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Marketing Estate Agencies with Phil Jones

When it comes to marketing estate agencies, Phil Jones is making a real name for himself. Two years ago, along with his mother-in-law and former podcast guest, Sam Ashdown he set up Ashdown Jones, an estate agency in the Lake District.

Two years later, they have a leadership position in the Lakes for high end properties. Additionally, Phil is fast becoming an expert in the use of direct mail.

Marketing Estate Agencies with Phil Jones on The Next 100 Days Podcast

Ashdown Jones has made significant progress in their first 2 years

In the last 2 years, they have sold 50 houses. Sam Ashdown insisted that their market was going to be the affluent, high end and so all those houses will have been near to or above the £1m mark.

A house in the Lake District is very special. They chose to help vendors of UNIQUE homes. Although there is not a specific price for that, it tends to be a minimum of £500k.

With remarkable honesty, Phil admits had Sam not insisted on marketing to the affluent, on his own, he says he might have tried what every other agency does and try market to everyone.

Marketing Estate Agencies

What is remarkable for Ashdown Jones, is they no longer have to rely on 3 way pitches to secure new clients. You know the thing. 3 agencies put on a dog and pony show and the winner gets selected by the vendor (how is uncertain, gut feel probably). Now, Ashdown Jones have prospects asking them to market their property. Once they learn how it will be marketed and what they will do, what they have done for others, prospects are only too keen to ask, almost beg them to sell their home.

And Ashdown Jones pick and choose too. They DO NOT serve everyone. That’s a bad idea for any marketer. Any industry.

Twilight Photography

Lights on, mean you are at home. Is this the secret to appealing to the sense of belonging?

Phil markets everything to people’s emotions, rather than their logical side.

Sam Ashdown was a house stager in her past, so they create staged rooms. Every photograph they take is styled for who they think will buy that house. A lake view will be shot to engage the viewer, to make them believe that they are sat there, with a glass of champagne, staring out across the lake, contemplating a lovely meal to come, in their house of their dreams.

It’s as if they are creating stories in photography.

Local Marketing Club – Lake District

Sam and Phil run a local marketing club for local businesses in the Lake District. It takes place on the first Friday of the Month. At Windermere Golf Club. They have a 100 local businesses from the Lake District.

What a place it is!

Contact Phil Jones on LinkedIn


Phil is an expert in direct mail. They focused on direct mail when they first started. Response rates were average. So 12 months ago, they invested in a Mastermind. A five figure investment. He is an expert copywriter. More about psychology rather than the words. They know that long copy plays on emotions Now they get 11-12% return.

The mastermind is Nick James. Seriously Fun Business is Nick’s company.

Phil is spending real money on education.

Phil says: You have to see a piece of copy as the second best thing to a face to face meeting:

Direct Mail Tips

  • Create curiosity straight away.
  • Hand write the envelopes
  • Target accurately – they have used Council Tax Bands FG and H for homes they want to market to
  • They chase some homes they feel they should be responsible for marketing the home.

Be selective about the homes you want to market. Very often the Ashdown Jones board outside houses is a pride statement. AJ are the most expensive in the Lakes.

A special For Sale Board

They have a very special board. The images are of the home itself. Not Ashdown Jones as such.

You are NOT marketing the estate agent, but you are marketing the home. It is not about you. This is not about branding. Branding is a bi-product of what they do.

Now, AJ are bing copied locally. They are raising the bar, and are happy to be copied.

The 5 R Activator System

They have a company called Firewave, which provides marketing estate agents help, especially with direct mail.

So what are the 5 Rs?

  1. Research – the properties you want
  2. Rip – how do you get them ripped open – coloured envelopes, hand-written, plus lumpy mail…

E.g Ashdown Jones sent out 5 boxes of 4 cup-cakes in a box saying “We’d love to sell ….[insert property address]” Of the five targeted homes, they picked up 2 houses for sale at £1m plus each. An amazing return on investment. Cost of boxes c £100. Estimated commission c £40k. Not too shabby at all!!!

3. Read the whole letter – between 70-90% of importance is on the headline. Make a massive claim in the headline! Phil makes his copy as conversational as is possible. Sometimes he’ll just record his words and essentially transcribe them into the letter. He includes something personal about him/Sam above the first fold/

4. Respond – No point in writing genius copy without asking for a response. Don’t ask too much in your first letter. Their industry is very personal, so build know, like and trust. The first letter is more e-book, helping people. Mini ‘yesses’.

How many letters will they send? every home in the Lakes with CTB FGH have had 3 letters from Ashdown Jones. Another campaign is due. Never ONE and DONE. They will send letters until they get a response.

5. Rinse and Repeat – they add everything they do to a spreadsheet to identify what works. They fine tune.

Race to the Bottom

This is a race you don’t want to win. Yet, many estate agents are in it to win it. If you cannot differentiate from Purple Bricks then you won’t be able to justify your fees.

At the affluent end, Purple Bricks doesn’t feature.


They have a list of objections. Each part of the campaign addresses at least one objection. When they get into the home, they convert at 98%. Wow!

The fee is irrelevant. It is what you come away with at the end. Emotion trumps price.

The Future

Keller Williams – a training company, headline brand and self employed agents under that brand.

Bespoke – like Ashdown Jones.

Ashdown Jones invest in themselves to learn how to do what they do to a better standard.

The next 100 days podcast is brought to you by Kevin Appleby and Graham Arrowsmith