How to beat Purplebricks

Mal McCallion
Written by Mal McCallion

At a relative’s home this summer, I spotted the Purplebricks’ ad on daytime TV. It was the one where the guy pours milk over his head at his notional stupidity of paying commission on a property sale. Crazy to pay on results!

Directly afterwards came sometime tennis player and GMTV sofa loafer Andrew Castle, who told me that I owed it to myself to use his InjuryLawyers4U on a no-win, no-fee basis. Crazy to pay upfront!

The diametrically-opposed business models – one pay-now, non-refundable, the other pay-on-success, commission-only – were being targeted at the SAME audience with the SAME promise of value. Both of these competing models simply CANNOT be true for the same person. Either they will be better off with Purplebricks and a lawyer they pay upfront regardless of outcome OR they will be better off with InjuryLawyers4U and a traditional estate agent.

No one could use both services if they genuinely agreed with either one – yet here they were, being advertised side-by-side to the same audience, shouting “best value!” very loudly. And neither advert would run if the audience wasn’t buying…

This is how marketing works – and now, more than ever, you need to be across it. Purplebricks’ message is cutting through NOT because it has a superior model – InjuryLawyers4U proves that – it is simply because Purplebricks can buy business via paid advertising. Its investors believe that traditional agents have no coherent response. So fragmented is the industry, the thinking goes, that you are like sitting ducks lacking a strategic response to a dedicated and ruthless national competitor who will always – always – outspend and out-market you.

So, it’s time to pick the marketing message that simply and devastatingly destroys Purplebricks’ “value” argument – why traditional agents are always better than any newcomers.

It’s because you always get a better #PriceAchieved.

You know that you achieve a better price than any long-distance agent – you have to! You know the area, the properties, the schools, the lifestyle, the major selling points. Whilst there may be some genuine reasons why a seller might choose to pay upfront, with no guarantee of success, an amount that might be some thousands less than another agent on success – but which is definitely more than the £0 paid on failure – these are few and far between.

Many more, when they are reminded that saving a notional £3,000 is thoroughly pointless when you end up selling your most important asset for £5,000 less than it’s worth, will choose you. They want to be argued away from the cheapness of a long-distance Purplebricks relationship and a Close Brothers loan. They’ve seen you around for years. Re-sell yourself at every opportunity and make sure that your ground campaign is better than their air campaign.

Every traditional agent needs to focus on #PriceAchieved. Relentlessly, consistently, unapologetically – on social media, in window displays, market appraisal literature, confirmation emails … Once it starts to stick in people’s minds, then you’re competing on your own turf – service – and that’s the way that it should be.

Finally get something really useful from daytime TV – don’t overcomplicate your message, keep repeating #PriceAchieved relentlessly and start to own the terms of the fight again.

About the author

Mal McCallion

Mal McCallion

Mal McCallion is a veteran of start-ups, Zoopla and, amongst others in the property sector. Mal is now a consultant with high-growth specialists Growtion, helping numerous ambitious businesses to achieve the acceleration that they need to succeed.

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