Estate Agents, Facebook and Cowboys

I’ve been doing a lot of work this week on Facebook marketing with a couple of clients.

Nothing ground breaking there, as all agents need to be thinking about making the most of Zuckerberg’s social media giant.

But it did mean I spent the best part of a day looking at dozens of different Facebook pages from estate agencies across the UK.

There was a real Clint Eastwood mix of pages too.

Some good, many bad, several ugly.

There were some excellent ones but the Excellent, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly just doesn’t have a sequel selling ring to it.

So, here’s some of the stuff I marked down as excellent when looking at an agency Facebook page.

1) Basics done well – Properly sized photos, accurate opening times, use of maps, plenty of reviews. Easy on the eye and importantly they all included a photo of the agency’s team.

2) Varied content – not just a stream of listings or boasts but helpful articles such as the condenser pipe boiler fix videos doing the rounds in this cold snap, mortgage advice, how to blogs and for me the big one even good agencies miss out – the promotion of local news and events.

3) Personality – Not that they shared their holiday snaps or selfies at festivals, but these excellent pages left you with a positive feeling towards the agencies.

4) Videos – This was the consistent feature on all the excellent pages.

The agencies which fell into the good category did most of the above, with the odd gap here and there.

The thing I felt made a difference between good and excellent was the content and use of video.

The excellent agencies mixed it up and were posting at least daily.

Now for the bad and the ugly because they fell in the same bucket during these reviews.

1) Poorly set up pages – I was seeking quotes from companies that set up pages professionally and I wouldn’t say I was shocked by their prices, I was f’ing angered. £300 to do something that anyone with a semblance of intelligence could do easily in an hour or so.

But, these bad agency pages were sloppy, missing key details like opening times, odd looking cover photos and the negative reviews tended to back up my theory.

2) Inconsistently posted content. An article posted, then a three-week gap. Another listing posted, then a two-week gap. Three weeks later another listing. That inconsistency sends out a message to the page’s visitor. And it ain’t a good one.

3) Crap content – some pages I ranked as bad fell into the category because all they did, literally was list property for sale or let – and even that felt half-hearted.

That’s a shame because there’s so much more to Facebook marketing for estate agents than sell, sell, sell.

Try share, share, share instead. Share useful information – like the boiler tip, share local news – like which roads have been closed off due to the snow, share what makes your agency great – your reviews, testimonials – those examples of you doing more than your job description.

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

Jerry

PS: I’m working on my next volume of articles and interested to know what kind of topics or subjects you guys think readers would find useful and interesting. Please drop me a line at Jerry@propertyprexpert.co.uk if you have any ideas for articles I should be considering.


Why Estate Agents NEED to be Con Men and Women

There’s a new type of con man and woman in town.

And thankfully this emerging breed of con artists has zero to do with being smart talking, shiny suited charlatans tricking decent people out of their money.

For con people in 2018 replace confidence (as in con man / woman) with content.

Because folks if you’re in the estate agency business and not sharing content with your local market you will end up losing market share to a rival who is – if you haven’t already.

Here’s a personal example of why sharing content across all your marketing platforms is really important.
The Lyons clan is currently looking to book our summer family holiday.

The hotels / travel agents on our shortlist all have websites and social media which feature a professionally produced video, a blog section about life at the hotel and holiday advice in their region – what to do, where to eat, what to bring, that kind of thing.

These companies are already showing they are happy to help, that they know their stuff and they are all distinguishing themselves from cheaper rivals (and some more expensive ones).

So, if people like me are finding good content a deal maker with a decision like booking a holiday what do you think people in your area will think of an agency sharing useful content about the biggest buying decision they’ll make in their lifetime?

It’ll give them a sense of confidence and trust in your agency.

Some estate agents are already brilliant con people. These are the agents who consistently share useful content across all marketing platforms.

By content I’m talking about blogs that solve problems, videos that showcase why choosing experience over expense pays homeowners handsomely and being much more about the genuine tell than the hard sell.

Google loves fresh content on your website. Your email marketing is naked without problem solving content and your social media nothing more than a stream of listed properties.

I’ve come up with this 2 question, 10 second test below, which will highlight where you are a ‘good’ con man / woman in the agency world.

Do you have content you share?

Simple question. Yes or no? If it’s yes, please proceed to the PIE test below. If it’s a no, seriously? It’s 2018. If you are the expert in your field start proving it by sharing your experience, expertise and personality.

Does the content you share pass the PIE test?

The PIE test is something I’ve come up with that’s simple and doesn’t involving baking.

If you’ve produced or bought content that you’re sharing which isn’t Personable, Informative and Entertaining then it’s the equivalent of my last baking effort – a catastrophe of a Victoria sponge that was as flat as an old flip-flop and tasted only marginally better.

Yes – I’ve a vested interest in this subject because I’m now more of a content producer than PR man.

But that last statement alone is proof enough that sharing useful content is now more important than column inches in the local paper. Content is the new King and Queen.

The times have changed. And just like ‘gin’ the association attached to con men and women is changing for the better.

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

Jerry

PS: Special flash sale until Wednesday 21 Feb – 5pm on my Letting Agent 30 Articles Volume 1 – Save £199+VAT off the usual price of £399+VAT.

Interested in learning more? Drop me a line with your postcode as 60 per cent of licences to use in the UK have already been snapped up.


Be more than ‘just’ an estate agency

I’ve spent a good bit of time this week working on award entries for a fantastic family run agency on the south coast.

Their doing so many things right that it’s absolutely no surprise they are number one on their patch (according to Rightmove, not just some plucked from the air chest thump).

One of the things that stands out about them, and indeed will help their entries massively, are the dozens of testimonials they’ve diligently collected from delighted clients.

And they are proactive about getting them – which is something I don’t come across with every agent.

For me asking for a testimonial or a review from a client when you’ve successfully helped them should be as automatic as raising an invoice to get paid for work you’ve done.

But here’s the thing that really sparked an idea in my head.

Several of the testimonials among the dozens of others were from suppliers or from businesses that this agency recommends and works with.

That tells me two things about this company.

Firstly, they are good people to deal with. I always think you can judge a business by the way it treats its suppliers as much as its clients – in my experience agencies that are late payers usually have other areas we’re they are sloppy or simply have a culture problem.

And secondly, and this is the entire why behind writing this blog – this agency has a network of different trusted suppliers from carpet fitters, window installers to the usual mortgage brokers, solicitors and valuers.

They don’t ask for commission from suppliers – they simply want to know that if they refer a business then their clients will be well looked after. And from what I’ve seen putting these entries together that’s 100 per cent the case.

In that respect they have become more than ‘just’ an estate agency. By referring good suppliers, they are now in the ‘very handy to know’ category and have become go to guys when local people are looking for new flooring, windows, a gardener etc.

When I lived in London I created a series of mini guides that acted as a perfect way for agents to gather together their trusted suppliers and promote them to their clients and prospects.

And I’m now intending to start these up again at some point soon.

So, the question is do you have a referral system in place where you show the local community that your agency is respected, connected and cares enough to share their experience for the benefit of clients (and indeed prospective clients)?

If you would like to see a sample of what I produced as a guide, please drop me an email.

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

Jerry


Turning estate agency data into instructions

I met with an estate agent last year who is charm personified.

His estate agency is award winning, successful and expanding his office has very comfortable trendy chairs and a proper espresso machine. And his staff are really pleasant.

He has a system in place for pretty much everything.

Everything except for making the most out of his database – which came as a surprise to me as this guy is good.
His agency has more than 3000 names on its database built over five years. That’s a bloody big bundle of potential clients.

Sure there’s a percentage of duds but trust me (he did) there’s money in that list.

To cut to the chase we agreed on a way of making the most of his database in a systemised and thoughtful way.

Here’s how I advise my clients on how to turn a list of email addresses into a steady stream of enquiries, valuations and ultimately instructions.

1) Have a compelling reason for someone to part with their email address. ‘Sign up for regular updates’ is a little lame. Offer a useful guide of some sort. For example – How to get your home ready for a successful sale and / or A landlord’s guide to lettings without the pain.

2) Once you’ve earned their email address, respect it. By that I mean don’t bombard them with sales info. Which leads me on to the next point – and it is a very important point.

3) Have a plan to send a weekly email that does a lot more telling than selling. Think of what problems you can solve for the reader and how you can share your expertise with them to make their lives easier. Once a month simply ain’t enough – once a quarter – forget about it.

4) Stick to that weekly plan and have a set time when the email will be sent out. For those of you who have signed up to Peter Knight’s excellent emails on agency excellence you’ll know that when you open up your emails after 7am on a Monday his thoughts / ideas for the week await you.

5) It takes time. Don’t expect instant miracles. But I’ve seen with EVERY client that has an email marketing system that it pays big, inexpensive dividends.

6) End every email with a call to action – offer to help the reader with any property related questions. Be seen to be helpful.

7) And don’t worry about people unsubscribing from your emails – it happens all the time for a myriad of reasons. Think of useful email updates you’re signed up for – if they help you and entertain do you unsubscribe?

For me this kind of marketing is the best value for money over the course of 6-12 months and is also highly trackable.

I follow an agent along the south coast, let’s call him SA (he reads these emails, he’ll know who he is).

He sends out weekly emails filled with interesting, useful and handy information and property news.

If I lived in his patch and I was selling he’d be on my list to call in for a valuation as, although I’ve never met him I feel like I know, like and trust him from his email updates.

That gives him a huge head start in the battle for the instructions. Because as I’ve mentioned in my last article – Familiarity breeds Trust.

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

Jerry


One Thing Which Can Help Estate Agents

I spent most of yesterday up in Milton Keynes – the home of a hundred roundabouts.

My day was spent at a marketing conference held at the MK Dons Football Stadium.

Some of the great and good of marketing were there, proper experts (and a boring bloke who delivered one of the dullest presentations I’ve endured in ages).

As with all these events I go seeking one new thing.

My rule of thumb is if I go away with just one thing that I can implement in my business and share with the readers of my blogs and articles I’ll be happy.

I got that one thing I was after.

Ironically it was something I’ve known for a long time, and have shared with clients and readers, but yesterday it was put to me in a very succinct way.

It’s so relevant for good estate agents that it could’ve been written as a mantra by good estate agents.
The gist of it is this.

Consumer trust in business is at an all-time low.

That’s a real issue for agents who often start pretty lowdown in the public’s trustometer (undeservedly in my opinion).

One of the experts presenting yesterday nailed it right on the kisser.

Familiarity breeds ………………TRUST.

Worth saying again – Familiarity breeds trust.

That’s why we trust Amazon to deliver.

That’s why we trust John Lewis’s stuff to be quality.

That’s why we trust Ant and Dec.

We’re familiar with them, because we see them so frequently with the same consistent message.

We deliver properly. We only sell quality. We are decent down to earth lads.

So, the questions for estate agents who care are these.

What are you doing to be seen frequently by your local market?

What’s that consistent message you’re sending out to potential vendors and landlords?

How are you maintaining rapport with people on your patch?

Think about it. Even if it’s the one thing you consider about your PR and marketing this week.

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

Jerry

PS: I’m currently working like an eager beaver on speed, piecing together something top secret that will be launched soon to really help estate agents get all of the above sorted. Watch this space folks.


4 Estate Agency Marketing Tips for 2018

Here’s a video on the four marketing must have’s estate agents need for 2018.

I also unearth the phrase that makes me punch myself in the face when I hear it.

The link to it is below.

Thanks for watching.

Jerry


A Mid-Life Crisis or Jerry Maguire Moment?

I suppose I should start this story by wishing you a Happy New Year and all that, but I’ve something far more sincere and personal to share with you if I may.

I’ll get to the point. I think I’m having a mid-life crisis.

I’m 45 years-old, life is comfortable without being extravagant.

Family life settled. Work steady. Good regular clients. Just enough to go around.

I have a decent house in a nicer area than I grew up in, although that wouldn’t be hard.

Where I played out my formative years was a council estate called Stonebridge in north west London.

It was a rough and ready place where a section of its less aspirational residents thought you were posh if you had a job.

And making your way from the local Spar supermarket back home without being mugged or harassed was a genuine reason to be grateful.

But I loved it. There was a sense of community. People knew each other and would help one and other.

I’m not getting all sentimental in that way which seems to blur people’s recollections of the Krays lording it over East London (you know – ‘always wore clean shirts’ and ‘only killed other gangsters.’)

The people in Stonebridge were generous considering they didn’t have much. And what they had was either hard earned or paid for weekly – like our telly and VHS top loader from Radio Rentals.

So, when I look back on my life and where I’m at and what I have. I should be doing cart wheels leading into roly polys and ending with several star jumps.

But the trouble is I ain’t.

I woke up one night over Christmas and stared at the ceiling.

For hours. And it was dark, so I couldn’t even see the bleeding ceiling. I was literally starting into darkness.

All I could think of was ‘is this it?’ Is this my lot in life and if so surely I should be grateful, not gloomy?

This feeling hadn’t just leapt out of the blue like Cato jumping on Inspector Clouseau. It had been stalking me for a while. Cleverly creeping up.

I wouldn’t call it a bout of depression. Or an anxiety attack. More like an episode of ‘why can’t I be arsed to do anything.’

I felt, and had been feeling useless. For a good while. A missed deadline or two here, skipping a call there, and a sense of being totally and utterly demotivated.

And I was drinking too much to numb the boredom and try to shake the stagnant feeling which weighed heavily on me.
Those dark hours on December 27th had me beating myself up like a wicked stepmother would a bad stepchild.

“I’m wasting my life.” “I’ll never fulfil my potential.” “I’m pretty fucking useless.” “Why am I not motivated to make more of the few skills I have?”

Then the penny dropped.

And the answer came from my old Stonebridge stomping ground. Literally (all will be revealed in a bit).

It was like that scene in the film Jerry Maguire when Tom Cruise’s character realises what he needs to do to be happy and to have a real sense of purpose in his work and life.

So, you see it wasn’t a mid-life crisis it was my Jerry Maguire moment.

Cancel the sports car, hair dye and affair with a younger work colleague (for the record I’m self employed and share an office with a fifty-year-old bloke).

Please let me explain.

In the run up to Christmas the only thing which gave me a bit of joy and satisfaction from my work was helping estate agents who were collecting for their local foodbanks.

It was a campaign I’d instigated and was working on for free.

And the idea for it came when a client in north west London made me aware of the work a foodbank which his agency supports carries out.

The charity is called Sufra and is based only a five minute walk from where I grew up.

Knowing what I was doing was making a positive difference motivated me more than any other project during 2017.
Because it was making a difference.

Less fortunate people were benefitting from my skills in promoting the campaigns and my clients’ generosity.

A dozen or so agents gave their time and efforts to collect as much as possible. It was an all-round success.

I was seeing the best sides of people. Generosity, compassion and goodness.

So, sitting at the kitchen table in my current home it was my old neighbourhood which had given me the answer.

And that was, and is the answer to my mid-life crisis, the response to my Jerry Maguire moment.

I stayed up the rest of the night thinking of how I could turn the moment into momentum for a new start in my working life as that’s where I was feeling really stuck.

And it wasn’t even hard.

From now on every time I invoice or do a bit of work for someone I’ll make some sort of donation to a charity via the B1G1 organisation.

It stands for Buy One Give One. It’s a fantastic charity which makes it easier for businesses to support charities in the UK and all over the world. The concept is simple – someone buys something from you – you give something to a cause or charity.

I’ve still got to do the I’s and cross the T’s on the admin side of it but simply knowing what I’m working on will have an impact on more than my clients and myself motivates me immensely.

And it is going down well with the clients I’ve mentioned it to.

It’s like a big charitable kick up my backside and has filled me with a new sense of energy, purpose and positivity.

I’m also going to volunteer somewhere for two hours a month – not sure exactly where but I’m going to do it. Ideas are welcome.

The day after my mid-life crisis ended and my Maguire moment grew I walked past a shop window in the little seaside town I live.

It was closed but the sign it displayed spoke directly to me and my new approach to life.

“Do more of what makes you happy.”

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Jerry

PS: There are a few estate agents using B1G1 already – worth a look at www.b1g1.com.


Why Estate Agents Aren’t on my Christmas List

I usually send Christmas cards to clients.

This year I’ve knocked that idea on the head.

Why?

Rather than spend £100 on something which has very little impact on my business or the way clients perceive me I’ve spent my money elsewhere.

Instead of giving a printer and the Royal Mail my dosh I’ve donated £100 to my local foodbank – The Seahaven Storehouse.

Now I know this kind of move isn’t a first, in fact I’ve seen some of my suppliers do it in the past.

But for me it felt the right thing to do and the initial reaction is people ‘get it’.

It also allows me to tell a story rather than that of heading to the Post Office with a bundle of cards.

Storytelling is something all agents need to get their heads around next year.

It’s my belief (and the general feeling in the marketing world) that the agencies / brands that tell the best, most compelling stories will win.

Don’t get me wrong though, I still think there’s a place for Christmas Cards.

But there is a way to do it well, and a way to avoid like the M25 J23 at 8am last Sunday morning (I very nearly got snow stranded on it).

The Bad way.

Send out a Christmas card with a generic totally forgettable festive scene and just your company logo inside it.

No names. Nothing else. Nada.

And the response you’re getting, which thankfully you’re not seeing, is that of the recipient thinking ‘they couldn’t even be arsed to write my name in it.’

An own goal and waste of time, money and effort.

Now for the good way.

I got a card from one of my clients complete with a picture of the team in Christmas jumpers raising a glass of bubbly (it was probably Appletise, but you get the gist) and all looking full of Bonhomie.

But the icing on the Christmas Pudding was the handwritten note thanking me for my help over the year.

They didn’t have to. I’m not a volunteer but it made me feel good, and moved me to show Mrs L and inspire this section of this article.

I get this card every year from them, but with a different photo and a different message and it works every time.

It’s probably too late to think about how you’re going to communicate with your Christmas ghosts of Clients past, present and future.

But if it’s not, do something that’s different enough to get noticed. That’s personal enough to make them smile and remember you.

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

Jerry


Why Some Estate Agents Make Lousy Lovers and Some Don’t

Below is a blog which was my most widely read in 2017.

When it went online it had more hits than The Beatles, Elvis, Beyoncé and Sir Cliff Richard combined (it’s getting near Christmas I can mention Sir Cliff surely?).

It had the highest open rate of any of my emails sent to my estate agent database.

And it got shared on social media more than any other of my articles – Not exactly viral but more like a dose of flu which hits half the office.

I’m not just banging my chest here and saying, ‘look at me’ – I think there five things agents can learn from the success of this article which will help their marketing efforts.

1) The headline is eye-catching (albeit it a bit risqué).

2) It’s not that long. 400 words – or around two minutes reading time.

3) It contains some easy to implement tips i.e. work your database, maintain regular contact via helpful sharing of info etc.

4) It contains a personal story to make a point. Uncle Tighe gets a mention.

5) It’s focussed on a particular audience – estate agents. But you could aim yours at landlords, vendors, local news, etc. Go after one audience at a time rather than trying to be all things to all people.

Here’s the article again and I hope it helps in some way.

Why Some Estate Agents Make Lousy Lovers and Some Don’t

Picture the scene. And picture you’re single – if you’re not already.

The man / woman you’ve fancied for ages is standing alone by the coffee machine looking gorgeous.

Now you’ve said hello a few times, but you don’t know them very well as they work on the floor above.

Then you bowl up to them, out of the blue and give them a massive bouquet of flowers.

Do you expect them to fall in love with you in an instant?

Well if you do I’d applaud your optimistic attitude but question your grasp of reality.

My point here is this.

In 99.9 per cent of romances it took time, small details and focus to capture the heart of the person you desired.

My Uncle Tighe always used to say that “it’s the little things you do for your wife that have the biggest impact.

“A daily cup of tea, letting them have a lie in while you take the kids out and simply doing nice little things regularly.”

He was married for 45 years and that only ended when he was called to the big pub in the sky.

Too many agents think short term, that every piece of marketing must work right now and are basically trying to hurry love – which Phil Collins can tell you is something you simply can’t do.

Now here’s what estate agents can learn from this lots of little approach to getting people to love your agency.

If you have a database of people available (if you haven’t why???) email them with helpful information once a week.

It’s not hassling them if the email’s content is helpful.

Of course don’t expect them to call you in for a valuation immediately – that’s like the bouquet out of the blue approach. Wham, bam no thank you man!

But if you regularly share your knowledge, your wisdom and expert advice, you’ll start leaving a positive mark in the hearts and minds of those readers.

They’ll come to see your agency as the helpful one, the professional one, the one who cares enough about them to send them interesting articles every week.

Then when they are looking for a date (sorry I mean a valuation) their eyes will be firmly fixed on you because you’ve been consistently and correctly courting them…without them even knowing it.

That’s where the original article ends.

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

Jerry

PS: My special offer on articles for Letting Agents are proving very popular. It’s 31 articles aimed at winning landlords’ instructions and doing a lot of what I talk about above.
I’ve now sold to more than 60 per cent of England’s postcodes – is your area still available. Ping me an email with your postcode to find out more.


Is This a Sign of Estate Agency Suicide?

Some signs really grab you by the throat and insist you notice them.

Two examples did that to me this week.

The first was in a local mortgage broker’s office. Big and bold on his feature wall he has words to the effect of: ‘Spend just 15 minutes with us to discover 1000s of great mortgage deals.’

He’s on the High Street so gets a load of eyeballs seeing that very clear call to action. It’s an excellent use of signage space.

On the same day I noticed a sold board just a few hundred yards down the road from the clever mortgage man’s office.

But not just any old sold board, one that made my heart sink.

It said – Sold by Myself. But was from a local agency with a High Street office.

It may well have read – The traditional model of estate agency is dying and we’re assisting in its suicide in the bid to grab a few cheap fees in the short term.

This agency has a Sell It Yourself (SIY) option.

Nothing at all wrong with that – many agencies have introduced this into their range of options. For me it works as a suite of three choices an agency can offer potential vendors.

People, when presented with three options often choose the middle one. This Sell It Yourself option would be for the cheap and cheerful end of the market.

I don’t even have a problem with promoting the SIY offer if it’s on a website or direct mail.

But seeing it plastered over boards does two things to me.

1) It tells people that they can do without agencies which over the long term, and at such reduced fees, is suicide for the agency and indeed the industry.

2)It proves that the adage ‘any publicity is good publicity’ is bollocks. That saying always has been nonsense.

You need to be promoting the right message with your publicity efforts, which boards and signs are.

The mortgage man has done it brilliantly – he set out why people should pop in and even how much time a person would need to invest – in this case just 15 minutes.

The Sold by Myself sign is sending out a dangerous message for agents on so many levels I don’t have the space to go into them all here.

What do you think? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading and here’s to your next Sold or Let board.

Jerry