In this monthly advice column, Marketing Mastermind Christy Murdock Edgar answers three burning questions from the real estate industry at large. This month’s topic: listing marketing. Want to reach out to local homeowners and then effectively list their homes? This column has great advice for both sides of the equation.

In this monthly advice column, Marketing Mastermind Christy Murdock Edgar answers three burning questions from the real estate industry at large. This month’s topic: perfecting your content strategy.

As the spring market heats up, everyone is out there chasing listings then trying to get them sold. Both of these require marketing — marketing yourself as the listing agent first, then marketing the property to local buyers.

This month’s questions are all focused on the nuts and bolts of creating the necessary content and tracking its effectiveness.

Questions of the day

Question 1, Rachel T., New Jersey

To use exclamation points or not, that is a struggle we always have — proper grammar versus unmitigated excitement about our property!

Having been an English teacher in my former life, I love this question! Of course, I also love writing property descriptions for clients, and believe it or not, I have given a good deal of thought to this seemingly small detail.

When you take a listing, you will have many opportunities to write about it. The initial property description is what most people think of, but there are also flyers and brochures, blog posts, social media posts and direct mail pieces like “New listing” postcards. That gives you a lot of room to channel your excitement about the property.

In my view, too many exclamation points can take away from the excitement you are trying to build, and it can even appear a little desperate or “try-hard.” And when you’re talking about the MLS property description, you’re limited in the number of characters you can use.

Why waste five to 10 (or more) characters on exclamation points when you could use them to mention another feature or to use a really juicy adjective to describe a selling point?

The same applies to flyers, postcards and other marketing materials. Using up space with an empty symbol rather than real information about what makes the property great is a waste and doesn’t really convince anyone. In a blog post, repeated exclamation points can be even more distracting.

If you want to convey your excitement, do it with great writing and rich descriptions. If you want to use an exclamation point, use only one and use it judiciously — either at the end of the first sentence or the last.

Question 2

Scott Browder, Charlotte, North Carolina

How much value do you put in what your signs look like? Is it important to have a really expensive hanging sign, or do you think nice signs that stick in the ground are enough?

With the vast majority of buyers starting their home search online, many agents and homeowners question the need for real estate signs at all. Indeed, in some upscale neighborhoods, signs are either discouraged or not allowed.

As to hanging versus in-ground signs, much depends on what is customary for the local market. If most agents in your area use hanging signs, you will probably need to follow suit. But perhaps the larger question is what is the purpose of the sign? How can you rethink it to make it more meaningful?

West Coast broker Troy Palmquist differentiates his brokerage with signs that are custom made and feature interior shots of the listing itself rather than the agent’s photo or the company logo. In his view, the point of the sign should be to sell the property, not the agent, and a smarter sign does that more effectively and faster.

The key to great marketing is in the value you add every step of the way. Finding a way to add value with your signage will ensure the expenditure is justified.

Question 3

Cassidy Melhorn, Knoxville, Tennessee

Does print marketing still help in real estate? If so, what are some tools to track the ROI on it? It seems you can track impressions, clicks and leads very easily through digital means, but tracking print ads would be tougher.

Actually, in order to track print ads or direct mail, you can take a tip from the large multifamily communities who still use both extensively and have developed a variety of ways to track their effectiveness.

Here are three easy ways to track the conversion rates on your printed promotional materials:

  • Custom phone number: With tools like Google Phone, you can register separate phone numbers for different segments of your marketing plan. Use different phone numbers for different ads, different publications or different niches and track the calls to find out which content or platform converts best.
  • Custom URL: Similarly, you can use multiple landing pages with different custom URLs to segment the responses to your ad campaigns or direct mail marketing.
  • Coupon or promotion: This is perhaps the easiest way of differentiating your ads or mailers. Offer an incentive — like a book, closing credit or home warranty — and use it on different platforms to determine where your traffic is coming from. You’ll also want to track the different incentives to see which ones are more effective and further refine your marketing plan.

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook or Twitter

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