OPINION: Digital cameras and the well-turned ankle effect - Simon Smith

North Devon Gazette

The Victorians had it right. They knew that a glimpse of a well-turned ankle could set pulses racing as surely as anything fully full frontal, that when it comes to allure, less is definitely more.Â

There have been many famous examples of adverts which only hinted at the product being advertised, to pique the curiosity and draw in the potential buyer.Â

One of the industries that make use of this technique most freely and frequently is the car industry, where new models are first shown either partly or fully covered with a tantalizing hint of the new shaped headlight winking through the gauze like the eyes of a dusky maiden glimpsed through a veil in the fables of antiquity. All of these methods are still used today, for just one reason – that they are highly effective.Â

When we think about property advertising, agents often apply the polar opposite of this approach, and want to take pictures of every aspect of a property for sale, every room, sometimes multiple images of the same room from different angles, all in the (perhaps mistaken) belief that two or three pictures of a downstairs WC will have the phones ringing off the hook and the inbox pinging as potential buyers are mesmerized by the crocheted loo roll cover.Â

This phenomenon has been seen predominately since the arrival of the digital camera into the sweaty paws of rapacious estate agents, which allowed a ‘spray and pray’ approach to photographing properties.Â

I am old enough to remember the days of an agent taking photos of a property and after carefully removing the film from the back of the camera, they would be sent off the next morning for processing and would be back a day or two later, and if they were blurry or the sun was glinting in the wrong place or the cat could be seen gurning through the patio doors, back you went to reshoot the whole thing and another few days passed by before you could peel off the sticky tape on the back of the photo and proudly stick it onto a set of particulars.Â

Of course, the arrival of digital imagery has been a plus for the property industry in terms of the turnaround speed of images allowing properties to be listed onto the market sooner but I do feel that, in the days when you knew that if you got it wrong it would mean days added to the process, it taught agents to use a more discriminating eye and fundamentally, when you could only use a handful of images to ‘tell the story’ of a property and express those salient points to a potential buyer, whereas the facility to upload unlimited images means that often, quantity replaces quality.Â

To revert to the theme of discretion, one technique that my own company has been very successfully deploying recently is the concept of ‘discreet marketing’ whereby rather than listing the property openly, we’ll prepare an advert that gives preliminary details, enough to whet the appetite but at the same time to preserve the seller's anonymity.Â

Once we receive an enquiry from a potential buyer, we then vet that buyer in regards to their finances, flexibility, their attitude to timescales etc, put that information in front of the client and if they would like to offer a viewing, we go ahead and arrange the appointment.

This has proved particularly beneficial for clients who wish to dip their toes into the water and gain a feel for how the market responds without having to do so in the full glare of publicity and it has proved to be extremely effective, with clients often expressing surprise at how many enquires are generated from such sparse information.Â

We have come to call this phenomenon the WTA effect - the Well-Turned Ankle!