it stands for.

I think it’ll be fun, interesting, honest and connected.

Over the years with Reapit Simon became a personal brand while representing a brand which is very clever. Like one of those Russian doll thingys.

Everyone I work with, and who knows Simon says pretty much the same thing: ‘good guy, knows what he’s doing, mad as a kettle full of newts.’

His personal brand and tone of voice is loud, proud and clear and that sets him up nicely to succeed.
Anyway, enough about Simon, let’s talk about your agency.

Think of your favourite brand.

What three words spring to mind?

James, who I share an office with loves Apple because of their ‘quality, dependency and style.’

One of my favourite brands is Under Armour, when I see the logo I think of ‘style, health and durability.’

I recently surveyed 10 customers of one of my long-standing clients, asking them all two simple questions.
1) What three words spring to mind when you think of XYZ Agents?

The results were VERY interesting.

“Honesty”, “Community”, “Decency”, “Skilful”, “integrity” and a few other positive words kept popping up. Bear in mind these were all customers who had completed their transactions with this agency.

This agency makes a big thing about supporting the community they serve and 6 out of the 10 people I spoke with associated the brand with being community minded.

One big brand perception box ticked among lots of others.

2) On the flip side of this I asked the same ten people what words they associated with a corporate agency in the same area.

Their responses were almost the opposite from their views on the other agency.

“Greedy”, “Clueless”, “Liars”, ‘inexperienced.’ This isn’t me kicking this corporate office in the nuts. All ten people associated at least one negative word with these agents.

However, what was REALLY interesting was that none of these people had ever used the corporate agency.

None. But they all had a bad ‘feeling’ about them.

The negative vibes towards the corporate was based on brand perception. Pure and simple.

And forget all the fancy marketing spiel, when it comes down to it, all a brand is, is what people think and feel about it, whether they’ve ever experienced it or not. Like my view on Simon Whale’s company.

Doing a survey like this is a worthwhile exercise to carry out for all agencies.

Because what you think your brand stands for and what the punters think could be completely out of sync.

And by discovering this valuable information you can tweak / revolutionise your marketing approach and tone of voice so that your agency’s brand is perceived the way you want it to be.

Thanks for reading and here’s to your next completion.

Jerry


The Tale of Two Estate Agents and the £15k Handshakes

I’d like to tell you a tale of two estate agents.

The names have been changed to protect the innocent (no crime was committed but one of the agents was guilty of complacency).

The first agent, let’s call him John, sponsors the summer and Christmas fetes of a local school in his patch. Usual deal – gets to put out a few promo boards, name in the event programme and a mention in the local newspaper – if he’s lucky.

John’s been doing this for years. He now does it without thinking, despite never being able to trace back an instruction to his agency’s support and involvement with the school.

The truth is despite the thousands he’s spent he and his team haven’t really gotten involved.

They don’t attend the events. They have never tried to make more of the open door they’ve created with the school.

They’ve got complacent and believe that getting involved with your local community is simply about dusting off the chequebook a few times a year.

Compare this to agent number two, let’s call her Jane.

Jane recognises the importance of being seen to support the local school in her patch.

But Jane does things differently when it comes to making the most of the opportunity.

She does all the usual things that John does. Pays for boards and takes out a full-page advert in the programmes.

But she also issues her own news releases and social media articles (via me) to promote her agency’s involvement.

And while John is scratching his head about why the schools don’t seem to care about his agency Jane just banked £15,000 worth of commission thanks to her involvement with her local school.

How?

Well Jane and her team always take a stand at the fetes and shows.

They offer the school help in setting up and taking down stalls.

They meet teachers, parents, children.

They shake hands, have chats and when asked offer advice. It’s pure public relations. Pressing the flesh to use an Americanism.

And guess what? This personal approach works.

By getting out from behind the desks and in and among those potential clients Jane’s agency does very well from leads that are generated by meeting people at school and community events.

At the school’s Christmas Fayre in 2018 Jane had a chat with dozens of people. Four asked for a valuation, two of these instructed Jane’s agency at the start of 2019 – both properties sold at 1.25 % commission and were both valued over £600,000 (it’s a nice part of the world is our Jane’s patch).

John is spending an equal amount of his marketing budget on supporting local schools but gets back zero.

The thing he isn’t giving the school is where he’s falling short.

He’s not giving them the valuable gift of his agency’s time and personal attention.

Jane on the other hand applies this proactive approach to ALL the community clubs and groups her agency commits to supporting. It’s paying off and will continue to do so in the future I reckon.

So, who is your agency more like – Cheque book John or One of the People Jane?

It’s up to you.

Thanks for reading and here’s to your next completion.

Jerry

PS: In June I’ll be announcing a UK estate agency first (possibly a World first, I’ll have to Google it but trust me it’s flipping great) when it comes to a unique and fantastic way to build relationships with your local schools, get a load of great PR and do something positive in the community. It is the ultimate win win for all involved.

To find out more simply send me an email saying School’s In.


Raheem Sterling’s Life Lessons for Estate Agents

I’ve always liked Raheem Sterling.

But a lot of people haven’t.

In fact, a lot of people hated him.

He was booed mercilessly by England fans during the abject 2016 Euros and shouldered a lot of the blame for that debacle.

He was painted as a poster boy for modern day footballer stupidity, greed and excess by tabloids.

Even his teammate Kevin De Bruyne admitted recently that he initially thought Raheem would be a ‘dickhead’ when he heard he was joining the Belgian at Manchester City.

De Bruyne went on. “I had read all these things about him when he was leaving Liverpool. That he was greedy and arrogant, a ‘dickhead’ as you say over here. But that was all because of the media reports.

“Truthfully, I don’t have many close friends – inside or outside of football. It takes me a really long time to open up to people. But over time, I got closer to Raheem, because our sons were born around the same time, so they would always play together.

“I really got to know Raheem, and I recognised what a smart and genuine person he is. He couldn’t be more different from what the tabloids were saying.

“This is the real truth: Raheem is one of the nicest, most humble guys I’ve met in football.”

Dele Ali shares that view and went on record about it recently. As do pretty much anyone who has met Raheem. He’s a good guy.

Now for my estate agency industry point.

The Estate Agent Point

Only in the last few months has the public tide of opinion turned in his favour and rightly so.

But hey I’m biased.

He hails from the same corner of NW10 in north west London where I grew up.

And I’m always backing my local lads.

He’s currently favourite to be crowned player of the year this season.

He’s become a leading figure against the fight to extinguish the grotesque flames of racism around football that have shamefully blazed all too brightly.

His gesture to pay for 550 kids from his old school to attend the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion was class.

And the reason why he did it?: “I was inspired when I was given a ticket to watch Chelsea V Man United in the 2007 FA Cup Final – it showed me what was possible.”

And the revival of Raheem shows estate agents, in my opinion, what’s possible when you’re genuine, generous and brave.

Now before people think I’m comparing disgusting racist abuse with the stick estate agents get, I’m not.

But estate agents are often painted by the media in a very negative light, public opinion of them is lower than a Zen Buddhist Monk’s blood pressure and a lot of folk think they’re dickheads.

But again, I’m biased.

That’s because I work with dozens of decent, hardworking, honest and community minded estate agents across the UK.
Raheem’s approach to how he has dealt with things got me thinking.

Firstly, he courageously and correctly challenged the media about the way they handled stories differently depending on a player’s colour.

Estate agents don’t do enough in my opinion to push back against the media when they are getting undeserved negative press. They tend to just bite their lip and take it.

Now don’t get me wrong. Some agents are schmucks as are some footballers who are dickheads.

But the good agents need to make more effort to have their side of the story fairly heard.

If you read a negative story about agents in the media or on a local forum / social media don’t be afraid to share your opinion and put forward your case for the positive.

And Raheem deservedly got a ton of good PR from his generous offer to the schoolkids.

On a smaller, but no less important level, I know plenty of estate agents who give local schools on their patches a lot of financial support through sponsorships and donations.

And in my experience good estate agencies realise the importance of being a positive part of the community and do their bit. Trouble is a lot of them aren’t that good at publicising it, which is where I come in.

Finally, Raheem has shown if you’re genuine, hardworking and kind you can change public perception. Obviously he has a huge platform to let his message and personality come across.

But agents have plenty of ways of communicating with people to.

By using their blogs, social media, marketing, proactive PR and simply being bold enough to challenge people’s stereotypes and misperceptions with charm, honesty and evidence (i.e. client testimonials, reviews etc) agents can paint a different, more honest picture.

Attitudes and perceptions can be changed – Raheem’s sterling efforts (sorry I couldn’t resist the pun) have highlighted that.

Thanks for reading,

Jerry


The one thing I recommend to all my estate agent clients

The past few days I’ve gone back to my roots.

No, I’ve not been having a kickabout on the green in the middle of the council estate in north west London where I grew up. Actually, it still sounds like fun though.

I’ve been donning my journalist’s cloak again (wouldn’t it be great to wear a cloak to work?) and working as an editorial consultant at a company which publishes monthly news magazines.

You’ve probably across similar. Around A5 in size, good ones include a lot of local information and news, average ones just fill it with adverts but still survive.

I recommend ALL my clients take out a monthly page in one of these magazines and commit to six months.
Why? Print it dead right?

No, it’s not. The company I do the editorial consultancy for has grown phenomenally in 13 years since they started. Through a recession, the credit crunch and this Brexit balls up.

Print has changed. Local newspapers are dying which makes space and creates a desire for this type of local magazines. Which can create an opportunity for agents.

Usually estate agents who advertise in these magazines just list stock or run those awful – ‘More Properties Required’ messages.

That’s the wrong and lazy approach in my opinion.

Here are six better uses of that advertising space.

1) Write a quarterly local property market update.
2) Talk about your work in the community supporting schools, clubs etc.
3) Be quirky. One of the most popular articles I’ve written for an agency was how to keep pets calm around fireworks evening.
4) Write about local news – the new gym that opened, the butchers who closed, the school getting an outstanding Ofsted report – you’re a local expert? Show it.
5) Talk about national trends that may affect the local market – land and new homes sales spring to mind.
6) Open it out to local experts – invite a local gardener to write about what to plant in winter or a builder / architect to share their expertise on extensions.

If you work in an area where one of these magazines are published and its been around for more than a year I suggest you give it a go using the approach outlined above.

I’ll leave you with this thought – “Where there is attention, there is advertising opportunity.”

Thanks for reading and here’s to your next completion.

Jerry

PS: For a secret tip on how to get the best deal from these local monthly magazines drop me an email saying: ‘Hit me again Alphonse’ and if anyone can tell me which TV comedy show that line is from I’ll send them a free article.


Are you the Chesney Hawkes of Estate Agency?

Remember Chesney Hawkes?
I’m guessing most people do.
He is the poster boy of the one hit wonder phenomenon.
His record – I am the one and only – topped the charts in 1991. Then he vanished so suddenly it was almost a case for New Scotland Yard’s missing person’s department.
But what does Chesney’s 15 minutes of fame teach estate agents about winning new instructions?
Well last week I was reminded of something that made me think of Chesney.
I received a blog from a property professional which was brilliantly written, interesting and funny but had one fatal flaw.
I visited his blog page and found that this article was one of only two he’d published in 18 months.
He was pretty much the equivalent of Chesney and his one hit wonder.
The key is consistently getting in front of your market / audience.
That applies to blogs, newsletters, fliers, vlogs, you name it.
Obviously, it needs to be useful and interesting information you’re sharing but note that I haven’t said it needs to be brilliant. Often it’s about being seen rather than superb.
Why do you think Coke, Nike and McDonalds, never stop advertising?
They’re huge, everyone knows them, but they’re also smart enough to realise people forget you very quickly if you cease to be seen or heard.
And if you don’t believe that just ask Chesney.
Thanks for reading and here’s to your next instruction.
Jerry
PS: Note that I didn’t use a pic of Mr Hawkes in this article. Why? Because of copyright reasons and that’s been getting a few agents I know in trouble recently. If you want to know a couple of websites that offer copyright free images ping me an email with the subject line ‘Free Pics’.
PPS: When was the last time your agency sent out a printed newsletter? When did you last blog? Too busy? I can help so feel free to get in touch.


Can Bingo Banish Negative Estate Agent Stereotypes?

“You can’t trust a word they say.”

“All they do is whack the property online and wait.”

“They’d stitch up their own granny if it meant getting more money.”

The above are comments I’ve heard about estate agents. Dishonest. Lazy. Greedy.

Defending Decent Agents

These in my opinion are generally untrue stereotypes but in my experience over the years I’ve dealt with a minority of agents who the above statements could be accurately applied to.

But I genuinely believe there are far more decent, hardworking, honest and capable agents than there are those who fuel the negative stereotypes.

However, agents don’t help themselves sometimes with their choice of words.

A friend of mine inspired this blog a while back when he spoke about his experience with a central London estate agency chain. I quote: “They talked so much utter bollocks and jargon that I burst out laughing at one point.”

No Laughing Matter

Here’s a taster of some over used words and nonsensical phrases I see on agency websites and property marketing and which I’ve featured on my new game…… Estate Agent B***ocks Bingo.

It’s a sheet I’ve come up with containing 25 pearls of property patter preposterousness. To play it you go through your website and property marketing materials and every time you spot a word on the sheet you mark it off.

Eyes Down

Professional – A dictionary definition is: ‘engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.’ Unless you’re volunteering at your agency you are by definition a professional. And so is a teacher, cleaner, bin person or solicitor or anyone else who gets paid for doing what they do.

Moments from the Town Centre: Jesus Christ. It’s about a flat overlooking a Tesco Express. In all honesty it should’ve said ‘you’ve more chance of finding Shergar being ridden by Lord Lucan while giving Elvis a backie, than bagging a nearby parking space.’

Bijou – What the f**k? I asked Mrs L what she thought it meant and she replied: “It’s a little dog isn’t it?”

The point is the words you choose and use matter. They create your agency’s tone of voice and if that tone doesn’t resonate with people ALL your messages could fall on deaf ears.

For a copy of the Estate Agents Bollocks Bingo Sheet simply reply to Jerry@propertyprexpert.co.uk with ‘Real Talk’ as the subject line.

Thanks for reading and here’s to your next instruction.

Jerry

PS: Check out this video me and my long-suffering colleague James recorded about some of the absolute nonsense used when it comes to creating property listings.


How will you be remembered when you’re gone?

I sat down this morning to write an article.

Everything was planned. I knew the message I wanted to make and the call to action I’d deliver at the end.

I intended to share my belief that the words agencies use, whether written or spoken, can have a massive impact on their success, raising profile, building trust and driving instructions.

I was going to shine a light on some of the ludicrous things I see written on estate agency websites and marketing materials.

But then something far more important came up.

And it’s well worth sharing.

How will your kids remember you?

Before getting my head down to write I browsed the BBC News website and my attention was grabbed by an article headlined: How parents can ‘talk’ to their children after death.

It was a long but beautiful article about an amazing lady called Gaby Eirew, who has created a free app called RecordMeNow, so that parents (often suffering with terminal illnesses) can leave messages for their children in future years.

My biggest fear is not being around for my daughter as she grows up. She’s nearly seven and not being there for her scares the shite out of me. As I know it does for most other parents.

The app is designed to help children and young people who have been bereaved to remember their parents when the passing of time erodes precious memories.

It’s about leaving an ‘emotional legacy’ as the article’s author, Dougal Shaw, put it.

Gaby asked more than a hundred people what they would want to know about or hear from a lost loved one.

This brought me back to the profound power of words.

Her studies found the following, and I quote the article: “The single most important thing people said they wanted to hear was that their parent was proud of them, that they loved them and to hear them say that with their name.”

That’s exactly what I told Charlotte this morning as she ate her Weetabix and watched some annoying American kids on YouTube.

The smile in her little eyes was all the evidence I needed that Gaby’s research was spot on.

Next week I’ll write up the article I had planned. It involves bingo and estate agency jargon.

But for now, that feels trivial.

So, give your kids a hug, tell them you love them and remember at the end of the day we’re all just monkeys that got lucky.

Thanks for your time,

Jerry

PS: Here’s the link to the article:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-47334604#


Estate Agency Spot the Difference

Different: not the same as another or each other; unlike in nature, form, or quality.

The above is a dictionary definition of the word different.

I like different.

Being different gets you noticed and remembered.

Last week I received a Google review on my Estate Agent Content site. It read: “Jerry is different (in a good way 🙂 and provides superb content along with clear advice on how to use it alongside existing marketing activity. Recommend.”

I’m guessing the generous reviewer is referring to my approach to marketing and the tone of voice I use in my blogs, emails and communications.

Compared to other marketing and PR companies my tone of voice is intentionally down to earth and unpretentious.

Because at the end of the day I’m just someone who taps words into a machine and hopes those words inspire people to take some sort of action. I’m not a doctor, teacher or some other important person in society.

This ain’t about me – it’s about you

Being different stands out.

Foxtons stood out when they first introduced their cool little Minis to scuttle around over-priced areas of London.

Innocent took a different approach to the words used on labelling their drinks and quickly dominated the smoothie market.

Power Bespoke estate agents in Reigate offer clients a Move Machine. It’s a transit van their customers can use for free on their moving day. That’s different, plus the van is well sign-written so it’s another form of mobile marketing.

I owned a removals and storage company back in the early 2000s in west London and we smashed the market to bits (not literally I hasten to add).

I was warned that there were 100s of removal companies in London. There were. But there were not hundreds of good ones. There was a lot same old same old.

We did a simple thing differently which made the business a runaway success. We were the first removals company to guarantee all quotes would be sent within 24 hours of our visit. It. Worked. Wonders.

I ended up selling the company for a decent profit four years after starting it.

Estate Agency Spot the Difference

In an ultra-competitive world like estate agency, or removal companies in London, being different can be the difference between success and failure.

What do you do differently?

Lots of agencies have branded cars but how many have move machines?

All agencies have databases but how many of you send out birthday cards to landlords?

All agencies, unless your one-person outfits, have staff but how many run employee of the month contests?

All agencies say they care but I only know one who sent staff on a sign language course due to wanting to provide a more inclusive service.

Estate agents are generally viewed by the public as all being the same – unless they do something remarkably different.

Be a little bold

There’s loads of ways to be different.

To stand out.

To get noticed. To be remembered.

You just have to brave enough to try.

Thanks for reading and here’s to your next instruction.

Jerry

PS: I highly recommend This is Marketing by Seth Godin. I listen to it during my trips back and forth to London and beyond. This guy knows his stuff and is the Duke of Being Different.


Is this how estate agents can get up and running?

It was Mrs L’s birthday yesterday.

She likes running and one of my goals this year is to run a marathon.

Quite why I want to run 26.2 miles for the first time at 47 years-old I’m not sure.

I guess it’s part of my mid-life crisis. But it’s safer than having an affair with my secretary (ain’t got one) and splashing out on a convertible with a personalised number plate (ain’t got the motivation or money for either).

Anyway, I digress.

Cool Runnings

As part of Mrs L’s birthday present I said I’d take her to have a spend up in a running shop in Hove.
If you haven’t been to Hove it’s a place where everyone tries really, really hard to be ‘edgy’ and cool.

But as my mate Marvin’s Jamaican old man once memorably said: “class doesn’t shout and cool doesn’t try.’ For my money it’s worth reading this blog just for that Caribbean piece of wisdom.

Back to the running shop

The shop is called Run. And it’s run by a guy who knows his stuff when it comes to running.

This guy is an expert. An experienced runner, very friendly and affable.

We told him we both wanted running shoes and he went to work.

An hour and half later and FOUR runs in different trainers around the block we parted with £300 for a pair each.

The thing that dawned on me afterwards was that I didn’t even think twice about the cost as we’d already received a bundle of value from his advice, tips on avoiding injuries and a great story about a 90-year-old customer of his who is still running daily.

Are you really an expert estate agent?

People will pay more to be served by experts.

That’s whether you are selling a pair of trainers or selling your agency to a vendor or landlord. I intentionally didn’t say selling a house because before you sell their house they must buy YOU.

We bought into the running shop owner because he used advice, examples, stories, products and time to show us he was an expert.

I’ve already left him a five-star review on Google. As have nearly 70 others giving the store an overall rating of 4.8 stars out of five.

Another lesson for us all there is a big part of my confidence in him came from being influenced by these reviews during my pre-visit research. What reaction would your Google Reviews get?

For the record mine can be seen by Googling Estate Agent Content. The photo that accompanies it is me getting photobombed by my then five-year-old daughter.

How do you show prospective clients that you are an expert?

What steps do you take to make the fee a secondary consideration after the level of service and expertise the client can expect from you?

And by the way if you’re ever in Hove and see one of the omnipresent hipsters wearing different coloured trainers as he sips his oatmeal latte I did it first – the different coloured trainers thing not the drink.

Thanks for reading and here’s to your next instruction.


Estate Agents and the Temple of Doom

Hi Jerry

I love boxing.

I admire the boxers’ skills, strength, sportsmanship (including women boxers) and their stories.

I watched an event on Saturday where the headline bout was an English boxer Ted Cheeseman fighting a Spaniard called Sergio Garcia (it wasn’t the golfer moonlighting) for the European Super Welterweight title.

Cheeseman was being billed as a real hot prospect while Garcia looked more like a mild-mannered accounts clerk than an unbeaten continental champion.

From the first bell Cheeseman’s plan was obvious. He would walk through Garcia, who isn’t a concussive puncher, and eventually he’d nail him with his own heavy hands.

By round six it was obvious Plan A wasn’t working. Garcia was jabbing the head off his opponent.

By round ten it should have been stopped as the gutsy Cheeseman was taking a thorough hiding. The bout ended with Cheeseman’s face grotesquely swollen and Garcia winning the judges’ scorecards unanimously.

Cheeseman, as incredibly brave and determined as he was simply had no Plan B when his initial tactics didn’t work out. Now for the estate agent link.

The Estate Agent Marketing Pillars

I see a lot of estate agents who rely on just one or two marketing tactics to win new instructions.

That’s risky. If just one of those tactics fail, let’s take Facebook Ads as an example, that reduces their marketing effectiveness by 50 per cent. Potentially catastrophic.

The best approach to market any business is to have a Temple of Marketing with plenty of pillars holding the roof up. After all, if the pillars crumble the roof comes down and it’s Goodnight Vienna.

These marketing pillars can vary from social media to Google AdWords, from networking to winning awards and plenty of others. Great agencies have loads of pillars supporting their Temple of Marketing.

On the House

I’ve come up with a PDF highlighting 14 marketing pillars which could be used to drive business to your estate agency. The list is not exhaustive and I’m sure you can come up with lots more of your own.

The key is to have more than one plan, more than one way of getting your business noticed and winning the marketing bouts against your local rivals.

If you want a free copy of my Estate Agent Marketing Pillars send me an email with ‘It’s a knockout’ in the subject line.

I’ll even include a blank version where you can list all your marketing methods and see how your agency’s Temple of Marketing is shaping up.

Thanks for reading and here’s to your next instruction.

Jerry

PS: March 1st is the date I’ll be launching EA Articles 2019 – a collection of 10 new articles on a range of topics vendors and landlords are interested in. To register early bird interest just email me.

I’ll give you a special preview a week before they are launched and a price so attractive it glistens like an ice-cold drink on a boiling hot day after a 12-hour shift shovelling sh…oal while wearing a wooly onesie.