Monday, August 9, 2010

Property ads - it's also the placement

While I take a short break with the “Listing of the Day” advertising critique, there is definitely room for observation. Hopefully more agents are starting to realize that in this market, cookie-cutter advertising doesn’t cut it. There should be more outrage that I find the same problem areas in advertisements for million dollar homes that I do for $100,000 properties.

Each property should be treated as a unique property, even if it is in the middle of a development of 20 houses built exactly alike on the same circle drive. Heck, even in that case, one is likely to face east and thus not have the hot afternoon sun blazing into the living room and/or master bedroom. (See, there I go again!)

Even though in this age of political correctness it is increasingly difficult to write to your true target audience, there continues to be opportunities for better targeting than what I see in the majority of property advertisements.

For example, suppose you have a listing in an ethnic neighborhood and it is down the block from the elementary school. These days, you are no longer able to say “ideal for young Asian family” or whatever it may happen to be. Many agents and brokers become more concerned about staying within the guidelines, and reduce their ad for such a property to “close to schools”, and fail to realize how changing their advertising approach to something that soft in effect costs them business.

Using that example, suppose the husband in a Latin family sees this ad. He then sees the address, and realizes that the advertised home in an Asian community. He is looking for something in a Spanish community and will look at other advertisements. Chances are he will eventually contact ANOTHER agent with a property in his desired area.

How do you get around the “politically correct” restrictions? That is a tough challenge, but one that should be recognized as a challenge by agents and brokers who understand the importance of advertising for every single listing.

If this were my client faced with this situation, I would start with one important suggestion. Advertise this property, with the “close to schools” (in order to remain politically correct) in a publication and/or web site which specifically targets the Asian audience!

It is not only gearing each property advertisement toward its most likely audience. It is placing the ad(s) where it will have the best reach.

Some of you are thinking, “but I advertise all of my listings in one place all of the time”. If so, you are only reaching the same people all of the time. How are you going to sell the home in the Asian community if only a tiny percentage of Asians would happen upon the ad?

The placement of advertising is very often as important as the content. There might not be any “wrong” places to advertise, but keep in mind that the days of “just put an ad in the paper” or “it’s on” are no longer sufficient in order to list and sell in the current marketplace

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

What's your name in real estate?

For as much time as I spend on behalf of clients with regard to the advertising and marketing of specific properties, I still continue to advise them that branding remains an important ingredient to success in terms of real estate sales.

I have encountered some agents with the national brand name real estate companies who haven’t found it necessary to do as much branding as they should, thinking that the institutional advertising out there would attract more potential buyers and sellers to them based solely on their farm area. Finally, the evidence that this is not a good approach is starting to appear.

The research found via the above link provides proof that more and more consumers are receptive to “store brands” or “house brands” for their purchases. Granted, this is often due to the current state of the economy, and is for much smaller purchases than property. Yet, the trend is there. Obviously, real estate is also a changed industry because of the same economy. I have seen the complete details of this study and it shows a distinct increase in the percentage of consumers who now look at and purchase “house brands” instead of brand names.

While this is happening, I have more and more “brand name” real estate agents and mortgage lenders telling me they don’t see the need to increase their branding and advertising in today’s market.

I’m here to tell you that those agents, brokers, and lenders who know to spread the word will benefit much more and much faster than those sitting on their hands. Your decision to decrease your advertising and marketing budget is also a decision to increase the advertising and marketing of your more aggressive competititors.