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Creating and Placing High-impact Advertisements

March 12 2013

istock for saleSuccessful real estate marketing and advertising is the result of doing three things right:

  • Creating ads that grab your target prospects' attention.
  • Saying the right things to generate interest, prompt responses and move the prospect closer to the buying decision.
  • Placing your ads in publications that reach your target prospects.

The Power of a Great Headline

Great real estate marketing materials start with great headlines. Whether you're creating a print ad, a property flyer, a Web page, or a brochure, the headline that sits above your copy will make or break your communication effort, and here's why:

  • Four out of five people read nothing but the headline.
  • Only the most compelling and provocative headlines tempt readers to learn more by reading further down into your ad copy.
  • You can write amazing ad copy, but if your headline is weak, 80% of the people will pass right over your ad.

Here are a few examples of powerful headlines:

  • !!! My Pain Is YOUR Gain!!! 3 bed / 2ba close to schools in a clean, quiet family neighborhood. Move in tomorrow and steal this home now. Call Dirk @ 555-1212 before someone else steals this home.
  • *!!! No Bank Qualifying, Easy Financing, Owner Will Carry with possible Rent-to-own. 3bed / 2ba cute & clean in family neighborhood. Low down and $895 per month. Call Dirk @ 555-1212
  • ??? TIRED Of Trying To Sell Your Home Yourself? How about making the problem go away in 24 hours or LESS? Call Dirk To End Your Frustrations NOW!!! 555-1212

Writing High-impact Advertising Copy

The body of the ad, called ad copy, is the descriptive part of the ad. When preparing copy remember these essential points:

  • Let readers imagine what it would be like to live in the home. For example, instead of factually stating that a home has a patio and large back yard, say that the large back yard includes a spacious patio designed for perfect summer evenings, or suggest that owners can "BBQ on the spacious patio while you watch the kids play in the enormous back yard."

    Obviously in some instances, you need to limit your words. Still you can pick one powerful feature to describe in terms that evoke a compelling owner experience.

  • Emphasize benefits versus features. A large kitchen, a spacious back yard, a three-card garage, air conditioning. Each of these is a description of a home's features. Not one tells buyers what's in it for them. Not one conveys a benefit that the buyer gets from the feature. Yet these are the terms that fill most real estate marketing communications. Add impact to your ads by converting features to benefits following these examples:

    • Instead of simply announcing the feature of a three-car garage, advertise a three-bay garage with abundant storage space that makes a rental storage unit (with the accompanying $750 annual fee) a thing of the past while providing a workshop where the owner can fix kids' bikes and perfect shop skills.
    • Translate the feature of air conditioning into the benefits of comfort, coolness, and the restful feeling that results from a good night's sleep in an air-conditioned home.
  • Call for action – now! What distinguishes great marketers from good marketers is the ability to build a sense of urgency and to prompt prospects to take immediate action. Every time you create an ad, give readers a reason to take action and instructions on how to take the next step.

    You can describe the exclusive nature of a property and convey that this type of one-of-kind home comes onto the market rarely and moves quickly, so call today for an appointment.

    You can use low inventory levels, or rising interest rates, to urge quick action and phone calls.

    Even a simple closing line that reads, "Don't delay, call right away" will spur more action than an ad that ends without a similar instruction.

Staying Legal

Warning! When marketing properties, agents can run aground by using terms or descriptive language that runs counter to Federal Fair Housing Laws that govern the sale or rental of properties to individuals. These laws fall under the jurisdiction of HUD, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is very serious about the ethical and honest treatment of all people.

Federal Fair Housing Law basics

It's illegal to discriminate in housing because of race or color, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or handicap. It's illegal for real estate agents, as service providers, to discriminate just as it's illegal for real estate clients, as sellers, to discriminate. If you think that a seller is discriminating, run, don't walk, away. There are penalties and fines for discrimination.

Advice to follow

The fair housing anti-discrimination stance applies to all public communications, especially advertising. All text on your Web site, in newspaper and magazine ads, on flyers, or in other printed materials must adhere to HUD guidelines.

Warning! Here are a few words used in every-day conversations and normal real estate jargon that can't be used in print advertising: Able-bodied, adult community, adult living, bachelor pad, churches nearby, couple, couples only, empty nesters, any ethnic references, families no, newlyweds, traditional neighborhood. The moment these terms appear in printed marketing materials the ad is in violation of federal law.

Real Estate Marketing Tip: Ask your broker or your advertising representative for a list of the prohibited words. When in doubt, the safest advice is to restrict ad copy to a description of the property for sale while steering far clear of any descriptions of the type of person or people that you or the sellers think would be good buyers or occupants.

Choosing the Right Media Outlet

No matter how good an ad you create, if it reaches the eyes or ears of people who aren't interested in or capable of buying your offering, your efforts are wasted. That's why media selection is so essential to good real estate marketing.

For example, suppose that you have a listing for a home that has specially built wheel chair access, an elevator, and is on a golf course. There are only a very few people out there that are golfers who have the need for wheelchair accessibility and the assets required to buy a home with an elevator. If you place your ad in media that predominantly reaches 20-somethings who are starting new families, you can bank on little to no response to your efforts.

On the other hand, if you place your advertisement in golf publications, or if the golf course is private and you advertise in the monthly newsletter or send direct mailers to the membership list, your marketing message will immediate reach those in your target audience. Even better, if you learned of a magazine that counts a good many handicapped golfers among its subscribers, you could safely bet your advertising dollars on the publication to serve as an ideal vehicle for sharing the targeted benefits of your listed property with the perfect target audience for this home.

Real Estate Marketing Tip

The key to effective media placements is to know:

  • The profile of the target prospect you're trying to reach, including the prospect's geographic location, demographic facts (including age, gender, ethnicity, income level, education level, marital status, household size, and other facts), and lifestyle characteristics including personal interests and activities, behavioral patterns, and beliefs.
  • How well the media vehicle you're considering reaches your target audience. If you're targeting families with young children with income levels of $75,000-plus, ask the media representation what percentage of the publication's or website's audience matches that description. The answer will help you determine the effectiveness of the ad buy.

Converting Ad Interest to Action

Your ads need to include a response mechanism. This is a fancy way to say that you need to tell people what to do next and how to do it. Every single communication – whether through an ad, a mailer, a Web site visit, an open house, or any other outreach effort – needs to include a call to action that motivates prospects to take the next step by providing you with an e-mail address, home or work mailing address, phone number, or some other way that you can be in contact.

To generate responses and harvest prospect information consider the following ideas:

  • Invite ad respondents to call or go online to request free reports on such attention-getting topics as "Ten Mistakes Sellers Make When Selling a Home" or "Ten Tips for Buying Property Under Market Value." You'll gain names and mailing addresses as a result.
  • Use call capture technology to harvest information on prospects requesting information about properties you have listed or are featuring in your marketing. Call capture allows you to promote a toll-free number that prospects can call for pre-recorded information on a property. When they do, the technology grabs the caller's phone number and sends it to you within minutes so you can call them back. It's truly a brilliant innovation for lead generation.

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