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Newspaper Ads Don’t Work

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in Marketing,Sellers

When was the last time you were kicking-back on a Sunday morning, reading the newspaper, and just happened upon the perfect house in the classified ads?

The ad copy was so compelling and the two-inch photo was so enticing that you just knew this was the perfect house for you.  You called the real estate agent, toured the house, and closed on the home 30-days later.  Honestly…when was the last time this happened to you?  The answer is never.  Why?  Because buying a home is a process that takes a great deal of planning and forethought.   It’s not an impulse purchase.

So why do so many home-sellers and real estate agents spend good money on these useless ads?  The answers will surprise you:

  1.  Agents use the ads to gain exposure and generate new leads.  While the ads don’t actually sell houses, they do show that the agent is busy and actively engaged in the market.  Some agents intentionally split their ads up so that their name and logo can be seen numerous times on a single page. Basically, the agent is killing two birds with one stone.  They’re promoting their brand to generate new leads while creating the illusion that they’re hard at work marketing your listing. 

  3. Very few home sellers (or REALTORS for that matter) are Marketing Pros.  They mistakenly assume that the newspapers Reach (distribution numbers) equals qualified buyers.  A newspaper might have 125,000 subscribers, but how many of those readers are home-buyers?  How many will go to the classifieds to see the ad?  How many are looking for a $275,000 home in the Sugar House area…with two-bedrooms?  You get my point.

9 out of 10 home buyers begin their search for homes on the internet because it’s the best tool available.  They’re looking for multiple (large) photos, house details, maps, and comparables.  They filter their search to the neighborhoods and the price range that meet their needs.  Classified ads just don’t measure up.

Here’s a case in point:

Media One Real Estate, partly owned by the Salt Lake Tribune, promises to reach more than one-million readers from its’ various media properties.  They run several pages of the useless two-inch ads several times per week in the print version of the Salt Lake Tribune.  A good portion of the homes advertised are older listings adorned by a banner that says “Sold” or “Under-Contract”.  To the reader, this looks very impressive.  It looks like the ads must be working.  But it’s really just a “before and after” strategy, similar to the ones used by weight-loss marketers.  The ads promote the real estate company, not the home for sale.  If the intent of the ad was to actually sell the home, they would dedicate a larger photo and more descriptive copy.  And if they were really serious about the ads, each ad would display a web address where potential buyers could view a virtual tour of the home (it’s what buyers want the most).

Here’s a surprising fact that Newspapers won’t tell you:

Of all the homes sold by Media One Real Estate last year, 9 out of 10 buyers were brought to the transaction by another REALTOR.  It wasn’t the newspaper ad that successfully attracted the buyer; it was the MLS (Multiple Listing Service).

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