Research Your Advertising to Guarantee its Effectiveness

In a follow-up to his 10-part series on writing successful real estate ads, Ian Grace offers bonus tip No. 11, which covers how to research potential buyers and test your advertising.

February 13, 2013

Professional advertising agencies will pretest their advertising campaigns before they hit the media to see if their message is right for the target market.

As a real estate professional who should know how to advertise someone’s property effectively, you can (and should) do the same.

I have an advertising checklist that helps ensure you’ll almost always be 100 percent on target with your advertising.

An ad is broken into seven basic elements, and they all need to flow together properly:

  1. Photo:Make sure the photo matches the headline.
  2. Headline: Offer a benefit or implied benefit, not just a gimmick for gimmick’s sake.
  3. Qualifying copy: Quickly confirm the promise in the headline.
  4. Body copy: Where you walk the reader through all aspects of “living there” in that property and area.
  5. Reinforcing copy: If an effective headline has attracted the reader, it makes sense to remind them at the end of the ad of what attracted them initially.
  6. Action copy:Your full name (with the word “me” in front of it), plus all contact details and open house directions if necessary.
  7. White space: An ad needs to “breathe” and should be easy to read, not crammed to capacity. With too many flashes, strips, and starbursts, the eye doesn’t know where to look first or how to read the ad in a logical sequence.

If you like, you can make up your own checklist by following these points as a guideline.

Once you have put your advertising campaign together, give it to one or more of your colleagues along with the checklist, so they can objectively tell you if they understand what it is you are trying to impart. If they don’t get the message, don’t try to convince them — you don’t have that luxury with somebody reading your advertising out there in your marketplace. This test will help prevent mistakes and wrongly targeted ads before they happen.

Researching Potential Buyers Who Respond

This stage of your advertising research can accomplish a lot for you. If potential buyers are viewing a number of open houses on any given weekend, their purpose is not to make a new agent “best friend” but to find a property that suits them. They may be defensive, but now is a perfect time for you to become the real estate agent they remember. See if the following suggested dialogue works for you:

Greeting upon arrival at open house and exchange of names. Establish if they have come as a result of your ad, perhaps asking where they saw it:

“Mr. and Mrs. Smith [or use first names if appropriate], I wonder if I could ask for your help [or “advice” or “opinion”]?”

People actually love helping, giving advice, and sharing opinions, and now you have aroused their curiosity.

“You see, with my advertising, my aim is to give the most honest and truthful depiction of what the property has to offer and what living here in this house and this area will be like.

To confirm I am on the right track with my advertising, after you have had a good look through the property and asked me any questions you may have, it would really help me to know if this property has matched your expectationsfrom the advertising you saw.”

This will give you fabulous feedback to see if your advertising message is on track or has gone astray. (You’ll soon know this, particularly if they mention the words, "We were disappointed in...").

“Mr. and Mrs. Smith, thank you for pointing that out as I can now understand how it can be read that way. I appreciate your feedback and will take immediate steps to change that in my future advertising.”

What is important now is that you make the changes you’ve promised, because if they see your ad again and it hasn’t been changed, you’re just another agent who is not credible. However, if they do see the ad again and it has changed according to their feedback, they will feel good for having contributed and form an opinion that they have met a real estate professional they can trust.

Be the Real Estate Pro Who Is Remembered

Think about it, if a prospective buyer has visited four or five open houses and spoken to four or five different agents, who are they are going to remember?

Think of those words above — the most honest and truthful depiction. If you were to say, “I am honest and truthful; trust me,” just like a used car salesperson, they wouldn’t necessarily believe you. However, in this instance, you have explained to them what your aim is and invited them to be a part of the process. Out of the four or five agents they may have met that day, they’ll always remember the one who involved them in putting honest and truthfulness to the test.

So, not only will this process help to ensure your advertising is on track and highly effective, giving you and your sellers the best results, it will also build trust with prospective buyers on an ongoing basis.

This article is Bonus Tip No. 11, a follow up to Ian Grace's 10-part series on writing great real estate ads. Read more here: 

Part 1: Effective Advertising: It’s All About ‘HOODOO’

Part 2: Write Ads That Sell

Part 3: Match Powerful Photos With Powerful Headlines to Get Ads Noticed

Part 4: Show What It's Like to Live in a Home

Part 5: Humanizing Your Ads

Part 6: Different Ads for Different Markets

Part 7: Media Match: Make all Your Ad Media Work Together

Part 8: Keep the Same (Good) Ad Running

Part 9: Pricing: Take Your Sellers for a Ride
Part 10: Getting Your Sellers to Pay for Advertising
Bonus Tip 11: Research Your Advertising to Guarantee its Effectiveness

Well, that’s the end of my top 10 tips, including bonus tip No. 11 — I hope it helps you become more successful in your endeavours.

Remember John McKenna, now from North Carolina? I’ve mentioned him a number of times in my tips. For more than four years now, he hasn’t missed one listing presentation, and he’s selling properties for higher prices than his competitors in a much shorter time. (See his video on my Web site’s home page.) He’s a great example of someone who found success through my HOODOO advertising package. I hope you enjoy the same success and if I can help you further, please contact me at or through my Web site

Ian Grace

Australian-born Ian Grace, one of the world’s leading authorities on real estate advertising, is the director of IGM Global and head of Ian Grace Business Training. For 16 years, he worked in and researched advertising and customer service in England, South Africa, and the United States.