Offering a “reason why”

Does your marketing offer a reason why?

As a real estate professional you market your business every day – through your advertising, brochure, signs, business cards, website, e-mail news and more.  But in your marketing do you always offer a “Reason Why” they should call you.  A “Reason Why” is the key to greater response and return on your marketing investment.

Ask yourself as you look at all your marketing – “Does this provide my client or prospect with a reason (s) why they should continue to work with me or contact me?”

These reasons should be much more than simply the listing you happen to have that you hope someone will stumble upon.  You must describe the added value you bring to the client and prospect.  This might be your specialized training, your community involvement, your extensive advertising program, your website, your years of experience.

Whatever it is – do you prominently include it in all your marketing?  If not, make that change today.  You’ll see better results from your marketing efforts.  Always give your client and prospects ample reason to do business with you.

Should you advertise? Some questions to ask

After many years of providing advertising options for the real estate industry I’ve found that the most successful real estate pros are those who consistently promote their business with advertising.

Of course, this is true of most business. The ultimate goal would be a business that profitably exists with nothing but word of mouth promotion.

But in real estate the reality is that most people seldom buy and sell a home and a thoughtful real estate professional knows they need constant exposure to the market to find new prospects to grow their business and reinforce to the community that they are actively “in business”.

There are many cost effective places to advertise – online, in print, on billboards, on your car, on neighborhood signs.   But, effective advertising is really a matter of reaching active real estate prospects as directly as possible and then connecting with them via a phone call, open house visit, e-mail or website visit.

I believe it’s more important than ever to measure your results and weigh the return on your advertising investment.  My company provides ways to measure advertising response in all our print and online options.  You should expect nothing less from any place you advertise.

But for serious Realtors, not advertising is not an option.

Here are some questions to ask about your advertising:

  • Do you advertise consistently?
  • Do you get visitors to your website and do they contact you?  What is the quality of that lead?
  • Do prospects call you from your advertising?  Do you get seller AND buyer leads?
  • Do you have a verifiable way to measure response from your advertising?
  • How do you promote your services to sellers? To buyers?
  • For print advertising – is it verifiable, well designed and well written with balance between self-promotion and listing promotion?
  • Does your other marketing support and relate to your advertising?  Like direct mail  (personal letters and post cards) and online social media that connects with past clients.
  • Do you use billboards or bench ads? Do they produce leads for you?
  • Does all your marketing and advertising promote a link to your useful website?  Can you verify that your advertising is leading to website visits?
  • How’s your advertising going? Is it working? How do you know?

Have other ideas?  Please share them.

‘Who’ usually wins

Target and darts  Here's a quote from a recent article by Seth Godin - 

"In the race between 'who' and 'how many', who usually wins – if action is your goal.  Find the right people, those that are willing to listen to what you have to say, and ignore the masses that are just going to race on, unchanged." 

This is the secret to all successful marketing, of course. Your goal is to reach the right people, those most interested in what you have to offer. 

That's the power of any targeted advertising. Use advertising that is seen by your best prospects because you're really most – maybe only – interested in those most interested in you.

Social media, a blog, industry specific advertising, online advertising – all these have the ability to be used to directly reach  - target – interested prospects and to keep in touch with those who care about what you offer.

Have some ideas?  Share them with us. Need some help implementing targeted marketing for your real estate business?  Contact me today.

Target those that can close in 2010

In an article by Bernice Ross on Inman News (link to article below), she utilizes the 2009 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers in a unique way. Thoughtfully using the survey data, she identifies prospecting opportunities that exist with different groups that might have a higher than average ability to buy and close in 2010.

In an article by Bernice Ross on Inman News (link to article below), she utilizes the 2009 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers in a unique way.  

Continue reading “Target those that can close in 2010”

Why so many catalogs in my mailbox?

The holiday catalogs are arriving in my mailbox – like a thunderstorm.  I counted yesterday – 9 at home, 15 at the office – in one day. 

A recent Wall Street Journal article states on average we'll each receive 56 catalogs this year – 17 billion total.  That's a lot of catalogs.  Why so many?

Continue reading “Why so many catalogs in my mailbox?”

This Commercial’s Especially For You

In today’s Wall Street Journal there is an article that applies to targeted advertising.  I’m a huge proponent, especially as a small business owner, of the value provided by targeted advertising and promotion.  It simply makes sense to communicate your message to the most likely prospect.

The article describes how General Motors and some other national companies are using a service provided by cable TV companies to send ads to the TV’s in homes, and only to homes, that meet their predetermined car buying demographic. 

As spokesperson for GM Betsy Lazar says "It’s more efficient because you can target your message to the right group of consumers.  Since most consumers shop for a new car once every few years, GM is looking to speak to only about 1.5% of people in the U.S. each month."  Amazingly!, a pet food manufacturer also decided to try this program to reach (of all things!) pet owners.

I hope all this seems as obvious to you as it does to me.  One of my favorite quotes about marketing is from Claude Hopkins who wrote Scientific Advertising in 1923.  He says –

"What you have to offer will interest certain people only, and for certain reasons.  You care only for those people."

How does this apply to your marketing of homes and your real estate services.  Mass media – radio, network TV, the daily newspaper – as opposed to targeted media, is a waste of your hard earned money (unless you have money to waste – and if you do, please call me).    

Products (like our publications and websites) where you KNOW who reads and views the information is where marketing and advertising is headed.  Even GM has this figured out!!   Only people interested in REAL ESTATE read our publications and go to our websites.  Makes sense doesn’t it? 

If you’re using the daily newspaper you’re reaching about half the households each Sunday (and paying for it) but MOST (maybe ALL) have NO interest in what you offer.  Sounds like a poor investment to me.

Another thought – GM wants  to reach ONLY 1.5% of US residents each month with their message – that’s all they believe are buying cars.  How many LESS are buying homes?  NAR says people move every 7 years.  Don’t you want to reach the ones that are buying or thinking of buying?

We all know advertising doesn’t sell houses – Realtors do!  But consistent, targeted advertising to the BEST prospects will always result in the right exposure for you.

The best ads for better results

Every effective ad includes elements that build attention, encourage readership and provides greater results.  Real estate ads are not an exception.  If you’re not already doing so, consider including these ideas in your next ad.

Content is key and by content I mean the specific design and content elements of your
ad.  Print advertising needs certain features to be the most effective.
They are:

  • Great ads must have a headline to grab attention and sell in
    the very first sentence. A headline interrupts the malaise that can
    overtake a reader when he looks through a newspaper or magazine.  You will never see an effective ad of any kind without a headline or catchy opening statement or graphic.  You need something to grab attention.  Certainly a home ad needs a photo of the home!
  • Great ads are well written with the reader in mind.  Do think about the content, providing the information that the shopper wants?  They definitely want to know the address and price!
  • Great ads tell the reader “What’s in it for me?”  Why should they read further?  Is the home priced right, great for entertaining, provide great living space?  Point out those unique features that answer the "What’s in it for me" question we all ask.
  • Great ads intrigue the reader to learn more.  Does the copy intrigue them with unique information promoting benefits rather than just features?
  • Great ads portray you as best in your field.  Are you effectively promoting your business (you) AND your product (your listings).  This takes some consistent, thoughtful effort.
  • Great ads contain a call to action-what should they do next.  This can be as simple as "Don’t wait – call today" with plenty of phone numbers and e-mail addresses.  When they are ready to act they need to be able to reach you quickly and easily.

Take a look at effective ads in any media—these factors are present and draw you in to read and learn more – and respond!

The right advertising works

I’m continually surprised by comments like “advertising doesn’t work.  It’s just a waste of money”.   I’m surprised because of the tremendous impact that advertising has on each of our lives every day, to inform, educate and entertain.  I’m certain that each of us is bombarded with 1,000’s of advertising messages each day. We benefit from some of the knowledge we gain from the items we see promoted, because it may meet a specific need we have or provide us with a way to improve our lives.

I believe a more appropriate comment to make concerning advertising is this –“poorly designed, poorly distributed advertising with a poor offer does not work. It’s just a waste of money”.   I fully agree with that statement.

While advertising is only one part of your marketing mix, it’s critical to the success of any business.  How will the public know about you and your services without marketing and advertising?  So if we agree on the importance of advertising, then what makes some advertising more effective and produce greater results for you?

There are three primary things that separate effective advertising from ineffective advertising: frequency, distribution and content.  Let’s look at frequency today and others at a future date.

Frequency: Our clients who have experienced the greatest return from their advertising investment have been those who have made a commitment to maintain a regular advertising program for their business. They’re willing to commit the time and financial resources to always include advertising in their business plan.  We know it will take at least 13 consecutive weeks for your ad with us to generate the response you deserve because new buyers and sellers are reading our publications each week. Remember, the week you’re not advertising may be the week a reader is looking for you and a particular listing you may have.

Advertising, particularly real estate advertising, achieves many objectives, one of which is an immediate response from a potential client.  These additional objectives include:

•    Providing the very best exposure and quality advertising for your listing
•    Building name recognition in the community
•    Reinforcing your experience and professionalism to all clients
•    Informing past clients that you’re still in business
•    Informing current clients that you’re providing them the best exposure
•    Showing potential clients what you will do to provide exposure for their home
•    Educating all classes of clients about you and your business.

So when considering advertising, consider a consistent schedule that will provide you with all these benefits for you and your business.

Listing ads alone can shortchange effective marketing effort

Recently two articles appeared in a national real estate magazine addressing the topic of the value of advertising home listings by Realtors.  These articles, written by two long time real estate marketing pros compared the benefits and potential downside of listing heavy advertising.

The first article took the position that listing heavy ads reinforce the perception that all real estate agents or companies are the same and that the only thing that differentiates them is the product (homes) they sell.  Don Hobbs, the author, states, “House ads do not differentiate between agents or companies, they differentiate between properties.”  He further states that “house ads give the impression that people are supposed to pick a home and a Realtor comes with it.”   

He believes that the public tends to think that all real estate agents are the same and the only difference is the home they may have listed.  The second article, written by Hal Douthit, promotes the idea that a Realtor has an obligation to the seller to provide the very best possible promotion for the listing.  After all, the seller just wants their house sold and listing heavy advertising helps accomplish this and serves the public with what they want – information on homes for sale.

Both articles are worth reading and are full of great ideas.  But, I came away with a third option to add to the discussion.  In my view both these advertising approaches have equal value and must be thoughtfully included in any effective real estate advertising campaign.  In fact, all effective advertising incorporates this approach.  In an effective ad, whether print, sign or electronic two main elements MUST be present. 

You must answer the reader’s question “What’s in it for me?” AND fully promote the product in the best possible way.  You want to give home buyers and sellers a reason to contact you in lieu of your competition and that reason, to build a successful business, needs to be more than the fact that you have a particular home for sale. 

I’ll use Starbucks as an example of my point, although you’ll be able to think of many others.   If you’ve ever purchased coffee at a Starbucks you know the price they charge for coffee is much higher than many other places.  You can certainly purchase coffee at 7-11 instead.  But many millions of people will only buy their coffee at Starbucks.  Amazing!  Why? 

Starbucks has very effectively built a brand through their marketing (remember: marketing is everything we do that the public sees) that conveys a particular image that coffee drinkers SEEK out.  The product is important – -its quality and presentation– but not as important as the image in building repeat long-term business.  If all Starbucks promoted was “we have coffee for sale” there would be no differentiation between other places you can buy a cup of coffee.  But they make effort to promote so much more – quality, style, community, comfort, friendliness – and have built a brand with a very loyal following and answered the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question.

This should be your goal as a Realtor – to utilize your advertising and all your marketing to take clear steps to establish in the minds of homes buyers and sellers the unique benefits of calling on you for help in buying or selling a home – any home. 

Each of you brings to your business unique aspects of character, background, education, experience and expertise.  Does your advertising and marketing effectively and aggressively tell the public of these things?  Print advertising we can provide you is the perfect place for this type of promotion.  Don’t be confused over the demands of your seller to market their listings to the exclusion of branding your business.  Don’t be confused with advertising options that only promote your listings. 

This approach does nothing to promote you.  Effective ads can and should do both – tell the public about you and your business AND the product you are selling.