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.

Benefits of Aerial Advertising

Although business owners might not think of aerial advertising when planning their annual advertising budget, they should.

There are many distinct advantages to using airplane advertising. In many cases, the advantage of using plane advertising over more “traditional” advertising mediums is quite significant.

When planning an advertising budget, business owners should consider the distinct advantages of using aerial advertising as a medium to get a message across. The return on the initial investment could be significant.

Some of the benefits include:

Cost savings

First, aerial advertising is cost effective. You can easily reach thousands of people in a small period of time. You don’t have to assume they’ll watch the commercial and not flip the channel. You can be assured that when airplane messages appear, they will look skyward and pay attention to the advertisement that’s passing over.

That means there is no money wasted on advertising that won’t be read or paid attention to. In fact, it’s estimated that plane advertising costs about 50 cents per thousand people. No matter the deal offered by a radio station or a newspaper, it’s hard to beat the return on the aerial advertising dollar. Cost effective it is.

Novelty

It’s unusual and provides a break from the usual. People pay attention to aerial advertising, likely because it’s not something you see often. When they are laying in the sun on the beach on a lazy July day, they look skyward when airplane messages appear.

In addition, that novelty leads to memory. That is, people remember the aerial adds they see more than they remember other types of advertising. This is partly due to the novelty – they stop and say “hey, look at that plane and the banner!” – But it’s also the attention the banners garner. Studies show that people will generally watch the aerial advertising as is passes over and will continue to watch it until it disappears from sight. That’s a solid block of time where the intended audience is focusing on the advertiser’s message.

Non intrusive

To get the message across, advertisers who use banner towing aren’t intruding on people’s homes, their living room tables or their cars. They are simply providing a message that’s flown over the beach, or an event or other gathering.

People don’t feel as if their privacy, opinions or personal reading has been invaded. This advertising actually does something that most advertising can’t do – provide a welcome distraction, entertainment and a novel thing to talk about.

Increase ad recall

People remember aerial advertising more than any other advertising medium. Studies have shown that when questioned, 77% of the people who had just seen airplane advertising remembered what was being advertised on the banner. Another 67% could remember what was being advertised.

These numbers are far greater than the response to other kinds of advertising like radio and print ads.

All of these benefits add up to one great benefit – better use of your advertising dollar and a better return on that dollar.

Aerial Advertising services are available from companies that specialize in this type of advertising. The Internet is a good source of information when it comes to choosing aerial advertising services. Arnold Aerial Advertising is one of the companies that provide such services. Located in New York, Arnold Aerial Advertising provides nationwide service with affordable rates.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Advertising

Sin No. 1

And in many ways this is the biggest sin of them all!
The total lack of genuine accountability and effectiveness. More and more evidence is emerging that there is ample justification for questioning a major advertising pretension that it does, indeed, work at all!

The repetitious cry and certain belief that “creativity” is the answer to all marketing problems – it isn’t and frankly never really has been.

It’s a given that all human knowledge is provisional but it is also incremental, the sum of what we know to day is far greater than thirty years ago – with, possibly, the sole exception of marketing/advertising. Nothing new has been added to the armory of advertising…no debate is taking place as to where to go next! Perhaps that is because there is no place else to go!

However to day it is still an article of faith among advertising people that advertising will not change because “it works”!

Facing the painful truth is the first essential step in devising a sensible strategy for the perpetuation of advertising. And the painful truth is “Advertising no longer works”!

Sin No 2.

Is it because that, for financial reasons, you do not want to address the problem of clutter…because it is a huge and growing problem which contributes to the declining effectiveness of all advertising.
The poor old customer, or in advertising speak, Consumer, does not want to take delivery of even more messages, after all they do not appear to be taking much notice of the messages that exist already!
The advertising world has dehumanised and depersonalised the process of communication and very little evidence of consideration of the consumer exists.

Sin No.3

You just don’t listen, whenever some well meaning person dares to question the “Advertising Works” article of faith, down comes a torrent of abuse, and the fact is it can only be a torrent of abuse because you do not have a solid fact to support your spurious claims. Listen to your Clients:
As one large Client recently explained: “In to day’s marketing landscape, building a brand is about a whole lot more than advertising. An advertising agency alone cannot deliver everything we need – even though agencies may claim to deliver this, it’s a myth”.
Or even listen to people closer to home:
Derek Morris, Chairman and chief executive of ZenithOptimedia attended “Media 360 Conference” in Wales. In a long letter in MediaWeek, he said, among other things, “But what are the lessons to bring home from South Wales? What should we actually do? And there, in the final session, reality caught up when the Client told us to “Change before you are dead”.

Sin No.4

If you don’t want to listen then for Heavens sake forget the glorious past.
Your current model of advertising was developed in the Sixties when product choice was much more limited and people were easier to stereotype into categories like income, sex and class. It was much easier for advertisers to target people and bombard them with sales messages.

Today’s marketplace is different and all the old certainties are gone. To be effective in your communications it is sound advice to start with the premise that you know nothing about the people that you believe your product is aimed at.

You all have become too parochial, too introspective, too convinced by your on hyperbole.

Sin No.5

Stop this insane rush onto Web 2.0 it is not a medium intended for mass advertising, and, as has been recently established, “Users became more or less desensitised to the Advertising”

That was recently said of advertising on social networking sites.

Clients are experiencing fast diminishing returns on their social networking ad investments.

Clients are expressing disillusionment.

Web marketers, ranging from Google at the apex of the ad triangle to the mass of small companies are showering social-networking sites with ad dollars without getting their hoped-for returns.

The question is not “Has the advertising model broken”? The question now is “What are we going to replace it with”?

The complacency of the IPA is overwhelming, they appear not to be doing anything to answer the increasingly strident complaints.

Complaints such as, clutter, and here the irony is that advertising agencies appear to think that placing more advertisements is the way to solve clutter!

Complaints such as lack of accountability, to day, and after fifty years of extensive advertising, there are no reliable figures available on audience measurements.

And most certainly there are no effective studies as to the effectiveness of advertising…on sales…. As a return on ROI…and much more.

To day it is more important that a close investigation as to the suitability of advertising on Web 2.0 be undertaken instead of rushing onto the Net and ignoring all the signs. These are that it is a highly unsuitable medium for advertising.

After all it is “The Wild West” where anything goes!

Sin No.6

Your inability to move very rapidly into the post-advertising mindset is caused by you being unable to recognise Sins 1 through 5 above.

Astonishingly, a sizeable percentage of marketers and marketing-service leaders seem mired in the advertising mind-set.

The Cannes Lions Festival still celebrates ads-a position, one suspects, roughly equivalent to the Cannes Film Festival honouring silents. The One Show held two concurrent programmes this year-one for conventional ads, another for online. (One wonders who in this mix felt like a second-class citizen).

In a transparent world, the power of an “ad campaign” to change minds is strictly limited, and getting more so every day. It’s way past time for the industry’s leaders to get naked and reinvent advertising…it they can!

Sin No.7

Your complete and utter lack of understanding of the word “communication” together with a lack of appreciation as to what can, and does, stifle effective communication.

All advertising is a form of learning whereby the advertiser is asking people to change their behaviour after learning the benefits of the products or services on offer. However, we all tend to filter out information, which we do not want to hear. This clearly alters the effectiveness of conventional advertising in quite a dramatic way.

The final purchase decision is invariably a compromise and this leads to a certain amount of anxiety; the worry that perhaps the decision was not the best or the right one. In order to minimise this anxiety the purchaser seeks to reinforce their choice and begins to take more notice of their chosen product’s marketing communications.

Due to a lack of understanding of the communication process we have created a media society during the past 40 or 50 years, where the whole process has been de-humanised.

There is now an extraordinary reduction in interaction because conventional advertising and marketing have become a one-way practice whereby information is disseminated in a passive form.