Two words estate agents could ban

A 70-second read.

I had a lightbulb moment yesterday.

I was listening to a podcast, Leadership Revealed, hosted by well-known industry figure John Paul.

It’s full of sensible advice, and he’s got an excellent track record in business, so he obviously practices what he preaches.

He said something along the lines of imagining being on your death bed and reliving your life. The things you did for your family, the friends you made, your highs and lows.

But one phrase stood out for me. He spoke of thinking about how we had used our lives to ‘serve our community.’
Community is a word not enough estate agents pay attention to.

Too much focus is on the ‘target market’ or the ‘intended audience’. So, from here on, I suggest we ban the words market and audience and replace it with – community.

Market suggests buying or selling. And if you are treating people like commodities don’t have a whinge up when they start returning the favour and basing their decisions on price alone.

But when you serve the community, genuinely and generously, you start standing out from other agents who care only for the market.

I’ve always thought that a lot of agencies are focusing on market share at the expense of customer/community care.

Chris Watkin’s video methods for estate agents are all about getting out there and meeting and showcasing their community.

The best Facebook pages have a sense of community rather than commerce.

I think we’re in an age where we need to share much, much more than we sell.

Whether we’re estate agents, content writers, mechanics, fitness trainers or anyone else in business for that matter when we share with our community, we show we care for it.

And that spirit of generosity usually finds its way back to us.

Thanks for reading.

Jerry

PS: In the spirit of sharing, I wanted to give you the heads up about Perry Power’s upcoming two-day course for estate agents looking to grow their business. Like John and Chris, Perry’s one of the estate agency community’s givers. The link for more info is below:

Built to Grow Power Bespoke


Can Pavarotti Make a Difference for Estate Agents?

There are more than 7 billion people in the world and only one person exactly like you.

That’s something I remind my young daughter of regularly.

And if I was to believe most agencies’ marketing there are more than 16,000 estate agency brands in the UK but only one like theirs.

9.99 times out of 10 that’s a load of nonsense. There are lots of agencies who look the same, sound the same, act the same. You’d be hard pushed to spot the difference to be honest.

Being different from your rivals and being able to highlight it in your marketing and when you are on valuations can often be the difference between thriving or simply surviving.

The easiest way to show your agency is different is to be seen and heard to be different.

Close your eyes and imagine this. Actually, screw that, it doesn’t work for a written blog so just read on.

Let’s say 10 agents are in a room trying to get the attention of Mrs Ambrose who has a three-bed semi to sell but is unsure about who to instruct.

9 agents are jumping around like excited salmon screeching ‘pick me, pick me, pick me.’ (Talking fish?)

It’s becoming inaudible background noise until one agent stands up proudly and in a voice that would make Pavarotti weep with deep joy sings ‘Piiiiiiiiiiiickkkkkkkkkk meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.’

Who do you think good old Mrs Ambrose is going to notice?

Look I’m not saying our Pavarotti soundalike will win the instruction, but I could guarantee they’d get noticed above the noise. And that gives them a chance.

Now I’m not suggesting you sing to your prospects – helluva point of difference though – I’m just encouraging you to try something different to stand out.

It could be using informal photos of your team taken when they are away from the office, walking the dog, fishing, with their kids. I’ve seen an agency use this approach well recently.

It could be adding photos of your team on for sale or to let boards.

It could be canvassing campaign letters which don’t sound like canvassing campaign letters.

It could be by donating 10 per cent of your annual profits to local community causes. Very different and if I owned an agency I’d pursue this approach as I think it’d be worth it in PR and marketing returns alone – not to consider how motivating it would be for staff.

And if you are regularly putting content out there try using a more down to earth tone and talk about other subjects than just the local property market and homes.

The amount of people looking to buy or sell or rent or let in your patch at any given time is miniscule. Cast your content’s topic net wider and get noticed by a far bigger audience which will position your agency better in the future.

And that last point is where members of my Estate Agent Content Club are standing out as being different, with a little help from moi.

If you’re interested in finding out what makes them and the articles, letters and content they have access to so different from their rivals drop me an email saying ‘Jesmondo, show me don’t tell me.’

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

Jerry@propertyprexpert.co.uk


Is your estate agency digitally dirty?

If you’re an estate agent who genuinely cares about what people think of your agency please read on.

If you couldn’t give a monkey’s then I wouldn’t bother to be honest.

Now let me explain that subject line.

In no way am I making scurrilous assumptions about how you or your team spend your time online in between valuations, unrealistic vendors and dealing with stuck up solicitors.

But there’s something I think you should be aware of. Really aware of.

Is your agency digitally dirty?

If you have a blog or news page on your website that’s not been updated in a month, it’s the digital equivalent of a dirty, greasy finger smeared, skanky looking office window.

Would you really expect potential vendors or landlords to peer through unclean windows which needed a good wash? Of course not.

And a Facebook page which just lists properties isn’t very social now is it?

That lack of online action and is sending a message – a bad one.

NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS

If you don’t have the time or expertise to keep your blog, Facebook page or news section updated with quality well written content, the good news is I have something which will cure your digital dilemma.

Allow me to introduce the Estate Agent Content Club.

Benefits of being a member include the answer to one of your problems – A well written, topical article accompanied by a copyright free image delivered to your inbox each week.

AND members get a monthly marketing critique on one piece of their marketing – could be a web page, canvassing letter, flier or advert. Fresh eyes = fresh thinking folks.

AND members get access to emergency PR cover. What’s that you ask? Let’s say you get bad coverage online on social media or from your local paper – well I’ll don my Spin Doctor coat to advise you on the proper way of dealing with these issues, so your agency doesn’t come out looking bad
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AND members get access to a monthly newsletter filled with ideas on marketing, mindset, movement and mucking about. Yep mucking about.

AND because non-competing members are all in it together it creates an idea lake of marketing magic and things that are working right now to attract new customers.

You’ll also get a 20 per discount on my hourly rate for any ad hoc copywriting, marketing or PR work you need doing.

All of that for £12.50 a week! (A direct debit of £50 a month with no contracts – if you don’t like what you’re getting leave – no hard feelings).

It’s all done on a postcode exclusive, non-competing basis.

All you need to do is email me: Jerry@estateagentcontent.co.uk the postcodes your agency serves.

And if your areas are still available I’ll send you a couple of samples of the quality content my members already receive.

If you have any questions whatsoever why not be all old school and give me a telephone call on 07725 554902?

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

Jerry Lyons

Multi award winning journalist and Property PR Expert


What are your estate agency’s prospects for 2020?

I listened to an interesting podcast last night.

And as most people on my database are estate agents I think you’d be interested in it too.

It’s called the Estate Agents Podcast and hosted by three of the industry’s good guys.

Los tres amigos are, successful agency owner Luke St Clair, award winning industry veteran Andy Overman and top sales trainer Stephen Brown.

To date they have recorded 46 shows featuring interviews with leading industry figures from around the world, sales and marketing experts and fellow agents.

The emphasis seems to be on sharing best practice, introducing new ideas and educating agents (and as it turned out also teaching a PR and copywriter something he hadn’t thought of).

The episode I listened to features an interview with Jeb Blount, an American author and public speaker who is recognised as one of the world’s top sales and prospecting experts.

Like many people I hate prospecting, the thought of cold calling someone makes my heart sink, my shoulders slump and my procrastination skills leap into action. ‘Oh look there’s a squirrel.’

But Blount breaks prospecting down into seemingly manageable chunks.

His section on motivating your staff, and indeed yourself, to pick up the phone and how to deal with the inevitable levels of rejection is the highlight of his half hour.

Blount also names the number one tool in an agent’s sales armoury.

I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t included it on my estate agency marketing pillars document which I thought (incorrectly), covered most of the techniques and methods agents could use to attract new instructions.

That little bit of learning alone made the podcast and previous and future episodes of it worth checking out because I’m a big believer in the saying ‘the more you learn, the more you can earn.’

You can subscribe to the Estate Agents Podcast via the usual channels.

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

Jerry

PS: If you want a free copy of my Estate Agent Marketing Pillars which covers nearly all the tools and techniques just ping me an email saying, ‘For pods sake.’ And if you can spot my glaring, and soon to be rectified omission, let me know.

PPS: My Estate Agent Content Club launches in just in 15 days. Is your area still available? To find out why so many agents have already joined drop me an email.


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.