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Portals and PR - How we blend traditional and new marketing methods to maximise our business

Regardless of industry type, marketing has always been integral to reaching customers. The only thing that has changed is the methods used.

Previously, estate agents were restricted to press advertising and window displays - complete with photos, often developed in a chemist over the road.

When I began working in property in the mid-nineties, the internet was in its infancy with less than 1% of people connected. Fast forward 20 years and 40% of the world's population now use the internet daily.

The advent of the internet has changed the industry beyond recognition. Now more than 95% of our enquiries are initiated from internet portals.

Portal heavyweights Rightmove and Zoopla are the main ones we use, allowing us to evoke the property via a larger array of pictures and interactive floor plans.

But despite the obvious merits of the internet, it is important not to ignore traditional marketing methods. The role of the professional estate agent has never been more important to maximise a property's potential return and ensure that transactions proceed smoothly.

The sheer volume of products available can prove perplexing for buyers and tenants alike and a professional, pro-active agent will ensure a property gets the attention it deserves, amongst the maze of competitors on the market.

Internet portals are a great advertising tool but merely the start of the process. An agent's ability to offer excellent face-to-face customer service is invaluable in securing the best sale or let possible.

We've also found that employing a PR company with a good grasp of both traditional and new marketing methods can be beneficial. Depending on the package you decide to opt for, they can help alleviate some of the pressures marketing can bring to your schedule. PR agencies deal with business such as social media, placing editorial, events and awards entries.

Print and online press is a great way of raising your profile and positioning your agents as authorities in their field. Whilst adverts are direct and effective, they lack the third party validation that a piece of editorial can bring.

The key is to take a broad and open minded approach to marketing, looking at all the options and ascertaining where are your referrals coming from Who are you trying to reach And what is achievable within your budget We've found that by blending both traditional and new methods we can reach a variety of audiences in order to maximise business.

* Debra Beach is Branch Manager at Keppie Massie Residential estate agency in Liverpool.