Ben Ridley's marketing tips...and what NOT to do

We sat down with Collie & Tierney sales director, Ben Ridley to discuss everything from generating leads, to the one marketing habit agents should break.  The award-winning agent has nearly 20 years in the real estate industry – including diverse experience in property management, commercial management, conveyancing and sales. Openn was more than happy to chat with one of our top producing agents – and get the scoop on Ben’s best marketing tips, and how he leverages online sales.  

Openn: In terms of marketing your business, are there any non-dollar productive activities that agents should either avoid or delegate?  

Ben: Letter box drops are the dumbest thing in the world. I have not done a letter box drop in years. I don't see the point of folding paper and putting something in someone's letter box next to the pizza delivery menu. People don't read them. It will take agents three hours to walk around and put leaflets in someone's letter box, just for them to throw those leaflets out.  I just think there are better, dollar productive things to be doing in prospecting, other than walking around letter boxes. 

Openn: What do you find is working well for you, in terms of prospecting?  

Ben: The biggest thing I want to find is homeowners. If I get 10 people through an open for inspection and I get 5 homeowners, then I'll send them information about their house and what's selling in their area – like an auto-generated report. And every single three months, they get the same auto-generated report that keeps them updated. We send out SMSs to people that live on the same street as a property we've listed, just to let them know that the house is on the market. We do it in the same neighborhood within 250 meters. That gets rid of letter box drops. 

Openn: Are agents focusing on the wrong thing, in terms of marketing?  

I think agents need to focus more on the homeowners in their area and communicate to them the way that they want to be communicated to. Don't send them the ‘recipe of the week’. They don't care about how to cook Spaghetti Bolognese. They don't care about how much you've listed, or how much you've sold. They just want to know what's happening and what’s relevant to them. 

Openn: When you first came across Openn, what did you initially think? 

Ben: I thought it was a gimmick – just something that wasn’t going to be attractive to people in the market, but then I started watching it online and became quite intrigued by it. I wanted to know more about it and started looking into how it worked, how it was perceived, spoke to other agents, and decided to get on the training. I was worried about how the public were going to take it. I wasn't sure that the buyers were going to be overly interested. Quickly I found out that the buyers really loved it. I essentially now list 90% of my properties via Openn. 

Openn: You’ve been using Openn  for 4 years now. How do you explain how it works to buyers?  

Ben: We've created a simple process with e-books and little video templates for our consumers. Any property that they come through has a QR code that immediately takes them to this information. Guys can get tongue-tied, trying to explain something. The video snippet that we have is about a minute long. So, while we're standing in a home open or normal inspection, we get them to QR code it and watch it themselves.  

Openn: What’s the biggest benefit Openn provides buyers? 

Ben: We’re pushing more-so the transparency of the transaction that they're having. Because, in a fast-moving market, what you find the biggest issue for buyers is they're not getting feedback, or an opportunity from the agent that they're dealing with. They may have made an offer, but then never heard anything back. So, they didn't get a chance to renegotiate. This takes away their fears. That's the part that we're trying to explain to them – once you are a registered bidder, the property can't be sold underneath you.  

Openn: What feedback do you get from potential sellers? 

Ben: They're ringing us and saying, "Tell me more about Open Negotiation.” We make a big deal of the final bidding stages.  We have everything going live on the television inside our boardroom. The owners are sitting with us and having that communication explained to them, so they can hear us negotiating with buyers. We put on beer, champagne, wine, and platters. 

So, it's more about the experience of the event. I think owners like feeling a little bit special. So, when we're selling Openn Negotiation to vendors, we're talking about the night, we're talking about the selling sound that it makes...probably one of the greatest sounds you'll ever hear, because it means you're making money. We sell the experience to them, and we sell the competitive side of that to them. 

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