News & Views on Real Estate

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Too many choices, too little advertising dollars....

For the average real estate professional, the opportunities for exposing listings in a slow market is more than overwhelming - Newspaper advertising, open houses, web sites, single property sites, blogs, lawn signs, grocery store carts, bus benches, symphony programs - the list goes on and on.

Clearly in any market, but most especially a slow market, there are only a finite number of dollars and time that can be allocated to marketing a particular listing.  And those have to count - more than ever!

So what to do?  Your seller really wants to see their home advertised in the local paper, or the local real estate book.  You agree, because the 'seller expects it'.  I hear this all the time from Realtors - they don't believe that print advertising works, but the seller wants to see their home in the paper. 

As the professional the seller hired YOU to sell their home, it's your JOB to educate your seller as to the best and most effective methods for marketing your home.  If they really want to see their home in print, it's your job to educate them that there are so many dollars allocated for marketing a property, and they need to be spent where buyers are - not where sellers want to see their home.

Many realtors still believe that newspaper advertising is effective, however it has been on the decline for years.  Just this month, the Los Angeles Times axed their entire weekly real estate section!  If you're a firm believer in the power of print advertising, that alone should be a wake up call - it tells the story in a pretty big way.

Personally, I love reading a newspaper.  I have read three Sunday newspapers every week for decades - it's a ritual I love and look forward to it every week.  I love to hold the paper.  I love to look at the ads.  

HOWEVER, if I was in the market for a new home, even holding the actual newspaper in my grubby little hands, I would NEVER use the newspaper to look for real estate!  Think about it!  Why would I search tiny little ads with archaic abbreviations (that are usually made up) with ONE blurry postage stamp sized photo, that are listed alphabetically by town (not based on my criteria), when I could go online for FREE and search every property (not just those with ads), based on MY criteria, and look at dozens of photos, take a video tour of the home, get a map and see where it's located, view the neighborhood using Google Street View and read lengthy descriptions of the property....   Why would I use a newspaper????   

The story above was in the local newspaper two weeks ago.  FRONT PAGE.  ABOVE THE FOLD.  UNDER THE MASTHEAD.  This is the primary, local, daily newspaper. Supposedly tens of thousands in circulation. This placement is absolutely PRIME placement - it truly doesn't get any better than this!  The response? Completely underwhelming.  Non-existent. A small blip of traffic to my website - nothing to write home about.  PRINT IS DEAD!

Yes...  not everyone is online - at home.  But almost all are at work.  Not all older people are online, but many are - more than you would expect (my 83 year old father has TWO computers and a web cam and a Facebook account... and is online with all his cronies on a regular basis!) And for those who are not connected, most have children who are - who WILL search online for their parents and print out appropriate listings for them.

When realtors claim they can't afford a real estate video tour, I'm amazed sometimes at the type of marketing I see they ARE affording - newspaper and real estate books, poorly attended broker open houses with lavish buffets, postcards that are immediately relegated to the landfill... I could go on and on.  True, a balance in your marketing efforts is always good, but when dollars are tight, that balance needs to lean heavily towards what is proven to be effective.

Having a finite amount of marketing dollars for each listing makes it imperative that those dollars are used wisely where it counts - which is online.  If you're not comfortable with technology, you need to get comfortable - take a class or hire an assistant - or you will be left in the dust in the very near future. Start planning your new career.....

A well designed and effective website, a single property listing page, a video tour, a free Craig's List ad, and other numerous other online marketing techniques, most of which are FREE - all will go further in marketing your property than any expensive ad in the Sunday fish wrapper....

Comment balloon 0 commentsTim Maitski • August 26 2008 12:22PM

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