But how can you go about running a brilliant and effective property advertising campaign? With the help of Steph Rady, Head of Marketing and PR at Angels Media and The ValPal Network, I outline some top tips below.
Decide on your plan of action
Work out your budget and resources and plan your campaign accordingly. Major property firms and agencies inevitably have bigger budgets and more PR clout – and will have dedicated teams to concentrate specifically on marketing and advertising – but there is plenty you can do on a smaller budget.
You just have to box clever, have a clear message in mind and ensure your campaign looks as professional and slick as possible. An amateur advertising campaign will stand out a mile and will only turn consumers away – the worst possible outcome.
You may want to outsource your advertising, marketing and PR to the experts if you don’t feel confident in running it yourself. I hear Angels Media are quite good at it!
Operate a multi-pronged approach
Don’t restrict yourself to one method of marketing or advertising – a full campaign, employing a number of different techniques, strategies and features, is likely to bring about the biggest benefits. You may, in some cases, have to follow the mantra of ‘spend money to make money’ by investing a little bit more in your advertising. This, however, will increase the chances of long-term rewards in the future.
You also need to work out whether TV and radio adverts are worth your while. The major portals – Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket – focus a lot of their energies on this form of advertising, and it’s also something the hybrid/online operators have embraced.
TV and radio adverts allow you to reach a captive (and potentially very large) audience immediately, but they aren’t cheap. As well as that, the collapse of Emoov/Tepilo (both heavy advertisers), the troubles of Purplebricks (equally heavy advertisers), the lack of awareness of easyProperty (despite a number of major ad campaigns) and the lack of cut-through into the national consciousness by OnTheMarket (prominent TV ads) might make you think twice about ploughing lots of money into this medium.
Ads on the rail network, the Tube, the side of buses, billboards and in high footfall areas may also cost a small fortune, and you need to weigh up whether this extra investment is worth it.
Certainly, no options should be off the table, with TV, radio and social media advertising, e-shots, leaflet drops, newspaper advertising and a presence on online trade or national news sites all possible avenues.
Video is also a great – and very visual, interactive and engaging – way of getting your message out there, and is one that is favoured by the likes of Facebook. Videos will also prove far cheaper and quicker to put together than a fully-fledged TV advert.
Focus on the consumer
The main target of any advertising campaign, ultimately, is to get more consumers on board and increase the profitability of your company. To make this so, you need to put them – and not yourself – at the front and centre of your campaign.
You need to speak directly to them, take them on a journey (even more so with digital advertising) and give them the information they want to know rather than what you want to tell them.
In other words, don’t merely shout out about how great you are without anything to back this up. Let the consumer know what you can do for them, why you’re the best in your field of expertise at doing it, and how you can help them for a price that won’t break the bank.
You should always make your user journey about the consumer – ask what are they getting out of this? Why would they contact me? If you offer bespoke services or expertise in particular areas, this could act as a USP to convince customers to use you instead of the competition.
Provide a clear call to action
Your advertising campaign should always, without fail, have a clear call to action which asks the consumer to complete an act of some kind. A free instant online valuation tool – first dreamt up by The ValPal Network – works particularly well as a call to action as the consumer is getting something for nothing while the agent secures their contact details. Win-win.
People are also more likely to be persuaded to input a few quick details – which takes seconds and provides that instant gratification – than calling an agent or visiting an agency in branch. Instant valuation tools are proven lead generators and are the perfect call to action to use on both your website (your virtual shop window) and any advertising campaigns you run.
Don’t neglect the old ways
Canvassing and newspaper advertising aren’t dead, you just need to be smarter about how you use them in an increasingly digital, tech-led world. If you choose to use these means of advertising, your messaging will need to be clearer than ever to catch the reader’s attention. And, once again, you need to ask them do something – dangle that carrot, lure them in as much as you can.
With the dwindling readership of local newspapers (and many going out of business altogether), it may be worth your while paying more to feature in a national outlet (still well read and with relatively healthy circulation figures) to improve the chances of your campaign having an impact.
Words, colours, imagery and slogans will also help to make or break a campaign. It needs to reflect your brand instantly, it needs to draw people in while not putting them off, and it needs to convey your message (in simple, clear language) as quickly as possible, preferably within the first 10-20 seconds.
A muddled and confused message will lead to a muddled and confused campaign. Think of some of the best campaigns in British advertising history – from the Conservative Party’s controversial ‘Labour isn’t working’ poster in 1978 to M&S’s ‘food porn’ ads of the Noughties – and you see bold, distinctive, sometimes provocative messages which have stood the test of time and remain lodged in our collective memories.
Equally, the completely out-there approach – such as sticking a man in a gorilla suit and having him drum along to a classic Phil Collins track – can also pay dividends.
Until next time…
*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.