Awesome Marketing insights and where to find them

Tom Durrant
Written by Tom Durrant

To label estate agents in 2017 as pure sales people ignores, in my opinion, the sheer wealth of marketing knowledge and digital savviness needed for this 21st Century role. No, these days, the role calls for you to be property marketing experts first and sales people second. Looking at it another way, you’re your clients’ marketing partner. The first part of your job, before you can start selling to anybody, is to get their houses noticed and to make them stand out from the competition. The likely consequence of not doing that brilliantly is that you’ll probably sell the property eventually, but for a sub-optimal price.

Gone are the days of taking on a property, posting off the description and a few Polaroids’ to the local paper and flicking through the cards in your applicant box. The property world has evolved and these days, successful agents have to be CRM experts, social media gurus, bloggers, vloggers, copyrighters, SEO specialists, market experts, financial pundits, sales strategists …and be available 24/7. And that’s not even scratching the surface with virtual and augmented reality starting to make an impression on the market, and your wallets. You catch my drift!

The thing is, we’re only human and we don’t have bottomless budgets so we can’t do everything. We need to focus. To survive and thrive, the modern agent has to make effective choices. We have to decide what prop-tech route to establish (there’s lots of that around), which camera to buy, what advertising strategy to follow, which CRM system to employ. Sometimes, we have to buy-in expertise. We hope the choices we make will work but there is normally very little data or research to back our choices up. Most of us, therefore, go by our gut instinct. That can often work – but there’s nothing quite like facts and figures to signpost the best way to advance your business effectively.

Insights are hard to come by in the UK. We can employ consumer research agencies to do the legwork but this can be very pricey. There are some UK industry reports too but they often provide little insight useful to an agent, or they’re very expensive. Do some digging further afield, though, and you’ll find an abundance of incredibly rich, deep and timely consumer insight that can help give you a sense of direction and purpose with what you’re doing.

Check out the National Association of Realtors in the USA.

Their research is to be applauded. It’s super comprehensive and up-to-date, covering everything from the who, what, where, why and when for buyers, sellers, and agents. There are reports on buyer and seller profiles, impacts of different marketing techniques, the difference home staging can make and more.
If you do one thing off the back of this article, check out “The Home Buyer & Seller Generational Trends Report, 2017”. It covers everything from how a consumer found their house to what a vendor’s selling experience was like and the awesome thing is – they split responses by age.

I’m going to extract from this, 3 really key insights that whilst based on ‘000’s of American respondents, I believe culturally, economically and politically there is enough of an overlap to use this as a strong basis for what UK consumers might feel when faced with the same questions:

1- How sellers chose their agent:

Picture credit: NAR buyer & Seller Report 2017

What amazed me was ‘methods used to find an agent’. For all age ranges, circa 64% of people found their agent either by “friend, neighbour or relative” referral or they had used them before. This is compared to 1%-8% using a website as a first port of call and 1% to 4% using Direct Mail.

This begs the question about advertising and targeting:

  • Are you keeping in touch with your vendors? There are CRM systems out there that will help you do just that… and the best thing, they’re automated.
  • Other industries, such as car sales, have realised that attracting a new customer can cost 6-7 times more than keeping an existing one. Why not draw on that experience and invest a little in sending a bunch of flowers a year after your vendor or purchaser has moved wishing them all the best on the anniversary of their move? Based on these stats, that £20 spent is highly more likely to be effective than spending £100’s sending out Direct Mail to cold leads.

 2- Most important factor when choosing an agent

Picture credit: NAR buyer & Seller Report 2017

Again, I was astonished to read the results with this one. Ok, so the USA don’t have the same pricing pressures as the UK because Online Agents haven’t established themselves, but with PB moving over there shortly, they should take heed that only 2% to 6% of consumers believe that commission is the most important factor when choosing an agent.

This begs the question about your marketing: 

  • Are you aware of your reputation, both offline and online? There are companies out there that can help you build or improve a reputation from analysing review sites through to social media.
  • Are you shouting price over quality? In other words, is your marketing spend solely focusing on your low commission rate when, perhaps, you should be focussing on how honest, trustworthy and reliable you are BEFORE shouting about price?

 3- And lastly, property marketing and website features…

Picture credit: NAR buyer & Seller Report 2017

When asked what consumers felt were ‘very useful on an agent’s website’ I was fascinated to find that photos came TOP of the list AND the younger a buyer, the more likely they would find photos ‘very useful’. If anything, I would have thought, given the hype currently around virtual reality, those would have featured much higher, but in actual-fact, this number reduces the younger the audience. I would argue that a lot of this is driven by the Instagram economy in which people have been growing up.

This begs the question about your marketing: 

  • How good are your photos? If they’re that important to your vendors and potential purchasers, shouldn’t you make photos the best thing about your property marketing BEFORE investing in bolt-on services?

OK I admit it, I have a vested interest in photos as I live and breathe hundreds of estate agent photos every day as a re-toucher and designer in my company, Doctor Photo. So, I’ve seen them all; good ones, bad ones, funny ones, amazing ones. Trust me when I say there is a vast difference between an amazing property photo and a bad one. The scary thing is this difference doesn’t just create good and bad emotions as they might in a picture gallery. Instead, they can make a real difference to the bottom line. A good photo will attract increased interest, and provide more opportunities for a better sale. A GREAT photo (when the property is optimally priced) will get people excited enough to beat a path to your door.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing with you on Agent Wow the latest trends in property marketing and photography. And I’ll also be devoting some of this time to showing you how you can take photos like these on our sister-site But until then, why not have a read of some of the other reports and insights on the National Association of Realtors in America report page.

About the author

Tom Durrant

Tom Durrant

Tom Durrant is Director of Doctor Photo, an award-winning photo enhancing agency for estate agents. Tom and his company are on a mission to transform property photography, re-touching many thousands of photos every month with everything from blue skies to virtual furniture. Doctor Photo also trains estate agents across the UK in the art of using a camera.

Tom Durrant has a real passion for pushing the boundaries in creative thinking, all things marketing and, of course, the property industry!

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