Marketing… it’s all online now isn’t it? Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, on your website… whatever happened to the traditional routes to market? Nothing – they still work as well as ever. I spoke to several long established property industry suppliers and they all report strong continuing business in printed materials, saying that their agency customers still want – and need – print.
One of the UK’s largest agencies, Hunters, has partnered with Iceberg Digital to offer all their 180+ branches the opportunity to create a monthly individually branded property and lifestyle magazine or newspaper.
The content is important, it must highlight the fact that you are a professional and helpful company, the number one choice in your area. Mark Burgess, Iceberg Digital.
These publications can be presented as digital page-turners and/or printed magazines and, says Mark Burgess, CEO at Iceberg Digital, most of their clients do choose to print, in a quantity that suits them and at intervals that work best for them.
The magazines are a mix of properties for sale and to let, along with lifestyle and celebrity features.
“The content is important, it needs to not only be something people in your area might choose to look at but it must also highlight that you are a professional and helpful company, not just interested in the hard sell, ultimately making you the Number One choice in your local area,” says Mark.
“We help businesses understand and harness the power of content marketing. Successful marketing must be a combination of branding alongside good content. Most businesses out there are wondering why the marketing that they have known for the past 10+ years is no longer working and we help businesses understand the answers to this and help them implement a solution.”
Pernilla Tweddle, Hunters Marketing Director, says she is delighted with the system, “I’ve seen it myself and it’s really easy to use…it is a real win for us.” On the agency side, Gary Davis, Partner at Hunters Plaistow, says, “I can confirm that I am completely sold on the whole concept!”
Ravensworth, the specialist property industry print and marketing agency, currently works with over 5,000 estate and letting agents throughout the UK and far from print being ‘dead’ they are seeing a real increase in the amount of requests for printed collateral, printing onto more than 1.8 million sheets for marketing materials each month.
Traditional flyers and brochures are still very popular, but we also have new ways to help our customers win more instructions and sell more homes. Suzie Pattison, Ravensworth.
Suzie Pattison, Managing Director, Ravensworth said, “Although the more traditional materials such as flyers and brochures are still very popular, we are always thinking of new, innovative ways to help our customers win more instructions and sell more properties.
“Our latest products, Property Guides are already being used by some of our customers and the feedback has been very positive. Many are seeing that producing a regular guide packed with properties and relevant market news is working wonders for brand awareness as well as raising the profile of properties for sale in the area.”
Helen Nicholson, Managing Director at Dobsons Estate Agents in Newcastle upon Tyne, says that, “The property guide is a fantastic product from Ravensworth, and as the first agent to roll these out in our area, we have been extremely pleased with the response. It has helped us attract both buyer interest and valuation requests, as well as being the source of many compliments.”
These property guides are available with 8, 12 or 16 pages from as little as eight pence each – that is probably cheaper than anything you can do online.
The other great comfort with using expert suppliers like Iceberg and Ravensworth is that you don’t need to do anything other than supply the property images and details, they have very capable in house design studios working on the landing pages, CGI, branding and marketing campaigns, all of which creates a great tool to add into your marketing plan.
The march of the online agent continues, with those who run them saying that estate agency is old fashioned and needs to be disrupted, that it ‘must change’ and nobody needs a high street office. Rather amusingly these same ‘disruptors’ still use the oldest tool in the box – ‘For Sale’ and ‘To Let’ boards!
Andy March at Signboard says that they “remain one of the standard marketing tools for estate and letting agents, be they traditionally high street office based or an online, fixed fee offering.”
The numbers are staggering. In 2016 Kremer Signs manufactured over 945, 000 estate agency signs across the UK.
Gary Gosney, Group Sales & Marketing Director, says, “Our business operates 24 hours per day during peak season and we are very grateful to our customers for choosing Kremer Signs. We continue to work hard to satisfy our customers’ requirements.”
Kremer Signs has invested £500,000 into another wide format digital printing press to increase capacity by a further 20 per cent. “The main reason is to ensure we continue to satisfy demand and ensure our customers are receiving the best products at competitive pricing and just as importantly, they receive the boards quickly. This puts our output at 600 signs per hour across the group.”
Andy March at Signboard is also investing in the growth of his business. “In a market where there have been several press reports about estate agency chains struggling to adapt to a compressed market Signboard has managed to maintain sales levels and margins over the last year. We are developing our range of services too. Through our sister company Fountain Print we now also offer a full start-up package that not only includes new board sets but also a full selection of business cards, letterheads, compliment slips, window cards, sales particulars, document holders and brochures. All of these come with an in-house design service.
“We have also invested over £25,000 expanding our large format digital capacity. This was driven by client demand for bespoke signage and banners – primarily for new homes developments, where we have seen measurable growth as the Government strives to promote and support this sector. In the prime market places we have also seen an increased requirement for one-off signage for premium properties.”
Gary Gosney adds that, “Boards are a very important part of the marketing mix, so by increasing our output, we are continually challenging ourselves to ensure we satisfy the customer needs and part of that is customers demanding quicker turnaround times.
“The past 12 months have been a ‘year of two halves’. The start of 2016 was very positive and volumes were looking very healthy, our volumes were up by 26 per cent year on year. The second six months were very challenging with volumes down by 30 per cent.
“We have put most of this down to a direct result of the Brexit result. It seemed to put quite a few things ‘on ice’, but thankfully people seem to be getting on with things now and the first part of 2017 has been in line with expectations.
“We had a record year for new business with 443 new estate agents choosing Kremer Signs (a combined total of 612 offices). Typically we attract around about 250 new customers year on year, however we have been working very hard over the past few years to satisfy our customers requirements.
“With high quality For Sale and To Let boards, competitive pricing and quickly delivery, we are really pushing hard to satisfy. We also introduced a new customer service division in 2015, to keep customers updated all the way through the process.
“Agents across the country are not just going for the cheapest boards they can get their hands on’. The agent’s boards are a very traditional tool and the power of branding / marketing in today’s world is very important. The board is often the first sight of branding that the general public will see, so it’s very important that the boards reflect the quality image of your company. I fully understand that agents will spend £1000s on a new website, which is very important – but the boards and office signage should not be neglected.
And finally, “Our new wide format digital printing, coupled with our range of materials and in house ‘punching’ capabilities mean that Kremer Signs is well positioned to ensure that if you can describe it, we can design and make it! We accept all changes and we would welcome and challenge with board designs.”