Posted by Alex Gurevich, TX on February 26, 1999 at 14:15:50:
The general answer is all of the above. The more lines in the water the more the chances are you’ll have some bites. But unfortunately, the general answer won’t get you ahead. There’s much more to advertising.
Here are some factors that will affect the outcome of your campaign:
How good of a headline/grabber/message,or hook you have. My experience is if you are not in a competetive situation, the shorter the better. If you are competing with similar ads, you have to test and figure out how to make them call you FIRST. (People try: call me first, best price, honest, fast response, etc.)
What audience are your trying to reach ? Specific or general ? Translates into your selection of media and where you place the ad ?(in the paper there may be 20 different sections you could consider: perhaps, legal services, divorces - targeted to distressed owners, or garage sales - people are moving, or TV guide - large general readership). If you are looking for cheapy junkers you may stick to an ad in a free shopper. If you are targeting high end homes you’ll need a different way of getting to the owners. Wanted ad in a major newspaper could be such, or a targetetd direct mail campaign.
Is your message visiually appealing, readable, and understandable ? I see a lot of ads and signs where one has to expand a considerable effort to read the message (too small, blurry, etc., or the the message is so cute, one can’t even get to the point.)
What kind of budget do you have for advertising ? There’s no point of talking about radio or billboards unless your monthly ad budget is in the thousands. If you have $200-300 bucks/mo. to spend I would consider to do something where I am not surrounded by other ads of the same nature. Seek to be a monopoly, where the caller does not know that there are other folks buying homes like you do - seller perceives you are the only and best opiton (somehow, that’s my favorite positition to be in).
One the top of that, all the different medias got to be tested. And, unfortunately, it takes usually some commitment in terms of time and money. Running an ad in a small paper for a month or even 3 months, or throwing out a bunch of signs, or doing a big mail-out may not produce, while they ARE all a good media to deliver your message. The cost of 2-3 good size yearly ads in free publication may be about $1000-1200, but 1 half-decent deal a year generated through it will put at least $8-10K in your pocket (I made as much as 25K on some). On the other hand a daily tiny 2 line classified ad in the “real estate wanted” where you are surrounded by 10 other guys like you in a major metro area paper will cost about $2,800-3,000 a year. If you are running an ad like that you have to be really accessable, responsive and good at converting prospects, or your competition will slaughter you. But there’s money to be made there too. I’m buying a home from an ad like that this week.
You can mail about a 1000/mo colored postcards at a cost of $400 or so, not counting cost of addressing them. Again, it’s got to hit your prospect multiple times, preferebly at least 3 or more. I bought some homes where owners responded to the 4th, or 5th letter/card.
You can have about 250 signs prepared and assembled for about $875-$1000 (does not include actually putting them out). This is A LOT of signs, you can hit all main intersections of your entire city. They tend to have a very short life span - city picks them up, but they are effective in the low- to mid-range priced areas. For an apparent reason, the signs that stay the longest are the best if you can find a way to keep them up. The cost is usually not a factor, rather the routine of installation at the right locations over and over again. I made some excellent buys from a relatively small amount of signs I put out.
I can’t make any comments on billboards, (except that it’s sort of expensive) as I am just starting one in March. I don’t think I’ll have enough information as far as its performance until after I’ve had it for at least 6-9 months or more.
Of course, there are always free ways to find the deals, like you mentioned: newspaper ads for sale, using realtors/MLS, FSBOs, driving around neighborhoods, word of mouth, referrals, lawyers, CPAs, etc.