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Newspaper Advertising: Is it worth the Money?

Is a constant dilemma for Estate Agents and the debate has been raging for as long as I have been in the industry, almost 24 years, and I expect it will continue long after I have stopped working!

The argument is this:  The cost of advertising property in the local newspapers week after week is very expensive and one of the largest cost factors after the wages bill, and more importantly, it is exceptionally difficult to assess the results…. So is the expense of filling a double page spread (or more) in 2 or 3 newspapers EACH WEEK something that is necessary to gain instructions or to sell / rent those properties on your books, or would the business fail or be less successful without this hefty constant cost?

Many methods are tried time and again, to attempt to ascertain the direct response of this type of advertising, such as:

•     Remembering to constantly remind all your staff to check with each potential new applicant “did you see this property advertised in the local newspaper and, if so, which paper was it?”

•     or asking each potential new vendor or landlord “did you chose us because you saw our ad in the local newspaper/s?”

•     or “would you still give us this property to sell or rent if you knew it would not be advertised in the local paper?”

•     or sending out questionnaires (hoping for them to be completed & returned) to customers asking which papers they receive, how often they drop through the door, whether they check the property section, etc.

However, it is never the greatest response because, to be honest, a lot of people cannot really remember where they saw a property advertised, or when the last time ‘Newspaper XYZ’ landed on the door mat, and yet often a property is advertised and a number of enquiries come through in the week following, so potentially, these people may have seen the property in the paper, or been alerted by a friend or colleague who had spotted the ad…!

It always strikes me how unwelcoming and dull a lot of property ads are.  If someone is considering selling or renting their property, would they look through the paper and pick the agency with…

  • the most properties advertised (because some of them have tiny little boxes with as many properties crammed in as possible)?
  • or the ads with the most outlandish colour scheme (is red better than green or blue…?)
  • or how many accreditation logos are on the page, showing the different industry affiliations each agent has or how many awards they have won….? 
  • Or….. is the preference an interesting article to catch the eye and give the impression that the company is genuinely interested in the industry, or that they know their stuff or they seem friendly and approachable??

IF ONLY we knew the answers, then we could really tailor our advertising to suit the customer or maybe we would just rely on the internet or our board presence…. However, I genuinely feel that if someone is ‘possibly’ thinking of moving, or has a remote interest in the property market, then the first place they will browse, is the local newspaper which just happens to be sitting on the dining table or kitchen worktop!

What do you think?

Jane Gardner accepting the Lettings Agency of the Year Award 2008

Email me your comments to info@sewellgardner.com