Despite the warm weather and working out of my home office, I still managed to catch a nasty case of stomach flu last week which delayed my blog about real estate and communication. I’m back on my feet, sort of, this week, and ready to tackle the world . . . or at least this blog.
Through the yearsI’ve worked in various industries doing marketing and commercial writing, and there’s one thing they all have in common: the need for clear communication, free of errors and appropriate for the venue. Over the next few blogs I want to discuss this topic, and please feel free to add your comments.
One way to look at advertising and marketing is to compare it to a job search, and in reality, it is very much that. Imagine your potential clients as possible employers. How would you act? How would you communicate?
In any industry there are several aspects of advertising that can’t be ignored: brevity and accuracy. As real estate professionals, you all know the obvious reasons of price and attention span, but the trick is to make the ad appealing and informative. Real estate agents run into a problem that most advertisers don’t have and that’s the need to get a lot of information repeatedly into that small space. So treat that advertisement as a cover letter.
The idea of a cover letter in a job search is to entice the potential employer to look at your resume and to make the call for an interview. Your goal is to make it easy and persuasive for the client to proceed to the next step. The tricky part is that you have to get this across in a much smaller space than a cover letter.
Even with these problems, resist overusing abbreviations. Most people know the basics (2/2, wbfp, gar), but filling your ad with and overload of obscure abbreviations makes the readers head swim—or worse, makes jokes. When my husband and I were looking for a house, we picked up a few more abbreviation, and we were pretty proud to know what a frog was, thanks to HGTV. But there were more than a few ads that had us scratching our heads. The moral of this story is to pick your details carefully. If you can’t fit all the wonderful things about the property in the ad, pick three to five that really make the house shine. After all, this is hopefully just the first connection you’ll have with the potential buyer.
Clarity is the most important aspect of a cover letter and the same for an ad. Sentences should be short and to the point, and use personable language. Make the audience a part of a conversation. Don’t be afraid to use contractions and personal pronouns. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer and avoid industry jargon, and if all else fails, have a non-real estate professional take a look at it and get feedback.
Lastly, don’t forget to proofread! We have all made mistakes and typos, and it’s easy to shrug them off as human nature. I once knew a contractor whose website was riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, and he wasn’t concerned because he was convinced that his clientele really didn’t care. That’s a big assumption. Even if his clientele wasn’t “grading” his language abilities, it surely inspired doubt to his attention to detail that might spill over into his work. You would want a flawless cover letter to make the best impression, and your ads should be flawless too. And sometimes the mistakes are just plain funny, and if humor isn’t your goal, then you’re not going to be taken seriously. Take a look at some of the ads that must make the writer cringe (warning—some of these are not family friendly!): http://photos.ellen.warnerbros.com/galleries/funny_real_estate_ads
I often wonder how many clients the contractor lost from sloppy advertising and communication. In bleaker moments, I think that I’m possibly too fussy, but then I remember a job I once had. While working as human resource’s media manager for a large amusement park, I was also in charge of the wildly popular internship program. Often, I would get hundreds of resumes and cover letters for one position. My first step was to cull out the obvious, and I would scan the cover letters. If I saw one mistake, I would chuck the resume and cover letter in the shredder. Why should I hire someone who didn’t care or want to take the time to proofread when the next person took pride in his or her qualities and work? Your potential clients could be thinking the same thing.
Visit my website at http://crtwriting.com and follow me on Facebook to get this month's deal: https://www.facebook.com/pages/CRT-Commercial-Media/119826638097240
Sources: http://www.real-estate-marketing-link.info/writing_real_estate_ads.html http://mikeandrewrealestate.com/1377/the-top-ten-tips-for-writing-great-real-estate-ads/
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