An outline of the basic elements of writing effective classified advertisements for real estate agents, owners selling their own home, and realtors.
Profit-Producing Classified Ads Made Easy
Do you love writing classified ads? Are you a witty, effective, concise writer? Does your copy compel qualified buyers to call you immediately? If not, consider yourself in good company and read on for tips to make your weekly copy a profit-producing joy, rather than a struggle.
As a real estate agent, you use classified newspaper ads to reach the local market. It’s traditional, it’s expected, and… if handled properly…it’s effective. Unfortunately, exceptional classified ads are the exception and not the rule.
The following tips make your ads shine:
Capture Attention – Your competition is stiff. Make your ad stand out. An unread
ad is an expensive way to keep your phone silent.
- Use a title to introduce your ad and set the tone for your ad and the property
- Use key words that serve (new, large, beautiful, now, value, free)
- Be sure your ad runs through a Sunday when readership is highest
Target your Audience – Don’t waste their time and yours by discouraging their call.
- List the price – Don’t make them call you for a price… they probably won’t
- Give the location – Give actual address for drive-by if possible, give the neighborhood if it’s a selling point (i.e., Glendale School district), or offer another attractive feature of location if possible (i.e., near park)
- Offer a reason to call – (i.e. Perfect starter home, Room for growing families, etc.)
- Meet their needs – Write from a service perspective and use the terms “you” and “your” to describe the property (by doing so, you are helping them to emotionally and mentally “move in”)
Develop and Refine the Reader’s Interest – List what is different, unusual or attractive about the property. If it’s in the city, mention the convenience. If in the country, mention the serenity.
- Use compelling terms to encourage visualization
- Describe what stands out by listing any exceptional benefits, features, and details that differentiate the property
- Tell why the owner is selling if the reason is flattering to the property or indicates a motivated seller
Call to action – Tell them exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. Then, follow up.
- If you specify a means of contact, be sure that means works – double-check your phone number, Web address, and e-mail
- Classifieds are an impulse contact method – if they call and get no answer, they are probably not going to try again
- If your web address or e-mail won’t work, you have lost the contact If you answer your phone only during certain hours, say so and be sure your phone number has an answering machine or voice mail for after hours
- Return all calls and e-mails promptly
As an illustration, I read a local newspaper’s online classified listings and found the following (I’ve changed the names for obvious reasons):
BRAND New 3 bedroom, 2 full bath home with full basement, cent. h/a, attached 20×22 garage. See photo at www.comesellwithus.com/ 01184.htmll. Call Grace Slick, Come Sell With Us Realty, 888-123-4567. Equal Housing Oppty.
For buyers with Internet access, offering the URL is usually “value added.” In this particular case, the URL is incorrect. There is an extra space after the slash that must be removed by hand and there is a typo, which adds an extra “l” to the end of the .html file. Again, always double-check your copy.
Classified ads should make the task of finding a new home EASIER, not more frustrating. Typing in URLs is tedious, so the more you do to reduce the number of keystrokes, the better. If, however, your ad appears online and your potential buyer can’t “cut and paste” it into a browser window, you have complicated their task and lost their interest.
A more effective ad (using the corrected URL to glean more information) would say:
COUNTRY BEAUTY WITH CITY CONVENIENCE – New 3 bedroom, 2 bath home offers
central heat & air, city water, and serenity on ¾ acre in country. Extras include full walkout basement, 20×22 garage, custom cabinets, octagon trey ceiling in Master Bedroom and vaulted poplar beams in family room. $156,000 puts you in beautiful south Lanner Area. Home completed just prior to owner’s job-related relocation. Visit www.ComeSellWithUs.com and view #1184 for photos and more info. For your personal tour, call Grace Slick today: 888-123-4567.
Keep things simple. No one wants to read a novel in the classifieds section, but don’t be overly stingy with the text either. Use the words you need to make the property attractive. The point is to pique interest and get a qualified buyer to call you. Then YOU give them the information they need. When writing your classified ad, remember:
Typos reflect poorly on you, your client, and the property. It shows a lack of attention to detail. The reader will assume your service is just as sloppy. Read your ad, have someone else proof it, and then check it again. If a typo slips by you, get it remedied immediately or pull the ad. When representing yourself, your clients, and your company – poor representation is worse than no representation.
Abbreviations are frustrating. Don’t assume because you know what an abbreviation means that potential homebuyers will. Never use abbreviations for a key selling point. Abbreviating indicates lowered worth. If the feature is not worth spelling out, it shouldn’t be in your ad. Extremely common words (BR, BA, info., etc.) are acceptable. In real estate, you live by acronyms and abbreviations. Your clients don’t.
Bragging turns people off. Skip sales and/or professional accomplishments. The classified ad reader doesn’t care that you are the #1 agent in the area, how much you sold last year, or what awards you and your company have won. Save that for your website.
Classifieds are most effective as lead generators. Once you make contact, you can help the individual find the home they want, even if it is not the one that encouraged the initial response. If you don’t accomplish contact, then your time, your effort, your ad, and your money are wasted.
Doing only what you enjoy most and what you do best increases your quality of life and improves your revenue. Most real estate professionals are not exactly what you would call “gifted writers.” Yet, by doing their own ad copy, they end up “paying” potentially many times what a professional would charge because of the time it takes and lost sales due to poorly written copy.
Unless you are a really exceptional (and quick) wordsmith, I strongly recommend hiring a professional writer. What would take a talented copywriter 30 minutes may take you three or four times that long. Outsourcing your ad copy duties means you have more time to sell, and perhaps even more importantly, your ad copy will sell better for you!
© Copyright 2003 by Angela Allen Parker of Wicked Wordcraft
This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of “Word Magic”, appearing in the www.epowernews.com newsletter.