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Forget For Sale boards - spend the money on digital marketing instead

The head of a new property portal is urging agents to forget about spending money on For Sale and To Let boards and instead put the cash into digital strategies.

Christopher May, director of free-to-list property portal Residential People, says boards are subject to growing numbers of bans by local authorities and are the focus of disillusionment from consumers. 

May believes that despite being an effective market tool in the past, boards have become less effective in modern times where consumer behaviour continues to shift online. 


The issue of boards became a hot topic again recently as Camden council in London urged the government to back its request for a borough-wide Section 7 direction which would see all boards banned unless planning consent was secured.

The London authority described boards as “clutter” and “free advertising”, reporting that it has received over 1,000 complaints about For Sale and To Let signs from residents over the last five years.

"In areas where boards are banned, the decision for agents is already made and they can use the additional marketing budget to focus on innovative digital strategies" says May, who is also director of a sister website, Commercial People.

The portal's research shows that in 1997 when the UK's first portal Propertyfinder was launched, only 7.39 per cent of the UK's population used the internet; by 2002, shortly after Rightmove was launched, 56.48 per cent of the population used the internet.

More recently, in 2016, an overwhelming 94.78 per cent of the UK population used the internet with a growing use of the medium across all age groups, not just younger people.

"Agents have an exponentially greater market of all demographics to target than ever before via portals and other online marketing methods, from first-time buyers and second-steppers to landlords and downsizers. Digital marketing allows agents to track results effectively and then shift spend, approach or messaging accordingly to get the most out of their budget" May explains.

"For Sale and To Let boards may be good for brand awareness, but unlike online marketing, boards less likely to generate leads beyond the local area."

Launched earlier this year, Residential People and Commercial People are global portals, now with over 900,000 listings from agents in the UK, UAE, India and South Africa, and with more launches planned.

  • Michael Riley

    We should never underestimate the power of marketing assets on the street. Whether its a branded office bang in the middle of the high street, or a board or a flyer in someones hand.

    There are many reasons why China constructs lots of buildings in other countries. One is because a physical presence really matters in business, defence and relationships.

    Estate agency is no different in that regard.

    That is not to say their cyber team isnt reading this comment!

  • Simon Shinerock

    The only reason to neglect boards is if they are banned, do so for other reasons at your peril

  • icon

    It’s about time these digital marketing teams got their heads out of their own arses and realised that they are NOT the be all and end all, just another supplier, like stationary printers or bin men. They do NOT hold the keys to the golden palace. That is down to the good reputation and hard work of your estate agency team.


    Agreed. IMHO digital has been a disaster for agents, disagree? OK, tell me the benefits of killing footfall to offices, of providing the means to negate having actual conversations with people and handing over your data and control of your business to third party property portals?

  • icon

    The only people crying about digital marketing taking over is those that failed to stay up with the times.

    This is 2019. I can order a KFC on the app and get it delivered. One tap and an Uber driver is outside your house in 10 minutes tops.

    When you say 'Digital has been disastrous for agents' what you're basically saying is 'I don't know much about digital' it's like the kid that doesn't know how to play a game, so he stops playing.

    Boards are good for awareness, especially when you have a few back to back in an area; it does create a good brand image. Still, the brand image takes time to convert into actual money, whereas correctly doing digital marketing converts a lot quicker £.


    Answer my points about the damage digital has done to estate agency rather than act as a know all. Your reference to food delivery and trying to compare it this industry shows your utter ignorance about how property is sold.


    Actually if I'd looked at your profile and previous posts, I wouldn't have bothered responding.


    Property Pundit, I've already hammered you in previous posts. You bring nothing to the table other than speculation and negativity.

  • Matthew Fine

    We places our properties on this portal some two months ago, not one lead so far in either sales or lettings. With respect, get your own house in order before you tell others what to do.


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