Eventually every real estate investor will be in the position of selling or renting real property. At first glance, this process may seem simple and straight forward, and it really should be. Unfortunately, far too many new, as well as seasoned, entrepreneurs forget the importance of learning how to write an advertisement that will produce immediate and positive results. We call these highly effective ads – Killer Ads.
Regardless of whether you are selling your first property, renting your first unit, or looking for investors like yourself, you will eventually have to learn how to write ads that generate interest, prompt action, and create a sense of urgency. Let’s look at 8 key points or principles of effective advertising that have been proven to work in real estate, time and time again.
Key Point #1 – Buyers Buy Benefits
There is a guiding rule you must learn and retain if you expect to have success in writing effective real estate ads. This principle is true whether you are writing copy for a print ad, developing a podcast, or creating a video. Buyers are the people to whom you are directing your ads, and these same individuals are prompted above all else to the benefits accruing to them.
This means that you should concentrate your ad to highlight and promote the benefits the person will receive if they respond to your ad. We call this rule the BBB of advertising – Buyers Buy Benefits. You can list all the features of any particular product, but unless the potential buyer can visualize specific benefits he or she will receive, you are wasting your time. This does not mean that you should forget about the features of your specific property, but rather you should express those features in terms of benefits to the buyer.
Consider the example of an individual who is renting a three-bedroom house near a nice community park. Don’t just state in your ad that there is a park nearby. Instead, use terms that show how important this park might be to the prospective family with three young toddlers. You might state in your ad something like: “A beautiful green and quiet park with new and dependable equipment is only five short minutes from the unit which will allow you total peace of mind while your children are happily playing in a safe and protected area.” Yes, this might take a few extra words, but the benefits are dramatic. People don’t care about a park unless they can see that it will benefit them.
This same BBB rule applies to every ad or announcement you might make as a real estate entrepreneur. When thinking of how to apply the BBB rule you should always put yourself in the place of the potential buyer, renter, or joint investor. Ask yourself, “If you saw the ad, would you respond?” If the answer is yes, then you probably have a decent ad. Write the advertisement in a way that would appeal to you if you were the person listening to or viewing the ad. The principle works when you advertise in a paper, develop a website, write a blog, or create a video. Benefits sell!
Key Point #2 – Incorporate Action Words into Your Ad
Another way to describe Action Words is to consider them to be non-passive in nature. The word “is” becomes a passive word. When you write an effective ad, your goal is to get the listener, reader, or viewer to take a specific action. Unless you begin by incorporating non-passive words in the ad itself, the final action is very likely not to take place.
Let’s examine a simple phrase and then consider how we might change it. If you were once again going to place an ad to rent a nice three-bedroom house, you might be tempted to say something like, “Nice three-bedroom, two bath-home for rent in nice area.” In fact, this might even be your headline for the ad. It’s true that you have stated some information about the property, but you certainly haven’t prompted the reader to go much further.
How then, do you incorporate action words into the same ad? Start by using words that connotate action. You want the reader of the ad to see some action taking place. You might say something like, “Open the massive front door and walk into a foyer leading to three tastefully decorated bedrooms. After passing the door to the first large bathroom, you will be amazed at the size of the second sizeable open bathroom.” You will notice that we used words like, “open,” “walk,” and “pass”. These are only examples, but they illustrate how we now can visualize actually seeing and experiencing the three-bedroom, two-bath home.
Action words should be used throughout the copy of the entire ad, but they are critical when the reader first starts to read. Later we’ll talk about the importance of action words in the headline of the ad. Remember, that you want the reader, listener, or viewer to accept a call to action, and the best way for this to take place is for the reader to experience action in the ad itself.
Key Point #3 – Base Your Ad on Emotion
The second element of the copy of your ad is the emotional impact on the reader, listener, or viewer. Love and hate are certainly words that create emotion. But we constantly use other words relating to those same emotions. Anger, fury and rage are all emotional words. The same is true for words like adore and worship. Whatever emotion you are attempting to create will give you words to use.
People have been proven to act faster when emotion is involved. Chances are that your potential buyer or renter is just browsing and is not yet emotionally involved in making any kind of decision. When this happens, you need to spur the reader, listener, or viewer to action. An effective way to do this is to use emotional triggers – something that initiates action. If your reader experiences an emotional reaction of some kind, they will continue reading or viewing your ad. Common negative emotional triggers are fear, anger, and disgust, while positive emotional triggers are love, compassion, and empathy.
When you write your ad, you need to decide which emotional trigger you want the person to act upon. Let’s go back to renting out your three-bedroom, two-bath home. If you want to stand out and appeal to buyers who put a priority on family life and children, you would probably want to appeal to positive emotional triggers.
On the other hand, if you think security and safety are paramount in getting the right renters, then negative emotional triggers might work better. Let’s imagine that you are advertising an apartment in an urban environment where recent headlines have been centered on neighborhood crime. You might consider starting or including copy such as, “Leave your security concerns at the front door of our ultra-safe, state-of-the-art luxury two-bedroom apartment. Moving quickly to the first 2nd floor bedroom, you will be thrilled when you see that the windows protected with high security steel frames…”
The emotional words you select should be intertwined throughout your headline and copy of the ad itself. The more emotion you elicit, the more effective your ad will become.
Key Point #4 – Use Easy-to-Understand Language
Your reader, listener, or viewer must be able to understand your ad. They must not spend time admiring your prose or trying to interpret what you are saying. The ad must elicit a positive call to action, and this will not be possible if the person is either spending time trying to understand what you are saying or admiring the words you use.
The best way to approach this is to consider how you would talk to your best friend or spouse. You wouldn’t talk down or be condescending to the other person, and you certainly don’t want to do that when writing an ad. Be careful to adjust your language and wording to appeal to your potential buyer or recipient of the ad itself. If you are selling a fix-up property that can potentially be repaired by the buyer, then you want to use words that are commonly understood by such individuals. The ad might use words that are frequently used by contractors or individuals who buy such properties. Flowery words probably wouldn’t work in this circumstance.
People read and scan ads quickly. You will want to grab their attention and keep it centered on what you are saying. You already know that you will use action and emotional words, but you will also want to use words that aren’t overly long or complicated. The military uses the acronym “KISS”, which means Keep It Simple Stupid. The same thing can be applied to writing ads that work. Simple is better because it is easy to understand.
Key Point #5 – Identify a Problem and Then Solve It
Once again, you must understand that you are writing an ad to solve a problem, and that problem should not be to sell or rent your property. Instead, the problem that must be solved is the problem of your reader, listener, or viewer. Let’s go back to our example of renting a three-bedroom apartment. Yes, you have a problem of obtaining a great renter, but that problem is immaterial. The real problem is that there is a family out there that is looking for a three-bedroom, two-bath home and they haven’t found it yet. You must put yourself in the position of this family who is searching for your rental. They don’t know it yet, but that is really the problem.
After you identify the true problem, writing the copy is much easier. Everything you write, say, or do should be based on presenting the solution to the problem. If you were the potential renter, what would you be looking for in a property? Would it be storage, access to schools, large and spacious rooms, or a great neighborhood?
As you create the ad, spend time assessing your property to see how it might provide the solution to problems. Then when you actually write the ad, present the solutions to the problem in terms of benefits for the new renter. This same principle of finding solutions for the eventual reader, listener, or viewer is true regardless of the type of ad that you are drafting. People tend to make decisions based on personal needs, and those needs are based solutions to existing problems. Once you identify the reason someone needs your property, you are half-way to the finish line of a true “killer ad.”
Key Point #6 – Develop a Headline that Includes Action Words and Emotion
The first thing the reader, listener, or viewer will see is the headline to your ad. Unless the headline does its job, nothing else will probably happen. An ineffective headline will almost always ensure that nothing else takes place. The headline must accomplish three main things – Grab their interest, create a need to learn more, and offer a potential solution to that already existing problem.
Emotion and action words should be part of every headline. If you are creating an ad posted online, the words in your headline are critical. We call these words – Key Words. The search engines online use them to feed your ads to viewers online. Key words are not just unique to the digital and online world. People pick out key words in print and all advertising, and this being the case, we need to use words that relate to the solution to the problem.
Because the headline is so important, you should choose a headline for your ad that is from 6 to 12 words in length. This works online as well as in print and visual media. Two or three words are not enough to set up the purpose of the ad. Once again, we want to make the headline strong and emotional. Another purpose of the headline is to present a possible solution to a problem.
The headline is designed to be the first thing the reader, listener, or viewer sees. When writing real estate ads, your headline must set up a potential call to action. Everything you are doing when crafting an ad is based upon a final call to action. You want the reader, listener, or viewer to do a specific item. If you are selling a property, your ad should probably be to get the person to come and visit and view the property. Yes, you want to sell the property, but the immediate action you want to take place is seeing the property. Make sure your headline keeps the person’s interest and leads to your immediate objective.
Key Point #7 – Build Your Copy on Fact Not Fiction
Ads vary in size and length, but strong copy is essential in all advertising. Many new entrepreneurs are tempted to exaggerate the benefits of their property. It’s great to emphasize the benefits of your particular property, but it’s still essential to create credibility as part of your ad.
Let’s go back to our example of renting out a three-bedroom home. If our specific property had an unfinished basement with framed in rooms that eventually could be used as bedrooms, you wouldn’t want to say that it had additional bedrooms. Instead, you might say that the basement is unfinished but is framed in. It could be used for storage which might provide more space in the existing bedrooms. If the person who sees your ad, comes to view the property and sees that you have mislead them, then your credibility is destroyed. When this happens, the chances are good that nothing else will take place with your potential renter or buyer.
Tell the truth and just emphasize the good points. Don’t forget to write copy with emotion and action words. The important part of all the copy is to get to the call to action.
Key Point #8 – Make the Call to Action
We must make a call to action. We want the viewer to do something. If all the viewer does is glance at the ad, you haven’t done your job. If the viewer reads the headline and then reads the whole ad and moves on, you haven’t done your job. What you want the viewer to do is to take some kind of action when they finish viewing the ad.
A call to action should contain action verbs and directly ask your reader, listener, or viewer to do a specific thing. You may want them to act immediately and call you on the phone. Perhaps you want them to attend an open house. Regardless of the specific reason you wrote the ad, now is the time when you want the person to take action.
There are several ways to set up the call to action. Urgency is always a factor to include in your copy that sets up the call to action. It might be created in the copy of the ad or in the call to action itself. Let’s consider our rental of a three-bedroom house. Maybe you might want to say something like, “Applications will be accepted on a first come, first reviewed basis.” This would indicate that there is a large demand for the property and that urgency in acting is important. This principle of limited availability works in all advertising. When I was selling an 11 year-old washer and dryer I wanted to emphasize the point that there was only one. I remember writing, the first person with cash takes the washer and dryer. It worked and it worked well.
The word “free” has been proven to be the most important word in advertising, and it certainly works with writing a call to action. Once again, let’s use our example of renting our three-bedroom house. How could we use “free” as part of our call to action? Maybe you could offer a month free rent if the person moves in immediately. Instead of saying those words, we might be better served by stating, “If you’re application is selected to rent the property, and you’re willing to mow the lawn twice a month, we will give you one free month’s rent and reduce your rent by $25 a month.” The truth is that we had raised the rent already and could afford to reduce it. Furthermore, the statement implies scarcity by having to be selected. And finally, there is a reason for giving the month free – taking care of the lawn. We haven’t destroyed our credibility but have created urgency and limited availability.
The call to action is the most important part of your ad. Unless you get the person to actually do something, the ad is wasted. Make sure you know exactly what you want your reader, listener, or viewer to do and then make a call to action that prompts the action to occur.
These 8 key points will help you create an ad that can work with virtually all advertising and especially in real estate.