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


Is Estate Agency Going to the Blogs? Or the Vlogs?

I was asked an interesting question this week.

Is it better to write a blog, or film a vlog?

My thoughts are in the vlog below.

Thanks for watching,

Jerry

PS: Tomorrow’s budget is blog / vlog fodder BIG time. Are you ready to get in front of our audience / database? I’ll be syndicating an article after the budget for non competing agents. To register your interest simply ping me an email and I’ll do send you the article for review tomorrow afternoon.


Only five per cent of estate agents do this

I’ve carried out a survey you might be interested in as it shines a light on something 95 per cent of agents ain’t doing folks.

I haven’t splashed out thousands on getting a ‘game changing’ (I hate that phrase) team of hip ‘industry disrupting’ (that phrase too) surveyors to carry out the research.

I used a website called Upwork, found a freelance researcher in Bangladesh called Amzad (I’ve used him before – he’s really good and great value) and asked him to look at 100 random UK estate agency websites.

Now good old Amzad wasn’t simply tasked to have a gander for the sake of it.

His mission, which he accepted, was to see which agents posted a news article or blog following the Chancellor’s Spring Budget announcement back in March this year.

And he found that only five agents did. That meant 95 per cent of agents couldn’t be arsed (or at least that’s how the public might see it given their general perception of agents).

I was genuinely surprised and even spot checked the spreadsheet he sent me – but Amzad was right.

The budget is always worth an article or a response from any agency wanting to be seen as on the ball by prospective clients.

And next week’s budget promises to be even more interesting as there are calls for stamp duty to be cut and even possibly removed for first time buyers, elderly people and those aged under 40 years-old.

There’s even talk the lettings fee ban could be brought forward quicker than expected.

I’ve shared a link to a Financial Times article at the bottom of this blog that covers the possibilities in more detail.

But why should you be on the budget ball and be ready to respond to whatever the Chancellor announces next Wednesday?

1) If your rivals respond and you don’t, they have captured people’s attention and you haven’t. Simple.

2) If you use email marketing or social media to promote your agency’s expertise a budget response allows you to position yourselves as experts with their fingers firmly on the market’s pulse.

3) If any major property related announcements are made in the budget people will be keen to read about them. It will be a hot topic for 48 hours so why not take advantage of that interest.

4) Based on Amzad’s analysis you’ll put yourself in the top five per cent of agencies simply by reacting to the budget.

I understand you guys are busy selling and letting properties and might not have the time to write up a response.

That’s why next week I’m offering a 400-word, white label, pre-written post budget reaction article to non-competing agents– which is easily edited so that you can send it or share it with your database and followers within hours of any budget announcement.

If you are interested, please let me know so I can see if your postcode area is still available.

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

Jerry

PS: The link to the FT article is below.

https://www.ft.com/content/f5cd702e-c878-11e7-8536-d321d0d897a3


Old Irish Wisdom for Estate Agents

As regular readers of my articles might recall I had an Uncle called Tighe.

And today would’ve been his 87th birthday had he not made the journey up to the big pub in the sky back in 1992.

He was a native of Cork who came over here as a bright eyed, confident teenager in search of a better life, more craic and ‘pretty women’ (his words not mine).

Good old Uncle T was a popular, light hearted, funny and generous soul. My dad, more serious and hot tempered, often said he wished he could be more like his older, wiser brother.

One of my favourite Uncle T lines summed up his philosophy to life. ‘To share is to enjoy twice.’

Wise words, although my mum was convinced he’d nicked the saying from one of those tea towels which featured Irish quotes – you know the ‘may the road rise to meet you’ kind of thing.

This best tribute I can give to my favourite Uncle is to share some stuff and contacts you guys might find useful.

For the record I don’t get kickbacks, finders fees, commissions etc but I do get something more valuable – goodwill and deposits in the Bank of Favour.

So, here’s to Uncle T.

Video editing and Podcasts: More and more of my clients and forward-thinking agents are using videos in their marketing.

I use a great bloke called James Ede who edits and polishes up several of my clients’ videos and is very reasonably priced. He specialises in podcast production, but we’ve only used him so far for the videos and we’re very pleased.

His website is: www.beheard.org.uk/

Facebook Marketing: I’ve not used this chap before, but a client has and speaks highly of him and the success his agency has had because of it. His name is Nick Thompson, I’ve had a chat with him, seems a very nice bloke and has some really interesting ideas on how estate agents can use Facebook to get ahead in the battle for instructions.

His website is: Www.mrnickthompson.com

Graphic Design: My go to guy for a long time has been Adam Jennings. I have worked with Adam on dozens of projects for clients and he’s always professional, creative and realises good marketing design is about selling something rather than making something that looks pretty or edgy.

His website is: www.madebycontour.com

The Land and New Homes Network: Kevin and Ian who run the network are clients of mine. And really know their stuff. If I was an estate agent I’d be seriously considering getting involved in the land and new home sector as it’s a growing opportunity and doesn’t seem to involve racing to the bottom on price.

Their website is: www.lnhnetwork.co.uk

Working with people I like is as important to me as sharing was to Uncle Tighe.

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

Jerry

PS: The food bank idea has been well received by a lot of you. From Brighton to Newcastle, Leeds to Leicester, estate agencies are helping to collect items for their local food banks this Christmas. In case you missed it a link to a blog about it is below.

Foodbanks, Estate Agents and an Idea


Foodbanks, Estate Agents and an Idea

I want to give you lovely people some food for thought. Literally.

This week I spent a morning with an estate agency visiting a foodbank.

Times are hard out there folks but thankfully me and my agent amigo were looking to give rather than receive.
Seriously though the experience was an eye opener.

In a society where we have never been richer (don’t believe the ‘it’s so hard nowadays’ bollocks – try living in Post War Britain or modern-day Mogadishu) people in our communities are having to rely on food handouts to survive.

The lady who showed us around the foodbank was charm, kindness and generosity personified.

She told us that for many single people the foodbank’s weekly help gave them a lifeline and in some cases meant families could ensure their kids had a decent meal.

And the number of people seeking out their service has rocketed in the past two years.

Through the kindness of strangers’ donating to the foodbanks across the UK some of the most impoverished people are being given help, a glimmer of hope and perhaps most importantly, a sense that someone out there cares about their situation.

It was one of the most inspiring and humbling mornings I’ve spent for years.

So, I’m now putting away my violin and putting my estate agency marketing and PR head on. (Like an Anglo Irish Worzel Gummidge but with slightly better hair).

The reason my client and I visited was to do with a campaign idea I had to support a local charity in the run up to Christmas.

Supporting a local foodbank ticks many boxes.

By offering to be a collection point for donations you’ll drive footfall and goodwill to your office.

You’ll build new connections in your community (while we were there my client was asked to do a valuation by one of the volunteers, who lives in the best road in town by the way).

You’ll have a chance to promote your agency through a news release, social media posts and yours, and I’m guessing in some cases, the foodbank’s website. It’s good PR folks.

And you’ll be ultimately doing a little bit of good in a World where there’s a lot of bad.

To support any agency who is keen to get involved and support a local foodbank I’ve produced a FREE news release template and some guide notes that are easily edited if you did get involved with something like this in your neck of the woods.

My past and existing clients get first option on this.

But if the postcodes your agency serves are not already taken I’ll happily and without obligation send the stuff to you whether your one of my gang or not.

It’s all about #Doingsomethingkind

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

Jerry

PS: Just email me your postcodes at Jerry@propertyprexpert.co.uk and I’ll send the news release and guide notes if the area is still available.


What little things can your agency learn from the Premier League?

We took our five-year-old daughter to a football match for the first time yesterday.

It was Brighton & Hove Albion versus Everton.

Although we live a half hour drive from Brighton’s Amex Stadium and I’m an Arsenal fan we ended up in the Everton end due to a friend who is a Toffees’ fan sorting the tickets out.

He even bought my daughter an Everton top complete with her name and age on the back.

He’s trying his best to influence her team of choice obviously (even though she just likes any team which wears blue).

The game itself was boring and we left with 20 minutes to go as queuing up for an hour for a packed train with a hungry little girl isn’t much fun. (We missed both goals that were scored).

But although the game was drawn, in my family’s little mind Brighton were the clear winners.

They did so many little things really well.

I loved the little A4 signs dotted about in the away concourse thanking the Everton fans for their ‘500’ or so miles journey complete with imagery from the city of Liverpool.

But the best part of our Amex experience was the staff. I’ve been to football grounds all over the country during my 30 years following Arsenal and I’ve never met such nice, friendly and approachable stadium staff.

After buying a couple of drinks I was even told by the smiling young man serving me to ‘enjoy the game’, a simple, short message, but for me it spoke volumes about the ethos they obviously have at the club.

As we were leaving one of the stewards clocked my daughter’s Everton top and wished us a ‘safe journey home’. Again, a little touch and it was representative of our positive experience.

And it all makes perfect business sense.

Because my daughter now wants to come back and watch the blue and white striped team and see the big seagull again (their mascot which did the rounds at half-time). A new Brighton fan in the making it would seem – if that happens imagine the lifetime earnings the club will make.

My wife, not a football fan at all, said we should return as a family because everyone was friendly, and me, I’m just glad that such a positive, community minded club is my local team to pop down to when I fancy a 90-minute fix.

And there’s something all agencies, indeed businesses can learn from this. Do the little things well.

Such as the thank you note simply for being invited out to provide a valuation.

The gift to vendors AND buyers at the successful completion point of a sale.

The moving guide aimed at kids (I’ve seen a removals company do it brilliantly well with a colouring book and activity pack.)

These are just three examples out of a potentially endless list of little things that can make a big difference into how your business is perceived and thought of.

I’d be really interested in hearing about what little things your agency does to stand out.

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

Jerry

PS: If you are involved in lettings and haven’t seen my Letting Agent Articles offer then get in touch and I’ll reveal all.


Estate Agency Marketing Myths and How to Banish Them

One of The Oxford Dictionary’s definitions of a myth is: “A widely held but false belief or idea.”

And on that basis, it’s fair to say that there a loads of things people believe in the estate agency world that are wrong.

So, here are five I could think of think of and my ways of banishing them.

1) All estate agents are dodgy. A lot of people still think that. And while you may not strictly think it’s a marketing point – it is because if you saw everything you did as marketing (which it is) you’d realise that’s the most important agency myth to shatter.

Sure, it isn’t the Wild West of the early 1990s but many people still perceive agents as having an allergy to the truth.

Show them your personality, show them your testimonials, show them the people behind the business. Put the faces of your people on everything you do – email signatures, business cards, articles in newsletters.

2) Video marketing is very technical and expensive – Wrong. I work with agents who have set up a regular video blog and spent no more than £50 on equipment doing it.

All you need is a small clip-on microphone, smart phone, selfie stick and / or tripod. The technical side of it can be farmed out with editing from just £25 per video (I have a contact) and captioning done by people like: www.rev.com – It’s the biggest growth area in business marketing full stop.

3) Search engine optimisation is THE most important thing your agency can be spending money on. I disagree.

If your local audience only knows about your agency through a Google search then you’re not being proactive enough. You’re not getting in front of them consistently whether that be through print advertising, direct mail, community sponsorships and by becoming a bit of a face in the local community.

4) Print is dead. The most repeated shite I hear mainly from 20 somethings trying to charge £600 a day for search engine optimisation work.

They are wrong about this. I have dozens of clients doing really well from printed newsletters and regular columns in magazines. The key is too approach it from a different angle – be sharers of local news and expert advice rather than floggers of properties.

5) Google punishes duplicate content. It was this point which inspired this blog.

I write and sell content for non-competing agents across the UK. They are bundled up in individual volumes of 30 different articles.

I’ve lost count of the times agents have said to me that ‘yeah sounds great but Google punishes duplicate content.’ They don’t. And here is a link to an article from an SEO leading light covering it in more detail.

The myth of the duplicate content penalty

6) And a bonus myth buster. There is no Loch Ness Monster. But somewhere in the local economy up there lies (literally) a master marketer and story teller who has created a multi-million-pound boost for the local economy by creating a myth. Bravo.

Thanks for your time and if you want more information about anything mentioned above feel free to email me.

Here’s to your next instruction.

Jerry