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Letting agents .. why are you doing it so wrong?

According to Rightmove, there are in Birmingham there are 223 letting agents, in Bristol there are 164 letting agents, 168 letting agents in Leeds .. need I go on?

If you are an existing agent, or going to be No. 224 in Birmingham, what are you going to do stand out from the crowd? 
  • Offer cheap fees?
  • Be more professional?
  • Be more ARLA registered than all of the others?
  • Your free market appraisals are the free'ist free market appraisals out there
  • Some other gimmick that everyone has tried before
If you are .. you are bloody fools!

What are you going to do to attract new landlords and more importantly, get landlords who use other agents, to come and use you?  For many, to rise above the crowd (and 23 letting agents is a crowd let alone 223), you need to create an urge within the landlord to read more about you and what is written about you, and by doing that it can also boost your brand and presence. Plus, customers are more apt to feel a connection with your company.

You have probably heard the phrase ‘content is king’. But what does ‘content is king’ and ‘storytelling’ actually mean, and why are they so important? For those lettings bosses needing a little help getting comfortable with storytelling meerlarky, here is a quick resume of why storytelling sooo important. 

Storytelling is one of the best means for sharing and interpreting experiences and provides effective call to action learning. Stories create interest and curiosity, both of which are strong tools in attracting your potential customers (landlords and in fact future vendors) to read, share and comment. You see everyone has a story .. even letting agents. You want people (landlords) to talk about you, to pass on details about you, so they say to their landlord mates, ‘This guy seems to know what he talking about’.

It is not a letting agent that actually goes viral, it’s the story that revolves around it. Storytelling is all about finding your voice, expression and something to share. Like I always talk about my dog and my travels in my blog about getting more landlords. I get more people asking after the dog than want to talk to me about helping them get more landlords ... and I am stacked out with work .. so that’s a n awful lot od people asking about the dog Joey. You see in blogging, storytelling is about sharing experiences, your mistakes, your journey, your accomplishments or anyone else's for that matter... and the best bit .. you have the most interesting subject in the world to Brits, after the weather  .. PROPERTY

So, this is what I teach my people on my courses (and subsequent mentoring) on how to write advertorials and blogs, that get landlords hooked (remember all this stuff is proved to work .. one guy improved his turnover from £350k/year to £550k/year writing this stuff)

To kick off, we need to create a setting. This is the base of entire story and it means that you set the stage, the mood and the context with which you will start and go on. We need to bring in some characters to it all (nothing fancy). For example, begin with an interesting sentence such as "A few days back I was talking to a landlord”, talk with your landlords as if they are right in front of you and make your reader feel like a part of your writing. Note that it’s important to mention yourself In storytelling, YOU are always one of the character of the story, but only introduce yourself in limited way.

Now you have set the scene, you now need create anticipation and curiousness. This is where the magic happens in the middle part your piece, be it an advertorial or blog. Its the meat of the piece (talking of meat – had a lovely Beef sandwich with some old work colleagues last week .. lovely) and its te most important bit. On the first bit, you were just creating an introduction and after it you will be leading towards a conclusion. This part must have a strong element of curiosity and anticipation to keep your readers following the path. You must then back that up with facts and figures that prove your point.

And finally, the best bit, the ending. There has to be different degrees of a call to action. Sometimes none, sometime subtle, sometimes in’yer face. The ending must be so influential and have such an impact that it opens a door to debate, ideas, questions, recommendation or a simple appreciation from your readers (hence the people asking after the dog). You want your readers to think it worth sharing, liking and sending on to their friends.

Think about it, for a second. Most lettings agents will say, “Just get a landlord sat in front of me, let me talk to them and I will get their business”. Well if you want a landlord to talk to you, the first hurdle is to find those landlords, but nobody walks around with a badge that says ‘I’m a landlord’ and the only landlords that do walk through the door of your lettings agency are those who have had their rental property on the market for 6 weeks, the tenant moved out at week 4 and they have an overpriced void property that 3 agents in the town have already tried to let.

But the challenge gets even worse. When was the last time a landlord of yours swapped agents whilst there was a tenant in the property? Precisely ... not many. As there is a tenant in the property 95% of the time, the landlord is unable (without incurring withdrawal fees and hassle) to swap agents 95% of the time. The only time a landlord can swap agents, without incurring those withdrawal fees or hassle, is when the tenant hands in their notice. But how many landlords at your agency, when you informed them the tenant had handed in their notice, said to you, ‘Don’t put my rental property back on the market for a few days, I am going to see if there is any new / better letting agents in town’. Again, not many.
The problem is, unless the landlord has really fallen out with their agent, 99% of the time the rental property goes straight back on the market. The landlord has better things to do with their life than take time off work to see if there are any new or better letting agents in town.. and anyway .. all you letting agents are the same, aren’t you?  

You see I believe the relationship that most landlords have with their letting agent is the same sort of relationship that people have with their own bank. People don’t love their bank, in fact most people don’t even like their bank, it’s just they can’t be bothered to swap banks, be it apathy, too much hassle etc.  I believe most landlords feel the same about their letting agent – you are all the same and it’s too much hassle to swap anyway.

However, what if there was a way that made a landlord want to come and talk to you, want to come and speak to you not when their tenant handed in their notice, as that is almost too late; but come and speak to you before the tenant handed in their notice?
 Also, if you believe lettings is a ‘people business’ and ‘people buy people’, then over those months, between them meeting you and the tenant handing in their notice, you built a relationship with that landlord, never asking for the business, always interested in them as a person but more importantly, you as the letting agent were one of the most interesting people in the eyes of the landlord, there would come a point where that landlord would say, to themselves, ‘Do you know I really like that guy called Bob, he is always very helpful .. next time my tenant hands in their notice, I’Il will try him ‘’

You will never get a landlord’s interest until you get their attention and you will never get a landlord to take action until they make a decision. So how do you do get a landlord to decide they want to come and talk you before their tenant hands in their notice? Getting the attention of the landlord is easy, but it’s the obtaining and keeping of the landlords interest that’s the make or break issue here. That’s where story’s come in.

There is nothing more interesting to a landlord than if you tell a story about his or her the local property market ...... remember, a landlord in Uxbridge only cares about Uxbridge property, a landlord in Bournemouth only cares about the Bournemouth property market. eg Why have yields in Bournemouth gone up to 5.5% whilst in next door Poole they have dropped to 4%? Why have property values increased by 32% in Uxbridge over the last 5 years whilst property values in neighbouring Hayes have only increased by 21%? If you then tell stories of other landlords experiences in Bournemouth or Uxbridge, you have a very powerful weapon that grabs the attention and more importantly is very very interesting to other landlords.

Converting them from reading the stories to making contact is then the easy part ... how.. well pick up the phone I will tell you ..

Nothing on Monday, as its a Bank Holiday ( I know it is today but I was up) .. next story on Tuesday. Shalom