19 December 2018

What does 30 years of property marketing look like?

| John Thistleton
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Peter Blackshaw at auction in 2005. Photos: Supplied.

Peter Blackshaw Real Estate is synonymous with record sales in many Canberra suburbs, but it’s no accident: the layers of expertise and knowledge go back 30 years. Founder Peter Blackshaw introduced both auctions and cutting-edge marketing into Canberra, and from there the firm has evolved into a real estate tour de force.

“We took a model that was working very well in Sydney,” he says. “There is no genius around this, it was pretty obvious that was a system that was working very well and we just transplanted it in Canberra. The rest is history.”

Today’s marketing involves a full suite of social media and technology options—a far cry from the marketing of the late 80s. “Real estate back then was a different beast,” says Mario Sanfrancesco, one of Peter Blackshaw’s most prominent agents. “It all came down to how well you could describe a property in words because pictures weren’t an option.”

Examples of property listings without the use of imagery.

In those days, marketing options were limited. The Canberra Times ads were a sea of fine print. Irrespective of the value and location of the property, all ads were limited to the name of a suburb, the price, a brief description and an invitation to inspect it on a Saturday. The antiquated Times printing press could not reproduce black and white photos, so an artist was engaged to make line drawings of the properties.

Thinking laterally, Peter Blackshaw Real Estate began sourcing marketing ideas from outside the Canberra property scene. They were one of the first companies to introduce colour sketches, black & white photography and —shockingly for the time — colour photography.

Peter Blackshaw were one of the first companies to introduce colour sketches, black & white photography and —shockingly for the time—colour photography.

“Agents would stand in front of a house and take a Polaroid photo, glueing that on to an information sheet and sticking it in their front window,” says Mario. “Now we’ve got professional photographers, video and drone footage, all of which can be delivered online. Our shopfront windows just aren’t as important as they used to be.”

Peter Blackshaw Real Estate agencies draw on every ounce of technology to enhance sales. Drones now give a superb overview of larger estate properties and data analysis informs almost every aspect of the marketing, whether it relates to the property, the client, or predicting the key property trends.

Social media has become a powerful platform. “We are finding as we drill down further we are able to target the right buyers prior to hitting the market. That is definitely the way to the future,” he says. “The traction we are getting is quite phenomenal.”

“That has to be a good thing for our industry,” Mr Sanfrancesco says. “Buyers now have good information around certain properties, with a professional Peter Blackshaw Real Estate agent who can guide them, and give them more detail. Genuine buyers will have alerts on their iPhone and their finger on the pulse on a daily basis.”

Peter Blackshaw Mario Sanfrancesc in action at auction

Peter Blackshaw Real Estate agent Mario Sanfrancesco in action at an auction earlier this year.

and… Mario Sanfrancesco in action at an auction back in 2000.

The firm built momentum quickly, attracting both clients and talented staff and thereby also building layers of marketing expertise. But it was more than their marketing acumen. Their introduction of a more professional auction system changed the game. The high auction prices, sometimes $300,000 above reserve, really cemented the Peter Blackshaw Real Estate reputation.

“You would talk about those results with prospective clients to persuade them not only to list a property but to put it to auction,” Mr Blackshaw says. “We turned over properties much more quickly, which was good for the vendor and good for the agent. I never had difficulty in convincing people that auction was a good way to go because I had so much evidence.”

Looking back on the 30th anniversary, Mr Blackshaw is proud of the culture he built. “I really did instil in everyone the obligation to get the best result for their client. The client is the seller,” he says.

Continuous professional training means that agent skill levels are consistently high. “We have the minimum number of hours we are required to keep, so our skill level is at the optimum level to provide six-star service for clients that choose Peter Blackshaw,” Mr Sanfrancesco says.

But in the end, Mr Sanfrancesco reflects, it’s all about the clients who come first, front and centre. “Good negotiations begin with great relations and that is how we bring about fantastic outcomes for our sellers”.

To learn more about Peter Blackshaw Real Estate property marketing journey see their blog:
What real estate in Canberra was like in 1988 – 2018.

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