Quick answer: long AND short.
Other quick answer: canvassing letters!
Don’t bother sending out a canvassing letter if you’re not going to make it part of a longer campaign. An estate agent really needs to be sending out letters at regular intervals over at least a year to begin to see real results.
(I would argue you should never NOT be sending out letters – they should be a regular and ingrained part of your instruction winning strategy, even if you’re the number one agent in town).
I’ve heard a lot of suggestions around sending out letters every 3 or 4 months; I don’t think that’s enough to stay in people’s minds. I think every two months is optimum. Every month and you’ll become a pest; wait for 3 and you’ll be forgotten. But every couple of months will occur as committed and consistent without inducing feelings of overload in your intended audience.
On the question of length, I’d suggest mixing it up. Short and sweet the first time, then something longer and more detailed the next. Then short again, then long, and so on. Short is good for the attention span you’re likely to encounter at the beginning, but a longer letter (i.e. more than one page) that goes into detail about a specific way you do things, or a particularly current factor in the property market, could demonstrate how well you know your stuff, and how generous you are in imparting your knowledge for free.
Drive home a consistent message, and perhaps include specific examples of how your work practice has made a difference to local homeowners. Did your professional photography generate tons of viewings? Did your viewings/open day generate multiple offers? Did you achieve above the asking price? Did you sell a property where another estate agent had failed?
These are the sorts of messages you want to be putting out there; that you are producing tangible results above and beyond your competition and are the very best bet for a homeowner when choosing an estate agent to sell their property.
Let’s be frank: most estate agents’ canvassing letters and flyers are at best clichéd and at worst dreadful. This comes down to being busy and wanting to send something out, but not doing what is required to produce a letter or leaflet of standout quality. It can occur as just too difficult and time-consuming for many estate agents; and seeing as any agent acting like that will most likely never have conducted a sustained and regular campaign, they’ll have no evidence that embarking on one will produce enough results to warrant the effort.
It’s only a tiny number of estate agents that regularly send out memorable, useful and informative materials, so if you’re reading this blog you’ve already got a head start. You are clearly one of the few.