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Should You Advertise Your Listings or Yourself?

September 03 2015

inspiration light bulbWhich is more important to advertise: your listings or yourself?

This question occurred to us while researching AdWerx for an upcoming profile. Their first advertising product for real estate failedfailed. The idea--ad retargeting technology (those ads that follow you around the web) powered by behavioral data--seemed solid. No one else offered anything like it in the real estate vertical yet, but consumer response was still lackluster.

What was wrong? It wasn't the technology, it was what was being advertised--or rather, who wasn't. That early product served ads for individual listings. When the company pivoted and began advertising the agents themselves, with barely more than a headshot and a phone number, the success rate of the ads skyrocketed.

So what's the takeaway here? Is it a waste of time and money to advertise individual listings? We suspect that the answer is complex, like many things in real estate. Certainly advertising listings has its place, but perhaps the above anecdote suggests that agents should concentrate more on building their brand.

After all, you are more than just your listings--you offer a certain style of service, a particular skill set and expertise. And ads for individual listings appeal to a very narrow audience--those who are interested in the home displayed, not sellers or those early in the search process. To catch a wider array of real estate consumers, get your brand out there. Repeated exposure ups the likelihood of you being top of mind at that moment when a consumer decides to contact a real estate agent.

When to Advertise Your Listings

As we mentioned, only a narrow band of consumers will respond to marketing for an individual listing. But even though their numbers are small, this group is very likely to be motivated to take action. Here are a few ways to reach them:

  • At the curb - Don't miss these high-value leads. Make it easy for prospects to find out more about a property from their cell phone. Use a sign rider that gives home shoppers the option to text for more information, visit a mobile website, or call an automated number. They get what they want--and you get their contact information for following-up.
  • Property search portals - Love 'em or hate 'em, portals are often the first place consumers go when starting their real estate journey. You don't have to advertise with them, but at least make sure you've claimed your profile, completed it, and that your contact information is correct. A neglected profile does not inspire consumer confidence.
  • Single property websites - Buyers interested in a specific home often Google the address. Since single property websites typically have the address within their URL (e.g., 123ElmSt.com), they have great SEO and rank high in search engines. Be sure that any solution you use makes it easy for visitors to contact you, otherwise that high ranking means nothing!
  • Videos and virtual tours - According to NARNAR, video is one of the top ways that consumers research homes and the buying process. YouTube is the top destination for this research, so be sure your listings have a presence here. A live-action video is more engaging to viewers, though more labor-intensive (and more expensive if you hire a professional videographer rather than DIY). Virtual tours are okay, as long as they're well-done with high quality photos and no cheesy elevator music. Whatever route you take, make sure your contact info is incorporated into the video!

So which side of the issue do you fall on: is it better to advertise listings or yourself? Tell us your opinions and experiences in the comments below.