When it comes to advertising as an estate agent making sure that we use every pound spent to its maximum potential is imperative.
The marketplace is saturated with competition and there are many large companies looking to capitalise on this fact.
Trade specific apps and services like Rightmove, Zoopla or OntheMarket have gained a great amount of influence and taken much of the brand recognition that individual estate agents used to have away.
As such we need to make sure to make our advertising budget work to its maximum potential and balance brand building efforts with focusing on the mainstream platforms mentioned above.
It is important to use the widely known estate agent focused online platforms as well as creative offline marketing in order to capture the whole market and get through to all the right people.
Let’s start with offline marketing.
Offline Marketing for Estate Agents
When we talk about offline advertising in the estate agent space we are mostly talking about leaflet distribution.
This is a time tried method that has been used widely for decades and hasn’t really been affected by any of the technological shifts that have taken place in that time.
Estate agents ranging from the largest multinational corporations to small local and specialised operations used flyers regularly.
There are many different ways one can structure an offline flyer campaign like this so let’s have a look at some of the options we have.
Some details about flyer delivery
One of the more important distinctions to keep in mind when it comes to offline advertising campaigns for estate agents using flyers is the difference between shared and solus deliveries.
They both have their uses but you should choose between them in an informed way.
Solus distribution simply relies on the distributor delivering only your flyers to each household.
On the other end Shared distribution is basing itself on the idea that your flyers will be put through each letterbox together with a small selection of other flyers.
Advantages of Shared Delivery
Shared deliveries allow for a considerably better price compared to flyer campaigns based on Solus deliveries.
We at The Private Postman have run many tests over the years trying to establish what impact on response rates we can observe when delivering multiple flyers at a time.
Our findings have pretty much confirmed the standard procedures in the industry.
- There are no response rate differences between Solus flyer deliveries and Shared flyer distribution campaigns of up to 3 high quality unrelated flyers at a time.
- any Shared flyer delivery campaigns using more than 3 flyers at a time can start to become problematic
This means that Shared flyer deliveries are more cost-effective for campaigns when you can trust your distribution company.
If the selection of two other flyers that you are delivering together with yours is right you are going to be saving up to 50% of your cost of delivery and retain your response rates.
It is important that you use a well-established, trustworthy company for your Shared flyer delivery campaigns.
Why use Solus?
So why would you use solus distribution if it is more expensive?
The most obvious answer that is specific to Estate Agents is small local drops around a successful sale.
One of the standard offline marketing techniques in the estate agent space has been to deliver your flyers to a few streets surrounding a successful sale you have recently made. This could be as few as a couple hundred flyers.
This is a great technique as the residents receiving your flyers will most likely be somewhat familiar with the home you’ve managed to sell. Also, if they are not familiar with it they can go and see the building themselves.
It is likely that the homes in a given area will have many similarities. By flyer campaigns of this type you are demonstrating your ability to deal with the kind of properties people own and inhabit in a given area.
By the nature of these drops the numbers of flyers delivered are small and unlikely to fit into any shared delivery system.
This technique is so effective however that the higher price for Solus deliveries is worth it. It is pretty much unique to estate agents.
Combine the two
From the few paragraphs above it is hopefully clear that some combination of larger Shared flyer campaigns and smaller local Solus drops is the way to go for most estate agents.
Thanks to modern stock control and delivery systems make it easy to use different designs and formats for your flyers for each of these drops.
This means that you have the ability to customise your flyers for each sale you make and run a more generic flyer for your larger shared campaigns.
As we’ve mentioned design we might as well dive deeper into this topic.
What your flyers look like and how they are communicating your message to your potential clients is very important.
You will be spending resources on the production, print, transport, storage and delivery of your flyers.
With that in mind it would be a great shame to then have the success of your flyer campaign held back by ineffective design.
There are two important rules in modern flyer design for estate agents. Keep the flyer simple and use very high quality photography.
It is best to focus on a single message in your flyer. “We sell homes and are great at it” is such a message.
It is not a good idea to try to include information about any other services you offer beyond a couple of bullet points.
Talk to a pro
Simplicity in design often paradoxically means that you need an experienced designer to oversee the production.
Removing elements from your design and message is a delicate process and you need to do it correctly.
The person that decides which fonts you should use and the colour scheme for your flyers has a great amount of influence as these two elements will be a big part of how the flyer will feel in people’s hands.
We at The Private Postman operate a free design consultancy service for all our customers for this exact reason.
We can help you flesh out the basic idea for your flyer or check your existing design free of charge.
You can then take our feedback to your design and work on your flyer further.
If this is not enough we can also help you design your flyer from scratch as we have an experienced design team on staff.
This can be a great choice if you don’t want to deal with many of the tedious aspects of flyer distribution. We can design your flyer, print it, store it and deliver it without inconveniencing you in any way.
We’ve already mentioned the importance of photography for your flyer campaigns.
The importance of high quality photos is common between many types of businesses that use flyers but estate agents are at the top of the list.
The most common and effective approach to designing flyers is to leave one side of the flyer almost completely free for a large photograph.
This photo should represent exactly the kind of properties you are specialising in. As such it is very important that you either get a great photographer into one of your properties or use the best stock images you can find.
Under no circumstances should you be using any amateur photography or dark, low quality images.
Your photos need to be perfect and you should spend more time and energy on selecting, sourcing or creating the right photo than almost any other part of your flyer campaign.
You will also want to consider your company colours and whether they match the photo you have selected.
If your branding is all about classical serif fonts and airy white space in your design it could be difficult to marry this identity to a small flat with red painted walls and dark hardwood furniture on your flyer.
Make sure that you consider how the image will interact with the rest of your visual identity and try to balance the two.
Print and formats
Now that you’ve designed your flyer we will be moving on to the production of the physical product itself.
It can be an overwhelming experience trying to have your flyers printed for the first time. Which format should you choose and which finish? What is GSM?
There are many technical elements to flyer printing that are important but can be confusing for the uninitiated.
To simplify the issue, here are our recommendations.
- use a standard A5 flyer whenever possible. Consider other more elaborate formats like a Z folded DL size flyer only for smaller Solus campaigns.
- use a Matt finish. It is more resilient than gloss.
- GSM refers to the weight (and therefore thickness) of the paper you will be printing on. If you stay within the 200-300gsm range you will be ok.
Any more than 300gsm and your flyers will be difficult to handle and any less than 200gsm is easier to damage when handled.
How many flyers should you print?
The more flyers you will be printing in one order the better price you are going to get per unit.
In general it is wise to print for two months ahead of time at max. Have a look at what your distribution company is recommending for you to put out over the next two months and print this amount.
It’s best to make sure that your flyers aren’t just sitting in storage for months.
You never know what can happen. Your phone number might change due to technical issues or your address might need to temporarily change due to unforeseen circumstances.
In an event like this you are going to waste your flyers as well as any savings you’ve made on the bulk printing order.
In general storing multiple tonnes of flyers not something that any estate agent wants to deal with. And rightly so.
For this reason most established flyer distribution companies will offer storage free of charge for a reasonable period for their clients.
The Private Postman offices and storage facilities are located in Wembley and regularly store millions of flyers for our clients at a time.
The professional modern storage infrastructure that we have in place especially comes in handy when you are using varying designs for different parts of London, for shared and solus drops or for different stages of your campaigns.
A professional system is necessary to manage such situations to avoid confusion.
Door to door distribution
To elaborate on the different ways you can get your flyers into people’s hands and homes we will discuss the three most commonly used methods.
Door to door deliveries are the ultimate way to get your flyers into the world.
This method of deliveries relies on the distributor putting your flyers through letterboxes of privately owned residential addresses in selected areas.
The focus on privately owned residential addresses is important here. There are many different types of addresses one comes across delivering in London.
There are businesses, local authority housing, large apartment buildings with a concierge, industrial areas and buildings, offices, detached homes and terraced houses lining the streets.
Each category mentioned above brings some specific challenges for flyer distribution.
Detached homes and terraced houses will be the most reliable places for residential flyer delivery. Large apartment buildings can be challenging to deliver flyers to reliably as each distributor is at the mercy of the concierge.
This reality underlines the importance of a high quality mapping system that any reputable flyer distribution company should have developed. But more on that later.
B-to-b deliveries can be effective but should be run on a completely separate system to regular residential flyer campaigns.
The same will apply to local authority housing. You will often find these addresses located in buildings with difficult access and locked gates.
We at The Private Postman run systems specifically focusing on local authority housing but these are again completely separate from our traditional flyer campaigns.
The bulk of your flyer delivery efforts should focus on door to door deliveries to privately owned residential addresses.
Hand to hand distribution
Hand to hand flyer distribution campaigns work a little differently to what we discussed above.
The general principle of these campaigns is that you can place a group of distributors in a busy area at a strategic time of day and have them hand out flyers to people passing by.
Many people have used this technique historically quite widely but currently we recommend that you look into it only for very specific applications.
Targeting attendees of a relevant event with related flyers is a good way to use this technique. Targeting tube stations in areas full of offices at the end of a work day with office lunch offers is also possible.
But beyond a couple of use cases hand to hand distribution is not what we would advise to an estate agent.
In hand to hand deliveries it can be very difficult to target demographics or track your deliveries. On top of this hand to hand deliveries are considerably more expensive than door to door.
In general we do not recommend for estate agents to use hand to hand deliveries.
Car to car distribution
The last method of flyer delivery that people often ask us about is car to car.
This method relies on the distributor leaving flyers on the windshields of cars parked on the street.
This is not a good way to distribute flyers. It creates a great amount of waste. Rain will soak your flyers through and they will get stuck to people’s cars. If that doesn’t happen a good number of your flyers fly away in the wind.
We do not recommend that you use car to car distribution no matter what type of business you run. It is simply not the way to go.
We’ve mentioned tracking and how there are differences in the way it can help us with door to door and hand to hand flyer campaigns.
So what is tracking and why is it important?
Tracking makes sure that you know that every flyer that has been handed to us has been delivered as agreed.
At The Private Postman when a distributor delivers your flyers to the areas you’ve selected in the mapping system each delivery will leave a trackable footprint.
We have multiple systems to do this.
Our GPS system tracks our distributors as they go about their day delivering flyers. We then superimpose this data on top of a map that we share with you.
The resolution of this system is high enough that you can see the distributor’s trail walking up to each individual door and house to put your flyers through the letterbox.
You can use these files to check that we’ve delivered to all the addresses you wanted. We use this as a proof of delivery.
At The Private Postman we also inform our clients every time one of our distributors starts delivering their flyers in a given area.
We send live updates to each client with the location and exact time of the deliveries. This gives each client a chance to come and see the work being done in real time - unannounced.
This is a fairly unusual level of transparency in the business and it makes sure that our clients can come inspect us at any moment.
On top of this we have people in supervising roles whose sole job it is to check that the flyer deliveries are taking place as they should.
Flyer deliveries are quality checked after they happen and every distributor goes through a check on every round they make.
One of the main things that will determine how well you can plan your campaign is the quality of the mapping system you are using.
When you are deciding where your flyers should go you need information about demographics, numbers of households and types of properties in each area.
There are some sources online that can give you some idea but these are often based on obsolete government numbers.
If you are looking at a dynamic place like London these numbers can be out of date within months. New buildings appear, existing buildings end up being split, local authority housing can go for sale to private owners.
The character of a neighbourhood can change as new people move in or as some communities move out.
In order to get a good idea of what each area is like you need a mapping system that is regularly updated by people that frequent the streets on a daily basis.
Such a system also has to consider the needs that come with flyer delivery.
It should be clear which areas go well together and how they fit together when it comes to planning a flyer campaign.
Groups and Walks
At The Private Postman we address this through our systems of Groups and Walks.
A Group is generally an area of approximately five thousand addresses. We will naturally need five thousand flyers to cover a group like this from you.
Each group has a unique number. Group 1, Group 88, Group 200 etc…
Each group consists of a number of smaller areas of 800 to 1000 addresses. We call these smaller chunks Walks. These we distinguish by using letters like A, B, C, D …
It becomes very easy to identify very small areas with this system. G1A is a Walk A in Group 1.
You can find more information about this system here.
What this ultimately means is that you can use our mapping system to select very targeted areas for your campaigns. You can then easily track them and keep track of which areas we have delivered to already and which areas our distributors will deliver your flyers in next.
We construct each Group to contain a somewhat uniform character in terms of demographics and types of properties. This allows us to target specific types of households that are of interest to you.
This way you can quickly plan a campaign that is highly targeted and specific without being overwhelmed by the process.
One of the more counter-intuitive things to consider for an estate agent when planning a flyer delivery campaign is the idea of repeated deliveries.
This technique has become consistently available only in the last few years thanks to modern stock control and delivery systems.
What we now can do is target the same households repeatedly with well defined rest periods between each delivery.
On top of this we can use a different flyer design for each delivery and do this multiple times.
This allows us to harness the power of repeated exposure which is something that anyone familiar with the world of advertising will be aware of.
TV ads focus on the idea that you will see them more than once, the same applies to print ads, outdoor advertising and the online world as well.
Repeat exposure in advertising is ubiquitous. But flyer deliveries have not been able to fully harness its power.
With flyer deliveries we can now make sure to get the power of repeat exposure while minimising the disadvantages.
We can control the number of impressions as each delivery equals one impression. We can space these out correctly to avoid exposure fatigue on the part of the recipients.
To maximise this effect we can also change your designs for each delivery.
Estate Agents can use this technique to talk to specific parts of London regularly with multi-month carefully planned campaigns. These campaigns can evolve over time in sophisticated ways and make a real long term impact.
Offline marketing and flyer deliveries are a crucial part of modern marketing methods for all estate agents.
Estate agents need to make sure to remain competitive in a market that has attracted some large players in the form of apps and real estate portals.
These multinational corporations with venture capital backing are looking to make it difficult for individual estate agents to retain and communicate their identity. If they succeed they control the market and set prices.
One of the best ways to fight this development for an Estate agent of any size is to take control of their offline marketing.
This will allow any estate agent to retain control and a unique identity while also using the portals and apps to their advantage.
Flyer deliveries and offline marketing is about future proofing your business and advertising.
If you have any questions or if you'd like to book a flyer campaign feel free to get in touch with us here for more information.