Strategic Advertising for Real Estate Agents

“99% of advertising doesn’t sell a thing.”

Sounds like something a local real estate agent might say after paying for yet another ad that didn’t produce, right?

You might be surprised to learn that the quote actually belongs to David Ogilvy, legendary founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful advertising agencies.

Yikes – if a man regarded as a giant in the ad industry is so negative about advertising’s success rate, how should you feel?

The Bad News is the Good News…

There is an upside here. If so much of the advertising in your local market is ineffective, you can gain a significant edge on your competition by having a better local advertising strategy than other agents.

Advertising vs. Advertising Strategy

Notice that I said a better advertising STRATEGY, not simply better advertising. There’s a big difference.

A better ad might get you a few more leads in the short term. A better advertising strategy can help you to have a consistent, meaningful message in your advertising, and will position you to get more business from your local market on an ongoing basis.

With that in mind, here are three tips to help you define your advertising strategy, and put it into action:

1) Have a Strategic Objective In Mind BEFORE you Advertise

Advertising for the sake of “building awareness” is probably the fastest way to flush your advertising dollars away.

Before you even think about buying an ad, you must have a strategic objective in mind – after all, why should you pay for any type of ad unless it helps you to reach your objective.

Here are just a few questions that you might ask yourself before placing an ad to help define what you want your advertising strategy to do for you:

- If I could be known for just one thing in my local market, what would it be?

- Which part of the local real estate market is not currently well serviced by other agents? Is there potential in this neighborhood/age group/demographic profile?

- Which part of the local market is emerging and might be a driving force for sales in future years?

- What’s changing in my market right now – immigration, aging population, young families moving in, etc – and how do I capitalize on the change more effectively than my competitors?

If you can answer even some of these questions, you will probably be on your way to identifying the basis for an advertising strategy.

For example, you may determine that based on trends and current prices, your market will become increasingly popular with first time homebuyers. As a result, your strategic objective may be to use your advertising to become recognized as the local expert in serving first time homebuyers.

2) Have a Specific Objective for Each Ad you Place within your Strategy

With a clear objective as part of your advertising strategy, you can now think about investing in ads that support your objective.

Here’s a tip – you can create advertising that generates an immediate response while also serving to build your brand in a particular market.

Continuing with the above example, if you ran a series of ads in the local newspaper offering a free “First-Time Homebuyers Report” available from your website, you would actually be running a direct response ad (aimed at getting people to download the report) that also delivered a brand building message (the message being that you are the agent for first time homebuyers to call because you are the expert in that field).

You can measure the success of the ad by looking at the number of downloads from your site while the ad was running – since generating downloads was the specific objective of the ad. If the ads don’t generate enough downloads to justify the cost, pull them or change them. Ads are only valuable if they get you closer to achieving your strategic objective.

3) Be Consistent

All of your advertising (online, print, directory, flyers, etc) should be similar in both style and substance within your advertising strategy.

Yes, a consistent look and style for your ads is important to help you get recognized in a competitive market.

But even more important is being consistent when it comes to the messages in your ads. You can’t buy a Yellow Pages ad that promotes you as the leader in client service, and then advertise your “low low price” in the local newspaper, and then distribute flyers that try to promote you as the family real estate expert.

Your messages can’t conflict! Again, here’s where an advertising strategy comes in. With a strategic objective in mind for your advertising, you will be able to focus your advertising dollars on communicating a single, clear message to potential clients about why they should call you.

An Advertising Strategy is Critical to your Success

If Mr. Ogilvy was right, then most of the advertisers out there in your real estate market are getting it wrong. This creates a huge opportunity for you to use an advertising strategy to drive business and outdo your competitors.

- Have a Strategic Objective for all of your Advertising – Know what you want to say about your business, and who you want to say it to within your local market.

- Have an Objective for Each Ad – Measure each ad’s results against the strategic objective you are trying to achieve – if you don’t, how will you know if the ads were successful or not?

- Be Consistent – Make sure all of your ads are focused on helping you reach your strategic objective by communicating a clear message to the market.

Advertising can be a tough game, but so can real estate. And in both cases, those with a well thought out strategy will almost always succeed over those that don’t have a plan.