Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, today our very own Simon Whale is talking to Jerry Lyons, Nick Cheshire, Abigail Grey, and Adam Mackay from the Estate Agent Content Community. So, let us talk about each of our speakers and who the Estate Agent Club are.
Jerry Lyons started the Estate Agent Club which now has more than 120 independent agencies among its members.
Along with a team of industry experts he creates blogs, prospecting letters, email nurture campaigns and E-guides for non-competing agents across the UK.
The business has a charitable arm called The Karma Club which has donated more than £12,500 to community and charitable causes since January 2020.
Nick Cheshire has built a successful agency with a brilliant culture and hasn't even turned 30 yet.
Abigail Grey took over the reins of her family's agency and has gone from strength to strength.
Adam Mackay is the man behind the exceptional Mackay Property and is a master of using content.
Who are the Estate Agent Club?
We’re an award-winning digital marketing agency that has niched in the property sector for over 12 years. Services include Website design, iOS & Android App development and SEO. We love helping agents stand out from the crowd, enhance their brand awareness and generate leads. We guide our clients through from start to finish and work doesn’t stop when a project launches. We encourage clients to provide ideas for enhancing our platform for everyone's benefit.
Perfect... let's get into some of the main talking points then.
How have you found the process of communicating to the public, does it come very naturally to you as agents? Or did you have to learn it over time?
Nick - “from my side it's something that we have learned over time but equally I think us putting it into text is not so easy, estate agents are known for waffling and I think waffling in a blog post doesn’t come across well as its too long and can be quite boring. So, getting that art of keeping it short, sweet and sometimes humorous but getting the message across in fewer words is something that I've always particularly found difficult. And to get that message across particularly on social media where people's attention span is so short. Yeah, it has been quite difficult to try and hit that niche.”
Abigail - “i think it's probably one of the things that got me reinvigorated about estate agency a few years ago looking at what we’re doing, and I think changing my whole attitude to what we were doing. Previously I thought we were just a service industry. Now, we are a service industry primarily but almost in equal measure we are a marketing agency and that’s something that has taken a little while to grasp that concept and I think there are still quite a few agents out there that don’t realize we have to be an omni-channel marketing machine, and content is really like the linchpin of all of that. I think it also depends on your own background, like I come from quite an academic background and writing for me is not a problem, but writing documents and content or even details, your like ‘What's actually important’ because it needs to be punching, like I'm used to writing dissertations and stuff like that and people don’t want long verbose paragraphs that go on forever with infinite detail. They want to know why they want to see this or why they should be reading it and what are some of the key points that they can take away and I think that’s one of the amazing things that Jerry does.”
No-one could ever fall asleep reading one of Jerrys posts. Fact. Okay maybe not fact but you get it.
“What does the Agency Content Club do for your members and what is the need for it?”
Jerry - “it's really simple, we provide written articles. We started off providing just written articles for estate agents purely because a couple of my friends who run an agency a few years back said they didn’t have the time to write these articles, they didn’t have the time or the will or the skill. It does take a bit of skill to write an article, believe it or not. So, we just thought we launched the club properly 2 years ago, and it was just the gap we saw in the market for writing content for estate agents and it's grown from there to be videos, now we provide videos as well. One of the big areas of content is a lot of our members is they use the content almost like a script for camera type stuff. So, let's say we’ve done a piece about a change in landlords' legislation, we’ll do an article, but I've noticed more and more of our members are using that article to talk directly to camera using one of those teleprompters.”
Nobody minds a ramble if it's entertaining
“Did you used to get infuriated when you saw what agents were doing or did you just go *CLAP* ‘I can do good here?’ “
Jerry - “I wouldn’t say I got infuriated, one thing that does infuriate me is jargon and pretention, but that’s the cornerstone, if you can remove the jargon from any communication, you can communicate better”
“I would say with these two, Abigail and Nick, and I'm not just saying this because they're here”
Abigail - “He is just saying it because we are here”
Jerry - “I am saying that because they're here yeah, but they're very real people and that’s where I think estate agents have got a lot better at, they don’t have to do these silly photos of them looking all slick and professional like that or even on the phone. Why would anyone have a profile photo of you holding a phone”
Be right back just need to change my profile picture...
“Nick, can you explain about how your ‘for sale’ and ‘sold’ boards look.”
Nick - “so we had just our standard for sale boards originally which just had your standard ‘For sale’ and ‘Sold’ on it, but, because we deal one-to-one with the clients here, I just felt that the individual needed a little more recognition for the fact that they had been the one who sold the property. So, what we did, we kept the boards the exact same and we took the ‘Sold’ slip and we put ‘Sold By’ then we’d put like Nick Cheshire and then the mobile number underneath with our picture to the side and we just found it was a little bit like a pat on the back for yourself because you sold it and have your name there, so it helps a little with morale. But I think for other people seeing that there's an individual that’s sold that property and it’s not the company, adding to the whole ‘We are people and not just a company’”
“What does great estate agency content look like to you. Who is doing good?”
Jerry - “Andy Overman springs to mind, Luke Sinclair, Oliver Press, there are loads of agents doing it and the common thing with the guys that are doing it is, they’ve got involved with their community. Like the stuff Abigail done with Hassan, that was interesting and that was community-based Content, it's got sod all to do with property, but everything to do with capturing people's attention and I think one of the things every business has got to get their heads around, whether they’re estate agents or even butchers, is we are in the attention business now, everyone is competing for attention. So, whether you grab that attention by a community article or an article about getting kids ready to go back to school, it has nothing to do with property, but it always gets a good response on social media.”
“Think of HITS for your content. Is it Helpful? Is it Interesting? Is it trustworthy? And finally... is it Sustainable? The problem with most agents is that they can start creating content all on their own, but they can't sustain it.”
“How important do you think it is to keep time and dedicate it to content creation?”
Abigail - “Well I think it's really important because the only way you’re going to get more listings is by continuously nurturing your client base and getting useful information out to them. We have had people that we have not spoken to for a while call us up and say ‘Oh I saw your article the other day and do you remember me I bought a house from you 10 years ago’ and just start a conversation from there and then the next minute you know you are showing them a house and they bought something and they want you to sell theirs, it's on ongoing process and I think part of the problem with estate agencies is we want everything now and playing the long game is something that none of us have ever been used to, But you’ve got to play the long game and you’ve got to plan it, it's like any single thing that you do you have to consistently do it, so you have to consistently put out content and prospect, you can't just do it one day and then not do it the next. If you start doing something consistently then suddenly just stop, people will miss the content”
“Nick from your point of view what does great estate agency content look like to you?”
“Not boring for starters, I know we have said it already but the estate agency lingos, talking in our own kind of language so the clients cannot understand, it is so important because as soon as they see anything that is that jargon based, they just switch off and they forget the content, so I think it's got to be interesting. I've always found humor tends to work a million times better than anything boring”
“Humor is the main point there but also the consistency”
“Is it important to take that risk and be a little edgier?”
“I think people are too worried about upsetting everyone and it doesn’t matter what you say whether its humorous or not you're going to upset someone somewhere, But I think there's a level where you can go ‘Yeah that's a bit too close to the line’. If you wouldn’t say it to your nan don’t put it on social media, even if it's something funny if you wouldn’t share it with your nan don’t put it on social media”
“Talk to the people about what the Karma Club is. What's your belief around the Karma Club and how does it start up?”
“So the karma club is, basically we take a fiver every month from our members, it comes out of our pocket not theirs, but it's like we’ll take the fiver out and we put it all into a collective pot then at the start of the month we go to the members and say ‘have you got any community groups you want to support in your area’ so like as mentioned Abigail has done a couple of sporting ones and nick has done it with shops, and we give away about 650 a month. What happens there is we match funds that estate agents donate so say Abigail gives 150 we also give 150, meaning the community group gets the funding instead of a big well-funded organization.”
Abigail - “We’re so reliant on the community for our business that we have a moral responsibility to give something back, and if all you're doing is taking, you're never going to get any reciprocity”
Can't say I've used that word before, absolutely spot on though.
Nick - “when I first spoke to jerry, I reached out to find a little bit about what he does, I got on with jerry quite well and we seemed to align with a lot of things, and I think the karma club come in just after I joined, and it was one of the things that I initially only thought ‘I'm going to give this 3 month and see how it goes then I'll decide what to do from there. But the karma club was another thing that just anchored me in for longer. I’m glad it did because the longer it went on 3 months just wasn’t enough, like with content marketing it's about the long game and not the short game so 3 months wouldn’t have been enough to test it properly so it’s a bit naïve from my side but that karma club thing made me realize I was with the right company, and I just wanted to be there longer, and that’s kept me for the last 18 months so far.
“What Mistakes do you see out there, what Should you avoid with your content?”
Abigail - “Boring stuff” I knew someone would say that. Boring is the enemy. “Also don’t make it too long and I'm guilty of this so I made a video myself the other day and I had to chop it up because when I made it, it was like 7 minutes long and I thought to myself ‘Who's going to watch 7 minutes of me and only me’ so I had to drop some stuff out and add some stuff in”
Watching your own content is difficult, trust me I've done it plenty of times, so how do you know if your content is right for an audience?
Abigail - “I’m not too bad at it, I don’t hate looking at myself on camera and think I'm a good judge, but I do run it past other colleagues, I might show it to my husband and if He’s falling asleep after 3 minutes, I know it’s a no-go"
Jerry - “mistakes to avoid I think is inconsistency, I always say, the worst thing than having no blog on your site is having an old blog because if somebody goes onto your site and your top blog or top article is talking about the first lockdown, people are going to think ‘Are they closed? Are they still in business?’. It's also interesting what Abigail said about the length of videos because I've been thinking about this idea for a while, we timeframe all our content, its an old journalistic technique, (Rather new since the digital age) And we’ll say a one-minute read, a two-minute read, a three-minute read. So, I think the agents are better off doing things that are boxed in”
Nick - “I think the boring and bland we’ve kind of covered the terminology we’ve mentioned before. My pet hate is the ‘no obligation valuation’ line, I cannot stand that, I think when in the history of this industry has there been an obligation for evaluation but just the way that its worded, it falls into that same camp that the moment of certain words like that are mentioned, that’s it, people just put you in the same basket as everyone else. You could have just written an amazing blog, if it's got that at the end of it, you’ve lost them I think, you’ve just been put in that basket straight away”
Ooo that’s gone straight in my basket!
“Why do you need a joined-up approach to your agency’s content marketing and what does that mean?”
Jerry -”so, joined-up approach is having a consistent tone of voice. So, if you're going to outsource your content to anyone, just say ‘i want to see some samples first’ then have a look at the content and say, ‘does this sound like something we would say as an agency?’ Because our content is very much for independent local agents, it wouldn’t be for a corporate, it wouldn’t be for a higher-end market, a real higher-end market. It wouldn’t be for the cheap and cheerful merchants either, so think about the tone of voice for the content. I forgot the question actually”
I can tell.
Simon - “Why do you need a joined-up approach?”
Jerry - “just because its better” I agree. “This is what we mean when we say joined up, we offer prospecting letters, e-guides and the content club, the general content, and the idea for that is it's almost like a complete content circle, because that’s most of your content there. An E-Guide can be used as a lead capture, it gets them into your email nurture that we do as well that eventually keeps them on your database to send out the regular articles too.”
Nick -”i think there is just consistency across the business in everything, I think everyone from the outside looking in is going to see your tone on everything, what jerry just said there about the articles that was one of the things he did with me when I approached him is he gave me them articles to read and see if it met us, because I try and be as less estate agency as I can with the way I talk and the way I dress, I try to break away from anything normal so kind of making sure that it matches your tone is so important, my concern for outsourcing here, was that it wouldn’t come across how I would explain it”
Abigail -” We get a lot of stuff from Jerry with the E-Guides and the canvassing letters and lead magnets and a lot of that is coming from the voice that he helped us create and I think one of the other added benefits and this was the absolute cinch when I decided to sign up with Jerry was, He’s from northwest London so he knows the people and the demographic of my area better than most other people out there because he’s lived in where we are. This really gives him an added advantage when we’re writing something or we want him to create something, he knows the audience that it's going to be going out to and he knows, just like Nick said, with the humor, he knows what the nan level is with this area.”
Well, that has been our talk for today, thank you so much for reading and a massive thank you to our very own Simon whale, Jerry Lyons, Abigail Grey and Nick Cheshire for your contributions.
Adam unfortunately slept through his alarm and missed the meeting.