Real estate leads. Whether they’re sellers or buyers, the success of your business depends on your your ability to generate consistent leads through advertising and convert those leads to clients.
Do it well and you’ll reap the rewards. Do it poorly and you’ll be looking for a new career.
Depending on who you ask, and believe, the average American is exposed to roughly 5,000 ads per day.
That’s a lot.
So many, in fact, that we tend to ignore most of them.
So, how will your ads stand out from the clutter and get the attention of your target audience?
Let’s dive in and find out.
Start with the end in mind
Before you start with the creative part of your ad, the images and catchy headline, take a moment and think.
What action do you want the reader to take?
What benefits will they need to see before taking the desired action?
What proof will they want that taking the desired action will bring the results they’re looking for?
A little pre-planning will ensure that your ad resonates with your audience and produces the real estate leads you need to prosper.
I see too many people who get tangled up with how to run Facebook ads before they give much thought to their message.
And while Facebook is a wonderful thing, like all “digital marketing”, it does a great job of getting your message out to the public.
The problem is, it will get a bad message out just as efficiently as it will get a great message out.
So take some time to think about what it is you want to communicate.
Write a compelling headline
Other than the graphics you choose, the headline of your ad is the most important component of your ad.
It’s the one chance you have to capture the attention of your reader and get them engaged with your ad.
I would encourage you to spend a lot more time on your headline than any other part of your ad.
Here’s why. . .
Your headline must stop the reader in their tracks and be so compelling that they must find out what you’re offering.
Most readers will determine whether they continue to read your ad based on the headline alone.
Your headline must reach them on a very emotional level and let them know how you are the solution to their problems.
That’s a lot of responsibility to heap on just a few words, but fortunately there are some proven formulas for writing great headlines.
- The How-To headline: Everyone loves a how-to headline. How to lose 10 pounds before your high school reunion. How to win friends and influence people. The list goes on and on.To write a how-to headline, simply start with how to and then add a solution that your reader would love to have. For example, “How to sell your home faster and for more money” or “How to get your home ready to sell without spending a lot of money”.
- Ask a Question: This headline asks a question where the answer is the obvious solution that the reader wants, such as, “Do you want to get your home sold?” or “Are you tired of real estate agents who can’t get your home sold?” for expired listings.To write a question headline, simply put yourself into the shoes of your reader. What solution do they want? What challenges do they have?Then frame the solution, or challenge, as a question.
- The Social Proof headline: This is an effective headline because it can be used to show results as well as the volume of results. For example, suppose you are writing an ad to generate seller leads. You might create a headline that states, “Over 400 Shady Grove homeowners have achieved market-beating results using our proven approach to selling homes.”This communicates several things; first, that you have closed over 400 successful sales. Second, that you work with homeowners in Shady Grove and last, that you have a proven approach to selling homes that results in market-beating results.I’d certainly want to know how you accomplished those results!
There are dozens of other proven headline formulas that you can use. The free cheat sheet lists 40 of the most popular and how to use them.
Once you have created your headline, I recommend using a headline analyzer to see how it scores.
Since learning about these tools, I have learned a lot about writing better headlines and how changing just one word can make a big difference in the impact of your headline.
As an example, I helped an agent redesign their postcard campaign after they had miserable results from the original design.
The headline they used is shown below, along with the score from the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. Keep in mind that people make decisions based on emotion, so crafting a headline that appeals to their emotions is key to getting their attention.
As you can see, it didn’t score too well.
Here is the revised headline;
To attract real estate leads, your ad also needs to have a strong value proposition.
This is not necessarily the same as the unique value proposition that you have as an agent – the one that sets you apart from the competition.
Instead, the value proposition of your ad lets the reader know, very clearly, how they benefit from taking the desired action you want them to take.
To the extent that you can ultimately tie the value proposition of your ads to your value proposition as an agent, your ads can be incredibly effective.
As an example, when I was an agent, my value proposition was “You’ll achieve market-beating results when selling your Northwest Buckhead home, or I’ll sell it for free.”
This was based on research that indicated that my target audience was concerned first, and foremost, about achieving results.
As I was advertising a monthly market report to build my email list and generate leads, I didn’t promote my value proposition of delivering superior results – that would come later.
The value proposition for my direct mail campaign was “Stay on top of the market in only 4 minutes per month.”
I had to get homeowners to understand the value, and benefit, of signing up for monthly market reports.
Once I had them signed up, I could present my next opportunity – understanding how they could prepare for a successful sale. That was also the title of my pre-listing presentation, Preparing for a Successful Home Sale.
See how this is structured?
I’m running an ad offering homeowners a monthly market report with the value proposition that they can stay on top of the market in only 4 minutes per month.
Once I have them thinking about the market, I can use another ad that promises to show them how they can achieve market-beating results by getting a copy of a free guide – which is really my pre-listing presentation!
This is where my value proposition of “you’ll achieve market-beating results when selling your Northwest Buckhead home, or I’ll sell it for free” comes into play.
They’re more aware of the market.
They are now thinking about selling.
They want to know how they can achieve superior results.
They request a copy of my free guide – my pre-listing presentation.
That, and my value proposition, does the rest.
The next step in creating your ad is to make an irresistible offer.
Whatever your compelling offer is, be sure that it is communicated very clearly – to the point the reader can understand it in a matter of a few seconds.
Your offer also has to be something that the homeowner see’s as a “no-brainer”, something where the benefits far outweigh any effort on their part.
For example, if you are targeting expired listings, you might use your ad to communicate that you have sold over 100 expired listings and that you are willing to come by and give them your opinion of what it will take to get their home sold – whether they use you or not.
For a frustrated homeowner, finding out what you know from having helped over 100 people successfully sell their home, where other agents have failed, is too good to pass up.
Especially if there’s no pressure or obligation for them to hire you.
Talk about how they benefit
Your ad must also let the reader know how they benefit from taking the desired action.
This is the classic, “What’s-In-It-For-Me” or WIIFM.
People aren’t really all that interested in you – or your marketing.
I know. That hurts.
But its the truth.
They are interested in themselves. And they’ll only be interested in your ads to the point that they see how you are offering something that they will benefit from.
An example of this is make-up.
Women aren’t interested in the make-up itself.
They are interested in how it will make them look – beautiful, radiant, youthful.
There’s an old saying in advertising that goes, “Tell me quick and tell me true, or else my friend to hell with you. Don’t tell me how your product came to be, but what the damn thing does for me.”
People simply want to know, very quickly, what you are offering and how it can help them. To be truly effective, the benefits you are offering must reflect the unique wants and needs of your target audience.
If you aren’t sure what your target audience wants, I’ve written another article that can help you.
Remove the obstacles
To maximize the conversions from your ads, you must reduce, or remove, the obstacles for the reader to take the desired action.
Asking them to take too many steps, such as sending them to a lengthy form, can ruin your conversion rate.
Requiring them to pick up the phone and call you will cause some readers to drop through the cracks when sending them to a simple landing page could get them the same information.
On the postcards I sent to my niche market, I made sure to let them know that they could sign up in less than 30 seconds.
Eliminate their fears
People are often leery of signing up for anything – especially when it involves sharing their contact information, such as their email address.
Let them know that you will keep their email safe, you will not spam them and that they can unsubscribe at any time.
One way to eliminate their fears is to provide social proof.
According to marketing psychology expert, Robert Cialdini, people assume that because others have taken a particular action that not only is it safe, but it is actually desirable.
You can infuse social proof in your ads in two ways;
- First, by simply using a testimonial from a previous client
- Or by using text that communicates that others have taken the desired action, such as “Over 400 Shady Grove homeowners have signed up. . .”
Link your message
One way to create memorable ads is to link your message to a particular character.
Allstate did this very successfully with their “Mayhem” ad campaign featuring actor Dean Winters.
Competing with Progressive Insurance’s “Flo” character and Geico’s gecko, Allstate needed a way to stand out – and the “Mayhem” guy filled the bill.
Using a memorable character to tell your brand story can be an effective strategy.
Too many real estate agent ads are all about the agent.
And unless you’re pretty distinct, you aren’t likely to be very memorable.
In my direct mail campaign, I used an image of a nerdy looking kid in front of a chalkboard full of complicated math formulas.
I called him Poindexter.
He became the symbol for my business – the kid who had the insight, who had figured out what others hadn’t and how to make it work for homeowners who wanted to sell and get great results.
And it worked.
Use attention-grabbing graphics
As I stated earlier in this article, your headline and graphics will be what gets the attention of your reader.
Facebook guru, Amy Porterfield, taught me something that I think is an excellent rule of thumb for selecting graphics.
When you are marketing to people who already know you, use your picture in the ad.
When you are marketing to people who don’t know you, use a graphic that either reflects your target audience or is simply colorful and eye-catching.
Whatever you choose, its worth testing it before you spend a lot of money sending it out to your market.
I recommend using the 5-Second Test from Usability Hub.
This is a simple test that allows you to show people your ad design and get their feedback by asking a series of questions.
You upload a copy of your ad and let reviewers know that, after 5 seconds, there will be a few questions.
5 seconds has been proven to be the amount of time most people will look at an ad before deciding to throw it away or keep reading.
Once the reviewers have seen the ad, you can ask any question you’d like, such as;
- What was the ad about?
- What was the benefit to taking the requested action?
- How do I take the desired action – go to a web site? Call?
The last element of your ad is your call-to-action.
And just because it’s pulling up the rear, doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
Your call-to-action must let readers know, very clearly, what action they should take, and why, to take advantage of your offer.
This is not the time to be bland.
You should use words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm.
Use FOMO to your advantage. FOMO is the acronym for “Fear Of Missing Out”.
Instead of “Sign Up Now” for your newsletter, try “Yes! I Want The Latest News”.
Hubspot has a great list of 31 Call-to-Actions you should check out for more inspiration.
With a little practice, you can create effective ads that you can use to build your email list, generate real estate leads, get immediate listings and more.
I encourage you to create a swipe file – a folder where you can save examples of great ads you see, whether in print, on Facebook or anywhere else.
I use Evernote to organize my swipe files and I add to it regularly. That way I’m never out of ideas for creative ads.
Before you spend a lot of money running ads, I do encourage you to test them.
Whether you use the 5 Second Test, mail to a small segment of your mailing list or check the results of your Facebook ads after a few days to see how they are performing, it is important that you know your ads are converting well before you spend a lot of money on them.