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    Power Advertising

    Three Simple Tips to Make Real Estate Agent Ads More Effective

    by Will Dylan

    Good advertising can help you build your business.

    Bad advertising can help you build someone else's business. (i.e. the local newspaper, the Yellow Pages, other agents, etc).

    For many agents, advertising has become a cost of doing business. I often hear statements like "I have to advertise to keep awareness up", or "I have to advertise at least as much as agent so-and-so." Some agents sound like they've given up on having truly successful advertising out of frustration, but they keep paying the bill because they are afraid to pull their ads and lower their profile.

    It's Probably Not "Advertising's" Fault

    Where's the problem here? Big name companies spend millions on advertising every year, and at least some are very happy with the result. That would seem to indicate that the concept of advertising itself is not "broken".

    The problem is what goes into the ads. Remember, your local newspaper doesn't sell advertising. It sells space, to people like you. What you do with the space goes a long way to determining how successful you are.

    There is no silver bullet for successful advertising. A closer look at real estate agent advertising, however, reveals that some basic yet powerful concepts are missing from many real estate agent ads.

    Taking a page out of the advertising playbooks of some large, successful corporations, here are three types of advertising power that you can leverage in your ads to improve your results:

    The Power of Claiming a Territory

    It's amazing how few agents actually make any kind of claim in their advertising. It's as if they want to keep their target market a secret from everyone - including the clients they are trying to do business with!

    The old business saying "Perception is reality" holds true here. If people believe something is true, it is true, until proven otherwise.

    There might be three other agents in your market right now who are doing more business with first time homebuyers than you. But if they don't publicly claim that territory through their advertising, the potential clients in your local market won't know it. There is no public perception about who the local expert is for first time buyers.

    Perception is reality. If you can create the perception that you own the first time homebuyer part of the market through your advertising, and can back it up with the services that such a market would expect, you'll have every opportunity to be perceived as the leader in that market and grow your business, even if you weren't there first.

    This is one of the mental blocks that many agents have about their advertising. They think "I'd love to be known as the first-time buyer specialist, but I think agent X or agent Y is already ahead of me in that market."

    It doesn't matter what you think. It matters what the market thinks. If you are the first and only agent advertising a full range of services for first time buyers, who do you think will be perceived as the leader in this market?

    The Power of Being Different

    A recent poll asked Americans about how much they trusted certain professions to give them the right advice. Real Estate agents finished second last, behind lawyers and car mechanics**.

    So if all of the agents in your market are fighting a negative public perception, why does your ad look like theirs? (Agent photo, phone number, website, catchy phrase, list of "awards" won, etc). Do you really want to look like everyone else, when everyone else is facing a cooling housing market and low credibility with clients?

    Think outside the box. Could you stop competing in the "list and sell" world of agents, and advertise a new category of real estate services?

    How about becoming the first "Family Real Estate Advisor" in your area? Go beyond buying and selling to full-blown family move consulting. Know all of the schools in your area like the back of your hand. Meet the Principals and know them by name. Know the relative makeup of certain streets and subdivisions in your market. Provide a report to prospective clients on bus routes and local sports leagues in the area, and brand it with your name and advertising message.

    When you meet with clients, skip the hard sell - instead pitch the neighborhood and sell your expertise as the best person to guide the family through the transition. The business will likely follow.

    And before you say "but somebody else has 20 years experience and they're already really good at selling to families", read Rule #1 above. If that agent hasn't claimed that territory publicly through their advertising, you might as well claim it yourself. Instead of using advertising messages like "trusted service" or "your hard working agent", how about "Anytown's Only Family Real Estate Advisor".

    If you can succeed in breaking new ground in the real estate business, you won't need to compete directly with the advertising of other agents, since your offer will be unique.

    The Power of Trendspotting

    Remember "Morning Breath"? In the 80s and 90s, Scope mouthwash advertised the perils of morning breath, and promoted Scope as the product to use to ensure that your breath was fresh, first thing in the morning. Scope claimed that territory over its main competitor, Listerine, through its advertising.

    But in recent years, a funny thing happened. As the population aged somewhat, people became more concerned with having a healthy mouth, instead of just a fresh mouth. And as that trend unfolded, Listerine went out and got the American Dental Association seal of approval and started advertising itself as a germ killing, tartar fighting mouthwash that could help protect your teeth and gums, while Scope hung onto it's "Fresh breath" advertising.

    Listerine now outsells Scope by a wide margin.

    Where are the sales going to be in your real estate business 3 years from now? Are a large number of baby boomers getting close to retirement age? Are downtown areas on the verge of a renaissance, or are people fleeing to the suburbs?

    Now is the time to start looking for tomorrow's trends and strategizing about next year's sales, and the year after that and so on. If there's a part of the market that you believe will be booming in a few years, start to lay claim to that territory now. It won't make you number 1 tomorrow, but it might clear a path for you to lead the market at a future date.

    Add some Power to your Advertising

    Advertising shouldn't be a burden. It should play a valuable strategic role in your business development efforts, and should be the most public statement that you make to your local market about what your business stands for.

    Look at all of the local ads that your competitors are running and ask yourself how you can use the powerful tips contained in this article to leap frog ahead of your competition by claiming territory, being different, and watching for developing trends.

    You're paying for the space - make the most of it.

    About the Author: Will Dylan is a corporate marketing manager and author of "Marketing Like the Pros: Real Estate Edition", an audio presentation on CD that shows local real estate agents how to use the same marketing strategies used by major brand name companies to gain a competitive advantage in their local real estate market. His website is

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