The letting industry can be a competitive place for agents, but getting to the front row of your audience takes time. The properties in your window keep you ticking over, but your brand is what will enable you to excel, grow, and absorb greater and greater market share. You don’t want to get lost in a sea of local competitors, so now’s the perfect time to start thinking about a strong marketing strategy to get you going in 2022.
Your role in the community
Estate agents and lettings offices are at the heart of communities. Almost everyone moving house goes through an agent. By connecting them with their homes, you play a key role in their life. It’s a people-person job where you’re managing mixed emotions and major life changes as well as the pragmatic elements of contracts, cleaning, and rent collection.
By ignoring this, and pushing ahead with a “sell, sell, sell” attitude rather than a comprehensive marketing strategy, letting agencies can miss out on heaps of valuable opportunity. By only focusing on profits rather than people, many businesses do not realise that putting the customer first is the single most powerful way to build success long term.
In order to set up a marketing strategy that harnesses the power of your people skills and puts you ahead of the competition, you need to understand the unique role your agency plays in your community.
Understanding your niche
Successful marketing for letting agents means first and foremost, understanding your target audience. You need to keep a beady eye on changes in renting preferences, landlords needs, before you can even think about developing a marketing strategy.
When working out your niche (in other words, the unique role you play in your local market), ask these four questions:
1. Who is letting through you?
For example, are your clients largely portfolio landlords? Or are they individuals like retirees or couples with spare rooms? And what pain points are you able to identify that you could solve for them? Build “buyer personas” that describe the rough ages, lifestyles, and financial profiles of your most prominent customer groups.
2. Who is renting through you?
Are your customers busy professionals who move a lot? Are they families, singles, commuters? Look for patterns in your returning customers, and the challenges they’re facing. Again, build buyer personas describing their general demographics.
3. Why are they choosing you and not others?
Don’t be hesitate to survey your clients and customers. Short, polite emails are a great way to gather intel, but if you don’t get much of a response, fit the question into your regular interactions. What is it about your agency that made them choose you?
4. Who isn’t letting or renting through you, and why?
This one’s a little trickier to figure out. Potential customers you didn’t get a chance to relationship-build with will be less inclined to give you their time. A good way around this is to add the question to your follow-up calls. Ask, “is there a reason you didn’t go ahead with us? Was there anything we could’ve done better?”
Once you’ve established the people using your services, you can tailor them more accurately to their needs, and build on your existing strengths. Which niche you drill down into will depend on your inherent capabilities.
You might go for professional portfolio landlords if you have a big property management team and/or 24-hour support. You might go for student landlords if you have lots of experience with student property. Or you might go for prestigious properties if you’re well established and experienced in high value rentals.
Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT)
Next, take a look at how you’re currently responding to the wider market around you.
By identifying your strengths, you illuminate the areas you can truly excel in, and that are worth more focus and investment.
By identifying your weaknesses, you recognise ahead of time what you’re not capable of doing well. You can then choose whether to try and correct those weaknesses (e.g. through investment or training), or to pivot your niche so that those things aren’t as important. (An example of this would be recognising you’re not strong at securing very high value lets, so deciding to focus on mid- or lower-end properties).
Opportunities are things in the market that could bring profit, but that you haven’t yet seized. This could be anything from a competitor closing down to a favourable change in legislation.
Threats are those things we don’t like to acknowledge, but can cause an agency’s downfall if ignored. These might be things like a competitor undercutting your fees or opening a new office. When we’re excited about a business endeavour and confident in our skills, we can fall into biased thinking i.e. “I’ll succeed no matter what!”. An honest and realistic assessment of the things that could really trip you up is paramount to your agency’s survival.
Set your strategy
Now it’s time to pull your data together and make a strategic plan.
1. Advertising and social media
Once you know the type of landlords and tenants you're geared up to attract, start orientating all of your advertising, marketing, and social media efforts towards that buyer persona (you may have a handful of different groups you're targeting, but limit it to 2 or 3 otherwise your marketing message will get muddled).
Understand what channels your target audiences are regularly using and getting exposure to. For example, old-school landlords are likely not using TikTok or Instagram, students are likely not reading Town & Country, but professional landlords are probably using LinkedIn. Align your efforts with your audience’s daily media habits, otherwise you’ll be shouting in an empty room.
Set a date every month or every quarter to track your new marketing efforts. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) so you'll have content you could plot on a graph. These are up to you, but they could be the number of new sign ups, new subscribers to your mailing lists, or number of hits on your website.
You'll also need to make sure your brand is aligned with your marketing efforts. If you're going after a more prestigious class of properties, is your logo (and even your agency name) in keeping with that new image? Think about colours, web design, the interior of your agency, and even staff attire. All should be tailored with your buyer personas in mind.
Let’s finish with the single most challenging thing about devising a marketing strategy: finding the time to do it. The hours and brainpower required to sit down and set out a plan can feel impossible amongst the rush of our daily workload.
Free up time to do what you do best with Onboarding. Our end-to-end solution automates tenancy admin, saving time for letting agents and allowing them to focus on things that matter.
Property is a people business, and putting them first is without doubt the road to success. Let us do the day-to-day, and you can focus on elevating your agency for the long term.