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There’s a lot of talk on estate agency forums lately about content. Which is good.

One of the few positives to come from lockdown is the content marketing penny dropped with a lot of agents who for the first time in years had plenty of time on their hands.

With this in mind, I’ve come up with a 2-minute guide on things to look for when choosing a content creator to work with your estate agency. Here goes.

1)     Industry Experience – The best content creators in any sector are specialists, and as such, know the industry they are writing about inside out.

2)     Tone and Style – This is very important because different content creators have different styles and tone of voice. Get the content provider to send you some samples so you can gauge if you like the way the articles sound. Ask yourself, is this how I want my agency to come across?

3)     Social Proof – Whether it’s from their Google Reviews, case studies, or testimonials, a good content creation company will have no problems sharing the proof that what they do is working for other agents.

4)     Their Marketing – Do they market themselves well? After all, you wouldn’t take the advice of a financial adviser who was driving a beaten-up old banger. Or a gym instructor who was out of shape.

5)     Check Claims –If they claim to have dozens of satisfied clients, ask to speak to a couple of them.

6)     MultiUse  Check that the content lends itself to multiple marketing platforms. A good piece of written content is the springboard for your blog and/or video scripts, to be broken down into highly shareable chunks and even direct mailouts.

7)     Area Exclusivity – This is THE biggie and particularly relevant if you are looking for regular content. You want the reassurance of knowing your rivals across the road won’t have access to exactly the same content you are sharing. By NOT having area exclusivity, you are watering down your agency’s voice considerably and laying seeds of confusion in your audience’s minds.

I hope this helps some of you. Cheers, JL.

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Hello estate agent people, a 45 second read for you.

All good content addresses ( on different levels) the audience/community’s Problems Interests Goals Stresses.

Below are some simple examples but the list is pretty much endless.

Problem – article on how to find a good conveyancing solicitor or how to avoid overvaluations.

Interests – (the best category for mass engagement) articles/videos around education, health, humour, community.

Goals – content on how to get your home cosy in time for Autumn or get sold and settled by Christmas.

Stresses – content covering landlords & tenants evictions – home not selling – anxieties around lockdown.

If your content cares about your community’s PIGS rather your agency’s EGO you’re onto a long-term winner.

Thanks for reading.

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“We all have a book in us.” It’s a phrase bandied around which I don’t agree with.
One thing I do believe is that we ALL have a story.
Especially around why we set up our businesses.
People love stories. It’s how we’ve been educated, entertained, and sometimes indoctrinated since we evolved from grunting at each other around a cave fire.
This is excellent news for estate agents as a lot of you have interesting and often emotional tales about why you began doing what you do.
These are called Creation Stories in marketing circles.
Innocent, the smoothie makers, have a belting one about seeing if their idea would work by selling their drinks for the first time at a festival.
They put up a sign saying something along the lines of ‘We’re thinking of resigning from our jobs to set up a company making these smoothies.’
There were two bins to put the used bottles in – one saying ‘yes, go for it’ the other saying ‘no, don’t give up the day job.’ The rest is multi-million-pound history.
Looking within our industry, you have some excellent creation stories.
Perry Power set up Power Bespoke because he was disgusted with the shockingly bad and dishonest service his mum had received when dealing with an agent. He set off on a mission to ensure no-one ever went through a similar experience.
John Paul tells a captivating tale about what sparked his obsession with systems and processes and working on the business rather than toiling in it.
His father owned and ran a successful company before falling ill with terminal cancer. The business was over-reliant on John’s Dad, so when he sadly died, there was little structure and systems to keep the business running successfully.
I became a journalist relatively late in life at 32. I’d always wanted to be one since I was a little kid. I always loved writing and rapping (another story) but came off the rails as a teenager and young adult and got in with the wrong crowd.
Following building up and selling a successful removal and storage business, I thought ‘f**k it’ I’m going all out to follow that dream.
So I went for it hard and all the twists, turns, tears, tantrums and tyrannical editors over the preceding years led me to this point – writing content for estate agents, in a journalistic style, which is something I love doing.
I’ve heard plenty of other stories from agents around why they started. The best ones are inspiring, revealing, and brave. The trouble is they aren’t shared publicly as much as they should be.
Saying you got into the business to make loads of money and drive a fancy car might be the truth, but it ain’t a creation story worth telling.
And it won’t win the hearts and minds of the community you serve unless all they care about is status and money.
Creation stories are great because they show people where you came from, the challenges you faced and why you are doing what you do.
They take the reader/viewer on a journey.
And probably the best thing about your creation story is ……. it’s yours, it can’t be copied and shows the person/people behind the professionalism.
What’s your agency’s creation story?
I’d love to hear it.
Thanks for reading.
Jerry
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A past post pinged up on my Facebook feed recently reminding me of something I did two years ago that still echoes loudly today.
It was a quick thing done without much thought or planning but proved to be the biggest and best piece of profile-raising I’ve done to date.
Annoyed by the relentless streams of agents talking in cars about not much of interest, I asked my friend James to record a video with me.
James has a background in the performing arts, so didn’t take much (any) persuasion.
The video is linked here and went onto get thousands of hits, trade media coverage AND aside from vanity metrics it won also won me a couple of clients and laid the foundations for my Agency Content Club.
It made people aware of me, my company and our ‘why so serious?’ approach.
It also paved the way for a series of similar sketches and reaffirmed my belief that humour opens many more doors than hassling can.
The video itself took around 15 minutes to film. It is just me and James mucking about and running through a very loose script that covered agents’ egos, market share, daytime dogging, and dodgy deals.
It’s About You and Your Agency
I’d like to think I wasn’t a boring date back in my bachelor days so this post ain’t about me (well it is a bit) – it’s about you, and how your agency could and should use humour to break through the noise.
My favourite agency property market update video came from a client in Wembley. Recently, she filmed and released herself warming up ahead of shooting the ‘real’ thing. She danced a bit, mucked about, and showed her personality. It worked as the reaction to it highlighted. I loved it as did others.
An easy way to show the lighter side of your agency is to release the bloopers and outtakes from your video updates. The stuff that didn’t make the cut but will probably get the biggest reaction.
The best agents I know take their work seriously, but not themselves.
Are you using humour in your marketing mix? If not, you should give it some serious thought.
I’ll leave you with this – If people buy really do ‘buy’ people isn’t it time your agency showed some personality?
Oh and here’s a link to the video which blends deluded estate agents, daytime dogging and dodgy tellies.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BZ9wEWRmLw&t=25s
Thanks for your time and attention.
Jerry

 

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12 Ideas to Add the Wow Factor to Your Property Listings

Let’s face it the vast majority of estate agencies property listings veer between excruciatingly boring to painfully pretentious.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are 12 ideas to add punch, personality, and pizzazz to the way you describe what a property has to offer.

  • First up be aware of clichés and nonsense speak. Is the living room really ‘stunning’? And homes can’t talk so they can never brag ……’ this home boasts a breath-taking garden.’ Don’t go there.
  • Highlight the lifestyle benefits. A family home with two showers/bathrooms provides the solution to the problem of queues/arguments in the morning when people are getting ready for school/work.
  • Add in a What the Seller Loves about their home. Ask them what they adore and why. Thanks to Oliver James in Irlam for that one.
  • Nail the property’s BSP early in the description. What’s a BSP? Biggest Selling Point. So, if it’s a family home in the catchment area of an outstanding local school include that early on. Or if it’s a studio flat in a trendy part of town talk about how close it is to the best coffee shops, bars, and restaurants in town.
  • Nail the headline. What sounds better – A 3-bedroom semi-detached bungalow for sale – A chance to buy a beautiful family home? Aim to add emotional words in the headline and opening sentence.
  • How would you describe the place you’re selling to a friend? Chances are you wouldn’t sound like a property listing and talk about its well-appointed lounge (ouch), its light and spacious feel or the well-established garden! WTF??
  • Remember the old journalist’s adage. Write to express, not impress. The property listing needs to get people excited about the place rather than bemused because you rattled off enough jargon to fill a large bin bag.
  • Think of good copywriting like a frank breaking up note/text. It’s not them. It’s you. Yes, it’s all about you. Pepper your listings with things like this ….’ you’ll wake up in the morning to panoramic views of the city/harbour / open fields.’ ‘You will be able to be the host with the most by holding BBQ’s for your friends and family in the large garden and relaxing patio area.’
  • Don’t Bullsh!7. Stick to the facts about the property rather than making up stuff to make the property sound better than it is. No-one likes being lied to.
  • Consider the Four Para technique. 1) Property Location – Schools, stations, shops, restaurants 2) Property Outside – front of home, street, parking. 3) Property Inside – hallway, lounge, kitchen, bedrooms. 4) Property Rear – Garden, balcony. Thanks to Nick Cheshire @ NestinEssex for that one.
  • Dare to be different. Consider writing the description as if it were coming from the home itself. Simply by avoiding the usual estate agenty nonsense and jargon, you’ll be helping the property, and its sellers stand out from the crowd.
  • And finally, right at the end of the description, tell the reader clearly what to do next. To discover more and book a viewing of this lovely place to call home, call us on ………

I hope this helps and thanks for reading.

Jerry

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A 60-second read.
I saw a gravestone this week in the local cemetery which was a work of genius and beauty.
It read: “Here lies a Polish soldier and his English rose.”
The couple were born in the 1920s and died a handful of years apart.
Whoever created that tribute knows the value of words.
Nine words which succinctly told two life stories and conjured up adventure, service, courage, devotion, and love.
Google’s founder Larry Page also knows the importance of nailing it in as few words as possible.
A kid asked him what he did for a living. His response was ‘I help people find things.’
We are living in an age where attention spans have never been shorter. Long-form marketing is dying.
So, you need to get across what you do and why you do it as quickly and powerfully as possible. It’s a skill that will be increasingly in demand in the years to come.
My Larry Page inspired pitch would be ‘I make agents’ lives easier.’
What’s yours? How do you sum up what you do for your clients in less than five to nine words?
Thanks for reading.
Jerry
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In this 4-minute read, I reveal why I’d back Del-Boy against the legions of sales gurus any day of the week, including Sundays.
I go on lots of training courses, mainly online now since someone in Wuhan thought having a cheeky bit of bat soup was a good idea.
And over the years I have heard lots of self-appointed gurus and experts talking about all manner of stuff.
I’m particularly interested in sales and marketing.
Some of the speakers on these courses are very knowledgeable, full of bright ideas and genuinely passionate about helping others.
However, a lot of them ain’t.
The ones that fall into ‘I feel like I’ve wasted an hour/day/weekend of my life being here’ brigade nearly always tend to make marketing sound more mystical and complicated than it is.
The term marketing comes from the first retail experiences known to man and woman – marketplaces.
The Return of Jel Boy
Back in 1997 -98, I ran successful market stalls for a couple of years across London and the south-east. My favourite pitch being Wembley Market which was literally in shadows of the iconic twin towers.
These were the glory days of the markets before the internet and out of town shopping centres knocked them bandy.
The markets were full of characters, real entrepreneurs, wheelers and dealers and sales and marketing experts.
Here are four top ‘market magic’ tips a Wembley legend ‘T-shirt Tony’ (he sold t-shirts) shared with me.
He also told me about the legendary Lofty Cohen and the origins of the phrase ‘what a load of old flannel.’ But these are other stories.
Get your spread right:
Some traders called the way their stalls looked ‘the spread.’ Or ‘The flash’. Everything was neat, tidy, prices were clearly shown, and the best offers were always at the front of the stall. Everything was geared up to make it easy for the punters to have a look around, feel comfortable and spend money.
Agency Tip:
In a digital world, your website is your stall, so set it out with care. Think about how accessible and user friendly it is? Is it inviting, easy to navigate and filled with warm, conversational copy and HITS based content?
Pitch perfect:
When you think of Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses you can’t help but smile. A lot of his popularity was down to the way he sold things. Call it what you like patter, spiel or ‘presentation’ it’s the same thing. I met some real-life Del Boys including one supplier, whose van was his warehouse on wheels, he ended up selling me ‘Tootingham’ footballs.
Agency Tip:
Even in real life, the best market traders had a pitch for their products that was slick without being corny, rehearsed with no sense of being scripted. They knew what they were selling inside out, as do exceptional estate and letting agents who know their market, their offering, and their value.
Don’t be shy:
What’s the point in having a great product or service if you are too timid to shout about it. Market traders were legendary for their use of ‘calling out’. In busy marketplaces, you had to do something to make your stall stand out from the others all vying for business.
On Wembley Market, there was a fella called ‘Bald Ronnie’ whose stall was in a dead-end around the corner from the busiest thoroughfare. It was at first glances a crap spot.
Ronnie used a loudspeaker every week to grab people’s attention simply by saying ‘Raaaaaand tha cornahhhhh’. It aroused people’s curiosity and got them to venture around the corner.
Agency Tip: What do you do to let people know you’re open/available for business? How are you grabbing attention? Content marketing when done correctly is THE best way of staying in touch in a light, non-salesy way.
Have fun: Remember visiting a market when you were a kid? The best sellers made you laugh, they were fun, a little bit cheeky and always seemed to be enjoying themselves. That’s because they were.
I could write a small book about some of the crazy capers and hilarious characters I met, even in a brief period of doing it.
Agency Tip: Don’t be afraid to show you have a sense of humour. If you are bored with what you do – find something else you enjoy doing more. Life’s too short as this whole COVID- 19 experience is teaching us all.
Of all the above tips, I think having fun is the most valuable. As having fun breeds good energy and good energy is transferable into everything you do especially when you are in front of or dealing with a client.
You know it makes sense.
Father Jel-Boy
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How Sister Mary can help your agency find its ideal audience. A 3-minute read.

Some stories stick with you forever.

These are the tales that are shared with you and find a special place in your heart and mind.

The following story and its message had that effect on me.

And it carries a critical message for estate and letting agents.

Around 20 years ago, a friend of mine called Dermot told me a story about his auntie Mary, Sister Mary, to give her most often used moniker.

It was one of those stories where I can remember exactly where I was—leaning against my clapped-out VW Golf on the Stonebridge Estate in London where I grew up.

The Story of Sister Mary

Dermot’s aunt had become a nun in west Ireland back in the 1950s. She was in her early twenties.

This was not uncommon for Irish families to have children dedicate their lives to the Catholic Church.

Sister Mary’s spiritual calling took her 6077 miles away (as the crow flies, I Googled it) to South Africa. She never returned to the village in Galway where she grew up.

This was a South Africa deep in the evils of apartheid at the time.

Sister Mary was sent as a missionary to a township, I can’t recall the name but remember it wasn’t Soweto.

She embraced her community work with the violently oppressed African people.

Dermot told me that she saw her role as someone there to care for the people rather than convert them to a credo.

She lived among the dignity sapping poverty, the suffocating oppression and the state-backed regime of violence, intimidation, and fear.

She saw the riots, the brutal police raids. She crossed the line between spirituality and politics by joining the fight to end the inhumane abomination, which was apartheid.

Sister Mary was there when Nelson Mandela was jailed in 1962.

She was there cheering along with the townspeople when he was released from prison in 1990.

Sister Mary had grown old.

She had watched babies grow into adults, witnessed families become splintered by the evils of oppression but also united by a common goal of freedom.

The petite nun from a faraway land was a part of South Africa’s story.

A Homecoming Offer

Dermot, who was a natural-born storyteller, told me his father had visited her in South Africa on her 70th birthday.

It was the first time the siblings had seen each other in more than 40 years.

Dermot’s dad asked her why she didn’t come ‘home’? Back to Ireland where she could see out her days in comfort and relative peace.

The new South Africa was fairer but also more violent and, in many ways, increasingly unstable. He was worried about her future.

During his stay he chipped away at her, selling all the benefits of being back home and surrounded by a large family.

Her ultimate response stopped his pleas in their tracks.

And was something we could all do with remembering.

Sister Mary turned to the brother she loved dearly and said: “I can’t leave.”

He tried one last time. “But Mary, wouldn’t you like to be back home with your people.”

She paused (dramatically according to Dermot) and gently said: “Brother, this is my home, and these are my people.”

Sister Mary died peacefully a few years after that visit.

She was remembered fondly by people in Ireland but adored and revered by her people in South Africa. She had done a lot of good in a time when things over there were very bad.

What’s this got to do with agents?

Good question. But if you aren’t clear who your target market is, your people, you’ll struggle with marketing.

By clearly defining who your people are, you will be able to create the right tone of voice and identify the ways they like to be communicated with, i.e. Telephone, Facebook, email, or direct mail.

By knowing your people, you’ll use your marketing spend more wisely, train your team more and understand what their problems, interest and goals are. And how you can help them.

If you find your people and are true to them, just like Sister Mary you could end up remembered, trusted, and dare I say it perhaps even loved.

Thanks for sharing this story with me.

Amen

Father Jerry

The Not Very Religious at all Church of Estate Agent Content.

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There was a good, healthy debate on an industry Facebook forum a couple of weeks ago.

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

And they certainly are.

As is having a dominate 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 essential pillars of your agency’s marketing temple.

It’s called a marketing mix for a reason – to work properly, 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….then dive through the ropes 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 my business.

Here’s my thinking.

I feel 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.

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 thing that’ll be put forward to you is the reviews the business you are looking for has received from customers.

For estate agents, these Google reviews need to be taken as seriously as a brown envelope landing on your doormat from the 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, from SJB Consultancy’s advice and ask for them. And keep asking. And keep asking.

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

Or use John Paul from the Castleden Group’s systemised approach to agency and have processes in place to collect them consistently.

It takes time, but it’s worth it.

Keep the faith.

Jerry

PS: One way of getting more great reviews is winning more instructions. My canvassing letters campaigns are now on general release. For more information ping me an email with the postcodes you serve, and I’ll send you samples.

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