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New technology for property people

publication date: Aug 8, 2006
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Technology abounds, some embrace it, others shun it because they do not appreciate the benefits. TEA has been hearing about two very different technology solutions – one for you, to help spend your advertising spend effectively… and one for your landlords or property developer clients to help them be ahead of the game…

Creatures of habit, or do we spot a change?

It is fundamental that advertising should be costed and wherever possible linked to a measurable response. But estate agents generally seem to stick with the age-old favourites – now there may be a new approach.

Advertising is a significant overhead for agents and yet few seem capable of taking a rational line. Agents have long provided the local press with rich pickings – a cash cow come rain or shine. Suggest a change of approach and the reaction is generally one of astonishment – “but we always take 4 pages in the Bugle!”

A new advertising tracker service called Admeter allows even quite small advertisers to check on the effectiveness, or otherwise, of their ads and more importantly to monitor missed calls and the effectiveness of telephone systems - both human and mechanical. The people who devised the system, LBT of Coventry, reported that their sales team have encountered a less than excited reaction when they approached estate agents. Motor dealers, for example, were particularly quick to see the benefits – but there was little or no interest from the property sector.”

But it seems that all is not set in stone.

Michael Everett Estate Agents started selling property in 1949. Since Michael’s retirement, his sons have taken over and expanded the business with prime town centre offices located in Epsom, Ashtead, and Walton-on-the-Hill, supported by a lettings and management office in Woodcote Epsom.

When Michael Everett opened a new office in Banstead Surrey, in Sept 2004, they decided to use the opportunity to start using Admeter and have since managed to improve control of their budget, negotiate better terms with the media companies and make sensible, informed decisions about their entire advertising appropriation.

Stephen Ball – Branch Manager at Banstead - says, “We could not believe the benefits of Admeter, we now don’t miss a single sales opportunity and we can negotiate fantastic deals with our media reps because we now have all the information to hand in order that we make the most of our advertising budget.”

Admeter is a web based tool combined with intelligent telephony that automatically monitors the effectiveness of all your advertising. It is aimed at the small to medium sized enterprise where companies are regularly spending £500 or more per week across a wide range of advertising media.

The system shows the number of calls generated by each different advert, when they occurred, how long the calls lasted, the number of the caller, and most importantly how much each call cost you in advertising spend.

The agency is allocated with 10 or more different telephone numbers. These are all local numbers for your area so will have the same STD code as you use now and they are all routed to your existing Sales line, so no more hardware or telephones are required. All calls are all charged at the normal rate to the caller. You use a different number for each of your different adverts, and then log in to the web based reporting system and see how your adverts are performing in real time.

Chancellor Gordon Brown’s admission that the annual growth in the economy would be less that his predicted 3- 3.5%, together with news that consumer spending is down and stock levels are diminishing, will cause alarm – or at best conversation - amongst agents. There are warnings of tough times ahead and yet most estate agency advertising will remain firmly rooted in the local press – where it has always been.

The likes of Michael Everett however – the exception to the rule - will ensure that, for some, a measured approach will make the advertising budget work that much harder.

Anyone who has ever been involved in buying or selling advertising will have heard the adage “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half.” This quote is often attributed to Henry Ford or Leverhulme – in fact it was John Wanamaker – it doesn’t matter, the issue has exercised advertisers and their advisers for over a century.