Is your public relations programme clear for the year? Or are all those ducks swimming around in circles? This year, you’re going to need to present – and follow – a strategic plan to make your agency number one. Here’s the first challenge. Most cities and towns are inundated with estate agents. But they all look and sound the same. It’s quite tough to differentiate between agents. Branches, boards and websites – can you honestly say that yours is truly different to everyone else’s? The second challenge is this. Buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants have more information at their finger-tips than ever before. This makes them smarter; they understand and engage with brands in a more sophisticated way and they have higher expectations of estate agents. Bad service is revealed on Twitter or Facebook in seconds.
To put it plainly, does your brand – and the PR and marketing behind it – offer interest and insights in a creative way that engages your customers?
The best estate agents are useful, insightful and creative, with an honest approach to their communications with their clients.
If the answer to the question above is ‘yes’, stop reading. But if you’ve got a nagging feeling things aren’t quite right down below in the marketing department, read on.
Too many estate agent websites are a masterclass in lack of good design and usability. The hard truth is that if your website is tough to navigate, then people won’t hang around. Websites need to work on tablets and on mobiles. No excuses – it really does matter.
Please check for typos and grammar before uploading content on to your website. Badly written copy seriously erodes trust in your brand – “If they can’t get that right, then how can they sell my house?”
Start one. If you haven’t got a blog, you are way behind the curve already. Three blog posts per week and no more than 100 words at first. Be interesting, be honest and be controversial. For those who say, “I don’t know what to write” – think again. You have no problems sharing your views and musings at dinner parties, at the football or down the pub. Blogs are a free channel to your target customers – why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that?
If you are an independent or smaller agent, then all the more reason to use blogs creatively. It really does help offer a distinctive voice for your business in an area you know more than most.
If social media is still hidden in your too difficult pile, take it out now. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a host of other social media tools help attract peoples’ attention. It can drive traffic to your blog, show off your creativity and encourage people to dwell on your website. Start small, don’t rush – but remember that engaging with people locally pays real dividends.
Journalists and great PR are a major part of the mix that should really help elevate your digital strategy. If you don’t have an in-house PR person (and most don’t, so do not feel hard done by) make sure that you use PR specialists that understand the sector’s trade media and has connections with journalists writing about the big housing stories of the day. And your local press can be great friends, not only if you already spend on advertising in the newspaper. Find time to spend with your PRs too. If you are investing money in top-quality PR skills, then invest time in helping your PR.
The hard truth
Social media guru, Matt Owen, says it better than me, “Overall it seems that poor practice is inherent in the realty industry, with agents who are not trained, not up to date and often not seeming to care about the customer at all.”
2016 could be the year that we begin to shed this image for the UK’s estate agents. The best agents are useful, insightful and creative offering the best customer service with a refreshingly honest approach to their communications with clients.
Your marketing and PR really does matter. Get it all lined up, follow the best, and take it very seriously this year.