“Hard copy brochures? It’s the 21st Century!”

I don’t know about you, but still I get excited about the post arriving. The satisfying thud it makes when it hits the doormat is a very welcome sound, and I often stop whatever it is that I’m doing and go to investigate. As I shuffle through the envelopes, I sort by recipient, then by importance, and if I’m lucky enough to have received a hand-written envelope, I seize upon it and eager open it first without delay. Handwritten in this digital mail-merged age, is a rare treat, and it often means good things: a letter from a friend, a cheque perhaps, or a quote from a old-fashioned tradesman. How much nicer it is too to get something through the post, rather than by email. It feels more personal somehow, more substantive, less able to be dismissed with a click of the mouse.

Its exactly the same with property details. On the screen, the houses can appear unloved, surreal, unattainable, cold: in short – unhomely. Yet, a lovingly created brochure in my hand, with its hand-crafted copy and warm, inspiring photography, can really bring a house to life. There is something very satisfying about actually holding a physical brochure, instead of just gazing at the information on a screen. Whilst to my knowledge, no research exists to back up my theory, I am nevertheless certain that a printed brochure as oppose to a virtual one, results in more and better quality viewings.

Last week, I had cause to call an estate agent in Essex to ask him to send me a client’s property brochure. “Sorry madam we don’t send out hard copies,” he responded. “This is the 21st Century after all,” he pointed out.

“But I don’t have a printer,” I pleaded (a little white lie, I admit).

“Okay,” he relinquished “just this once”. True to his word as a massive favour to what he thought was a prospective buyer, he printed a copy of the internet and actually posted it to me.

Since when was it considered to be a “favour” to send a brochure to a interested buyer? When did the property details become a open “hard copy” and as such, an outdated form of marketing?

If you are trying to sell your house, and viewers are not exactly beating a path to your door try this little exercise: call your agent, posing as a buyer, and ask for your own property brochure to be sent to you. See what happens, but I warn you, you may find the response disappointing.

I’d be interested to hear our Essex agent explain to Mercedes, Argos or Next, that physical paper marketing does not work.

Maybe I’m just a little bit old-fashioned. But, then, there are a lot of us around, and some of us buy houses.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

10 thoughts on ““Hard copy brochures? It’s the 21st Century!”

  1. northants estate agent

    As an agent, i do my best not to send out hard copies – especially to low quality buyers.

    If they are proceedable then it is not a problem, but it is the 21st century, and it is all available online and few people do not have access to a printer these days.

  2. Sam Jones

    Thanks Richie for your comments, but I have to disagree! For the lowly price (relatively speaking) of a quality printed brochure, both your agency and the property in question benefit from being presented in a professional and attractive way. Sam

  3. Claire Thatcher

    I couldn’t agree more, Sam! As a marketing specialist I see what we term in the marketing industry as ‘email fatigue’ all the time. Emails are competing for share of voice in the in-box and yours need to be better than everyone elses! People have stopped listening to the noise of email – for something to really stand out agents must attempt multi-channel marketing – in other words, to communicate with their audience and prospective buyers in many different ways… this can include email, post, telephone, face-to-face meetings, advertising etc. The agents that really get this will be the ones that stand apart from the others, and in turn are more successful!

  4. Lisa

    I don’t think you can beat having the brochure in your hands. It’s something tangible, which is important when you are making such a large investment. I have also come across agents who refuse to send out the printed details, what would the vendors say if they knew!

  5. Simon Ward

    Online advertising, if done correctly, will generate positive enquiries specifically for that property. People will be calling or emailing to request a viewing, not a brochure. The reality is that most people will first receive the brochure at the beginning of their first viewing.

    Saying that, I’m all for the take it as it comes approach. I’ll generally decide from the phonecall whether to send the brochure or not. Ask lots of questions and the answer becomes obvious.

    The Rightmove enquiries that ‘buyers’ send that just say “send brochure” and give an address and no phone number, I do avoid sending hard copy to.

  6. Hellen

    That is so true, especially when making probably the biggest investment you will ever make in your life. Can you just imagine calling into your local Porsche showroom (okay maybe not local but you know what I mean) and them telling you “I’m sorry Madam but we don’t produce brochures but you can look at our cars online”. I mean come on guys, if I’m going to spend over £80k on a car I want the full bells and whistles attached, the fawning salesman, maybe even a glass of champagne? I also want a brochure, in fact, I want two (one to show off to my friends and one to just hang on to)…….

  7. Katherine Ashdown

    I think that the internet is a great tool for looking for a property but when it comes to buying a home there is nothing like having something beautiful and tangible in your hands. A good brochure will sell you the Lifestyle of living n the home, not just the house itself. If it was all about the internet then Next and similar companies would not bother with their catalogues right? I always take 30 mins to sit with a coffee and look through the next catalogue, once sold I buy online.

  8. Carey Gilliland

    Success from our online marketing depends on the quality of the information on screen – I can’t count the number of local properties with some agents that only give a short precis of the details . How can you expect viewings from such little info? Hardcopy brochures are always appreciated, especially to scribble on the floorplans! Having said this, I agree with Simon’s comment that Rightmove “enquiries” generally deserve email only (with an added comment to say we’re happy to provide posted details if they reciprocate with fuller contact information).
    Same principle with newspaper property ads – better response as more information in a tactile format.

  9. Sanjeev Jha

    Hard Copy vs Online is not the real question here in my opinion. Indeed its a well known fact that over 80% of home hunters use internet to find their new home and then go to the estate agents listing that property. And with that on mind – estate agents are spending a fair amount of their marketing budget on Property Portals where they splash out on anything from virtual tour to “featured” listings etc. This obviously meant they needed to cut down on their printed version of marketing materials and hence only send it where prospective client says “I dont have a colour printer” etc.

    Furthermore – its impossible to include stuff like Sold House Prices in that area as well as all the local information and market trends in the brochure, let alone showing the changes in that particular house price / reduction etc. And more than often – the property details will be outdated before the client receiving it has a chance to make their mind up and visit the estate agency in question.

    I think the main question is how to satisfactorily convince a client that online version is the real fresh deal rather than we are saving trees, we are go green paperless global warming concerned bunch of freaks working at this estate agency.

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