Are you still marketing your listings the same way you did two years ago?

Are you still marketing your listings the same way you did two years ago? If so, it’s time to update your marketing materials to meet the demands of today’s consumers.

Throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, we trained agents to put together “brag books.” You would place samples of your marketing materials in a high-quality leather binder, collect your testimonials and provide the seller with a detailed marketing plan. Your print advertising would prominently display your picture. If you were really aggressive, you would include a picture of the seller’s house on the front of your proposal. Fifteen years ago, this was an effective way to differentiate your services.

As the Internet has matured, so have the strategies for marketing yourself in print and online. We are constantly bombarded with so much information that many of us suffer from information overload. We scan, rather than read. Many of us have short attention spans. To do a better job of marketing to your clients, follow the three simple tips outlined below.

1. Can the “me, me, me” show

Today’s consumer doesn’t care about you. All they care about is WIIFM — what’s in it for me. In fact, research on Web visitor behavior consistently shows that if you put your picture on your Web site up to 50 percent of your visitors will leave your site. The younger the person is, the more likely he or she is to surf away if they see your face. You can use your picture — just put it on the “about us” page.

2. Sell benefits, not features

Our business as a whole focuses on features. One term for this is being “feature-centric” rather than benefit-centric. The typical agent describes the features of the property, such as the bedroom-bath count, type of kitchen, view, etc. A better approach is to focus on the benefits the property provides. This requires creativity because your marketing must identify the emotional reasons for someone purchasing the property. For example, a large fenced yard may be a benefit because it provides a safe place for children to play or a wonderful place to garden. On the other hand, a large yard may be a major negative to someone who doesn’t want the upkeep. It’s understandable that agents play it safe by using the features because features are objective. Writing copy that conveys what it’s like to live in the property is difficult. Nevertheless, this approach will make you stand out from the crowd as well as greatly increasing the probability of finding the perfect buyer.

3.Be different!

The smartest people I know in the real estate business are contrarians. They buy when markets are down and pull out of the market when prices skyrocket upward. You can apply this approach in numerous ways. The key is to look at what everyone else does and then do something different.

For example, I recently spoke at two different events where there were approximately 300 people at each event. I had everyone stand up and exchange business cards with one other person. Next, I asked anyone who was holding a business card with a picture on it to sit down. I then asked those agents who had more than one telephone number (with the exception of their fax number) on their card to sit down. Finally, if the print on the business card was difficult to read, the agents were instructed to sit down. Out of 300 people, only 15 (about 5 percent) were still standing in each group. Here are the important points to note about this exercise. First, if everyone puts their picture on their cards, you can stand out from the competition by doing something different, such as putting a picture of the seller’s property on the back of your card. Second, most people are so busy that they don’t want to waste time tracking down an agent. Consequently, it’s smart to have a single telephone number. Third, baby boomers are still the biggest spenders in our industry. Even with corrective lenses, many boomers find small print difficult to read unless there is a great deal of light.

These three simple steps — WIIFM, sell benefits rather than features, and being different — are all it takes to attract more high-quality clients and close more transactions in 2007.

Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at or visit her blog at

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