Do homeowners already know which estate agent they will call?

Steve TraskBy Steve Trask in Marketing

Do you think the average homeowner does not have a list of agents they will call when thinking of selling their house? Of course they do, ask anyone people already know who the agents are and if not it’s a simple Google search away, normally ‘[location name] estate agents’.

Ever wonder why homeowners choose their estate agents? We all know if you want to be in contention to win a client’s business you need to be one of the ‘lucky’ three or so agents they invite to value their home. But is it luck?

Chances are most homeowners have a list of agents in mind to contact which is shaped partially from their experience when they were buying as well as how visible the agency is within the local community. So you either need to have marketing with perfect timing or you need to have built your brand into that mental list of must call agents.

Why do people know which agents they’ll contact already?

People are very aware of their local environment, in particular homeowners having invested so much in their properties will keep an eye on the market in between moves. It follows therefore they will be aware of agents in their area, even if it is just seeing the property for sale boards around them. It all comes down to branding and reputation, part of that is positioning, where do certain agents sit within the market.

Particular agents often look after certain types of property or properties in an area. You have the agents who typically looks after the mid market and when people looking to sell a property in that range they will automatically come to mind. It is the same for high end country houses or first time buyer small properties. Sometimes the brand perception is slightly out of your control if people see you as a certain type of agent it’s hard to challenge these perceptions but not impossible.

Design is important but not everything

An important aspect of your brand is the design, the look and feel of your brand reflects your company. The best advice is to get a design that covers the basics and does them well, it should differentiate you from other agents and reproduce your message clearly. Do not go overboard on design, it should be flexible, as it will be used on lots of different materials from business cards, shop frontage to low res newspaper printing. Clear reproduction is key to getting your message across and is the most important aspect of a brand. One example of flexibility with your design is to have a brand logo that is square and another version which is horizontal, this allows you to maximise space in most if not all occassions.

Have a message that stands out

What you say within your design is as important to the brand as the design itself, this allows you to help position yourself against your competitors and reflect what you stand for. Take the following messages that could be used for an estate agent –

Your local estate agent
Position: this implies a special relationship with the area, almost like a solicitor, not only do they have local knowledge they’re likely to be established and will be on hand to help throughout multiple house-moves.

Demand more from your estate agent
Position: This suggests they go over and above the normal services of an estate agent, doing things that other’s don’t. (This is one of Foxtons messages)

A full service estate agency
Position: This communicates that you do extra services, such as mortgages and property management to make it easier than having to use multiple companies.

Proper estate agents. No commission.
Position: Challenges a potential pre-conception from the public as well as focussing their offering on cost. (This is one of Purplebricks messages)

As you can see there are lots of different ways to communicate your estate agents position in the market. This is a really valuable exercise so you are clear where your agency sits and how that can be best communicated. This will reinforce your position and help you attract sellers most likely to instruct your agency.

Covering multiple positions

You might be wondering what if you want to cover multiple parts of the market in our area as this will help you grow your business. This is where you can focus on the service you provide and also leverage your track record if you, say, occasionally sell higher priced properties as well as mid market ones you should communicate this. You might also consider sub brand communications, think Tesco everyday and Tesco Finest, two products from the same store but by calling them two different things they apply to two different type of customer.

This can be achieved at many different levels within a small business but the simplest way is putting different people or teams in place to handle different clients. This positions it so you have in house experts in different markets, you could even adjust your brand to be perceived as higher quality just for a particular team via colour or a typeface changes.

A brand is also about your reputation

As we are in the services industry there is a lot of weight placed on reputation, people are more likely to trust recommendations from friends or family members than anything you say in your marketing.

This can also be achieved using sites such as Trustpilot, feefo or Google business reviews as well as using client testimonials which are great social proof to gain trust of potential sellers.

You can always help position your business as a local expert by discussing and publishing articles on the local property market. By not talking about your agency’s services but the local property market it helps underpin your credibility as local experts by demonstrating a solid data driven view of the market. This is highly useful information for the customer base and will also differentiate you from your competition. This does take some time to compile and deliver consistently but if you do not have time you can even outsource this very easily.

Become the go to agent

People always go to the most knowledgeable in that field, there are certain other aspects such as level of service and competitive pricing (that does not necessarily mean cheapest is best). If you can master all of these areas and communicate your position clearly you will be a very busy agent, as you will be on the minds of potential sellers when they make the decision to call agents for valuations.

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