Ding! Dong! The Newspaper Ad is Dead!

Education & Training with --

Everyone stand up and CHEER!

In an industry marked by "we've always done it that way" insanity - not to mention dozens of people on Active Rain telling me recently that their calendar and magnet mailings still paid off - there is HOPE for the future!

I'd like to award my first WELCOME TO THE FUTURE AWARD (I just made that up) to Shorewest Realtors of Winsconsin!

First, some disclaimers: I have never worked for their company (yet!!) and I received a copy of their ad from a friend at Coldwell Banker United in North Carolina (which means top competing companies are keeping an eye on each other nationwide). But no matter - as a member of the slowest evolving business industry in the history of mankind - you should all be just as excited as I am to see it.

I wonder if this is what it felt like when the first caveman stood up on two legs?

Other than discovering life on Mars, this copy of the "last" newspaper ad for open houses from Shorewest Realtors is clear evidence that the wheel wasn't just an accident and we can learn from our mistakes.

Unfortunately, for some readers, this news may come too late to be of any help; continued weekly research in my local newspaper indicates that there are many more brokerage-strategy-cul-de-sacs yet to fall off the Fittest Grapevine.

I wonder what Shorewest Realty is going to do with all of the MONEY it is about to save? I can think of a few suggestions:

1. Hire me to do a seminar for their agents on even MORE ways to use technology and innovative sales techniques to sell homes.

2. Buy every one of their agents a Blackberry so they can get all of the buyer inquiries from the online traffic they are about to generate for their listings.

3. Hire a professional photographer to take 20 photos of every one of their listings to increase the "pull" of their online open house advertising (and get some of those agents' elbows out of the bathroom mirror shots...) Oh, and film a real video of the home, too!

4. Hire their next three recruits on salaries and demonstrate how the profit-margin of future brokerages will work for everyone.

5. Hire me to do a seminar for their agents.... Oh, did I say that already?? Grin!

Whatever they do with the money - heck, throw one hell of a "We have arrived in the future!" party - this ad just makes my day! This is the right step for any brokerage, in so many ways: Cutting costs, marketing effectiveness, taking control of the marketing plan away from sellers, tapping into the Gen X/Y purchase preferences, and so many more ways this action represents the right approach for the future.

I'm sure Shorewest isn't the only one out there doing this, but I have to admit I admire their bold approach: Running a big, black-and-white ad highlighting the stark contrast between the old and new business models of the next generation of real estate. Taking a stand on a full page; raising the bar on the competition; and setting the standards of performance for marketing in their area.

I only wish I could have seen the face of the advertising manager at the newspaper when they submitted the copy. It would have been priceless!

As you can see - it's going to be a great 2009 in Wisconsin real estate!


Kent Anderson
Coldwell Banker Resort Realty, Sandpoint, Idaho - Sandpoint, ID
from Schweitzer to the Lake
Your post is classic! I love the Shorewest ad. I do advertise in the local paper and get mixed results. The exposure is actually pretty good if you're looking for a market identity. If you're looking to sell a listing, it is almost worthless. I'm not sure that the tech-savvy buyer is spending a lot of time visiting individual realtors websites on a regular basis, however. I think the local real estate magazines are the best use of your advertising dollar right now. ...I still love that ad, though.
Dec 30, 2008 03:04 PM
Matthew Ferrara
-- - Boston, MA
Matthew Ferrara & Company

Kent - PR/company presence in the newspaper is fine - and it's cheap, because you don't need dozens of little 1-inch ad spaces; so I'd agree there - steady corporate marketing in print is a good strategy. Open House/classifieds are just silly, thought. Look at the NAR Reseach - if you think newsprint is bad for helping a buyer find the home they'll purchase, it turns out that the local real estate magazine is EVEN WORSE! Get the NAR Survey of Home Buyers and Sellers - you'll be surprised!

Dec 30, 2008 03:19 PM
Kristi DeFazio
RE/MAX Advantage - Colorado Springs, CO
Colorado Springs Rea lEstate 719-459-5468

Our newspaper is ridiculously expensive! You can do so much more and reach so many more online or even with mailouts for the price of an ad. However, I do find the older crowd still likes the paper!

Dec 31, 2008 01:17 PM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
850-476-4494 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

I kicked the habit two years ago, haven't regretted it one bit. I am amazed though because obviously people still read the darn things and for what?

Dec 31, 2008 01:38 PM
Peggy Wester
Realty Executives Integrity - Grafton, WI
Real Estate Agent Ozaukee & Washington County

Hi, Matt--I am a proud sales agent at Shorewest Realtors. This announcement was made to the sales staff a couple of months ago, and I think overall the agents were happy the company decided to take this step. I have to admit I was a bit nervous about my sellers' reactions upon hearing their open houses would no longer be advertised in the Sunday paper, but all just shrugged their shoulders and said they didn't think the paper did any good anyway. After hearing the amount of money the company was spending on print advertising, it was obviously a positive step management decided to take. Thank you for your great post. Was a really nice thing to read this first day of the new year -- which will be the best year ever! :) 

Jan 01, 2009 04:15 AM
Joddie Roberts
Mountain Real Estate and Property Management - Spokane, WA
Your Spokane Realtor - Spokane, WA

So right on!  I'm hoping the Brokers/Owners figure this one out for my office, although they've been educated many a time!

Jan 01, 2009 04:16 AM
. .
Adak, AK

Hi Matt, I didn't purchase the NAR Survey of Home Buyers and Sellers, but I read a summary on MarketWatch November 08:

"When asked where they first learned about the home purchased, 34 percent of buyers said a real estate agent; 32 percent the Internet; 15 percent from yard signs; 7 percent from a friend, neighbor or relative; 7 percent home builders; 3 percent a print or newspaper ad; 2 percent directly from the seller; and 1 percent a home book or magazine."

You are right, I was surprised, thanks! I'll share this with a new home builder who has been spending his own money on home magazine ads. I'm competing for his business and my proposed campaign is very Internet focused.

Kent Davis

Jan 01, 2009 05:58 AM
Rick Glogowski
Keller Williams Buffalo Northtowns - Buffalo, NY
Committed to Your Real Estate Needs

In WNY we are 5 years behind the country so print adds are still read. many of my sellers continue to ask when I will advertize in the paper. They are correct to some buyers in this area. We are coming from behind.

Jan 01, 2009 10:15 AM
Robert Machado
HomePointe Property Management, CRMC - Sacramento, CA
CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management

I think they stopped for  two reasons.  One, the ads were not generating traffic.  Two, sales are slow and commission income way down.  That does not mean they have extra money to hire you for a seminar, sorry.  

Jan 01, 2009 05:18 PM
Bruce & Mary Smith
Savannah Lakes Homes - McCormick, SC
REALTORS, Savannah Lakes Village McCormick SC

We have always said the newspaper ad is for the client to see his home advertised, not for the buyer!  We haven't advertised there in years!  The ads just did not work!

Jan 02, 2009 12:52 AM
Judy Cicalese
William Raveis Real Estate - New Canaan, CT
Market Knowledge-Social Media Savvy 203-638-7812

Our company web site is truly great and we have a huge market share in all the towns we service here in CT.  We have usually a half page section every Sunday listing ONLY the open houses to be held (text only).  Our web site name in large print as the header and each town is listed alphabetically in bold print.  Each open house is listed under the town - with MLS#, street, price, agent name (that's it).  I was not a fan of it initially but even I find it very useful.  It actually shows the success of the company because there are so many listed in this space and they still have a presence every single week without the expense of color home photos.

I think it's great for the public and is very organized.  It works because most want to scan quickly for open houses that day they want to visit - it directs them to the web site where again they can search for "today's open houses", for photos, details, etc..   Also, each open house is listed by Friday of that week on the web site too - to plan your Sunday visits. They've been doing this for years and I would say it is very successful.  I ask each and every person thru the door what prompted them (signs, newspaper or the internet). 


Jan 02, 2009 04:54 AM
Phil Booker
Booker Realty - Fredericton, NB

Hi Mahtew- I have been in real eatate for 40 years. Over 2.5 years ago I have not advertised in the newspaper. The five years before this I was spending about $90,000/yr. and we would go week after week on only getting about 5 calls a week on our ads. The math just wasn't working. So we quit cold turkey! We now do everything on the net. I love it.

Jan 02, 2009 05:57 AM
Steve Hord
Cardinal Home Inspection - Panama City, FL

Good Post Matthew.... I have always believed that news paper ads don't sell houses... they just appease your sellers that you are trying to market their house!   Your refrigerator magnet comment got me laughing....I inspect between 650 to 700 houses a year and have been working since 1999.... Two times in all those years did I fond that the small little calender on the refrigerator matched the sign in the yard!  So much for loyalty

Jan 02, 2009 10:48 AM
Colleen Cooley
The Corcoran Group - Jupiter, FL
CRS - Jupiter Florida

Great Post!!!  I shifted all my marketing dollars to online marketing. Primarily I'd much rather spend time blogging than trying to meet an ad deadline!!

Jan 02, 2009 11:27 AM
Julie Staradumsky
Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore - Northfield, NJ

Thanks for your post.  Our real estate adds are down to one page on Saturday and Sunday.............everyone is using the Internet...................

Jan 02, 2009 04:36 PM
Jessie Teehee Real Estate Team
Keller Williams Realty Elite - Edmond, OK
"YOUR Real Estate Advocate"

WOW, what a response to this post. This is beginning to affirm my decision to cancel my half page ad in The Real Estate Book for this year and put those dollars to work online. Our office, Keller Williams Realty NW, Oklahoma City, is still a bit behind as we have a dinasour running our marketing committee. Being on the ALC (Associate Leadership Commitee) I'm working on getting those ads removed and moved to online marketing. Seems to be the trend and we need to get on board.

Jan 02, 2009 10:58 PM
Maria Morton
Platinum Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

On the other hand, one of the RE companies here in KC quit the Sunday open house ads in our newspaper and the general public assumed that they were in trouble. I do agree with you that technology is the way sales are going and print media is less important than it once was. However there are some Gen X & Y'ers perusing the Sunday paper still. They will still probably look on line before attending my open house. They'll mapquest, Google and/or Yahoo a map or follow their Garmin but the more times they see the house and my name, the better I like it. My website, the company site, Zillow, Trulia, Postlets, Craigslist, flyers, emails, yardsigns, emails, Just Listed, the Sunday paper --- I say use 'em all!

Jan 03, 2009 10:22 AM
Pat Tasker
Shorewest Realtors - Germantown, WI
Your Milwaukee Metro Area Agent (WI)

I too am a proud Shorewest agent.(celebrating 20 years this week:)...We are the first in many categories(market share, first to use a 24 hour hotline, a bi-lingual hotline, our own TV CHANNEL, yes I said channel (24-7) not just a tv SHOW!) and dumping the paper was the latest....we just launched our new mobile site at! 

I noticed over a year ago, that most buyers visiting open houses learned of the open from the Internet NOT the newspaper.  If our average buyer is 32 years old, they aren't reading the dead tree Journal....they are online!  So why waste money on the paper?  It is money out the window, and better spent on other things...thanks Matthew for your ideas on how to spend ityou forgot a large cash bonus on your 20th anniversary!

Following your posts, I would love to hear you address our company, just not sure of the results, I know you would get everyone thinking!

Happy New Year and new deals!

Jan 03, 2009 04:12 PM
Cindy Hartpence
Edisto Real Estate Company - Edisto Beach, SC a newbie to much of the real estate industry..this was very informative.



Jan 04, 2009 05:24 AM
Connie Wilhelm Zulu
Peak Realty Ltd., Brokerage - Saint Marys, ON

thanks for your blog my office still puts ads in the paper and we keep them small and route papers but the public are still viewing the newspaper with their morning coffee

Jan 05, 2009 02:24 AM