Christopher Watkin Blog
22 January 2014
Is newspaper advertising the best way to get landlords?
Let me tell you a story of some agents that tripled their rental market appraisals within a nine to twelve month period. I live in Grantham, a boring little market town in the East Midlands, with a population of 35,000, and if you include the villages, 54,000.
The local rag is called the Grantham Journal. A boring little newspaper in a boring little town. Everyone says its dead, local isn't where it’s at. That is until you delve a little deeper. It sells 16,000 copies a week, that's nearly one per household, week in, week out. People pay money for this...why? Because it tells people what is happening in Grantham. . So, if you live in Stockport, Manchester, London or Chelmsford, you wouldn't be interested in the Grantham Journal, but the people of Grantham are.
Local media was an essential business tool from the Victorian times. However, with TV and now the 'tinterweb', the message travels around the whole country, and even the whole of the world, so newspapers, websites and TV have no incentive to limit themselves.
But there are thousands of TV stations and millions of websites, so the numbers are diluted as there is such a huge choice. What would a TV station or website have to pay to be guaranteed almost 100% blanket coverage? Yet, if I was an agent, I (and you) have that medium already, it's the local rag. Around 70% to 80% of the agent’s landlords would live in Grantham...talk about a captive market. But don't doll out the usual 5 x 5 grid. Yes that makes you look good in your eyes, but ask yourself. Why do nearly every household buy the local newspaper? The clue is in the title, local news.
People don't read adverts, they read news ... give them some something to read, give them a story, THEY are interested in. Why? Well when given the chance, people are a lot more interested in what they're interested in, as opposed to what their neighbours are doing.
What of the internet I hear you cry? Yes that is as important, even more important, but it will be local internet. Local is everything when it comes to Google. Google rankings are strongly based on local items eg people type in 'Letting agents in Grantham' or 'Lettings agents in Hammersmith', not just 'lettings agents'
Local people writing about local things will be the real kings of media, and they will be local in a totally different sense. They will be the narrators and story tellers of interest for groups that actually have aligned interests. You as an agent have an advantage, you have a subject that everyone is interested in ...... property.
You have such an advantage - you are an expert in a subject everyone is interested in. Tell that story, and people (landlords) will beat a path to your door for market appraisals.
But does it work? Well I helped at one office, where I saw them use the system; they had carried out 6 market appraisals per month consistently throughout 2010, 2011 and 2012, all very consistent wouldn’t you say? Nine months later, that number had risen to a consistent average of 15 to 18 per month. Another agent I helped saw appraisals rise from a consistent 4 per month to a consistent 14 per month.
I would say that worked, wouldn’t you?
* Christopher Watkin is the writer of the ‘how to get more landlords to use your lettings agency blog’ and helps letting agents get more landlords and rental properties for their lettings agency.