In Real Estate Advertising, ‘A Picture is Not Always Worth 1000 Words’

Is a property photo always worth a 1000 words, to a ‘for sale by owner’, an agent, or anyone else for that matter? Advertisers tend to forget that buyers need motivation to tour a property, that they should not be prejudging it based solely on the photo presentation or virtual tour. Photographs should pique a buyer’s curiosity, validate the opinion that has been formed from reading the text, then entice them to view the product.

One black and white exterior photo

As a real estate agent who launched his career in 1979, and now the publisher of a niche property, e-commerce website, I am amazed at how the use of photos in advertising properties for sale has evolved. Of course thirty years ago we didn’t have the luxury of the Internet to advertise a vendor’s property. The usual practice was to periodically place a newspaper classified ad in an effort to generate phone calls, and to add our property listing to the office display ad that usually was published every Saturday in the local newspaper. The ad, as a rule, amounted to a few lines of copy highlighting the most important features, and included an exterior black and white photo of the property.

With the launching of websites targeting ‘for sale by owners’ in the late nineties and early 2000, private sellers were enticed with offers of multiple photos to showcase their properties. The FSBO market was quick to react. That selling feature was not lost on organized real estate; after all, real estate agents had to compete and were not to be outdone by FSBO sites. Debate was endless about how real estate boards could best display property listings – and who was to do that.

Going overboard with multiple photos

Today, when we do a search query for properties listed for sale on the web, it’s not uncommon to have the opportunity to view 10 to 25 photos, on FSBO sites in particular. Over the last 5 or 6 years as an agent, I recall having several passionate discussions with vendors about the value of real estate photos for average priced properties used in either mls property data bases, or personal and company websites. My contention was that too many photos could cause prospects to eliminate listings as they might come to the wrong conclusion about the property. (I related how in the 80’s, buyers would respond to classified ads, usually a process they used to eliminate a property from their list, as opposed to confirming the property was a fit.) Moreover, an average condo of 800 sq. ft. or even a 2 story house up to 2000 sq. ft. often did not lend itself well to the presentation of professional-like photos.

From my perspective as an agent,the answer to the question is no, not necessarily, is a photo worth a 1000 words. There’s a variety of reasons for that. Many REALTOR association surveys have confirmed that consumers want to view listing photos, but indeed some find photos misleading, in the sense that they misrepresent the property, they are of poor quality, they have been manipulated, or that too few photos or the ‘wrong’ photos are used. An old adage in the real estate business is that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’. Focusing on only the exterior photo often leads one to conclude, on the one hand the property lacks curb appeal, for example, and on the other that the property should be at the top of a tour list. But perhaps the house isn’t showing its ‘best side’, or conversely, does, but the photo doesn’t reflect the fact there’s a fixer upper one or two doors down, or that there’s multi-family housing across the street or a contaminated pond behind the house. You get the point. Another tendency is for agents and FSBOs alike to focus too much attention on photos, and less on well written, complete and accurate property copy.

Early in my career I showed and sold as much property utilizing one or two exterior black and white photos as I did in ‘ought’ years when a dozen photos were displayed in the listing. The property sales ratio of agents to FSBOs today is about the same, if not higher, in some markets. We can all relate to how evolving technology has changed society, and in real estate influenced how agents conduct their business. Many parties to a real estate transaction over recent years seem to overlook the legitimate role of a buyer’s agent. Isn’t it one of the agent competently qualifying the prospect, learning about wants and needs, establishing rapport and trust and earning the buyer’s confidence? The result? “Go find us a property!” The photos could then be used for validation.

I have heard of buyers, consumed by the greed factor, purchasing property sight unseen during the boom years. Whether they were relying totally on listing photos, video, and data, remains to be seen; but I can tell you a lot of them will live to regret the decision. There is NO substitute for a thorough hands on tour and a bout of due diligence.

How to Plan an Effective Online Real Estate Advertising Campaign Using Automated Business Postcards

Do you feel like your real estate business is stagnating in today’s tough housing market? It is no wonder since there are so many different properties on the market today. It is especially tough if you don’t have an online presence. While traditional direct mailing campaigns were once effective, things have changed quite a bit. The days of simply posting property ads and relying on real estate papers for prospects are gone. It takes more than just a great looking website to generate business leads online as well. This is what makes on-demand business postcards so valuable.

Traditional Marketing versus Modern Methods
Traditional marketing techniques would involve targeting advertising toward large audiences. It was all about getting “more bang for the buck.” Now, businesses are finding that guerrilla marketing techniques are becoming much more effective. Website visitors like to feel that personal touch that makes them feel important. Real estate postcards are a terrific way to handle just such a touch. By adding a means of requesting info from your site, you can identify prospects who will more likely to take advantage of your services.

Personalized business postcards can allow you to target advertising to those individuals who are truly interested in finding a home or property. You can set these postcards up to include requested information on individual properties. An automated campaign would allow you to reach your prospects at low cost as well. Website visitors would be able to easily sign up for an on-demand business postcard which would then be sent out by an outside business postcard service. Additionally, you can use your mailing list to send reminder postcards at any interval that you choose. Whether using them for a drip campaign, sending updates, or new listings, your customer will always have your contact information at hand. Not only would this allow you to offer a personal touch, you would also be free of the hassle that goes with handling such things in-house.

An effective online real estate campaign will be one that easily converts prospects into buyers which is why offering the personal touch is so important. Reach out to consumers – make them feel as if they are the most important people in the world. Let’s face it, when it comes to your business, they are number one. Utilizing on-demand business postcards will help to reinforce that feeling and will help to make sure that your online real estate campaign is a success.

Real Estate Advertising: Newspapers Versus the Internet

When it comes to real estate, newspaper advertising is pretty much a thing of the past. The Internet has taken over the advertising market in the real estate industry.

Today, buyers researching the homes for sale are far less likely to pick up a newspaper and look at the homes for sale ads. As a matter of fact, the amount of real estate advertising in newspapers is an all time low. If I had to guess, I would say it’s been reduced to approximately 5% of what was originally advertised in newspapers.

Advertising homes for sale on the Internet is far less expensive to real estate companies, although there still is an expense advertising on certain realtor websites as well as maintaining the company and individual agent websites.. When real estate companies had to rely on newspaper advertising that was their highest expense, even higher than their rent.

Now realtors can put in larger ads with a lot more information and plenty of color pictures on their websites. As computer sales grew and more people owning them, they became a staple in the home and so did the Internet. It’s only natural that when buyers are shopping for a new home, they should turn to the Internet with all the information at their fingertips. The amount of information that can be delivered within an Internet ad would be totally cost prohibitive to put in a newspaper advertisement.

Aside from content there is the circulation to consider. Advertising on the Internet can reach more people than newspaper advertising. Just think about it, newspapers advertise on a local basis where is the Internet is actually worldwide. So if someone in Europe, India or Asia is looking to buy a home in a specific area in the United States, Australia or in different parts of the country they have access to Internet advertising.

The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) does a great job showing real estate companies listed properties on the MLS websites. This of course is part of the worldwide advertising that is beneficial to both buyers and sellers.

Even buyers unskilled in using the computer or do not have a computer will list the services of a friend or family member to help them see homes for sale on the Internet. House hunting and the internet have become a way of life and is the clear winner when it comes to advertising in real estate.

How to Buy Real Estate Advertising Even When Money Is Tight

Trying to boost your real estate sales and profits while saving your resources can be a delicate balancing act. Between maintaining current levels of turn-around, trying to minimize loss, as well as maximizing your profitability, it may seem counter intuitive to begin considering pouring resources into a new strategy. Real estate advertising may look like a gamble when things have stagnated, but great amazing marketing and the knowledge of professional business consultants can be just the boost you need to revitalize your real estate business. Here are some tips on how to buy real estate advertising even when money is tight.

1. Know your marketing needs.

When you are shopping around for the perfect consulting firm to help you with your advertising it is important to know what your needs are. The more specific you can be with the needs of your business, the more fine-tuned the proposals and solutions will be during your consultations. Once you have some great strategic marketing proposals to consider, you can begin looking honestly at your particular needs and assess the potential in each accurately. Knowledge is power, and the power to differentiate from useful information and rubbish will save you money in the end.

2. Go with consultants who have great insight.

Are the marketing proposals you are being pitched boring? Do they seem outdated? Make sure your real estate advertising is targeted to your clients and is innovative, cutting-edge, and overall nothing short of brilliant. You want to be wowed by the insight and expertise of the professionals you are paying to bring your marketing and brand up to date with the current climate of your target clients. In some instances this requires completely fresh perspectives and total overhaul. More often than not, it requires experience and wisdom in executing marketing campaigns with minor tweaks in your overall message.

3. Make sure you brand is fine tuned.

You should be seeing opportunities to tweak every aspect of your advertising from messaging to branding. Your brand is the root of all your business value. Even in real estate, a simple and easy to recognize brand can convey the essence of what it is exactly you are selling them. For example, are you offering a particular style of housing? Luxury, family homes, etc., or are you offering a way of life such as retirement homes or easy living. Having a strong brand adds value and increases your profitability while conveying the deeper meaning and worth of your unique niche. Find professionals who can hone in on your uniqueness and fine tune your brand.

4. Use data and analytics

Advertising can be a very cerebral field of work. Thinking about every nuance of your business needs and trying to market to the perfect client base can become mind numbing without a proper grip on perspective. Using data and analytics to check and assess the level of success of your advertising campaign is a great way to get an accurate feel for what is working and what is not saving you money. End unsuccessful tactics immediately and move onto other ideas by looking objectively at data and analytics provided by your advertising agency.