There are times in my professional life when I have been reminded of my childhood.
When someone at school was doing something that I wasn’t allowed to do, my mother would always respond with:
“If they jumped off a cliff, would you follow them?”
I am yet to use this phrase as a grown up, but I have been tempted to on numerous occasions. Particularly when agents appear to be engaging in marketing activity, simply because one of their competitors is doing it.
In their defence, they are often at the mercy of the media owner or supplier, who will warn them that they have been to every other agent on the high street and they have all signed up – except them. Unfortunately, it then leads to situations, particularly in publishing, where media owners are almost literally printing money as agents clamour to buy space in their title.
So, what should agents do to generate leads and, more importantly, how much should they be prepared to pay to acquire them?
How much would you pay, for example to generate a £5,000 fee? 20 per cent? 10 per cent? Or maybe even less than that?
I have heard people argue that the cost of a lead is the cost of the media used to acquire it. This is not the case. The cost per lead is the cost of the entire campaign, divided by the number of enquiries. With that in mind, a lead from direct mail does not cost the 50p of the mailed letter that generated it, but the £500 spent on the 1,000 letters sent to generate that one lead.
Furthermore, if you operate on a 25% conversion rate, the £5,000 fee has cost you £2,000, before you have even begun marketing the property.
Of course, digital is far cheaper, and I would like to see a greater focus on applicants here. Using the data available through online channels to target the right audience for each property.
As experts, agents are well versed in knowing who will end up living in a property, and using a streamlined approach to marketing could reduce the time a home is on the market.
This leaves them with a real differential. Perhaps even some bold promises to stick to.
Use some new tech that no-one else has considered. If it’s a scary prospect, you’re doing the right thing. If you feel comfortable with the decision, you are probably too late to the party.
The reason for all of this is that there are two types of marketing: brand marketing and product marketing. If agents could learn to focus less on their brand and more on how they promote their product, then the key messaging behind the brand will quickly become apparent.
The example that I always use is: if you made radios, why would you choose to sell them in John Lewis?
Ultimately, it is the way that John Lewis sell those radios to their customers. The volume of customers, the experience those customers have with the brand, and the trust that has been established over a number of years.
There are some agents that try to be different, but others continue to copy their competitors and use the same tired messaging and media to attract vendors and landlords.
This is often despite advice to the contrary, and reminds me of another saying my mother used to have – perhaps a footnote to all property marketers out there:
“Don’t marry a man thinking you will change him.”