Not long ago, a client requested that I run a print ad on a listing that had not yet sold. I was resistant at first because of the disappointing results my print advertising had garnered since 2005 or so, but the seller really believed it would work. My client believed that there was a demographic out there that flew under the radar of my considerable online-based marketing, and based on that theory, I contacted the paper.
I have to say: I write a pretty good ad (pats self on back). I don't know if it is my English degree, learning to truncate big messages into small spaces like Twitter, blogging, or my 22 years in sales and marketing. Maybe it all factors in. At any rate, my representative at Gannett was absolutely delighted to hear from me. He asked me how business, was, how my family is, and if this was a one-time ad or if I wanted it to be for several editions. It was really nice catching up with him.
After crafting a strong advert with a URL pointing at the property link in addition to my personal mobile phone, the advertisement ran in the weekend real estate section.
And boy howdy, did I get calls. Over half a dozen inquiries.
- Inquiry Number One was a sales representative at the Pennysaver, who called on the ad posing as an interested buyer so I'd call him back. I then got a sales pitch to advertise in the Pennysaver.
- Inquiry Number Two was a sales representative at a New York tabloid, offering me a great deal in her paper.
- Inquiry Number Three was from an ethnic newspaper, promising me lots of buyers from that specific demographic if I advertise in their paper.
- Inquiry Number Four was another Pennysaver that serves the Bronx and lower Westchester. They think I'd sell a ton of homes were I to give them a shot. Their real estate section seems to shrink every time I check.
- Inquiry Number Five is a small community newspaper offering me another great deal.
- Inquiry Number Six was a supermarket picture booklet that also seems to have gotten a touch of anorexia since I last paid them $500 for no results.
- Inquiry Number Seven was a guy I met with 6 months ago who tried to sell me on advertising on supermarket shopping carts. He was curious to know if I had changed marketing philosophies.
Every call I got was about "the house" but none of the callers were actually in the market to buy a home, they were soliciting me because they harvest print ads in competing publications to find customers for their own.
Clients do voice the occasional doubt that my abandonment of print advertising is due to an unwillingness to spend money. My wife would laugh at this; she is the more frugal of the company partners, and if you knew what my overhead was you might consider me a spendthrift in my quest to generate business. The bottom line is that I'll incur almost any marketing cost if it will sell my listings. If it got results, I'd put your house on every urinal mint in every eatery in Westchester County. But it doesn't.
Every demographic that is in the market for a home, from a $10,000 mobile home in upstate New York, to the most affluent mansions in the breadbasket of Westchester County, is a demographic that searches online. Our research indicates that the biggest area of growth now searches on their phones, and that is on my short list. Even open houses in our area seem to attract more people from online information than
print ads, which I considered the last vestige of hope for print. I have not had a buyer client ask me to show them a home they found in print since opening my company in 2005.
In March 2006, when the company was less than a year old and with just one transaction in the pipeline, my wife insisted that we stop advertising in the New York Times, which had been, at one point, my secret weapon. We were one of the very first brokerages in Westchester County to syndicate listings online to outside websites, and in June we had 3 closing sides. By the end of 2006, 90% of our 30 closings occurred from June on. In 2007, I sold more single family homes than any other of the 7000+ members of the Westchester Putnam MLS. The company was not yet 2 years old and was by and large unknown. And it was due to hitching our wagon to online marketing, where the buyers look. Buyer agents submitting offers often asked who I was and where I came from. I liked that.
All real estate is local, and things might be different in other markets than Westchester and the Hudson Valley. We will continue to do what works and seek new ways of marketing our listings, and right now the business is generated online, via Internet Data Exchange (IDX) and Syndication. If you are unfamiliar with these terms and want to sell your home, we should talk.
Real Estate is changing. You have to keep up or sit unsold.