On War.

Following last week’s four-i, where I quoted “my second favourite Prussian General”, I was asked who takes the number one spot in this unusual classification and it would never be in doubt: Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), author of the seminal work on warfare: ‘On War’ (first published 1832 and still taught in major military colleges today).

At the considerable risk of dumbing down his teaching, Clausewitz segmented military strategy which today could be described as: Defence, Offence, Flanking and Guerilla. The key is to know which one you should adopt and to save you the trouble of working through a near 200 year old translated text, unless you’re number one, (e.g. Rightmove) it’s not defence.

If you’re number two or three then Offence is an option – and Clausewitz describes several variations, but today I’m going to focus on the one I feel is appropriate for many of you.

If there are 100 companies in a sector then one should choose defence, two offence, maybe 3-5 could flank but 90%+ should be guerillas. What this means to you is stop trying to be all things to all people and instead break down your markets into small sectors and pursue each of them relentlessly with different tactics that are totally relevant for each but wouldn’t apply elsewhere. Let’s have a look at how you can segment your market:

• First time sellers
• Experienced sellers
• Sellers who haven’t sold for 10 years+
• Apartment sellers
• Small house sellers
• Unusual property sellers
• People getting married
• People moving for schools
• People getting divorced
• People relocating for work
• People moving for purely lifestyle reasons (as opposed to life-stage)
• First time landlords (Inheritance)
• First time landlords (Moving into one place, renting out the other)
• People renting out the home they plan to return to
• People buying their first ‘Buy to Let’
• Landlords with 3-5 properties
• Landlords with 10+ properties
• Particular housing estates or blocks of flats
• Particular roads – (often expensive ones)
• Slightly off the patch properties
• Properties within key school catchment areas
• Properties with no/poor schools
• Properties suitable for auction (traditional or modern method)
• Repossessions/distressed sales
• Probate sales

Each of these, and no doubt many more for some of you, represent different segments of this one big whole labelled “the property market.” At the risk of causing offence, many agents are aware of all of these but are too lazy to differentiate by anything more than “sellers and landlords” and it’s this that presents the opportunity for others to become dominant in one or more sectors by employing relevant tactics for each.

As you plan for 2019 get really clear about your market and segment as granularly as possible. Then produce a HEMP (Highly Effective Marketing Plan) for each of the sectors you’ve chosen. This will yield far better results than what 90%+ of agents will do which is to create a “catch all” campaign that in reality misses the mark with most of the audience by attempting to appeal to everyone and instead appearing vanilla, bland and “so what?”.

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