(Part 1 of a two-part series. See part 2.)

If you want to increase your production, the route to “stardom” in your local real estate market may be as near as your remote control.

When traveling, I often come across agents who advertise on local radio or television. For years agents have relied on print advertising to market their listings. Today’s big push is to market using the Web. The problem with both print and Web advertising, however, is they seldom target a specific market. This shotgun approach works well in certain situations, but what about the agent who really wants to target a specific listing in a specific neighborhood? One of the most effective ways to effectively target a specific geographical marketplace is through cable television.

To effectively advertise on cable television, begin by observing how major companies position their products through television advertising. One of the first things you will notice is how most advertising is directed towards a specific audience. The folks on Madison Avenue have done the research and their results are clear: advertising is the most effective when it is customized to reach a specific niche as opposed to trying to be everything to everybody. For example, auto manufacturers carefully “rifle” their television advertising campaigns to fit the demographics they want to reach. You’re more likely to find a BMW or Jaguar commercial on a political show such as “Meet the Press.” If you’re watching American Idol, however, you’re much more like to see a commercial for a cute little convertible, a muscle car or a great-looking truck that costs about half of that fancy luxury car. No matter what show you watch, you can tell the audience demographics simply by looking at the commercials.

Thus, the first step in determining how and where to advertise is to identify the market you are trying to reach. Are you interested in marketing a specific listing in a specific geographical area? Do you want to market new homes in a subdivision where buyers may come from a wide area? Do you serve a specific market niche such as golf course or foreclosure properties? To obtain the greatest return on your advertising dollar, you need to know who buys your product, as well as what radio shows or television shows they watch. Here are a few examples:

1. If you’re selling foreclosure, fixer-uppers or investment properties, advertising on local cable television shows devoted to analyzing the money markets would be a smart choice. Other excellent choices include remodeling shows such as “This Old House,” “Trading Spaces” or interior decorating shows like the one hosted by Christopher Lowell. A good way to identify where you should be advertising is to watch where Lowe’s and Home Depot advertise. If they’re advertising on a program, you can be sure they know who is watching that show.

2. If you’re selling resort or golf course property, consider taking out an ad on the travel channels or on any the sports stations that carry golf tournaments. Again, watch where big companies are advertising and match your advertising to fit the demographics suggested by your observations.

3. If you’re selling estates, watch for advertisements for expensive cars, “Platinum” credit cards and expensive hotels. The travel channels may also be a good choice as well. Remember, major companies spend millions analyzing how to specifically target their audience–take advantage of this free research.

The next step is to determine your budget. The bigger the audience, the more expensive the advertising will be. In most cases, it’s smart to concentrate on your local cable or satellite television stations because you can target specific zip codes. Thirty- to 60-second ads can be as little as $6-$12 per spot. Considering how much classified advertising costs in comparison to how much space you receive, this is a real bargain.

The next question you will need to address is your advertising strategy. Do you want to advertise your listings by using a virtual tour? Do you want to focus on marketing your brand? Is your goal to drive people to your Web site? The strategy you choose will influence the type of ad you will run. Each approach has pros and cons. For example, electing to advertise specific listings is a great way to generate listing leads. On the other hand, you will be spending considerable amounts of time and money updating your advertising to keep the information current. If you want people to call you from your ad, you will need an 800 Call Capture system, which correctly captures the phone numbers of people who call you. If your goal is to drive people to your Web site, then you will need a strategy for harvesting names. This could include free reports, registering for a drawing or offering Web visitors a free membership in your Homeowner’s Club.

Once you have answered these questions, you’re ready to create your ad. To learn more, watch for next Friday’s RealClues, “So You Want to Be a Star” Part II.

Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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