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 Realtor.com, 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 Realtor.com. This should
help, but there are over 4,000,000 listings on Realtor.com. Is that how the agent
is going to brand himself or win listings? Too many agents are already doing the
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
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.