I was surprised recently when viewing two properties, not to be offered a brochure by the estate agent.
When I asked for a brochure I was told that they are available online. One agent explained that they had stopped producing hard copy brochures at the outset of the pandemic to reduce handling and the risk of passing infection, but that they had not reverted to producing physical brochures since.
Now, stopping to print brochures was a good idea at the time, but continuing with exclusively digital brochures now is not good marketing in my view.
I suspect that there may be an element of convenience about it for some agents. There is less work involved in having an online-only brochure and, when competing for instructions, you can reduce your marketing costs relative to other agents by eliminating printing costs.
But surely a prospective purchaser, who may have responded to a phone call from you or to your advertisement and has turned up to view the property, deserves to be handed a high-quality brochure rather than wandering around trying to decipher floor plans on their phone?
More importantly, I think going digital is diminishing the marketing skills of estate agents and selling their clients short. There is a real expertise involved in writing and designing a great brochure. It is one of your main marketing tools, and very often it provides the first impression a client gets.
The pictures, the words and the feel can all be crucial in persuading a person to make an appointment to view. And, if they don’t do that, they will never buy.
It is much more difficult to make an emotional impact on a potential buyer that is swiping left and right and constantly enlarging and reducing the size of images and text just to be able to read it. Also, the brochure becomes very important in the few days after the viewing, when an interested party is weighing up the property, picturing themselves occupying it, and deciding what to bid. Your brochure is on their desk and continues to sell to them.
What businessperson in their right mind, selling an asset for perhaps a million euro, would choose not to have a hard-copy brochure, just to reduce their marketing budget by a few hundred euro?
The answer is that they wouldn’t, unless estate agents allow this to become standard procedure, and that is devaluing the role of the agent. If your client was going to buy a new car for €25,000, they would be handed a highly persuasive, glossy card brochure, packed with information.
Estate agents should be explaining to their clients that expenditure on a good brochure will be repaid in multiples.
Apart from the above, the cost of producing the highest standard brochures has fallen considerably over the last decade, due to advances in design and printing technology.
I spoke with property marketing specialist Conrad Jones, who has been in the business since 1983, and he confirmed the abrupt fall-off in the physical printing of brochures. He told me that for under €1,000, he provides a package including designing and printing a four-page brochure with royalty-free photographs, a mail merge document suitable for the agent’s IT platform, and a “dynamic, online brochure” with links to contact the agent.
Estate agents have evolved, quickly and successfully, into digital marketing, but any slide away from top-quality, hard-copy brochures is a mistake.