There is some vigorous debate in the estate agency industry at the moment about the effectiveness of newspaper advertising and whether it’s worth the cost.
One of the big name national agencies is reported to have stopped all newspaper advertising – some people think it a good move but many, especially smaller, more localised agents such as me, see the benefit of newspaper advertising and the results it brings.
Earlier this year I decided to cut down on my newspaper advertising to see what effect it would have. Apart from sounding alarm bells at the papers, it also made me realise that estate agents who rely only on on-line advertising through the property portals are missing out on one vital element of estate agency, contact with people.
I noticed that my traffic on sites like Rightmove dropped straight away. Newspaper advertising and editorials definitely prompt people to visit my website or a portal to find out more.
But newspaper advertising brings personal contact to a degree that’s missing when the internet is your only link to consumers. People who enquire about properties after seeing them solely on the internet are frequently reluctant to register with you in the traditional way.
When you ask for a name and contact details, they reply that it’s OK because they will see what you have to offer by creating a web alert.
What they don’t realise is that much of being a successful estate agent is maintaining a register of applicants – people who want properties of a certain type or within a defined price range.
The first thing you do when you take on a property is to ring round applicants that match, introduce the idea of the property to them, and take them along to view it. This all starts before the property ever hits the internet portals.
People who rely on the portals therefore don’t get to see the houses first or make contact with people who will also want to buy another home. As a result, estate agents who rely on portals never build up that essential personal relationship with applicants because they don’t know who they are.
Newspaper advertisements and editorial features prompt telephone calls that give you personal contact and the chance to swap phone numbers at least. This gives both you and the applicant a headstart in forming a relationship that will be mutually beneficial. It also persuades people who want to sell that you make more effort through giving their property maximum exposure.
It means I get to take on more properties because I am more proactive. Sadly, other agents then feel inspired to tout the owners of those properties once my For Sale board goes up.
It can make for a rather crowded relationship – two’s company, three’s a crowd, as the old saying goes. But owners who have signed up with me tend to stay loyal, so the touts riding on my back get short shrift. Perhaps they should put their efforts into business promotion a bit more and spend less time driving round to live off others’ efforts.
By Colin Shairp,
Director, Fine and Country Southern Hampshire