"I am Purplebricks' no. 1 fan," says estate agency mentor Christopher Watkins

By Amy Smith

Christopher Watkin.jpgYou might know him as one of the most outspoken mentors in the business.

Christopher Watkin's videos and opinions about online estate agencies are passionate to say the least. 

After he'd raised a few eyebrows around FocalAgent HQ, we thought it was time to catch up with the man himself and find out exactly what he thinks of the marketing landscape for UK estate agency. 

In your opinion, what's the biggest threat to the UK estate agent industry? 

CW: "The biggest problem facing the UK estate agency industry is that we all look and sound the same to the general public.

"Our websites are identical, give or take a font or colour. Our brochures are the same. Our boards are the same. We all go on the same portal websites. 

"So I believe UK high street estate agency has only itself to blame if Purplebricks takes hold in the coming years."

Why do you think that is?

CW: "We've become glorified order-takers with out-of-date marketing from the 90s. That doesn't work anymore. The world has changed. It's not our fault but as an industry, it's our responsibility to change our techniques to match that world. 

"It's no wonder Purplebricks is getting decent market share with its fun TV adverts. If UK estate agent marketing relies on a crap 90s leaflet saying "properties wanted, no sale no fee" and a list of bullet points saying how marvellous you are as an agent, it's no wonder two blokes standing in front of a purple screen have done so well."

In that case, what do you think is the way forward for estate agency marketing? 

CW: "Let's be honest. Purplebricks is a listing agent. Its marketing uses comedy and entertainment to attract the attention and interest of potential house sellers. 

"UK estate agency can either outdo them by being even more comic and entertaining, or start using marketing techniques that have worked since Adam was a boy. 

"People don't like being sold to. But that's what estate agency marketing is doing. We need to stop talking about our agency, our services and our fees. We need to start talking about the home owner and the landlord, so we can become more interesting and relevant to them.

"We're in the people business, not the property business; so let's appeal to people."

In your opinion, what marketing tactics do all estate agents need to adopt right now? 

CW: "Remember: your customers don't care about you, your agency, your products of services. They care about themselves, their wants and their needs. 

"Estate agents and letting agents should create interesting information that our potential clients are passionate about, so they actually pay attention to us. 

"Too often we, as estate agents, believe that our estate agency services are so special, so amazing; and we think that if more people knew about that then our lack of stock issues would be solved overnight. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

"I'm a very passionate advocate of a marketing technique that has been around since caveman days. Content marketing is the art of communicating with your potential house sellers and landlords - without actually selling.

"Instead of trying to sell your estate agency services, you're delivering intriguing and educational information that makes your potential landlords and house sellers more informed, or perhaps entertained, to build an emotional connection. 

"The essence of this content marketing strategy is the belief that if we, as estate or letting agents, deliver consistent ongoing information which is intriguing and valuable, house sellers and landlords will ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty. Purplebricks wouldn't be able to challenge that."

So what do you think: is Christopher being too harsh? Or is it time for estate agencies to change tactics? 

Tags: PropertyBOX, Estate Agent Tips

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