It's print AND the Internet

Real Estate Agent with Douglas Elliman of California Inc BRE# 01414653

It’s Print AND the Internet 

by Rob Wicker 

Chief Marketing Officer 

Homes & Land Affiliates, LLC  



You’ve probably heard this one before: “Eighty percent of homebuyers are 

online. You need to cancel your print advertising. It’s a waste of money. Go 

where the buyers are.”  


Speakers across North America are chanting this mantra. Many of these same 

speakers have a vested interest in online marketing. Now I admit to a bias: I am 

the CMO for a company that prints five million magazines per month. I do believe 

strongly that the agents who listen to the hype and cancel their print advertising 

are making a huge mistake. Online advertising definitely has a place in an 

agent’s marketing portfolio, but online advertising is not sufficiently visual, 

repetitive, or frequent enough to achieve all of a top producing agent’s career 



Let’s examine what I mean. When agents tell me that they plan to advertise 

exclusively on the Web, I ask them precisely what their plan includes. I usually 

hear a mix of Google Adwords, SEO that might yield some clicks to an agent’s 

website, listing enhancement on sites like, membership with a lead 

referral company, and maybe a blog. Now each of these options has benefits, 

and I encourage you to explore them all. However, even added together they 

don’t provide the comprehensive marketing system that a productive agent 



For example, an agent plans to buy sponsored links like “Orlando Real Estate” 

on Google. This is a valid way to spend money; however, the reality is the top 

three sponsored links on a search page get a lot of clicks, the next five spots get 

some clicks, and after the top eight spots you get zero clicks. Even in medium 

size markets there may be 2,000 agents competing for the top few slots with 

obvious keywords like “real estate,” and most agents don’t have the time or 

knowledge to go after the more obscure search terms. The bottom line is that 

there will be very few agents in your market who can succeed by only buying 

keywords, and these agents are open to immediate displacement by a higher bid 

from a competing agent. 


Perhaps an agent tells me that she is going to put more money into improving 

her personal website and then hire an “expert” to help push her site to the top of 

the search results. Once again this is a limited strategy. Almost every agent and 

broker has a website, and it is very tough to get to the top of the search results. A 

search on Google for “Orlando Real Estate” yields 1,820,000 websites. That is a 

tough ladder to climb. There are a lot of so-called experts making big promises to 

agents about what they can achieve. Most agents end up being disappointed. 

And those agents whose sites come to the top are extremely vulnerable. Google 

changes the algorithms that determine who gets to the top. If a change is made, 

the agent’s rankings may fall without warning, and then where is she? 


Some agents participate with lead referral companies. Most lead referral 

companies offer designated territories, usually by zip code. There are a limited 

number of spots available. These companies charge a referral fee on closed 

transactions or a hefty per-lead charge. In addition, the popularity of these sites 

is on the decline. Referral sites are not a bad option, but they are a limited option. 


The agent plans to pay extra to enhance his listings on This should 

help, but there are over 4,000,000 listings on Is that how the agent 

is going to brand himself or win listings? Too many agents are already doing the 

same thing. 


Once again I am not dismissing these options; I believe they all have some 

value. An important question to ask is, “What am I trying to accomplish with my 

advertising dollars and will these online options achieve my goals?” Even added 

together the online options don’t provide the comprehensive marketing plan that 

productive agents need. Consider how print advertising can anchor a marketing 



Lead Generation: Print advertising produces phone calls and email leads from 

readers (and I like to point out that agents are more likely to get an actual phone 

call from a magazine—which is a higher quality lead). Homes & Land also 

generates leads from magazines sent directly to consumers actively buying and 

selling. We offer direct mail programs where agents can mail magazines to their 

target markets. Leads are also generated when relocating buyers request a 

magazine from our 800 number. In addition, magazines are enjoyed by affluent 

Baby Boomers and retirees, people who can qualify for homes even when credit 

is tight. 


Satisfying sellers: Home sellers get anxious when they don’t see any activity. 

Advertising their home in a quality magazine is evidence that the agent is doing 

everything possible to market that home.  


Winning listings: In a down market agents need more listings than ever 

because fewer listings will actually close. Advertising in a quality magazine 

differentiates you from other agents competing for the listing. 

Justifying a commission: When home prices decline, home sellers ask agents 

to cut their commission percentage. This is a way for the home seller to make up 

the lower sales price. A full service marketing plan that includes quality print 

advertising justifies a full commission from the sellers (and an additional 

percentage point in the commission can more than pay for multiple print ads). 


Reaching past clients: Advertising in print is an effective way for an agent to 

reach past clients. Print advertising shows past clients that an agent is still active 

and understands the demands of today’s marketplace. This results in the client 

referring friends and family to the advertising agent. 


Market share: Maybe an agent will not reach last year’s production goals. 

However, in slow times agents can still gain market share from the competition. 

Cutting back on print advertising may save money in the short run, but it may 

also cost the agent market share in the long run. 

Branding: Many agents have worked hard to establish a personal brand. Why 

would you cancel your print advertising and interrupt the brand you have already 

established? And many of your competitors are cutting back and minimizing their 

presence. Now is the best time ever to stand tall and project confidence. 

Promoting recent successes, such as the number of homes sold this year, is a 

great way for you to project a positive brand in a tough market. Print advertising 

does this very well.  


In addition, according to BIGResearch, magazines are the number one way to 

drive traffic to a website—and this is across all age groups. The last point 

illustrates an important truth: Print and Internet advertising each have unique 

advantages. When you integrate a print campaign and an online campaign, you 

are more likely to engage consumers earlier in the home buying and selling 

cycle, with a much greater likelihood that they’ll contact you. The right choice is 

not print or the Internet, it’s print and the Internet.


That’s what you get with 

Homes & Land. 


This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
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Michael A. Caruso
Surterre Properties - Laguna Niguel, CA

I struggle with this topic...thinking it's more Internet.

Oct 27, 2008 06:03 AM #1
Evelyn Panning
Property Connections Realty Inc. - Alturas, CA

Well, your company took itself off my list of advertising media by REQUIRING MACINTOSH format for all ads, etc.  Well -- I -- as many of your potential advertisers, are on PC based systems.  So, guess what, your company has automatically limited it's own client base.  But it certainly save me plenty of money -- I focus on internet advertising instead. ~ Evelyn

Oct 27, 2008 06:28 AM #2
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