Advertising 101 (Part 3)

So now that we’ve decided on direct response advertising as the “how”, we need to next identify the “who”.  This should be self-evident, but looking at advertising from agents around the country, I can assure you it’s not.  Who is your audience?

In case you don’t know the answer to this simple question, let’s first think about the purpose of your advertising — to generate business.  If your sole purpose is to generate business, then your target audience should be the customer you want to attract.  Right?  Right.

fishingI’ve seen agents whose ads were first and foremost designed to please their brokers or their sellers.  If any business resulted, that was a bonus.  If that is your mindset, please save yourself a lot of money and heartache and just don’t advertise at all.

If you advertise, and your goal is to generate business, then think of it like fishing.  You are the fisherman.  The customers or leads are the fish.  Your ad is the bait. The tools you use to capture the customer is your fishing gear.

If you (the fisherman) are going to catch many fish (customers), you need three things:  the proper bait, the right fishing gear, and knowing how and where to fish.  Simple enough.  If you lack any part of that equation you won’t catch many fish.

Bait x Fishing Gear x Knowledge = Fish

Think about it:  You could have a 100 bait score, a 100 fishing gear score, and a 0 knowledge score and fish = 0.  Every part is critical to the success of your advertising.  It’s like the old adage, “A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.”

And that brings us back to our target audience.  Think about it:  If you were wanting to catch tuna, your bait and your tackle would be different than if you were fishing for trout, or bass, or flounder.  Fortunately, the National Association of Realtors® has done much of our work for us in this regard.

According to their most recent, 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, here is what the typical homebuyer today looks like:  The typical buyer is 42-years-old, a decrease from last year’s 45-years-old.  The 2011 median household income of buyers is $78,600. The median income is $61,800 among first time buyers and $93,100 among repeat buyers.

A full 65% of recent homebuyers are married couples—the highest share since 2001. Another 16% are single females—the lowest share since 2001.  First time homebuyers amount to 39% of recent homebuyers, a slight rise from 2011, but closer to the historical norm of 40%.

Now let’s see what they are looking for:  New home purchases continue to drag at a share of 16% of all recent home purchases. The typical home purchased was 1,900 square feet in size, built in 1992, and had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and 79% of home buyers purchased a detached single-family home.

The quality of the neighborhood, convenience to job, and overall affordability of homes are the top three factors influencing neighborhood choice, however, neighborhood choice varies considerably among household compositions.  Other important factors are heating and cooling costs, and commuting costs.

Finally let’s take a look at where the fish are biting.  For 41% of homebuyers, the first step in the home-buying process are looking online for properties, but here is the real kicker: The use of the Internet in the home search rose slightly to 90%, BUT for buyers under the age of 44 (remember the average age is now 42)  this share increased to 96%!

Whether we like it or not, this shows a fundamental and permanent change in our industry.  The fish are not responding to the old bait and they are not swimming in the old fishing spots.  If we don’t adapt to the changing market, it will be like trying to catch tuna in a pond with a small fishing pole and a jelly worm.

Finally, let’s talk about what triggers people to respond to your advertisement.  There are several basic motivators: fear, greed, status, and curiosity. Any successful advertising message will use one of those motivators.  Let me show you what I mean.

  • “Only two more of these condominiums left” – fear (of loss)

  • “Below tax value” — greed (or financial opportunity)

  • “Exclusive gated community” — status

  • Omitting critical information like price or location — curiosity

When you design your ad, the message needs to use one or more triggers to motivate the maximum number of responses.  Remember, it the bait looks bad, the fish are not going to bite.  Having one or more triggers makes your bait look really good and insures the maximum number of bites.

Of course, even the best bait won’t do you any good if you have poor fishing tackle.  When it comes to capturing online business, The Ultimate Website is just that — the ultimate website. I encourage you take a few minutes and check it out.  It comes complete with lead capture technology, a client manager, and everything you need in the way of fishing tackle.

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