How to be a market maker

Main Market Maker image

If you don’t know who we are, we’re Sam and Phil, and together we own and run the AJ Group, which consists of four companies (as of right now, but could have grown by the time you read this…)

AshdownJones – the Lake District estate agents

Retreats & Hideaways – holiday let agency

Firewave – marketing agency for estate and letting agents

Pipeline Pro – outsourced sales progression

The AJ Group's company names, logos and what they do

Bragging rights

We’ve turned over around £1.5 million as I write this, in just four years, from a cold start in April 2017
We’ve sold the second-highest property in the Lakes, at £3.5 million (highest was £3.9 million, private sale)
We’re the undisputed (except by competitors) agent of choice for homes in excess of £500,000
We’ve been featured in all national press, from Radio 4 to the Times
We do all this with a core team of just five
Sam’s written a ‘bestselling’ book
And Phil has had a celebrity guest on his podcast – coming soon

But enough about us, let’s dive into exactly how to get into high-value, ‘not-on-the-market’ homes before your competitors do.

Plus, we’ll tell you here how you can join Firewave, and shortcut your success.

The problem (why this information is so vital, right now)

There’s no stock.

“Boom year for house prices amid surge in buyers”

Gurpreet Narwan, Economics Correspondent

House prices increase by almost £2,500 this month as buyer demand reaches ‘record levels’

Millie Bull, Property Reporter, The Express

“So many sales have been agreed in recent months that we now face a serious shortage of homes available for sale. There are lots of reasons why many home-owners have hesitated to come to market during the first two months of the year, but these do now seem to be dissipating. A recovery in fresh supply gives more choice to prospective buyers, many of whom are also potential sellers, which in turn encourages more of them to come to market.”

Tim Bannister, Rightmove housing market expert

“Greatest excess of demand over supply in 10 years.”

Joe Hoppe, Wall Street Journal

In February 2021, our stock was down 50%, standing at just 13 instead of our usual 30.

What could we do?

  • Google ads?
  • Rightmove added features?
  • Facebook ads?
  • Online val tool funnel?
  • Thousands of leaflets?

None of the above. This challenge needed new thinking.

Agents across the country were panicking and adopting a ‘spray and pray’ marketing approach. Trying to do it all and spreading their efforts too thinly and, unsurprisingly, getting zero results. Around us, our competitors were dropping fees massively, and over-valuing, just to try to get listings.

But this way, madness lies. Not to mention financial disaster.

We want to show you under the hood of what we did to rise to this no stock challenge, what our results were, and how you too, with the right tools, get into ‘not-on-the-market’ homes before your competitors work out what happened.

Your Market Maker Plan graphic - including 5 marketing tactics

Market Maker Plan #1 – The ‘Try Again’ strategy

To use this strategy, you’re looking for homeowners who have:
Tried to sell previously
Failed to sell
Changed their mind
Had a change of circumstances
Fallen out with their agent
Got fed up and given up on selling

Aim: to reach them before they decide to come back to market with a competitor.

How to find your ‘try again’ homes:

  1. Go to Rightmove Plus 9or whichever portal you’re using).
  2. Look for properties that were previously on the market, but with no sale registered.
  3. Check back at least six months, and up to 3 years or so.
  4. Compile a list, send out the ‘try again’ letter.
  5. Measure and monitor your results.
Screenshots of a letter, with an envelope placed overlaying the bottom part of the letter

Write them a letter that is informational in content, conversational in tone and rekindles their desire to move.

Market Maker Plan #2 – Technical Sales Letters

The right letter is the next best thing to being in their home.

But the wrong letter will put them off you, forever.

Letters that work are complex. We should know – we’ve sent tens of thousands of them over the last four years. So we know exactly what works, and what gets binned.

To make sure your letters work, and get your phone ringing with new valuation enquiries, you need our:

Firewave Direct Mail Blueprint

  1. Start with an attention-grabbing headline – your reader may never get further than this if it doesn’t speak to them.
  2. Tell stories – people love stories and case studies. Just make sure you position yourself as the mentor or guide, and your client as the hero of your tale.
  3. Make it about them – otherwise they will lose interest fast.
  4. Don’t hide your personality – it’s the reason a reader becomes an enquirer.
  5. Break it up with photos and formatting – otherwise it looks too hard to read.
  6. Make it long – our most successful letters are at least four pages long.
  7. Hand-write the envelope – make it look personal and arouse curiosity.
  8. Stick on a stamp – no franking, stamps look more important, so letters with stamps are much more likely to be opened.

Get your letter right, and it could be the most profitable and lucrative marketing you’ll ever do

Here are our results from the letters we sent in March 2021:

600 letters
11 valuations
Potential fees £304,500

Market Maker Plan #3 – The PR Piece

Newspaper article of Balla Wray by Melissa Major

We wrote this press release and our local paper published it. Almost instantly, the office phone rang with a valuation that turned out to be worth £1.2 million.

So, we wrote a press release for our Firewave members to use and gave them the strategy to get it published.

How to write a press release in 7 simple steps

  1. Angle – make sure you have a strong ‘hook’ in your press release that isn’t about you.  
  2. Headline – use a compelling headline to grab the editor’s attention, but don’t be too clever; it’ll almost certainly be changed by the paper.
  3. Introduction – get straight into the ‘story’ without preamble.
  4. 2 – 3 paragraphs with specifics including facts and data if appropriate.
  5. Quotes from you – write these in the 3rd person eg “Jones said that the market was extremely buoyant”.
  6. Paragraph about you, eg “AshdownJones specialise in selling unique homes in the Lake District.”
  7. Contact details – keep these brief; the paper won’t publish a long list. Just your website or phone number is enough.
  8. Photos – make sure they are of a high resolution and that they represent your brand appropriately. Include one of you for context.

Market Maker Plan #4 – The Market Update

A well-researched and well-presented market update gives you credibility, authority and attention. It positions you as the expert in your area, and ensures you ‘own’ the information.

Here’s our market update video so you can see for yourself.

4 steps to creating your own market update:

Step 1 – Compile the data.  

Rightmove is your friend here – all the information I added into our March market update, I got from Rightmove.

Step 2 – Create an attractive slide deck.

I needed 16 for our market update, using the data from my research, together with some of the key text from our March direct mail letter.

a mixture of powerpoint slides about Lake District Market Update
Step 3 – Turn your slides into a video.

You can either voiceover (narrate your slides) or add a music track, or both. Simple screen capture software is all you need for this. We use Screenflow for Mac; the pc version is Camtasia.

Step 4 – Upload and share.

At the time of writing this blog, we’ve had 112 views of our March update video, which is pretty good. And it’ll sit on our socials forever, earning views and building an audience.

Market Maker Plan #5 – ‘Buyer Waiting’ Facebook Ad

This is a ninja tactic we don’t use enough in AshdownJones. Last time we got some of these ads out, it earned us two instructions and around fifteen thousand pounds in fees. So don’t be like us, get those ads up and running!

We find lifestyle images work best, especially pictures of families, children or even dogs, looking away from the camera at attractive scenery.

The text you use on your ad needs to speak to the story of a buyer looking for a house. Make sure it’s an emotional plea and use names to make it more personal.

We use a budget of £10 a day, for around 3-4 weeks, or until the engagement tails off. Don’t add any interests into your audience; just use an age range (we use 30-60) and a geographic area.

Last thoughts

Don’t overthink it – this is probably the biggest obstacle to your progress. If you want to be a market maker, and to get through the doors of the homes you most want to list, you have to do things you perhaps haven’t tried before. Trust in the process and tread in the footprints of agents like us who have been there and done it before you.

Work smarter – we all know people who work harder than anyone else, but are they the most successful people you know? Working smarter is about using mentors to guide you and proven strategies (like these) to shortcut to the success you’re capable of.

Don’t give up too early – so many times have we sent out ‘just one more letter’ or tried to follow up with someone one more time, only to finally win that instruction and get another sale in the bag. You may be closer than you could possibly imagine, so don’t give up, keep going.

Your success depends on you – no one else. It’s not your team’s fault if you don’t get that instruction; it’s yours. It’s not the economy’s fault if your revenue falls – it’s yours. And it’s not the fault of your clients if they’re demanding and difficult – it’s yours. Take responsibility and accountability and OWN your results.

Finally – just do it! If you want something you’ve never had before, you have to do something you’ve never done before. Like…

Join Firewave

Firewave gives you access to the best estate agent marketing, training and peer group in the country.  There are five key elements to membership that makes it such a successful group:

Firewave's 5 elements circle wheel

1. Technical sales letters

A WORLD-CLASS, fully editable, vendor-targeted sales letter every month, written by Sam and Phil.
Plus bonus mailers and extra marketing goodies, like the press release we mentioned earlier.
Plus a library of successful letters and mailers we’ve used at AshdownJones since we opened.
Plus a video explaining the direct mail and how to use it – every month

2. Authority Sales Content

Here’s what you get with Firewave AUTHORITY SALES CONTENT – every month

1000+ word Blogpost – Google-friendly content that is designed to convert a reader to an enquirer.

300 word ‘Mini Blog’ for you to share on your socials, with a link back to the main blog on your website.

4 social ‘Cover Images’ – to serve as headers to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profile and LinkedIn article.

A selection of Unique Homes - how we value them accurately blog graphics

Social Graphics – so you always have an attractive graphic to promote your blogpost with.

a selection of graphics, with actionable text overlaying interior images

Blog Image – specially designed to promote your blog on your website, Facebook and Instagram.

image of navy styled bedroom with text overlaying image reading 'Planning to downsize'

Blog Promo Email – to send out to your database, and send more traffic to your blogpost.

Facebook Video Script – not sure what to talk about on a video? We’re here for you, with our specially-written video script based on your blogpost, to encourage even more traffic back to your website, whilst positioning yourself as the expert in your area.

3. Authority Lettings Content

Everything you get for sales, but for lettings!

4. Easy social scheduling app

Simple dashboard for easy navigation around your content library
Just drag and drop your content into a calendar
Even has a default scheduler for super-fast scheduling

5. The Firewave AcademyTM

– The very best marketing university for estate and letting agents in the UK

Private Marketing Audit with our Lead Generation Specialist
Quarterly Mastermind day at the AshdownJones offices in Windermere
Monthly training days on the exact topics you need
Entry to the secret IGNITE group – packed with goodies
A library of video training, resources and tools
Fortnightly live Q&A calls with Sam & Phil.

So, here’s everything you get as a Firewave member:

Technical sales letters and direct mail pieces
Vendor-magnet authority content
Landlord-magnet authority content
Social media scheduling app
Access to the Firewave AcademyTM
Your exclusive area
Secret Facebook group
Immediate start

Here’s the deal value:

Technical sales letters £250 per month
Authority content for sales £250 per month
Authority content for lettings £250 per month
The Firewave AcademyTM £100 per month

TOTAL £850 per month

But wait, it gets better…

£850 + vat per month £500 + vat per month
(Sales only – £350 +vat per month)
(Lettings only – £250 +vat per month)

PLUS, The Firewave Academy for FREE until 1st April 2021.

To get started, just click the big orange button below, and enter your regular details. We’ll jump on a call and let you know if your area is available, and help you work out if Firewave is a good fit for you.

Sam and Phil

PS not sure if Firewave is right for you? Give us a call on 015394 40892 or drop Sam an email at

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