The printing industry has been in steady decline for a number of years, as reflected by the latest audited circulation figures produced by ABC which show that the overall daily newsprint newspaper market is falling at a rate of more than eight per cent a year.
The red-tops, so long the main strugglers, continue their downward march, while the Sunday nationals remain a blizzard of double-digit minus figures; the 10-year comparisons reveal that the Sunday market total has dropped 47.5 per cent from over 12.7 million copies to just under 6.7 million today.
These grim figures have led to a number of newspapers adopting a digital-first strategy, illustrating the rising popularity of digital printing which is rapidly increasing its share of the total print market. Meanwhile, the growing trend towards digital platforms has resulted in an increase in the number of firms, including estate agents, diverting a significant share of their marketing spend from traditional print media to online publications, driven by the changing way consumers behave and how they consume content.
The enormous success achieved by the major property portals, such as Rightmove and Zoopla, which between them now get well in excess of 100 million hits a month, highlights the fact that property websites are big business, with many estate agents now receiving the vast majority of their sales leads online.
“Content consumption is largely moving online and consumers are less likely to browse printed ads that aren’t tailored to their requirements in comparison to the highly targeted searches possible on the major portals,” said Nick Stuart of SellMyHome.co.uk.
“Realistically, for the majority of properties, print publishing advertising is extremely wasteful and the money would be better spent on increasing visibility of a property online,” he added. But while the traditional printing market has continued to decline as new technological developments threaten the industry, reports of the ‘death of print’ have been greatly exaggerated, according to most agents that we spoke to.
Who says print is dead?
While a growing number of consumers are abandoning print newspapers for tablet editions and reading on their smartphones, research shows that many people do still prefer to consume articles via print.
The majority of people are also still firmly in favour of print books, with recent research conducted by Voxburner revealing that 73 per cent of the 16-24 age group prefer print over digital or audio formats.
There is still a love for printed copies of publications and most people like to flick through a magazine – even the young! Liz Thomson, Mountgrange
“Print publishing still plays a prominent role in estate agency marketing,” said Liz Thomson, Director at Mountgrange Heritage. “In spite of the huge shift to online publicity there is still a love for printed copies of publications and most people like to touch and flick through a magazine – even the young!”
So if young people are still in favour of print, what about the older generation?
According to the DCLG’s English Housing Survey around 50 per cent of homeowners and potential vendors, are over 65, with many people in this age group “influenced by more traditional marketing mediums, such as newspaper advertising”, according to Paul Beresford, CEO of Beresfords Group, which publishes regular magazines and newsletters in both print and online e-zine formats, designed to capture the widest audience possible.
“The grey market is extremely savvy and will do its research online first of all but it also expects the traditional touch and feel of a brochure,” explained Sarah Burgess of Retirement Villages Group Ltd. “Print marketing collateral, such as newsletters, direct mail and print display ads, still presents a good return in terms of sales conversions in our marketplace. The secret is to get the right balance of both.”
Yes, this is the digital age, and the future lies in digital technology. But if you want your marketing strategy to be truly effective, you may need to think multichannel because the printing industry is very diverse. Various products still play a crucial role to play in estate agency marketing as they can offer true value with targeted messaging through various mediums, such as brochures, leaflets, signboards, lifestyle magazines and newspaper advertising.
Caroline Mills, Marketing Director, CBRE Residential, commented, “Digital and print marketing are like fish and chips – one without the other just isn’t as good!
“A really smart invitation in the post stands out from the hundreds of daily emails we all receive. A beautifully printed brochure shows that the agent has taken time and care to present a property to its best advantage. Print advertising, if it’s done right, can still catch people’s eyes. Printed communications serve to reinforce agents’ brands, and add gravitas to digital communications.”
Zoie Hawker of Fine & Country reports that her firm, like many, do market extensively online, but believes that there is still “value in print advertising.”
A beautifully-printed brochure shows that the agent has taken time and care to present a property to its best advantage. Caroline Mills, CBRE Residential
She commented, “Print plays a vital role and that is to make us stand out in the marketplace against competitors. As for brochures, we are definitely of the opinion that there will always be a need for them. When someone walks into our shop we like to give them something of high quality to take away and this produces real results for us, both with vendors and buyers.”
Although he accepts that there is “no one size fits all” approach to marketing, Chris Welch, Chief Marketing Officer, easyProperty, does believe that utilising both print and online allows agents to “reach the widest possible range of customers.”
He added. “Print marketing, such as magazine adverts, leaflets and newspaper classifieds still has its place alongside online advertising.”
Managing the message
Whatever marketing medium an agent chooses, it is important they get the marketing right, in order to maximise the return on investment because there remains a lot of value in print, in that it offers the ability to truly capture the attention of the reader but only if they find the content engaging.
Matthew Cole of PCS publishing firm points out that people who read printed property materials, such as a guide, are generally interested in the content, but only if “the content and message is right.” “It’s amazing how often we hear advertisers asking why they received no response to their ads, without even thinking to question whether the message was right or not,” he said.
Fiona Stewart, Head of Marketing at Strutt & Parker, agrees that print media remains a great way “to tell the brand story and engage with customers,” but also insists that the “key to engaging with clients is still knowing what to say and where.”
While online marketing can be extremely effective, Sarah Kemp, Marketing Manager at Ravensworth, insists that welldesigned, personalised, hard copy newsletters and lifestyle magazines can often provide “an attention grabbing alternative” to digital communications which are “more effective in getting the message across.”
When it comes to generating leads, not to mention building and sustaining an agency’s brand awareness, targeted leaflet drops in the form of ‘recently sold in your area’ flyers are among the direct marketing options that continue to deliver some of the best results for agents.
Mark Burgess, Director at Iceberg Digital, said, “Agents are in a unique position in terms of leaflets and magazines, for one simple reason – they know where their sellers live!”
Modern day technology enables estate agents to send ‘recently sold in your area’ campaigns to individual streets with personalised leaflets featuring the consumer’s name and a message to suit their demographic from their desktop – “personalised marketing at its best”, according to Simon King, Director of Move with Us.
He said, “Email marketing has now become so popular that we are collectively sending the average consumer 416 marketing emails every month. That’s 15 emails a day. Direct marketing, however, has the potential to cut through this noise. Precisely because it’s decreased in popularity, it stands out and if it stands out, the consumer will notice it. Not only will they pay attention but they’ll pay attention to your brand.”
Hunters in Sutton Coldfield recently posted out over 500 ‘sold in your area’ leaflets, producing an “excellent” return resulting in an “increase in valuation enquiries”, according to Steve Haines, the local Branch Manager.
“I would highly recommend the ‘sold in your area’ campaigns to other agents,” he said.
There is no doubt that good print marketing presents an opportunity to physically demonstrate the quality and attention to detail of a company’s ethos and brand, which is not always achievable through a digital medium.
“There is nothing quite like the tactile feel of a well-designed brochure or leaflet in the hands which reflects an agent’s high standards and pride in their marketing,” said Andrew Tomlinson of Crucial Projects. “Agents need to understand how their clients consume their media and devise a print marketing strategy accordingly.”
A print marketing strategy will often vary by agency, area, age range and the demographic of their target audience and therefore it can be worth them investing in some specialist research to measure changing consumer habits.
“Agents shouldn’t feel behind the times if their marketing is predominantly print over digital, what is important is using the best blend of the two to achieve results,” added Tomlinson.
Rather than the ‘death’ of print, we are seeing a rethink of the medium; a reinvention as it finds its place in a digital world.
Despite the doom and gloom for some printing firms, it is refreshing to find that so many agents are still in favour of print and recognise its wider worth and values as a means of marketing property for sale or to let and establishing or reinforcing a firm’s brand identity.
Rather than the ‘death’ of print, what we are seeing is a rethinking of the medium, a reinvention as it finds its place in a digital world.
While print magazines and newspapers can be reproduced in digital format, many print publications, supported by things like QR codes and hashtags, can also be used to help drive extra traffic to a company’s website.
Rather than kill off print, the emergence of digital marketing should in fact be viewed as a means of reinforcing it, with the two mediums working in conjunction to complement each other.
- Mountgrange Heritage www.mountgrangeheritage.co.uk
- Beresfords Group www.beresfordsgroup.co.uk
- Retirement Villages Group Ltd www.retirementvillages.co.uk
- PCS www.pcs-publishing.com
- easyProperty www.easyproperty.com
- SellMyHome www.sellmyhome.co.uk
- CBRE Residential www.cbreukresidential.com
- Fine & Country www.fineandcountry.com
- Strutt & Parker www.struttandparker.com
- Ravensworth www.ravensworth.co.uk
- Iceberg Digital www.iceberg-digital.co.uk
- Move with Us www.movewithus.co.uk
- Hunters www.huntersnet.co.uk
- Crucial Projects www.crucialprojects.co.uk