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A two-minute read.

I met my fiancée online. Match.com to be precise.

It worked for us. Ten years, three homes, one lovely daughter, and a mental dog later, we’re still a good match (well, most of the time).

I like to think she initially clicked on my profile because back then my pictures sold a leaner, less grey-haired (for the record my barnet is still glorious), and dazzlingly dashing figure.

Unfortunately for my ego, it wasn’t the photos that caught her eye; she told me it was the brief biography I wrote.

I can’t remember what I said, but it would have been along the lines of ‘unpretentious failed footballer seeks someone with a lot of patience and a sense of the ridiculous’.

My partner told me the bio stood out, and the write-up made her laugh and warm to me. There are a lot of bland bios out there and not just on dating sites.

Great. ‘Well done mate,’ I hear you say while thinking what the hell does this have to do with estate agency?

Stay with me reader. You see, if I’d have played a straight, safe, boring bat and spoken about being ‘interested in extreme sports, reading classic novels, walking, and socialising’ she wouldn’t have sent a wink. The romantic chain of events wouldn’t have started, and our lives would be very different now.

Therefore, my motto when it comes to content for independent estate agents is ‘Bland is Banned’.

I see a lot of Meet the Teams or About Us sections on estate agency websites. Some are really, really good. Funny, interesting, and a little revealing.

A lot are painfully bland and crammed full of clichés and meaningless jargon such as ‘I’m a visionary with a customer-centric approach to estate agency and a strategic approach to selling your property’. Utter sh!7e.

If the old saying ‘people buy people’ is true, that sort of biography is getting you left on the shelf.

Leave those sorts of lines for contestants on The Apprentice.

The worst kind of About Us section on a website are the ones which don’t mention names but pour out tired statements such as ‘we are a vibrant, dynamic, and passionate agency.’ Sweet baby Jesus!

The best examples of these vitally important sections are ones that tell you something rather than try to sell you something.

Q & As are good for injecting a bit of fun into your Meet the Teams and bios.

Every way you communicate with your community is content. Whether it’s lame or lovable is down to you.

Rolling out a load of local property market stats might hit the spot to attract some sellers and landlords, but most people love stories. It’s how our species have learned since we got double handy with our thumbs.

So, don’t be afraid to show some personality in your content efforts. If you are an independent agent, this is your chance to highlight that you’re not a faceless corporate agency.

Talk about your family, share your genuine passions, and be yourself.

After all, a well written, interesting and light-hearted bio can get people to fall in love with you, literally in my case.

Thanks for reading,

Jerry

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In this three-minute read, I look at the seven skills successful agents and brilliant journalists have in common and why it helps them lead the way in their ultra-competitive industries.

I was recently asked by a couple of former colleagues what it’s like working with estate agents?

The truth is, it’s very similar to working with journalists.

For context, I’ve worked in journalism since 2004. And I’ve been a PR man turned content marketer for estate agents since 2012 (ish).

So, I’ve got a foot in both camps, and I’d like to think an understanding of what a great agent does and how a brilliant journalist behaves.

There are plenty of similarities between excellent agents and the best journalists.

For starters, they can both lay claims to being omnipresent members of the top ten least trusted professions whenever this annual report is wheeled out.

Below are seven skills elite performers I’ve worked with in both industries share.

  • They are good people. Estate agents were often ashamed to share what they did for a living. “A slippery estate agent, eh?” was one response an agent told me he received when at a kids’ birthday party, when he told another parent what he did. Sure, there are dodgy characters in both professions, but they don’t last the test of time. The good guys and girls usually win in my experience.

One thing I often heard was, “A reporter, eh? Not going to write a report about me, are you?” Met with a smile and the thought in my head, ‘not likely mate because you’re too bleeding boring.’ Anyway, back to the skills.

  • Good with people. The best journalists I’ve worked alongside were the most connected. They knew everyone they needed to. They took the time to get out there and get known. I see the same approach from leading agents. Their community knows them and what they stand for.
  • Tough nuts. Call it resilience, durability, or mental fortitude. Both professions face a lot of negative responses. “No, we don’t want to sell our home with you.” “No way do I want to speak with you about my wrongdoings, etc (usually politicians).” The best keep going until they get what they are after. Undaunted and undamaged. To be brutally honest, this was a weak area of mine. I took rejections to heart.
  • Serious about their craft. The best estate agents I work with are all over podcasts, books, courses, and opportunities to learn more about their profession. The best journalists I’ve shared offices with are the same. They take their qualifications and knowledge building very seriously.
  • Pressure handlers. I’ve always been struck with how the best agents keep calm during stressful situations like fragile chains and dealing with problem tenants/home sellers. A busy newsroom approaching the deadline to get the paper to print, or a story online is a hugely pressurised environment. Some floundered, the best flourished.
  • Generous. Going back to point one. The best agents usually support their communities in kind and charitable ways. Check out Location Location in London, CWB Property in Kent, and Sacha Scott in Banstead as evidence of that. And while reporters don’t usually earn enough to be philanthropists, the elite are often kind, patient, and generous when asked for advice or help.
  • They are obsessed with competition. This is the one area that the best of the very best from both industries stand out. The cream of the agency world feature people who are obsessed with improving their service, their skills, the results they get clients. The most committed journalists I’ve met are entirely focused on their craft and being the best, breaking the big stories, and grabbing the front page.

Looking back at these seven shared traits and skills, they could be applied to many elite performers in all walks of working life.

Be that in an estate agency office, newsroom, building site, classroom or anywhere, people are striving to be the best they can.

Thanks for reading.

Jerry

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Why Reviews Are GOLDEN Content for Estate Agents

There’s a subject that always sparks responses when it’s talked about in estate agency industry groups.

At its centre was the assertion that winning awards was worth promoting.

And they certainly are.

As is having a dominant market share.

As is using your testimonials as part of your content marketing mix.

As is highlighting the amount of work you do in your community.

And shining a spotlight on your Google Reviews is always a good idea.

These are all important pillars in your agency’s marketing temple.

It’s called a marketing mix for a reason – to work correctly, it needs to be mixed.

But if I were backed up into a corner by a ‘hangry’ Mike Tyson and asked to choose between awards or reviews, I would go with … reviews … (and then dive out the ring to safety).

And to head off any accusations of pushing an agenda, for the record, I have both – awards for my journalism and loads of Google Reviews for our business.

Here’s my thinking

You can do more with good reviews than you can awards. There are more stories to be told around why customers regularly leave you great reviews than why judges picked you for an industry gong. Reviews can be used as great content.

The Gods of Google Reviews

Google Reviews are becoming increasingly influential in a customer’s buying decisions.

Google a sandwich bar or a hairdresser in your area.

The most prominent information shown will be the reviews left by customers about the business you’ve searched for.

For estate agents, these Google Reviews need to be taken as seriously as a brown envelope landing on your doormat from HMRC.

If people are using Google Reviews for making decisions as small as where to buy a cheese and ham sarnie, what do you think they’ll make of an estate agency with a 2.5 (out of 5) star rating?

Who is more likely to get called in for a valuation? The agency with 69 reviews, a 4.9-star average and a legion of fans, or the agency that might be good but doesn’t have review gathering as part of its marketing strategy?

Check out Google Review Gods like Location Location and Paramount Properties. I’d instruct those guys off the back of the Google Reviews alone.

Customers are digitally savvy now, and the battle to win their instruction starts WAY before that first point of traditional contact.

But how do you get more Google Reviews?

Follow Stephen Brown’s advice and ask for them. And keep asking. And keep asking.

Or speak with someone like Alex Evans, who has a fantastic app for agents that makes getting them a lot easier.

Or use John Paul’s systemised approach to agency and have processes in place to collect them.

It takes time, but it’s worth it.

Thanks for reading.

Jerry

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Are you the Sports Direct of the agency world?
A two-minute read.
I’ve started running again. Slowly but surely.
And as with all new hobbies you’ve got to buy loads of kit.
I needed fresh trainers to tap into my inner Sir Mo Farrah.
So, I headed off to the sports shop. The only local one being Sports Direct – a temple to cheap tat – but hey, I was desperate.
I told the shop assistant, who looked more disinterested than a pool lifeguard nearing the end of his shift that I needed some trainers.
He shrugged/pointed me in the direction of the wall of shoes that took up the entire right-hand side of the enormous store.
There were football boots, kids’ trainers, ladies runners, and athletic shoes.
I waited for another assistant to surface for a couple of minutes, and when none showed, thought, ‘f@ck this, I’m off.’
I Googled ‘running shop’ and found one in a town about 15 minutes from where I was.
Hop in the car, pop in the shop, and I’m greeted with a smile and a ‘what are you after, sir?’
I told the smiley assistant I wanted running shoes.
This is where he got specific. This is where he listened.
“What kind of running do you do?” I wanted to reply ‘badly’ but thought better of it.
Me: “5-10K.” Happy shop man: “Great trail or road.”
He then asked me plenty of questions before presenting me options based on what he had learned were my specifications. I was very impressed by the whole experience.
What it Means to Your Agency
How many times does your agency deal with a sellers’ enquiry and not do enough digging to find out why they are selling? Or do you present prospective sellers with a one size fits all (it never does) brochure?
People want to be made to feel special, whether they are buying shoes or selling their most prized asset.
It’s why we came up with our range of Specific Seller Guides – written to help people make decisions based on their situation.
Selling due to a divorce? We’ve got a guide for that. Selling to upsize? We’ve got that covered too. Selling due to probate / to pay for care / to downsize ……we’ve got something special for you.
For more info about our Specific Seller Guides which come with free Canva editable templates saving you hundreds on design fees, give me a shout.
As we licence all our products based on area exclusivity get in touch to find out if your area is available.
Thanks for reading,
Jerry
PS: I ended up spending zero in Sports Indirect and more than £300 in the running shop.
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A 2-minute read. 📚
Yesterday my eight-year-old daughter jumped on an hour-long Zoom call organised by Brighton & Hove Albion football club.
It was held to mark World Book Day and featured a quiz, the men team’s top striker talking about his love of reading, and a couple of drawing and writing competitions.
My daughter loved it because she got a chance to speak with one of the players from the women’s team.
She’s now insistent that when lockdown ends, we ‘must’ go and watch the Brighton & Hove ladies’ team play. ⚽
Here’s where it got interesting, though.
My wife sat in earshot of the Zoom call and, when it finished, burst into the spare room where I was working like the drug squad, declaring: “That Zoom thing they did was brilliant, and they do a lot for the local community. It’s not just about football, you know. We should all support Brighton now.”
Mrs L doesn’t understand how football allegiances work.
But what Brighton’s Football in the Community scheme did is very clever. AND created two new fans.
I’m betting in several households where kids attended the session, a similar conversation was being played out.
Create Fans for Your Agency
The best estate agents I work with all have one thing in common.
They know the power of getting involved in things that at first glance having nothing to do with their property remit but have everything to do with helping people in their community.
Sure, they have different models. Different ways of running their agencies, but the exceptional ones all do loads for their community.
Whether it’s putting their money where their mouths are and donating computers for schools as moany have done recently.
Or organising community litter picking events.
Or showing tokens of appreciation to local NHS staff and keyworkers.
Or operating as a foodbank collection point or a winter clothing drop-off centre for local homeless charities.
This approach creates priceless local fans who support your agency because you are doing things outside of your remit to help their community.
And from a content marketing and social media perspective, it’s gold. This is because if people care they will share. Posts that have a purpose touch people’s emotions.
And when consistently they can turn bystanders into fans.
Walking the Walk
And this isn’t me preaching emptily – we practise what we preach through our content club’s Karma Club.
The Karma Club donated £7400 in the last financial year to good causes, community groups and local charities. Our members make this possible as £5 from each of their monthly fees is collected and then donated to community groups and charities.
It’s our key KPI. Because we know for us to do good, the business must do good. Call it the Karma Performance Indicator.
Thanks to us being actively involved in our community (the estate agency world), it is doing good on both fronts. It’s a good result for everyone.
I love hearing about the good things and great work agents are doing in your communities.
And with that lesson from Brighton & Hove Albion FC in mind, what is your agency doing to create new fans and support your community?
Thanks for reading.
Jerry
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What makes you pull your hair out about estate agency?
Is it your rivals and their overvaluations?
Or the way Rightmove treat you?
Or that many conveyancing solicitors have god complexes that would make even Bono blush?
What drives me to despair is bad advice.
I’ve seen at least three content marketing ‘experts’ say agents should only create content around property i.e. home tips, garden hacks ya da ya da.
Don’t get me wrong these are essential parts of any good agent’s content plan BUT they are not the be-all and end-all especially if you are thinking smarter and longer-term.
To prove my point we did a snap review of 25 of our members and their best performing content over the past 12 months. (Bear in mind we also do all the bread and butter advice stuff).
Here’s the top five:
  1. The recent printing for schools appeal. Ridiculous engagement.
  2. Shop local in lockdown as part of our Community Cheerleader campaign.
  3. Feelgood Friday (Weekly hits of hope and positivity during lockdown).
  4. How to keep your pets calm during firework season (in the seven years I’ve been doing estate agent content this annual article is usually the most shared but the lockdown has bumped it down).
  5. Ways to banish the pack to school anxieties of children returning to school last September.
Nothing to do with property. Everything to do with being helpful and interesting and THAT’S what makes them popular and highly shared. Remember this: ‘when people care, they will share.’
Look at it this way – let’s say you have a Facebook page with 500 members in it. What percentage of those are thinking about moving at any one time? In my experience, it’ll be less than 5-10 per cent give or take a little.
So if all you are doing is posting stuff about property then you are not relevant to the larger majority who, if you can keep them engaged with content that interests them, will possibly make that step towards you eventually.
At the very least if you keep being helpful, interesting, cheerleading for their community you’ll be in the front of their mind when the time is right to relocate or recommend.
My experienced-based advice is to mix it up if you want to stay relevant.
We need to remember we are in the attention business as much as we are in the agency business.
Rant over. Mic dropped. Off to comb dishevelled barnet.
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For my final article of 2020, I’ve got in touch with my inner Mystic Meg. Which sounds pretty weird right?

Here are my 6 forecasts for 2021 related to estate agents who ‘do’ content.

1) We’ll see more listicles (Google it).
2) Covid-19 related content will have a shelf life of at least the next 6 months – keep being seen to be clean.
3) Less but better – Less words, shorter videos BUT better, more helpful, interesting, trustworthy and sustainable content.
4) Videos – Turn all your content into videos where possible.
5) Community Cheerleading – Was big in 2020 will be massive in 2021.
6) Podcasts – you can use content generated by being a community cheerleader and turn it into a local podcast.

Finally, I just want to say thanks to all the people who read these emails.

And before I head off on Christmas holidays I want to share the exclusive Christmas video we created and licenced to members of our Estate Agent Content Club.

It’s been very well received and covered in the trade media.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amk7E82Hx2g&t=9s&ab_channel=JerryLyons

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and safe Christmas and let’s make 2021 better than 2020.

Cheers

JL 🙂

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Wall of Fame v Corner of Shame – Week 3

Each week I look at some of the best and worst in estate agency marketing—a one-minute read.

It’s Friday, and hopefully, that means you’ll be handing over the keys to plenty of excited buyers who can’t wait to start writing a new chapter in their lives.

But is that all you hand over?

No gift? No token of appreciation? No creative way of getting your agency’s efforts shared by the new homeowner online?

You’re missing a big trick. And one that this week’s Wall of Fame winner, Oliver of Oliver James, in M44 has perfected to an art form. Check out the photo with this post.

I love this keepsake he presents his purchasers with. Works on so many levels.

Oliver drew inspiration from Luke St Clair, who got the idea from our cousins Down Under.

It doesn’t matter where a good idea comes from; it matters what you do with it.

Corner of Shame

The reverse of Oliver’s agency approach is those agents who do nothing to mark such a key milestone in a client’s life.

I’ve bought and sold properties on six occasions and during that time have never received a gift or memento from an agent. So those six can head straight into the corner of shame.

You may only get one chance to make a first impression but has your agency paid thought to its lasting impression?

If you want me to share 12 great gift ideas for new homeowners your agency can give, let me know with a ‘go on, then you sweet haired rascal’ in the comments below.

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In this two-minute read, we discover what the annual John Lewis advert teaches estate agents about content marketing.

You know the run-up to Christmas has begun when John Lewis launch its annual feel-good festive advert.

And this year the theme is on kindness.

As with pretty much all the John Lewis Chrimbo adverts over the past five years, there is a big lesson here for estate agents about content marketing.

The Big Thing

The JL advert never tries to sell you products, ever.

But like with all exceptional content marketing, it attempts to get you to feel and remember something positive about the brand.

Usually, it looks to create a warm sense of homeliness, generosity, and trust.

And I’d argue it’s a worthwhile goal that your estate agency content should be aiming for.

But how do you do that?

It’s Pretty Simple

STOP only writing about property, the market and home moving.

Let me explain, using the content we create for members of my Estate and Letting Agent Content Club as an example.

We write, syndicate, and distribute up to three pieces of content to our 100 plus members each week.

Monday is lettings-based content written around landlords’ problems, interests, goals, and stresses in minds (PIGS). This establishes expertise.

Wednesday is sales-based articles with homeowners and moves in mind and addressing their multitude of PIGS. This shows care and knowledge.

Friday’s content we’ve dubbed CIA – Community Interest Articles. This can be about anything.

Usually, it’s something community based like supporting local stores. Although it can be to do with health, money, children, education, pets, you name it.

This CIA content follows the John Lewis advert approach.

We don’t talk about the core offering (agency services), but we do get the reader to (often subconsciously) feel that the agency is helpful, interesting, trustworthy and doesn’t just see or want us to be a walking wallet / potential customer.

Lockdown Lesson

When the first lockdown hit a lot of agencies who only focussed on property-based content were stuck. There was no market to talk or write about. Many just stopped posting content altogether.

But the agents that had realised there’s more to estate agency content marketing than market updates and How-to pieces (which 100 per cent play a part in a marketing mix) had plenty to share.

Our most popular pieces, by a country mile, during this time were our Feelgood Friday articles which shared positive stories from around the UK and the globe.

Again, nothing to do with property but everything to do with capturing attention, keeping it by being consistently interesting and creating positive feelings around their agency.

It’s worth some thought at the very least.

Better than John Lewis?

The Irish supermarket brand Supavalue have, in my opinion anyway, created a better Christmas advert.

Again, there’s not a product in sight. That’s because the smart marketing people behind it are focussed on getting the viewer to associate the brand it with a nice, warm, trusted feeling.

What feelings does your content create in your readers or viewers?

Thanks for reading,

Jerry

PS: This is my opinion based on years of experience. I’m not saying it’s the ONLY way, but if it’s good enough for one of the country’s most trusted brands ……..

 

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Wall of Fame V Corner of Shame

A two-minute read.

Introducing something new for the fine folk of Estate Agency Land.

Each Friday I’ll be looking over some of the exceptional things estate agents are doing with their marketing – agencies featured will make the soon to be highly esteemed Wall of Fame.

It’ll eventually become the Mount Olympus of marketing ideas, or a shorter-lived exercise than most people doing Joe Wicks’ workouts during lockdown part uno.

The flip side of this estate agency excellence is the Corner of Shame. You don’t want to be here, it’s where I’ll be sharing some of the lame, lazy and ludicrous efforts from not just the estate agency world but also further afield.

So here we go, drum roll, please.

The inaugural entrant into the Estate Agency Wall of Fame is ……. Umit Gorgulu.

Umit’s agency Courtney’s in Dalston, London, came up with the brilliant idea to add a lot of character to their direct mail efforts. They sent out letters to specific roads and areas. ‘Big deal’, I hear you think.

But Umit’s agency army hyper localised the pieces by talking about the history of that road/area.

Puts them in the local expert bracket AND it will gain the interest of far more people than a lame ‘We’ve dozens of people looking for a home like yours.’

Excellent, original and community based – Welcome to the Wall of Fame …Courtney’s Estate Agents.

Corner of Shame

The Corner of Shame this week was the selection of agents who are thieves.

Yep, those agents who nick the work of other agents and pass it off as their own. Seriously, shame on you.

Whether it’s content, property photographs or marketing literature, it’s never ok to use someone’s copyright covered material.

I had several incidents of this exact thing last weekend as four separate agencies stole content we had written exclusively for our members and paraded around shamelessly like it was theirs.

It’s great to be inspired by others. It’s natural to draw ideas from what you see around you, just don’t copy and paste things and then say, ‘we made this.’

If your agency has done something you are particularly proud of with its marketing, community work or anything else, please email Jerry@estateagentcontent.co.uk

And on the flip side if you‘ve seen something and think ‘that’s rubbish’ or ‘poor form’ contact me (this won’t be a name and shame exercise by the way).

Thanks for reading.

Jerry@estateagentcontent.co.uk

 

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