Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Powerful Advertising

A look at how to turn advertising into selling
Grace illustrates how you can turn a run-of-the-mill home advertisement into an ad that sells.

The 2012 REALTORS® Conference & Expo was held in Orlando. It offered real estate professionals the chance to learn about some of the best new advice for marketing homes, getting referrals and dealing with their current markets. It also provided many networking opportunities, as well as the chance to peruse various vendors. One of the most informative and illustrative sessions at this year’s conference was “Powerful Advertising” by Ian Grace. In his talk, Grace discussed the problems of traditional advertising as well as tips and tricks to solve those problems. Many of his suggestions caused light bulbs to turn on in the attendees’ heads, as his advice was both attractive and strategic. Although he brought many strategies to the table, the intent was the same throughout: to sell homes you need to tailor your advertising to the lifestyle that home could provide, instead of focusing on the specifications of the house.

By doing so, Grace illustrates how you can turn a run-of-the-mill home advertisement into an ad that sells. To do this, however, you have to go against the grain, which may be a hard thing to convince home sellers to do. Encourage your agents to create an ad that will sell, and show their client how their homes become more inviting, exciting and ultimately, more sellable.

While Grace identified many ways to do this, three different strategies stood out as the best ways to break the mold of home advertising for your agents. He first advocated that changing the language of an ad would increase the probability of a sale. He then focused on picture choices and staging. Since the traditional, or recommended, picture of a home up for sale is a front-door shot, many buyers can find looking for homes monotonous, or they may even be turned off by a home that isn’t as attractive as they’d like from the outside. It’s also important to help buyers picture themselves living in a home, so changing the pictures to make homes seem more inviting is also important. For these reasons, the three main takeaways from Grace’s presentation were to use inviting and descriptive words to make a listing sound more livable, change the main photograph in the ad to an interior view and include people in the pictures. All of these changes will help make your agent’s listings more inviting, and thus more sellable.

Start by encouraging your real estate agents to change the language in their ads to include words that are descriptive of the lifestyle a buyer could have if they were to purchase the property. If a home has a hot tub, try to make relaxation the focus of your ad. Or, if the home that your agent is selling has a great kitchen, you can advise that he play up delicious, home-cooked family dinners, potlucks or dinner parties prospective buyers could host. Changing the language from “spacious kitchen” to words that they can see, smell, hear and taste engages the senses in ways two-dimensional ad cannot.

The same can be done for any number of qualities a home may have. You can describe the smell of honeysuckle on warm summers nights in the backyard or even the spacious bathroom that you can run laps in. Either way, adding touches that help people feel at home in a house they’ve never visited will certainly bring calls to your agent’s office.

The second bit of advice Grace offered was to change the main listing picture. Although this is unorthodox, by using the aforementioned principles when choosing a main picture that is inviting, you will draw even more prospective buyers than by simply changing the language alone. We have all seen the run-of-the-mill home ad. While we can get a good idea of what the home looks like or even the neighborhood, nothing sells a house like a tour. So skip the middleman and show an interior shot from the get go. It’s likely that your agent’s homebuyer will have a few necessaries on hand before buying a home, and you’ll attract those shoppers right away if you showcase a home’s qualities from the start. Kitchens are usually a major selling point for homes, because they are more expensive to renovate than other room and families often spend a majority of their time there, so why not showcase the kitchen? Likewise, if your agent’s advertised home has a great bathroom or is surrounded by beautiful scenery, make that the focus of the ad. There is no reason that a real estate ad has to showcase only the front of a home.

However, Grace has some advice if a seller insists upon it. If your agent simply cannot talk a seller into going against the grain, make sure your agent is mindful of the times of day and weather before snapping a picture. Make sure that the sun is facing the front of the house so the façade will not be shadowed. Also consider photographing the home on a cloudless day.

The third and final takeaway from Grace’s presentation was that adding people to your photographs could go a long way. While it is generally understood that you shouldn’t use people to advertise a home because of discrimination laws, this is in fact, not the case. As long as you do not qualify those in the picture as the only people eligible to purchase the home, discrimination laws will not apply. On the plus side, putting people in your real estate agent’s ad will help buyers get in the spirit of owning that home and help them feel like they could live there. You can show pictures of kids in the backyard playing football for family homes, or a couple sipping mojitos on the back porch for a different approach. Homebuyers can put themselves in the place of the people in the ad, which makes the advertised home more inviting and more accessible.

By helping your agents take a second look at their advertising, they may be able to add more personal and inviting touches to their sellers’ homes, making them sell faster and likely for the listed price. Homebuyers can often be overwhelmed by the never-ending list of house fronts, so changing it up and also engaging their senses and desires is a win-win-win-win: Your home seller sells their home faster, the agent collects the commissions, the buyer is happier and you helped out a client!