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Agents urged to ‘Think Smarter Marketing’ by top industry experts

Four high-profile industry figures have sent an open letter urging agents to think about what they call “smarter marketing” in a bid to compete more effectively in a tougher marketplace.

Industry consultants Christopher Watkin and Iain White and web developer Mike Smithson have backed a letter written by Nat Daniels, chief executive of Angels Media, publisher of Estate Agent Today.

In the letter Daniels says a combination of factors - including the tenant fees ban, rising portal charges, increased compliance requirements and the uncertainties of Brexit - conspire to make the agency industry more challenging than ever. 


“Because of these very real challenges, there is a compelling case to continuously change and evolve what you're doing, to ensure the future of your brand, your premises and your staff. It’s not the day-to-day processes such as viewings and negotiating offers that agents need help with, rather the steps you're taking to promote your brand in the first place” says Daniels.

He says marketing has to be directed at vendors and landlords with a mix of “calls to action” on websites, and the co-ordinated use of social media, pay-per-click campaigns and more traditional media and leaflet advertising. 

“All of this activity needs to be aimed at driving traffic to your own website and attracting vendors and landlords that you can convert into leads” says Daniels in the open letter, which promotes Angels Media’s The ValPal Network.

“Our network now comprises over 800 agency brands with over 4,000 branches. Agents using ValPal are generating more vendor and landlord leads than some of the biggest portals and over a two-year period, 18% of our members’ online sales valuations went on to complete with HM Land Registry” he claims. 

Chris Watkin - a former estate agent like Daniels, Smithson and White - says: “Getting your message, the story of what you, your team and your agency stands for is even more important in this 24/7 info overloaded world. The old school marketing techniques of ‘properties wanted’ doesn’t work anymore.”

Meanwhile Smithson, now managing director of specialist web developer The Property Jungle, says: “Adopting a path of continuous improvement reaps great rewards because if you can measure it, you can improve it. For example, in the last 12 months by measuring valuation leads and then continuously making small adjustments to text, colour, font and icon we succeeded in increasing the number of requests to value by 41 per cent for Putterills.”

And Iain White - the former Countrywide director who recently announced the new Innovative Collaboration Group consisting of many of the best known and established PropTech and other suppliers - says: “Marketing and lead generation are essential for estate agents. Standing still will eventually mean going backwards, so it’s essential to get your strategy right. Tools like ValPal are great for lead generation but they are useless unless you drive traffic to them. You then need the right people to pick up the leads and convert them into customers.”

The experts have framed 10 questions they say all agents should be asking themselves in 2019:

1. Is our marketing aimed at vendors and landlords or buyers and tenants?

2. Do we answer all enquiries and respond to all leads as quickly as possible?

3. Do we consciously drive traffic to our own website instead of the portals?

4. Do we have a way of converting website traffic into leads for our team?

5. Do we frequently contact our whole database to unearth new opportunities?

6. Do we record and digest our own stats to understand where our strengths are and where we need to improve?

7. What Return on Investment do we get from each of our marketing campaigns?

8. What are our conversion rates from lead to market appraisal, from market appraisal to instruction and instruction to completion?

9. Is our cashflow improved by partnering with conveyancing firms who pay us up front so we don’t have to wait for a sale to go through? 

10. What percentage of our overall revenue is derived from third party referrals?

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Obviously, I am biased but Chris & Co are bang on the money, in that agents should be using a large budget to market themselves, just as they would if they were a cold start office. By putting extra cash into evolving the frontline business, a company can ensure a profitable future. I often ask my clients what is their annual budget for getting new landlords, vendors, and aligned business revenue streams on board? and often it is a tiny fraction of turnover. Agency is based upon instructions, lettings is based upon landlords, so what strategy is in place to generate these? Before I became a consultant and analyst helping companies to see the wood for the trees, I was an agent for 30 years. And I know that to take time out to plan, to look at the shape of your business and evolve, is a rare occurrence as their seems to be no spare time. But, by working 'smarter' I have helped many business owners to work less hours, make more profit and enjoy the challenges of the differing markets. Many agents are now in the Brexit bunker, going through 'groundhog' day and as my mentor once said, and I think he attributed it to Einstein, 'insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.'

  • Richard Rawlings

    Spot on! Yet many agents still find it hard to accept that is is more important to promote your business than it is to promote any of the properties you are selling. Some still advertise properties to attract buyers and tenants in the belief that, by showcasing their stock, this in itself will attract other sellers and landlords. Despite the powerful effect of social proof here, the benefit of this is diminishing. Agents who are weak in crafting and communicating meaningful and engaging key messages stand to lose the most. Those combine these skills with systematic prospecting tend to gain market share. Have a great day!


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