Avoiding the Brochure Trap When Selling Your Home
I was on my way to a listing appointment one Friday afternoon to look at a home that had been on the market for 120 days. The homeowner had called me the day prior, stating that the listing had expired and they would like to talk to me. Having done my research, I prepared a presentation and was ready to field questions.
I was greeted by a lovely couple who were anxious to show me their home. This was a large home with many unique features. They explained their children were grown and they were ready to downsize. After the tour, we sat at the kitchen table so I could outline my program. Within just a few minutes of the presentation, the Sellers brought up the topic of brochures. The husband elaborated to me on the importance of having a good brochure and how they were looking for an Agent that could match what the previous Agent had done. Picking up on his convictions, I asked to see one of the brochures. He eagerly complied.
Wow! Four 8 ½” by 11” color pages, laminated in booklet form. There were twelve photos, one front elevation shot in the day, and one at night with dramatic lightscaping, a day shot of the backyard, and a night shot of the pool. I think I could even detect backlit objects in the home. This was definitely done by a professional photographer. The text was well-written and I was moved by the poetic descriptions. This was an excellent product and, having an in-house marketing department, I recognized it as costing at least $2.50 per brochure. Completely impressed, I asked, “Who did these go to?” Puzzled, the Seller looked at me and then pointed to the dining room table.
The most elaborate brochure in the world will not bring a Buyer to your door if it’s sitting on the dining room table.
When a homeowner gets ready to sell, they contact several Listing Agents. These Agents arrive at their doorstep with meticulously prepared brochures of other properties. The Agents explain that their home will have an even better brochure! The homeowners get so excited about what their home will look like that they hire the Listing Agent with the nicest-looking brochure.
The Agent spends a week photographing the home, two weeks on descriptive text, and then places thirty of these awesome brochures on the dining room table. Every evening you count the brochures to see if the showing you had that afternoon picked one up. They probably did. It’s a great brochure!
Let me ask you something. . .
Besides making you feel really good, what work did that brochure do for you? If a potential Buyer has it in their hand, they are already in your neighborhood, on your street, and in your home. The brochure is something that this person can walk away with; it serves only as a memory jogger once they have left. It did not bring anyone to your front door.
Okay. What if the Agent also makes fifty black-and-white copies and puts them in a box attached to your “For Sale” sign? Well, that potential Buyer is already in your neighborhood and on your street. In fact, this person who drove by and stopped for a brochure may decide, after perusing the detailed literature with numerous interior photos, it’s almost as though they have already been inside your home. So when they are scheduling appointments for showings this weekend, they will hang on to your brochure, but prioritize visiting some other homes that they want to know more about.
Again, let me ask the question. . .
What work did that brochure do for you? Very little. People fall in love with homes, not brochures. The brochure has served little purpose unless it has brought those potential Buyers through your front door. So if the brochure is not bringing potential Buyers into your home, what is? Your Listing Agent’s marketing program should be aimed at attracting as many potential Buyers to your door as possible, and a brochure (or open house, or website, etc.) should be a means to that end. That is how a successful marketing program works.
Unfortunately, most Listing Agents consider their “marketing” complete once that four-page color brochure arrives on their Seller’s dining room table. The homeowner is impressed and the Agent hopes that a Buyer will magically appear through the MLS. This is like expecting fish to come after a lure that’s still sitting in the tackle box.
This is not marketing. The homeowners don’t get it because most Real Estate Agents don’t get it.
Selling real estate is still a numbers game regardless of your price range.
Ask your Listing Agent how many of those $2.50 brochures they actually mail out, and how often do they mail them? Herein lies the brochure-trap; a handsome brochure is great, but what is your Agent doing with your brochure? Ask. How many, how often?
What about ads in the real estate section of your local newspaper or the big color spread in the luxury real estate magazine of Hot Properties ‘R’ Us? There are Agents who whip out these listing tools alongside their four-page brochure that sits idly on the dining room table.
In the local paper, your home is potentially being advertised to ten thousand plus people in a tiny two-by-three inch black-and-white ad. It’s not exactly eye-catching. And consider this: When is the last time you scanned the newspaper for a home? Oh, I know—when you were looking to see if your Agent had put your listing in the paper. This is not a Buyer’s first go-to method of searching for their new dream-home, and even if it is, your home is buried among two hundred other non-descript little black-and-white ads.
Of course, the two-page color layout in the Hot Properties ‘R’ Us magazine is quite nice. That Agent really spent some money putting your home in that publication. However, since the Agent is paying for every inch of ad space in that magazine, she will probably rotate, or pick and choose, which one of her several listings will be featured in that space in each issue. So the problem is that your home will probably appear in this magazine only once, or occasionally at best. Although it might be a really great ad and go to a lot of people, it has a very short shelf life and, once it is tossed, your home is out of luck.
What are our marketing rules? FREQUENCY AND DURATION!
There are also Listing Agents who will entertain you with the latest high-tech marketing tools during their listing presentations. They will go into lengthy discussions on the iPad and Smart Phone about the Internet-obsessed generations. What they will not tell you is that the majority of real estate websites such as Realtor.com, Trulia.com, Zillow.com, etc. pull your property’s information directly off the MLS. Unless the Agent is also paying thousands of dollars monthly to be a “Premier Agent” on these websites, these valuable contact leads for your home are sent to random agents who do not have a clue about your property. (Sharon Ketko is a Premier Agent on Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com.) All Agents should pay to subscribe to these various websites as a BASIC service to you (similar to the sign in the yard, or a key box that hangs on your door). Also, do not confuse a posting on Craig’s List or Facebook as an active marketing campaign. One more thought – have you checked out the Agent’s Zillow Reviews?
What about an Agent’s personal website? That Agent might have really made an initial investment in hiring an awesome website designer. I bet it looks great! They have the latest school, tax, and “what’s new in your city” links. You only need to ask that Agent one question. . . “What do you do specifically to drive traffic to this website?” You will most likely get a blank stare. Is it exactly like the brochure that languishes on the dining room table.
You can’t afford hit-or-miss, off-and-on, half-hearted campaigns.
“If you want to attract as many potential Buyers as possible, sell your home quickly, and maximize your profit – you need a Listing Agent with a healthy advertising budget and a proven marking program with several strategic methods for bringing Buyers to your door.”
My program has created a direct marketing system with our magazine that features all of my properties. In the magazine, your home is featured on a full-page color spread with enticing photos and all the pertinent details. The magazine works because it is mailed out to thousands of potential Buyers in your area until your home is sold.
FREQUENCY AND DURATION in your marketing program is critical.
Bill Smith, who lives in a neighborhood a few miles from you, just got the “big account” at work. Last month when he received our magazine in the mail, he casually flipped through it, scanned a few interesting properties, and threw it away. This month however, he is anticipating it. He can’t wait to see what’s new in his area and school district. He turns the pages one by one, until he sees a home that catches his eye. . . your beautiful home. The front elevation photo instantly appeals to him, it’s in a neighborhood that he likes, and it is described as having many of the features that he wants. Bill wants to know more and see it in person, so he picks up the phone and calls a Real Estate Agent buddy of his for an appointment to visit your home.
Ladies and gentlemen, that brochure just did work for you. Bill and his Agent will be on your doorstep tomorrow.
I also incorporate an innovative cross-selling program, using a brochure box in front of your “For Sale” sign. These boxes are filled with the same high-quality color magazine that is regularly mailed out to thousands of people. What makes this so unique is that instead of pulling a brochure that features only the home that the box is standing in front of, the magazine offers all our listings within a ten mile radius.
You might say, “Wait a minute! No fair!”
All of these other listings are freeloading and being advertised from my home!” Yes, exactly. Don’t forget that your home is also being advertised in front of twenty or more properties around the area as well. A potential Buyer will pull a magazine in a neighborhood two miles from you and find out about your lovely home. The benefit of having your home marketed in other areas far outweighs any competition from other properties listed within the magazine.
The magazine is also given out at the Sunday open houses along with maps highlighting the other open properties. My group coordinates five to six open houses in an area from 2:00-5:00 p.m. We refer to this as our “Progressive Open House Tour” because the goal is to bounce these potential Buyers who are wandering through open houses into every single property we have open in the area. I call this “playing pinball” and it is one of the most successful weapons in my selling arsenal.
Want to play Real Estate Pinball with me?
For example, Joe and Mary walk into one of my open houses in the neighborhood of Windhaven. They love the backyard, but frankly, the home is too small for them and it would not be much of an upgrade from where they are living now. Jacquelyn, the Open House Agent, gives them a magazine and a map to see the newly-remodeled five bedroom home in one of the exclusive neighborhoods of Willow Bend only a few blocks away. They hurry back to their car so they can make it to the Willow Bend open house before 5:00 p.m. On their way out, they pass Bob and Linda walking up with a map and a magazine in their hand. This couple is ready to downsize and was sent from an open house in the Starwood neighborhood. If this particular house does not have the split bedroom floor plan that Linda desires, she has already noticed two others in the magazine in a similar price range that appeal to her. Those two are not open today, but she would like to schedule showings with Jacquelyn for later this week. Any one of those homes could be yours.
I think you can see now how the magazine is a powerful marketing tool for giving your home maximum exposure. This is not just because it is an attractive, quality publication, but also (and more so) because of how it is strategically used. As your Listing Agent, my number one job is to get you up to bat with as many potential Buyers as possible. If I am sitting around in my real estate office hoping that an Agent from XYZ Company might pull up your property in the MLS and maybe show it next weekend, I am not doing my job!
Let’s go back to Internet marketing for a moment.
My website generates thousands of hits per month from local Buyers because of my magazine, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram promotions. My web address, SharonKetko.com, is noted prominently at the bottom of each page for more information on specific properties. Over one hundred yard signs also direct Buyer traffic to the website throughout the year. If you are speaking with an Agent that currently has two listings and no mass media marketing, how do you think their website will ever generate traffic to your home?
A really nice brochure, a one-time print ad, and a Google link do not equal a marketing plan. Do not make the mistake of simply hiring the Listing Agent with the nicest brochure or website. You need to know what she plans to do with it. The most powerful weapon in the United States Army is worthless without a delivery system to get it to the target.
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