Getting chatty with it - Traditional marketing makes way for social media

Lucy Gainford, Marketing and PR Manager at the leading North Cotswolds estate agency Harrison James & Hardie, explains why Cotswold Homes’ multi-media platform is custom fit for twenty-first century estate agency

"Why don’t you advertise in the local paper? Surely it’s a way of getting to those who aren’t actively looking but could be tempted if ‘the right thing’ came up?"

We finally took the decision to stop appearing in the local paper just over a year ago, having monitored a substantial decrease over several years in enquiries from this particular method of marketing.

Before the recession we spent well over £100,000 a year on local paper advertising and although we had reduced that commitment to concentrate on far more effective, targeted marketing with Cotswold Homes and Fine & Country, it was still a large drain on our resources.

Backed up by independent statistics confirming that readership of local papers has been falling by a national average of 10% year-on-year, property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla have undoubtedly had a drastic impact on searching habits for a very long time. However, most estate agencies maintained that local papers were still a method of gaining new instructions but we found that the vast majority of our clients relied far more on Sold boards, recommendations and property portals to choose our agency.

None of our competitors had the courage to pull out of local advertising, fearing that it would be a massive loss of profile if other rivals chose to remain, so we decided to be first to rip the plaster off. And we haven’t looked back!

That’s not to say that we have withdrawn from conventional newspaper advertising, full stop. Quite the contrary, national newspaper advertising remains incredibly valuable as a way of accessing the London marketplace. As Fine & Country North Cotswolds we have access to a host of national broadsheets including The Sunday Times and The Evening Standard, with a team of journalists within the Fine & Country PR Department working to secure additional editorial publicity throughout the national press.

Statistics provided by the PR department at Fine & Country reveal that positive editorial coverage has ten times the value of equivalent advertising space, backing up our decision to promote our properties via Cotswold Homes magazine instead of the local paper.

As a unique marketing tool, 10,000 hard copies are freely delivered each quarter to homes and independent businesses in over ninety villages and towns throughout the North Cotswolds, including high-traffic meeting places such as Cheltenham Racecourse and train platforms to Paddington at Kemble, Moreton and Kingham, The magazine has a massive local readership of at least 50,000, including online page-turner versions, and provides us with exclusive access to an ever-expanding database already comprising more than 7,000 e-mail addresses of residents and frequent visitors to the local area.

We also link information on our properties to our social media accounts with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, well aware that prospective purchasers are starting to branch out beyond traditional online portals to find their dream home.

It is estimated that by 2017 the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion as sites continue to grow exponentially in popularity. Today, users not only keep in touch with family and friends via social media but also seek out information and share it with others. Mobile devices have become ubiquitous and therefore social media provides a natural online solution for finding a home.

We are tapping more and more into this amazing resource in order to promote our properties on a daily and even hourly basis, communicating with potential buyers in a creative, instantaneous way that simply cannot be achieved by orthodox paper advertising.

Links from e-mailers to our property editorials and expert advice columns on Cotswold Homes website are by far the most popular content, so we have recently been funding the development of a fabulous property website that will be hosted within Cotswold Homes, providing a searchable, content-rich source of valuable information about all aspects of the local property market to an inexhaustible host of potential customers. As such we have been specifically able to target both a local and ‘London market’ audience in a far more effective way than the paper could ever have enabled, including those who may not even realise they are looking, as you quite rightly say!

To speak to Lucy, telephone 01608 651000 or e-mail lucyd@harrisonjameshardie.co.uk

 

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