Real estate professionals spend millions of dollars in print and Web marketing. Are you spending your money wisely or are you wasting it needlessly?

Real estate professionals spend millions of dollars in print and Web marketing. Are you spending your money wisely or are you wasting it needlessly?

I recently met Raleigh Pinskey at The Luxury Conclave, a conference that focuses on how to sell high-end homes. Raleigh’s past client list includes Sting, Paul McCartney and Wings, David Bowie, KISS, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and A Great Snake Named Jake from the Bronx Zoo. Even though it was written in 1997, Pinskey’s “101 Ways to Promote Yourself, Maximize Your Biz-Ability through Viz-Ability” is a primer on how to market your real estate business (or any business) using both traditional and Web marketing techniques.

Pinskey recommends that when you write an ad, take the “best, most powerful, most effective thing you can say and move it to the beginning.” Many agents begin their ads with either the property address or a description of the property style, such as “Four Bedroom Contemporary with View.” This type of headline is neither powerful nor effective. In contrast, a broker I worked for many years ago would periodically run an ad with this headline: “Scarce as hens’ teeth.” Every time he ran that ad, the phones rang off the hook.

Pinskey argues that the headline is the most important part of your ad; it determines whether the person will read your ad or go elsewhere. If the headline grabs readers’ attention, it will get them to read your copy, and your copy is what motivates them to pick up the phone and call you for a showing.

Pinskey emphasizes the importance of making your ad copy about the consumer. This means using “you” and “your” language, rather than “I,” “me” or “we” language. According to Pinskey, the biggest mistake that most people make when designing their brochures or marketing materials is that they “toot their own horn instead of showing the prospects how they can help solve their problems and fill their needs.” Furthermore, when people read your ads, they have three questions in mind: “So what?” “Who cares?” and “What’s in it for me?”

For example, a number of agents still use the “I/we are number one approach.” This falls into the category of “Who cares?” A better approach is to use testimonials. People are much more likely to believe a third-party endorsement than they are to believe agents’ claims about their accomplishments.

A slightly different approach is to shift from being features- or property-focused in your marketing efforts to being benefits-focused. Most real estate ads describe the characteristics of the property in the detail. What they fail to do, however, is to provide a sense of what it’s like to actually live in the property. This means going beyond the physical characteristics of the property and tapping into the emotional benefits potential buyers will experience when they purchase the property.

To achieve this goal, Jeff Turner of suggests that you eliminate adjectives and use more verbs. Thus, instead of saying “really lovely pool,” the emotional or benefit approach would state “unwind with a relaxing swim at the end of a long day.”

Pinskey’s description of this approach is to “picture with pleasure.” As much as possible, use all five senses in your description. This multisensory approach is much more effective than using pictures and words alone. For example, smell and taste are two of the most powerful motivators when it comes to purchasing. If you have ever wondered why so many people provide free taste samples, the reason is that they know that a purchase is much more likely when the person has had an experience with the product. Consequently, whenever you’re holding an open house or showing buyers property, remember that these two senses can greatly enhance the buyer’s experience while simultaneously increasing the probability of a sale.

To make your marketing even more effective, consider targeting specific groups. For example, if you have a listing that has six bedrooms and is in a good school district, targeting people who have several children and who live in a small home or condo would be a good idea. A great place to obtain this data is from a list broker. List brokers categorize people in a wide variety of ways. In this case, you could ask the list broker to provide you with a list of people who earn sufficient money to purchase in this area, that have at least three children, and who are currently living in a two- or three-bedroom property. This type of targeted list generally produces much better results than marketing without a targeted focus.

From contests to calendars, Pinskey’s book is packed with great ways to promote your business that are sure to capture your future clients’ attention.

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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