I received a postcard from a local Estate Agent. Having shown it to a respected industry insider I’m convinced this is typical of what passes as Estate Agent canvassing.

If you are an Estate Agent and do canvassing – others would use the term direct mail – then these 5 secrets may help you achieve more from your canvassing activity.

Secret #1 Replace ingrained habits

Estate Agents canvassing habits are ingrained by copying others in the same industry. The problem is Estate Agents typically advertise just two things, themselves and houses.  These self-image adverts, picture of the team, how great they are, the number of branches they have (it’s not that you have 100 house to sell is it?) and the fact they are planning TV advertising later this year…well, no one cares.

You do not have to follow others. You do not have to treat canvassing like it was TV advertising. It isn’t. Nor should it be. Just because people know who you are does not mean they’ll call you.

So how do you wean yourself off following the canvassing herd?

Secret #2
 Focus on getting a deep understanding of both customer and prospects

Get to know your future customers AND prospects really well. Prospects will resonate with the benefits of recently satisfied customers, but they are some way off that aren’t they? They aren’t ready to buy are they?

Pause for a moment BEFORE you decide on your next canvassing postcard and reflect on the customer problem that you’re actually solving. Do the majority of recipients want to sell their property in the next month or two? You already have done the sums I am sure. Of course they don’t.

The answer lies in understanding the prospective customer and what their hot button is right now. Think of their current pains. The more accurately you can describe theses pains the more your customers and prospects will feel you automatically have the solution to their problems.

But, you are used to doing self-image adverts and as you are repeating them, you must be just about making them work, right? So what else can and should you do to get much more from canvassing?

Secret #3 Replace self-image advertising with USP advertising

Does your prospective customer understand the answer to this question (that they ask of themselves?). “Why should I do business with your Estate Agency versus all others and any other options I have, including doing nothing at all?”

Difficult one, right? Well, no-one said this was easy. Otherwise every Estate Agent would be rammed full of houses to sell and earning maximum commissions. The answer to the question is your unique selling proposition.

Imagine if you conceived something that both customers and prospects really resonated with? That would be attractive. Compelling. They’d want what ever it was, wouldn’t they? So what is it?

An irresistible customer and prospect benefit.

Let’s test one or two from the postcard I received. Is the fact that the Agent makes extensive use of social media that irresistible customer benefit? No. That falls right into the category of so what? Okay, let’s try another. Fully trained staff? Well that’s encouraging, but its what is called a hygiene factor – a customer and prospect would expect that, so it is not irresistible.

To help you here, I think you should walk outside the front door, close your eyes and open them again as a customer and again as a prospect. What are their fears, concerns and unfulfilled desires?

Here’s a thought. Customers are thinking “How do I sell my property for the most money in the least time?” Meanwhile, Prospects may be thinking “How will I sell my property for the most money in the least time, when I come to sell? AND (importantly) What should I do now to make this happen?

If you can answer these questions you are on your way to creating an irresistible customer and prospect benefit. (I have some thoughts which your agency can test in this area – email me; graham

Secret #4 Don’t ignore response rules

Look, it’s not a full analysis, but there is sufficient here to make you think.

Estate Agency Canvassing

Click to see picture

Here are two examples of how this mailing ignored tried and true direct marketing rules.

1. The offer was tucked away, it was weak and very easy to miss. There should always be an offer. Is this ‘FREE VALUATION’ an offer the prospect can refuse? Yep. Why? Because, I can get that offer 10 a penny. So think hard about what kind of offer will act as bait to catch the fish you want. Do customers and prospects have a specific reason to contact you, even if they are not ready or interested in a free valuation of their property?

2. There was no reason to respond right now. People procrastinate. Prospects might even be interested in having a valuation, but they put the postcard down, put it off, to do the next time they look at it. And they rarely get back to it. So to prevent having loads of the ‘almost persuaded’, consider what could make it irresistible to make that decision. Now. Right away.

And the answer is not that it is free, right? Because you’ve done that to death and people aren’t queueing around the corner.

Try thinking of a non-threatening incentive. That is only available for so long.

Secret #5 Personalise

Personalisation. OK, hobby horse, but typically, personalised mailings outperform non-personalised. This postcard was hand delivered, so little opportunity for personalisation. Unless, you were to hand-write the recipients name on the card and then deliver it. The practical alternative is to source clean data and personalise each postcard you send. This is not expensive, but would need to be tested against current methods. Roughly, how expensive per postcard?

Format Volume Data, Print & Postage
2pp A5 Postcard 300gsm 4/4 Digital >4,000 £0.39
2pp A5 Postcard 300gsm 4/4 Digital <4,000 £0.57


Canvassing Video

PS: Here’s a short video for Estate Agents about canvassing.

When you are ready, get in touch with me, Graham Arrowsmith on 01535 654930.

Thank you.

The NHS Appointments £32 Million Black Hole

The NHS Appointments £32 Million Black Hole

The NHS Appointments £32 Million Black Hole

Missed NHS appointments. Did Not Shows. Attrition.

Whatever you call it, missed appointments is costing the NHS over £160 million per year.

The NHS appointments teams are not sitting on their hands, but nor are they pulling up trees to fix this. Let me explain.

I’m diabetic. Over forty, with diabetes in the family and well, too fat! The NHS has bailed me out with this disease. So I reckon, I should do what I can to help them.


Not long back, I almost missed an appointment with my GP. They had set up an SMS notification system. It sends a text message to remind you of the appointment and gives you a chance to ‘offer the time back’ to the GP. Sensible. Good housekeeping. Except…

The local GP practice relies on you to inform them of a change in your telephone number. Now that sounds okay, but people forget, never get round to it. Like me. So my notification went to a mobile phone number I no longer had.

Fortunately, I’d added the appointment to outlook and got the 15 minute ping! So, I had a chat with my GP, who’s a clever chap, and he said I should take the matter up with the local NHS Trust. So I met Airedale NHS Trust and told them how they could effectively reduce their missed appointments by validating their mobile and landline numbers.


Did you know that some 22% of numbers changed connectivity status last year? Now that’s a lot of SMS message fails in the pipeline.

Taking a list of telephone numbers and establishing the active and inactive status is not only compliant with legislation and DMA Guidelines, but is entirely secure as only the telephone number is required for processing.


Both my GP and people at Airedale acknowledged the causal link between missed appointments and data inaccuracy. As you’d expect, there’s always loads of reasons why stuff cannot get done. We hold our data in a particular way and sucking in of breath, it’ll take ages for our data providers to change. But there is one BIG one for doing it now and quickly. The NHS saves money and can channel it into more nurses and doctors, more treatments and even more hospitals.


What happened next has told me that the cost is worse than the missed appointment itself…


The GP practice wanted to get in touch with some blood results. Important you’d think? I happened to drop in to the Health Centre on another matter to be told, ‘Oh, we’ve been trying to get in touch with you’. I was dashing so didn’t look into the comment. Corroborating my former comment on self-validation – even when you’re prompted, you don’t always act.

This time I missed a telephone consultation with my GP.

I discovered I still could clear my voicemail on the former phone. So I checked whether that’s where the messages were left. Yes. There were FOUR messages from the administration team in the GP practice. All polite, but I heard none of them until it was too late.

The GP had also left a message that contained sensitive information. Now, you could argue, this missed appointment problem isn’t just about someone not turning up. It’s also about Health Centre’s and GP’s managing information and data proficiently. What was galling, was the shear waste of effort and therefore cost and also the potential for information leakage.


Fixing the nation’s telephone data is something I’m passionate about.

But the NHS must take action. Data validation is safe and secure and Data Protection compliant. There is no excuse for wasting money.

Identifying the changed 20% allows the NHS Appointments teams to prompt another form of communication, such a letter to proactively change their on-record telephone number. Not difficult. A simple, clear, repeatable and most of all cost saving initiative.

An initiative that could be worth some £32,000,000 of savings from missed calls and untold collateral damage in information handling.

If you are responsible for NHS appointments please contact me about your share of the £32 million savings.