Print advertising is dead. Well, almost! Newspaper circulation is down and newspapers are shutting their doors across the U.S. In tracking my Return on Investment (ROI) in advertising, I have seen print advertising decrease in effectiveness and Internet marketing increase.
Let's talk a bit about the difference between marketing and advertising. Advertising is when you pay the media to announce details of your product or service, such as when your agent takes an ad out in The Real Estate Book, a publication that is distributed at grocery stores, gas stations, and other public places. Marketing involves all other methods to bring attention to your home and encourage its sale. Open Houses are one form of marketing, mailers are another, and the MLS is yet another.
The closer the marketing gets to an actual buyer, the more effective it is. MLS is one of the most effective forms of marketing because buyer agents search for properties for their clients and the public side of MLS using Listingbook or IDX allows the public to view the MLS data from various sites. Because the MLS is one of the most important marketing vehicles for your home, the description, data, and photos must not only accurately describe your home, but highlight its features. There is a saying in real estate that "Photos sell a home". They may not sell a home, but they certainly increase showings. You want the best possible photos of your home that still show your home in a realistic light. I've seen some professional aphotographers use ultra-wide angle lenses that make the foyer look like a ballroom. You don't want potential buyers to be disappointed when they enter your home. The depiction should be realistic, but your home at its best.
If your home is in a niche market, you'll want to know that your listing agent has figured out the channels to reach that niche market and draw the buyers in. If the niche is a geographic one, for example, yard signs with the agents name on them may cause potential buyers to call the agent and even if the home isn't right for that buyer, if the agent has a number of listings in that location, he/she may be able to redirect the call to your property.
If your agent has a blog that attracts buyers for your niche market, that is also an important source of buyers. Ask to see the Technorati and Alexa rankings for your agent's blog and ask for an analysis of traffic to the blog. Are the visitors to the blog from areas that most of the prime buyers of properties in your niche market come from? Does your agent have e-mail subscribers to updates to their blog? If so, how many?
Ask about the social and professional networking capabilities of your listing agent. Many homes are sold by agents who get the word out to people they know. Sometimes even when the right buyer is found there is an element of getting the buyers to feel comfortable with the community and introducing them to others so they can envision themselves happily living there. This goes beyond marketing and isn't always necessary, but if the community itself is part of the buying equation, you'll want to be sure your listing agent will go the extra mile to make buyers feel welcome.