Estate agent Marsh & Parsons boosted sales growth by making Londoners laugh

The campaign used property related phrases to comic effect.

The Kite Factory and Stretton Creative won ‘Best Local Campaign’ at The Drum Out of Home Awards 2019 with its campaign for Marsh & Parsons Estate Agents. Here, the campaign team reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful project.

The challenge

In a very challenging economic climate, the property market in London is struggling.

This is putting immense pressure on Estate Agents, raising competition for business to unprecedented levels. In such conditions it is imperative that successful businesses find ways to cut through the noise and connect emotionally with customers to win their business. Current market conditions and levels of competition are making this ever more difficult.

Marsh & Parsons recognised they had to develop a differentiated brand strategy to stand out and succeed. Key objectives were:

To desirably differentiate Marsh & Parsons from the competitive pack and increase awareness of the agency in London.

To help defend market share.

The strategy

Selling, letting, buying and renting a home represents a significant milestone in people’s lives and is therefore a hugely emotional time. Marsh & Parsons understood that the majority of property advertising was very functional, and that there was an opportunity to inject some humanity and humour into the category, creating a distinctive tone for their communications.

As a London centric business, they are a more empathetic/people-orientated agency that takes the time to understand the requirements of their customers and match them with properties in the capital. This is in contrast with many of the prominent property advertisers, who are focused on scale and advertise nationally.

Our overall communications strategy to create brand differentiation and preference to position Marsh & Parsons as an emotionally engaging brand that is true with the metropolitan consumer.

The campaign

We needed intelligent, funny and impactful OOH creative placed in locations planned to maximise exposure to the London property audience and to depict Marsh & Parsons as a unique more customer-orientated Estate Agent that promises a more attentive, approachable style of service.

This led to a creative proposition centred on ‘matching people with property.’ The campaign was executed in a playful and humorous tone, pairing images of people with London road names and property descriptions that reflected their appearance and idiosyncrasies. Using real street names and postcodes gave it a personal touch that let Londoners in on the joke, while reinforcing Marsh & Parsons unique local knowledge.

Marsh & Parsons has historically run bursts of activity across traditional out of home sites, supported by press insertions in local titles across London. In a competitive market, these bursts had proved ineffective at raising the status of M&P in the minds of the public. As Marsh & Parsons only operates in carefully selected areas across London, we knew that our media execution needed to be tightly focused, helping us to punch above our weight in key environments for our audience.

With this in mind, we consolidated our out of home investment, homing in on key commuter sites across their areas of operation in London. This included rail termini used by those travelling in from surrounding towns, further increasing our reach. We also moved our print investment from local titles to the Evening Standard, taking advantage of their significantly higher circulation.

Our newly streamlined media investment was then laid down across three layers. The foundation of the plan provided a layer of always-on activity, which would ensure continued presence throughout the year. This was enhanced by a layer of tactical activity, with spend upweighted to deliver contextual messages aligned with key cultural moments throughout the year. The final layer was kept as contingency, providing the flexibility to react to any opportunities that might arise.

This helped to embed the brand in people’s minds over the year, rather than creating short-lived spikes of awareness.

The tactical elements of this approach required us to get copy live at very short notice, and we therefore shifted investment into digital out of home, which provided greater flexibility, as well as enabling us to showcase a wide variety of creative treatments. We also focused our investment on high dwell time formats such as underground cross track, and traffic-facing bus shelter 6 sheets helping to boost consideration.

The results

A standout success story in a turbulent market, this campaign delivered Impressive Brand Awareness and Market Share growth. The results to date for 2019 have been hugely encouraging:

Our target audience has clearly taken notice of the campaign, as evidenced by our brand tracking. Ad recall among home movers in London and the south-east increased by 62% across the campaign period, which resulted in a brand awareness increase of 17%.

Most impressively, however, Marsh & Parsons has grown their market share by 20.1% since the start of 2019. This has seen them jump from the 7th largest estate agent in their competitor set to 3rd, making them a standout success story in a turbulent market.

“We wanted a campaign that made us feel human and approachable in a market that can often be stereotyped as the opposite of that. Our OOH media planning allowed us to showcase our suite of fantastic creative in a powerful and engaging way, driving exceptional results for our business.” - Marcus Flacks, marketing director, Marsh & Parsons

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Out of Home Awards 2019.

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