How To Market Yourself In a "Behind The Times" Town

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

When I got this email I had to look twice to make sure the lady wasn't writing from my own home town... because we're always ten or fifteen years behind times.

Here's what she asked...

Dear Marte,

I’m a real estate sales person in a small town that hasn’t caught up to the current century. Instead of searching the Internet for homes and agents, residents still read the local weekly newspaper and call on the phone or just walk into our offices.

I get a few leads from my website, but they are from out of town buyers.

I mail a quarterly newsletter to past clients and my sphere of influence, and I get a few referrals from those sources. But I want to reach the people in my town who don’t already know me.

Every agent in town runs ads in the weekly newspaper, and I’m afraid to stop doing that for fear everyone will think I’ve quit. But I don’t really feel like the ads are doing much good. It seems like we’re all just “there” saying the same things.

What can I do with these ads to make them stand out from the others and get prospects to pick up the phone?

Here’s what I told her…

As long as you feel that you need to advertise in the local newspaper, change the content of your ads.

Instead of placing the same old ads that say “I’m a Realtor, hire me,” place a short article about something of importance to your market. For instance, write about getting ready for your first meeting with a lender. Taking the right paperwork along on the first visit will save your customers time, so your article will be seen as valuable.

If you try, I’ll bet you can think of dozens of short topics that would give real information to the newspaper’s readers.

An article in place of a block ad is better for two reasons:

  • It positions you as an expert
  • It will have a larger readership.

Think about your own habits - don’t you usually read articles and skip ads? And don’t you assume that people writing articles know something you might not know? Most people do.

Of course, don't forget to allow space for your name and contact information at the bottom! And if there's room, include a small photo. Make it a good one, so people who see you around town will recognize you from it.

A bonus benefit to placing short articles is that before long your local newspaper might decide to publish your articles for free if you promise to submit something every week, or every other week. Becoming a recognized “real estate columnist” will reinforce your expert status in the eyes of the readers.

Talk about a win-win situation!

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  1. Jon Quist 01/30/2011 05:23 AM
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Rainmaker
1,543,360
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kimnberly and Juli - When I said that I wasn't thinking of blogging - but it really is the same thing, just in print.

Barbara - Yes, short bullets would work too. Anything to keep her ad from looking just like all the others.

 

Jan 30, 2011 07:29 AM #52
Rainmaker
67,119
Brenda, Ron, Lee Cunningham & Tara Keator
West USA Realty - Phoenix, AZ
Realtors, Homes for Sale - Phoenix Metro

Thanks for sharing, that is great advice!

Jan 30, 2011 07:52 AM #53
Rainmaker
687,450
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

This was great advice, Marte. If this agent takes you advice she will stand out in no time.

Jan 30, 2011 09:41 AM #54
Rainmaker
1,543,360
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Michelle - Yes, that's a great way to get at least some of the newspaper readers converted over to a place where you can market to them consistently - without spending a lot of money. I'm a big believer in drip marketing.

I actually wrote a short e-book on this subject - geared toward small town retail businesses as well as real estate and other service businesses. If you have a retail store-front it could be even easier - with a free drawing and incentives to bring friends to shop.

The e-book came about as a result of trying to help a friend rescue a failing quick stop. Wish I could tell you how well it worked, but since she didn't try any of the ideas I suggested...

Brenda & Ron - Thanks!

Jan 30, 2011 09:53 AM #55
Rainmaker
1,543,360
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Cynthia - I hope she does... and that she reads all these comments for even more good advice.

The best thing an agent can do for themselves is to come here and read all the good advice that agents share. And yes... I do tell that to everyone who asks me how to improve their business.

Jan 30, 2011 01:16 PM #56
Rainmaker
524,356
Kathryn Acciari
Century 21 Real Estate - Shrewsbury, MA
Brand Ambassador and Business Coach

A great twist on traditional marketing/advertising.  Hopefully she is also networking and meeting people face-to-face.

Jan 30, 2011 01:44 PM #57
Rainmaker
283,971
Dave Woodson
Dave Woodson - Chesterton, IN
Not the Average Agent

great advice, but I would have told her to rewrite those articles and put them online. so, when the backwater town catches up, she is there or an out of town comes calling she is online.

 

Dave

Jan 30, 2011 02:00 PM #58
Rainmaker
1,543,360
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kathryn - Yes, I think she is.

Dave - She is on line, just not getting much home town action from it. Putting all the articles on line is a good idea too. I'm going to tell her to read all these comments, because there are good ideas here.

Jan 30, 2011 05:47 PM #59
Rainmaker
226,833
Liane Thomas -Top Listing Agent
BROKER Allison James Estates & Homes BRE 01885684 - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

what a great idea! Thank you for the tip. You are right, I just skip the ads.

Jan 31, 2011 03:21 AM #60
Rainmaker
378,211
M.C. Dwyer
Century 21 Showcase REALTORs - Felton, CA
Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

great advice all around: your post and everyone's comments.    my take-away was 

"include a small photo. Make it a good one, so people who see you around town will recognize you..."

my picture is 6 years old now...probably time to get a new photo that reflects weathering a challenging market.

;)

Jan 31, 2011 03:50 AM #61
Rainmaker
1,543,360
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Liane - Yes, unless we're looking for something - or can't find another thing to read with lunch, most of us do.

M.C. -I'll bet you haven't changed THAT much. But some people change hair styles, hair color, etc. And some use those "glamour photos" that don't look anything like what they look like when they're working.

Jan 31, 2011 04:46 AM #62
Rainer
28,965
Sharon Sein
Sein Organizing Solutions & Home Staging - Feasterville Trevose, PA

Marte, that's excellent advice for any professional looking for an edge.

Jan 31, 2011 06:41 AM #63
Rainmaker
1,431,210
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I think that is wise advise.  Each market is different and that means how you use the interent is different for each market.

Jan 31, 2011 09:31 AM #64
Rainmaker
1,543,360
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Sharon - Thanks. It is all about standing out from the crowd.

Gene - Right - one size doesn't fit all.

Jan 31, 2011 10:11 AM #65
Rainer
16,767
Christie Moore
ERA First Advantage Realty, Homes and Real Estate - Henderson, KY
Your Real Estate Lady,ERA First Henderson

Great advice.  I feel that blogging and reading blogs helps me keep up to date and no matter what market you in that is good for your buyers and sellers.

Jan 31, 2011 11:19 AM #66
Rainmaker
1,543,360
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Christie - I couldn't agree with you more. Even in my work - copywriting for real estate - reading the blogs and the comments helps me keep up to date with what's going on.

Every time a new agent - or an agent who isn't doing well - asks "What can I do?" one of the first things I tell them is to get here and take advantage of all the free education. This is totally different from taking classes... this is real agents discussing real life situations.

Jan 31, 2011 01:46 PM #67
Rainmaker
212,987
Sandy McAlpine
RE/MAX EXECUTIVE - Cornelius, NC
Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC

Great blogging ideas. I think it's fantastic that you gave that advice to someone. We all need to help each other.

Feb 02, 2011 12:19 AM #68
Rainmaker
1,560,731
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

WOW -- people still place real estate ads in the local newspaper, amazing!  A simple place.  And great advice . . . we kinda do that here, don't we ;-)  Nice that you gave her advice.  Hope she hires you to do the content writing for her!!

Feb 03, 2011 06:38 PM #69
Rainmaker
1,543,360
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Sandy - Helping each other is one of those feel good things that makes life worthwhile.

Carla - You never know. Later, perhaps. A lot of the people who ask me for advice are at the end of their rope, wondering how to tie a knot and hang on. They couldn't hire me or anyone else.

Feb 04, 2011 06:32 PM #70
Rainmaker
186,422
Kathy Smiley
Rodeo Realty ~ Fine Estates Westlake Village - Westlake Village, CA
Westlake Village, CA - "Making YOU Smile!"

Advertising in print ads is like throwing money down the rabbit hole - and then not even being able to jump in! I still do it once in awhile - when we get a "package deal" at Prudential, but I can't quite justify the expense for a medium that is not working. Interesting note, however, some of the print-ad publications are hooking up with online (google, etc) and the expense may be justified, IF you can handle lots of looky-loo calls.. 

Feb 06, 2011 05:46 PM #71
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