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Top 10 Print Marketing Strategies for Real Estate

October 28 2014

10marketing websitebox1 Over the past half dozen years we've seen a lot of media coverage about the demise or merging of newspapers around the country. The loss of advertising revenue from their major past customers, like real estate brokerages and auto dealerships, has been one factor. Advertisers want to spend their money for results, and as people moved their news consumption from print media to the Internet, advertisers have moved with them.

Marketing research firms have been publishing reports recently that indicate changing trends. For years, marketing spending by real estate firms has been down and their spending has been moving from print to the Web, with last reports showing 56% going digital.

Now the data is showing digital advertising spending flattening out and print spending rising again. There isn't published data to support it, but this spending may be by companies that have found ways to use print and digital together for better results from both. Let's see how these media can work together.

Strategy #1: Don't dismiss print.

You may not have been dismissing print, but if you've been reducing your print budget over time, it may be time to take another look at the ratio of print-to-digital spending. The trend began to change in 2012 with newspaper spending up almost 1% that year, and magazine spending up more than 30%. So at the very least, you should be putting some thought into your budget and marketing plan to see how to get more from print and use print and digital together for better results.

Multiple major surveys are telling us that people still respond to print marketing, but in a way that's different from in the past and from which we aren't benefitting. Americans have become dependent upon the Internet and have moved to mobile devices in droves. These surveys also tell us that no matter where our prospects hear about us or see our advertising, many will make their first research effort a visit to our website. Our #1 strategy is simple but important: Start thinking of print and online marketing as a team, not an either/or.

 

Strategy #2: Reconsider your branding approach.

We do a lot of brand marketing in real estate, and that's a good thing. We're all independent contractors, no matter which if any brokerage or franchise we work with. We can benefit from the branding provided by a franchise or our broker, but we shouldn't rely only on those brands. Life changes, business changes, and markets change. Our goals can change and we often end up at a different brokerage or with a different franchise, or we become brokers and go out on our own. If we haven't been building our own brand, we're starting over.

Branding isn't just our name however. It can be only that if we don't have plans for our business after we move on to other things or retire. However, if we think we may want someone to buy our business or take it over, such as a family member, we should consider branding for the market area and real estate. The only reason to consider this now is that you're going to get strategies here that will build on your brand, so it's a good time to decide if you want to take a personal branding or a real estate market branding approach. In other words, do you want to be branded as YourName Real Estate or Your Market Real Estate Experts? Neither is right or wrong; it's simply a choice.

Branding for Print & Online Cooperation

Begin now to think of print and digital marketing as a team, and start with branding for consistency across the media. It's not so much about design or logos, as today's technology makes it no problem to use design, colors and fonts across platforms and media. However, we do need to be consistent in print and online, as we know that many people will make our website their first destination after seeing one of our print ads. We want no confusion when the page on which they arrive loads on their screen.

Often we only have seconds to make an impression on a website visitor, and it's not good to lose them when they've gone to the trouble of checking us out online after being introduced by our print marketing. Your brand should be on every print piece and on every page of your website. You want your prospects to concentrate on your message and call-to-action, not in making an effort to be sure they're in the right place.

Strategy #3: You need to be perceived as a market expert.

We've just spoken about brand, and now it's critical to associate that brand with expertise in your local real estate market. Every time your prospects, customers and clients see your brand, they need to think "real estate" and "expert." First, don't do what everybody else is doing in their marketing. Sometimes it's taking the easy way out, sending out postcards and direct mailers. But, if they're mostly about "curb appeal," and "smells and showings" they're not doing anything to differentiate the brand.

It's not that the "curb appeal" and similar print pieces aren't of value to some of the people who receive them. It's that there are so many of them out there that the agents mailing them or running the ads are not pulling themselves above the pack. It's also hard to be perceived as an expert when your message is that you need the lawn manicured to make a better impression, as that's pretty much common sense.

Start thinking more about the questions you're asked by potential buyers or sellers. You will probably find in monitoring questions that they're more about negotiations, value, and the transaction process. The answers to these questions should be your message in print marketing. Each answer is a topic for a print ad or mail piece. Start thinking "answers to questions," and make those your marketing plan.

Strategy #4: Think key topics instead of keywords.

These strategies are about print marketing for real estate, so why worry about keywords anyway? We're not going to be finding these print ads in Google searches. We started this strategies tutorial with news that print market spending is growing, and we believe that one reason is that more real estate marketers are recognizing how tying it to their online presence improves results.

But, we also talked about consistency across media and platforms, so what we're printing on hard media is also appearing on our websites. Now let's carry this discussion on to positioning yourself as an expert in your market area. We talked about topics that are out of the mundane and focused on answering questions our prospects and customers ask. Questions and topics can include:

  • Closing costs for buyers.
  • Closing costs for sellers.
  • What is title insurance and what's it for?
  • What are title insurance exceptions?
  • Explain title insurance requirements.
  • The difference between a survey and an improvement location report.
  • Home inspection for buyers.
  • Home inspection for sellers.
  • Contract negotiations for buyers.
  • Contract negotiations for sellers.
  • Common encroachments on surveys.
  • Covenants and restrictions explained.
  • Lead based paint disclosures and remediation.
  • Disclosures in the home sale process.
  • Repair negotiations for buyers.
  • Repair negotiations for sellers.

There are more, but you're getting the idea. Why mention keywords or even use the term "key topics" or "key phrases"? We'll be using them in print, and then inviting our print-exposed prospects to our website for more information. We want to use the same phrase/topic for consistency, so why not think ahead to the SEO aspect as well? More on this in another strategy discussion to come.

 


 

Strategy #5: Every print piece leads to an online destination or landing page.

OK, now we know how we're going to use questions and answers for topics, and how those topics will be partially answered in our print marketing and answered/described in more detail on our websites. Every piece of print marketing, from postcards to homes magazine ads, will present a relevant URL to our prospect so they can do what they want to do anyway--check us out on our website. You're just not a real business these days unless you have a Web presence. You're starting a conversation or a tutorial for your prospect in your print piece, and you're continuing it on your website.

Website platforms and software usually create your page or article URLs for you, and sometimes they can be a bit long, and may even have numbers or other characters in them that mean nothing to your prospect. If you can create your own, keep this discussion in mind. If you can't, you can buy a domain name for a year for under $12 usually, so you may want to get specific domains for some of your topic landing pages. You can register them anywhere, like at GoDaddy or Yahoo, and point them to your actual pages.

Keeping them short and on topic is the best approach. You want them to be easy to type, as your print marketing prospect will need to type them into their browser on their desktop or even a tablet or smart phone. An example would be farming a subdivision and using a domain URL like http://SubdivisionNameClosingCosts.com. It's not real short, but it's on topic and won't be hard to type. You don't have to take this approach, but do look at each URL for your landing pages with typing it in mind.

Never do a print ad or marketing piece that doesn't point to a landing page on your site, and always create the page to match the topic and expand on it.

Strategy #6: Make your landing pages work for you.

No, this isn't about print, but it is an extension of your print marketing piece that moves your client along your path to a commission. You begin this process with a plan for a print ad, but your plan is to help the prospect to do what they want to, which is to learn more about you or the topic with a visit to your website. It's a logical process that responds to the way people do real estate research in today's digital world. The reason this is an important cooperation between print and digital is that you'll get far more first impressions with print marketing; at least until you dominate first page search positions in your market area.

We've made the decision to never publish a print piece that doesn't refer the prospect to a page on our site, so now let's talk about that page and how to make it work for the prospect and for our needs--a qualified lead and a commission at some point. Your landing pages must give the prospect what they're expecting or you're dead in the water. So, if you're delivering a postcard mailer prospect to a page/article promising to explain title insurance, make sure that the page or article does a good job of explaining it.

The other major goal of your landing page is to generate a lead, someone who provides their name and email address so that you can build a relationship leading to the closing table. So, don't give away the farm in either the print piece or on the landing page. You can tell them more than they'll find on any of your competitors' sites, but you can offer something extra in exchange for their contact information. Let's use our title insurance example.

Introduce the topic and partial coverage in the print piece, with content length depending on the type of piece. Make it the introduction, and do a thorough job of covering title insurance on the landing page. But, you can still offer more. Place a form to receive a free copy of a title policy with exceptions and requirements as a PDF via email. Black out everything that would indicate the address or people involved. To get this report, they'll give you what you want, their contact information.

Think of every piece of your marketing plan as a base on the ball field. The print piece is first base. The landing page is second base. Getting their contact information with a special offering is third base. We all know what a home run is, celebrated with a bank deposit.

Strategy #7: Farming on two levels – bringing print and web together.

We want to create print marketing pieces that contribute to our brand, but also they need to introduce our prospects to our website for more information or details. Let's use an example of a question commonly asked by sellers and buyers alike: "What are closing costs in a deal?" You're farming a neighborhood for listing clients. In each of these examples we'll see how our website page will be set up to take advantage and generate leads.

Letter Mailers

You're farming this neighborhood and you send out a letter titled "Don't Forget the Closing Costs." You don't have to put a techie title on it about calculating closing costs, as this title gets their attention and prompts them to think the question of how much those costs will be. Your first sentence might be something like, "Real estate closing costs are not all out of your control, so learn what they are and where they come from to take away a larger check from the closing table."

Your headline grabs their attention, and your first sentence tells them they're about to learn something of value to put money in their pocket. You'll get a significant percentage of full-reads of your letter with this approach if there is any thought of listing for sale in the near future. Since this is a letter, you can go into as much detail as you want, but we're not going to make it a tell-all. We want to place a link to our website in the letter that takes them to more information and detail.

The landing page and the lead

 Create your landing page to describe the various line items in a HUD statement, which apply normally to buyer or seller, and how they are calculated, such as pro-rating taxes and insurance. You can really get into detail and still have something special to offer for your lead generation. Black out addresses and names, and create a PDF of a real or simulated HUD statement. Set it up for automated delivery when they submit a form on your landing page offering the report. You'll get leads.

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Postcards

This is nothing but an abbreviated form of letter. We'll use our headline/title and first sentence, and maybe a little more text and an image to get their attention. Make it an image you purchase off a site like CanStockPhoto, iStockPhoto, etc. Or you can take your own, but you want a little color for a postcard and you want it to properly relate to your topic.

The example image covers the visual and color impact, but also gets across the cost concerns with currency and a cost sheet in the background. Since all of these examples relate to our closing cost example, go back to The landing page and the lead above.

Newspaper & Homes Magazine Display Ads

In many cases, we're advertising one or more of our listings in these ads, so we're limited on space for our brand or other marketing. However, one thing you know about most of the people who are looking at these ads is that many are in the market to buy a home. So, you are going to place a short headline message and a URL to one of your landing pages with information of interest to buyers.

Brochures

We publish brochures for two primary purposes.

  1. Branding and services promotion – We're presenting ourselves and our services with the intention of attracting buyers and sellers. Our brochures present us as experts, and describe how we help our clients to buy and sell real estate. URL links and landing pages for this brochure (and there can be more than one in each), should take them to pages that elaborate on services and answer questions.
  2. Listing presentation – The goals here are to impress and satisfy our sellers and to attract a buyer for the property. We'll, of course, place a URL to the listing's web page on our site, as well as possibly a link to a page with a mortgage calculator or a page about the neighborhood where the property is located.

We're just using what we've learned in these strategies to move around the bases, and the most important part is from first to second base.

 


 

Strategy #8: Work the Statistics

One thing everybody loves is statistics.

  • Sellers want to know what other homes in their area are selling for.
  • Buyers want to know if they're getting a good deal or if they are looking in the right price ranges.
  • Investors make their livings based on "the numbers."

In every print piece and every marketing strategy we've discussed, consider ways in which you can work sold property statistics into your information offerings. In most cases, the best place for detailed statistics is in the offer-by-form for a lead on your landing page. You can lead to that with limited stats in your mailer and on the landing page.

Strategy #9: Market for Listings with Listings

People thinking of listing their homes for sale are comparing all of the marketing they see to help them to make a decision as to who to list with. When you do a letter or postcard mailing in farming a neighborhood, your marketing piece is being compared with others they're receiving. And you can bet they get others. Your signs in the area help, but they visualize their home on that postcard.

This is the perfect opportunity for you to show them everything you do. The primary URL link in the mailer is obviously to the listing on your site. But, a smaller noticeable link will offer to show your other listing services. It might look like: "My other listing marketing services: [link]." Your seller shouldn't mind, and you'll get some listing prospects to your site using this strategy.

Strategy #10: Be Unique

Though you may see huge corporations copying some successful marketing strategies of their competitors, they spend billions hiring marketing gurus to come up with fresh new marketing campaigns. Some of the most famous marketing campaigns are remembered years after they were discontinued simply because they caught the attention of consumers.

Every time you think marketing or advertising, think differently. While some are studying their competitors' advertising to see what they may want to copy, you should be first trying to figure out what they're not doing that may catch the attention of your prospects. Don't just take the easy way out. Signing up for a postcard mailing service just for a generic ad campaign with standardized and overused slogans and content just makes you look like everyone else.

Sometimes you just have to take the leap, try something new, and see how it works. There will be some failures, but there will be successes as well, and they'll make up for the "failures to launch."

You're already in front of the competition because you know where the bases are on your ball field and how you'll move around them. Now you just need to take action based on what you've learned.

To view the original article, visit the WebsiteBox blogWebsiteBox blog.