It's still a relatively new year so many letting agents' thoughts will already have turned to marketing and planning for the 12 months ahead. It needn't be a case of new year, more marketing, same old results, though. The first quarter of the year is a great time to refresh your marketing strategy and target new landlords with the ultimate aim of taking more properties under management.
As well as nurturing relationships with existing clients, it's important to think about growth and aim to engage with the hundreds of potential clients who may never have engaged with your business before.
A recent study of 2,500 landlords, carried out by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, revealed what makes them tick. We've taken a look at how some of these trends and insights could become integral to your 2017 landlord marketing strategy...
What did we learn about landlords and how can you incorporate this into your marketing?
- 77% of landlords used a buy-to-let mortgage to acquire a rental property
If the vast majority of landlords you'll be marketing to have a buy-to-let mortgage, then this is the perfect opportunity to provide them with valuable information. You could offer them a free e-book or factsheet about upcoming mortgage tax changes. These sorts of techniques are likely to generate a higher level of interest and engagement and also give you the chance to follow up with prospective landlords; providing them with something genuinely useful whilst highlighting your knowledge and experience of the market.
- 62% of landlords surveyed own a single property
It’s well-known that the average landlord is likely to only let one or two properties. With this in mind, you can target some of your marketing towards smaller landlords. They could be more receptive to this approach as it feels more personal and relevant to their needs.
If they have only one property, are they more likely to take a fully managed service?
- 61% of landlords are aged 55 and over
Property investment is seen as a form of pension to many landlords. The pension annuity changes and the surge in buy-to-let investment prior to the 3% stamp duty increase have contributed to the level property investment amongst this demographic. There’s the attraction of a regular income – but also the capital appreciation of the investment property.
However, it’s important not to overlook digital channels, such as social media or YouTube when considering how you approach landlords. The older generations are embracing social media and are adopting new technologies, not just the youngest members of society!
- Over a third of landlords have never used a letting agent
This suggests the market isn’t saturated and there are prospects that you can go after – the focus should be really clear on what a landlord gains by using your service rather than going it alone.
If a reasonably high proportion of the landlords you’re targeting have never used the services of an agent, you can inform them of the time, money and stress saving benefits of employing a reputable letting agency to manage their portfolio.
- The typical landlord owns property close to their home
Taking this theory into account, you will predominantly be targeting local landlords with your marketing material. This means your content can be hyper-locally focused and pick up on themes and trends in your immediate area. Landlords who let locally are likely to want to work with an agent with the same values and local knowledge as them – here is your opportunity to show them what you’re all about.
Four other ways to target new landlords
Re-engaging with your database
Most letting agents have very large databases of landlords - when was the last time you tapped into yours? Think of all the landlords' details you’ve taken over the last five years, some may be ready to switch agent, but you'll never know unless you speak to them.
That being said, you do need to keep your data refreshed and updated – to ensure you’re only keeping the details of those landlords who want to hear from you and who are engaged with what you have to say and offer. So if you’re outright rejected by a landlord on your list (and they have no desire to speak to you in the future), get rid of their details.
If you can, define and segment your data into different customer groups, so you can target your different marketing messages more effectively.
Engage with landlords in online forums
This is more of a slow-burning approach, but it is a great way of raising your profile and confirming yourself as an authority on all things lettings. Forums also provide a means of engaging in constructive debate about the issues facing the rental market. Two of the most popular online landlord forums are Property Tribes and Property118.
Navigating the algorithms of social media platforms can be a minefield. One day, your posts are appearing in the newsfeeds of your whole audience, and the next day only two or three can see it – sound familiar?
What you actually want from your social media marketing is for it to give you quality leads, not quantity, and to reach those people who could legitimately become your customers. The occasional paid social post will allow you to reach a highly targeted audience for a small cost.
Capturing contact details through your website
It's highly likely that lots of landlords will be visiting your website on a daily basis. However, if you’ve no way of capturing their details then you could be missing out on lots of opportunities. Live chat, online valuation tools and free e-books or information packs are all great ways of making your website traffic stick and introducing you to new prospects before they go to another agent's website.
Marketing is and always will be an important tool when it comes to growing your business. These days, a sensible mix of print and online strategies seems to be the best way forward and incorporating some specific themes as detailed above could help you to generate a better response in 2017.