Is Classified Advertising Dead?
Fri, Sep 7, 2012With the reality of the digital age upon us, you have no doubt heard it said that classified advertising – the kind agents are used to relying on for their listing ads -- is dead or at least dying. Major newspapers are suffering a decline in the number of subscribers to the daily print editions. These days, with free lead generation vehicles such as Craigslist so readily available, many agents actually believe it’s criminal to spend money on classified ads, especially when the number of readers is declining. Who could argue with this logic? Well don’t be too quick to convert all your marketing dollars to online ads. The fact is that classified advertising still represents a great source of good quality leads, especially for those buyers moving to a market and first time buyers. Why? Because it still works. And it is still one of the most effective ways to generate leads from people ready to buy real estate now. This is especially true if your major newspaper also posts your classified ad on their website which, of course, gives you the best of both worlds. Let’s look at the facts. The agent superstars who use my system continue to feed back that many people moving to their markets not only search online, but either subscribe to the major newspaper or buy it on newsstands. And my classified ads are designed to get those buyers to raise their hands and contact you for more information. The mistake many agents make is looking at their advertising dollars as a fixed expense of their business like rent, but this is the wrong way to look at it. If you ran a $300 ad and it got you $6,000 in business, did the ad really cost you anything? Of course it didn't – it actually earned you $5,700 (i.e. $6,000 minus $300). If you hadn’t run the ad, this decision actually would have COST you $5,700. Similarly, if you ran the same ad on Craigslist and you got $2,500 in business, while this would be great, it still wouldn't be better than paying to run the $300 ad because the paid ad actually returns you more money every time it runs. You don't have to be a financial wizard to understand this analysis. You should always be doing this simple math to determine the cost/benefit of any marketing you run. How else are you going to really understand what’s working and what’s not. As a business person, you must make sure you’re aware of the implications of what you're doing so you can make informed and financially profitable decisions about the ads you run. Now as an extension of that, the only way for you to know whether the money (and time) you spend on any of your marketing is costing or profiting your business is to test, so every classified or Craigslist ad you run must be trackable by having a direct response component to it so you can measure the results via your hotline and/or website. You should be testing not just which ads to run, but also where, what days, how often, with what headline, etc. It’s important to look at a number of factors together in order to get a full and accurate picture: media cost, # of responses and quality of responses (i.e. how many of the prospects from this ad actually turn into clients) – in other words, you should determine not just your cost per lead, but also your cost to obtain each client. Please understand that I am not saying “don’t use Craigslist”. Of course all of you should be taking advantage of the free lead generators, but that’s definitely not all you should be doing. The nature of these free vehicles is that the leads you will generate will, in general, not be as qualified, so you’ll have to work harder (i.e. spend more time) sifting and qualifying them. To a certain extent, then, it’s a trade-off. Again, the bottom line is that you should be taking advantage of Craigslist AND investing in classified ads. Remember, not all ads work all the time in all markets, so testing is critical to maximizing your returns – no matter which medium you’re advertising in: free online or paid print vehicles. When you do invest in paid classified ads, remember to ask each of the publications about remnant space. This is space they otherwise cannot sell. Give them some stock ads they have permission to run whenever they have extra space for a negotiated lower fee. What you’ll find is that they’d rather run your ad to generate some revenue vs. running their own unpaid filler ad and getting nothing. Be smart. Bottom line, you should be investigating all of your options. The reality is that with proper testing and tracking, you can profitably generate lots of leads by making informed decisions. P.S. You can test drive my ideas and systems absolutely free by signing up for Free Weekly Training which includes live weekly webinars, a monthly newsletter and priority invitations to free half day training events. This Free Weekly training will expose you to inexpensive and highly effective methods of lead generation (with no cold calling) -- what I call “Reverse Prospecting”, where qualified prospects actually hunt you down rather than the other way around, and then how to follow these leads through to maximum GCI via proprietary lead conversion and prospect presentation systems. This is the easiest way for you to find out with no risk or obligation what my system is all about and how it can help you profitably grow your real estate business and vastly improve your quality of life. 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