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Once you have the building blocks of a winning proposition in place, how do you communicate these to potential landlords? Through your brand. Your brand is a vital component of what will make a landlord pick up the phone and call you when they have a property they need to let. It’s also what could send a house hunter straight to your office or website when they’re in need of a new place to call home. More than just a logo or a slogan, brand is the heartbeat and life force of your business. It’s your agency’s identity and has a major impact on whether customers choose you.
But how do you decide what your brand is? Peter Knight, founder of the Property Academy and author of The Highly Effective Marketing Plan, says an effective brand begins with understanding your target audience. Think about your services and the type of landlords they’re tailored to: Is it professional landlords with a portfolio of well-maintained properties who are looking for a fully managed service? Is it landlords with large properties that will be let as HMOs? Is it first-time or accidental landlords? Premium or student properties?
“A lot of agents seem to adopt a view that they can act for anybody,” says Knight. “But you need to work out who your customers are, and who they aren’t, so that you can not only direct all of your marketing initiatives to the right people, but also so that you can make sure that you are not falling into the trap of trying to be all things to all people, because it just doesn't work.”
Once you know who your target customers are, you can craft messaging that is tailored specifically to the needs of this audience, which should be used in all of your agency's marketing efforts - from your website and social media through to your to-let boards and flyers. “Have three, four, or five different customer profiles and create testimonials for each of those profiles, with properties that are similar to the types that those profiles are likely to own,” suggests Peter Knight. “That gets much more focused, where the prospect is thinking 'That's exactly my circumstance. Wow, brilliant. They understand what I want.'"
You also need to think about what makes your agency special - your unique selling point or USP - and make sure this is conveyed across all of your marketing. “There are 15,000 agency brands in the UK competing against each other. In some locations you might have 20, 30 or more agents. Therefore it's really important that agents understand that they need to stand out, and stand out for the right reasons,” says Knight. “In other words, what's your story? It's got to be distinctive,. to have something about it that causes a customer to go, ‘Well, that sounds interesting. You sound different’ or ‘I like the sound of that.’” A successful USP boils down to three things, says Knight. “It has to be clear. It has to be compelling. It has to be something that your target audience wants.”
Homes Partnership in Crawley knows its USP - it’s a friendly, family-run agency that targets local landlords (and tenants) who then stay with them for years - in a sense, becoming a part of the agency's family. That ethos is reflected in all of the agency’s marketing, says its Director of Operations Adam Charlton. “We are different in the way we talk, in the way we do our marketing - an image of our daughter is on our for-sale boards and our website, for example - we try to give out that family feel. We try to go against the grain and that helps us stand out amongst a town of more corporate agents.”
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