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2007-01-30 09:26:00

Harness the Power of Print Wisely

More than 70% of consumers start their search for homes on the web, but it is still the printed word that has shelf life, it is the printed piece that a person can touch and fold and share with a friend. Prepare every piece of printed material with an eye to longevity.

Newspapers and Homes Magazines.  Historically consumers are trained to look at newspapers and homes magazines, and this trend continues today. Studies about trends in results tracking are interesting. Studies show that over 90% of consumers will call about a newspaper ad to "rule it out." Newspaper ads and homes magazine continue to proliferate because  they offer real estate professionals an easy way to advertise ... because  they are the least expensive way to advertise  overall … because the advertising will make the phone ring … because Sellers will think that they  are doing something … regardless of the fact that newspaper and homes magazine advertising results are probably the least effective form of advertising.

Certainly, selecting print media requires careful consideration of price, circulation, and demographics. Trends to "goose those numbers" is an underreported problem, according to the Columbia Journalism Review, which points to widespread "shenanigans" in circulation reportage.

Direct Mail.  By far the most effective form of advertising is a targeted direct mail campaign. The most prevalent type of direct mail is the Real Estate "Tell 20" or "Tell 50" campaign. A listing agent sends out 20-50 postcards, usually in the same neighborhood as the house that is listed ... "I've just listed a home in your neighborhood ... " Is this a good idea? Yes, especially in terms of generating new listing leads. Occasionally,  a neighbor will share information about the new listing with someone who is interested in buying a home in the area, generating a buyer prospect as well.

Take this concept to a higher level. Consider a  "Tell 1,000 – 2,000" after a home is listed? Try various formats. The most popular format for this type of mailing is a postcard.

Publish a piece in newsletter format that includes information about the house, including address and photo, and include other useful information and  additional listings. Develop a mailing list of area residents as well as areas from which  to draw the greatest response from prospective buyers. This system is more expensive and labor intensive. but if real estate marketing  thinking is going to evolve past  making the phone ring  to marketing and selling our Sellers' properties, real estate agents have to take their efforts up a few notches.

Brochures are important tools also. Imagine that a Buyer has appointments to see five or six houses, sometimes very similar in size and character. An illustrated,  well-designed, and informative brochure in the hands of the Buyer can sometimes make the difference between what he can remember about the most important and salient features of a property.

Does the property warrant a professionally prepared brochure? Luxury home marketers often offer color brochures or flyers. How many does the company plan to print?   Will it be four-color offset quality or Xerox-color-copier variety? Who will receive the brochure? Will distribution be limited to persons who make appointments to see the property?  Or does the printed piece fit into a specific direct mail marketing campaign?

Home Books take the brochure concept to an even higher level. Offer a takeaway Home Book that contains room dimensions, major features, and photos and other information and enables the prospective purchase to  be able to "walk through" the house over and over again without the distracting influences of confusion after seeing multiple properties  ("Which was the house with double closets in the master bedroom?"  "Is this the house with the stained glass windows?").

The keys to creating effective print materials is design, focus, and quality.

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