Is It A Cunning Plan, Baldrick?

Is It A Cunning Plan, Baldrick?

Is it a cunning plan, Baldrick?

I don’t know much – but I do know it’s not a plan that will ever work.

I also know he likes the sound of his own voice and, for the most part, estate agents are ambivalent to much of what he says. Since it’s not an exact science, there is a slight possibility, nevertheless, that some may believe him correct.

“Here’s my plan to save Countrywide” was the heading in a recent LinkedIn post.

Yet there was little substance to the plan, other than a rehash of what was written six months ago.

“The answer requires a sale of a number of their existing brands in order to a) reduce debt burden and b) to consolidate its cost base which is too heavily predicated around increasing high street rents and escalating business rates.

The resulting core business of a smaller basket of brands could, with a complete change of approach, prosper with the utilisation of proper, proven technology and well-executed, modern marketing methods. A thinner ‘brand estate’ would allow marketing budgets to focus better and with far greater ‘above the line’ cut through”.

Aside from strategic operational issues and the ability to successfully offload brands that have made little contribution to the bottom-line, this makes no sense:

“a thinner ‘brand estate’ would allow marketing budgets to focus better and with far greater ‘above the line’ cut through”

Above the line marketing traditionally consists of activities that are largely non-targeted and have a wide reach. It builds brand and informs, but is intended to focus less on actual conversion rates. T.V advertising is the obvious example.  Below the line activities for estate agents would include leaflet campaigns and direct response. Through the line would be a combination of both and would include digital media.

“Far greater ‘above the line’ cut through”?

That’s a bit vague. How many estate agents even understand what that means? Isn’t the idea of message to be understood?

Historically, our ‘sage’ has not delivered the best of advice for even himself. A strong focus on above the line T.V advertising didn’t work out too well for his last venture.  Of course, it created awareness but didn’t deliver sufficient conversions to make it a positive return on marketing investment.   A family member of his ran a similar campaign back in 2015, also with T.V ads that ran during breaks in The X Factor.  As a result, increased listings in a 7 month period by just 34 properties. Eventually closing it doors to any business.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds.  Literally, given to the T.V companies for the sake of vanity. That’s above the line estate agency marketing for you. And yet, we still see many corporate agencies, PurpleBricks especially, making the very same mistake.

Estate agency isn’t selling fast-moving-consumer-goods (f.m.c.g) that are often impulse purchases. They are selling, first and foremost, a relationship. That takes time.

For any agency that thinks it’s purely a transactional process when appointing someone to help you move home, I don’t know what else to tell you.

Other than you’ll get it, eventually.

I don’t think our ‘sage’ knows the first thing about “modern marketing methods”.  He knows about digital age technology that is fast turning our world into a tedious and uninspiring wasteland. Devoid of  emotion and meaning. Something that’s not built to last.  Something that’s not real. The the very thing that consumers seek to avoid.

I recall a post I wrote last year, entitled Honest- Let me be the judge of that.

It recounts the local property ‘experts’ associated, at the time, with his now extinct business.

With a few examples of really how not to create an About Us page.

I concluded that this online/hybrid agency was clueless. Of how to connect. Of how to develop relationships. Clueless at sharing their story. And that, “if agencies can’t figure out how to talk to one person, it doesn’t really pay to scale up their efforts to talk to thousands.”

My opinion hasn’t changed.

“Modern marketing methods”, if that’s defined by digital ‘noise’ aren’t going to save any agency.

Countrywide have it right.  Back to basics.

A focus on driving sales & lettings business via branches.

That’s the sensible thing.

What’s not sensible, though, is to waste every pound of a marketing budget paying for ineffectual advertising.

When there is a zero-cost option available. Specifically designed for the back-to-basics strategy.

Start your own media company is a tactic that I have consistently advocated.

Blogs, podcasts & video.  On platforms that you own and control.

Platforms that cost next to nothing to set-up.

Platforms, that for a company with the resources of Countrywide, are a cinch to launch.

Platforms that drive readers, listeners & viewers back to the core business.

Platforms that serve the community and build relationships.

Platforms that deliver a message.  Consistently, over time.


Is modern marketing.

And, any “plan to save Countrywide” that doesn’t include owning your own media platform is doomed to fail.


“It doesn’t matter how much you spend on advertising.  If the strategy is wrong, you’re default dead”.                                                                                                                                                                      Paul Graham


There are other issues, of course. But you don’t dismantle a ‘cathedral’ that has taken decades to build and replace it with modernist aesthetic architecture. Just because the congregation has dwindled.

It’s often said, even by competitors, that Countrywide has some great employees.

They do.

It’s just that nobody knows much about them. 

Other than that they are ‘passionate’, win awards and work hard.

That’s where any plan should start.

Countrywide has it’s fair share of problems.

But what it doesn’t need is someone preaching suspect ‘propaganda’ for the sake of press inches.  Is it a cunning plan?  Or simply propaganda?

Propaganda: Def.

“Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information that is presented”.

That’s got that off my chest.

I feel much better now, thank you.

And thanks, as always, for reading.














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