8 Steps to Writing Effective Advertising Copy

To attract buyers with compelling advertising, follow this simple, easy-to-remember process.

August 1, 2009

Need to write snappier ad copy for your real estate listings? Remember the phrase "G.E.T. C.A.L.L.S." This is key to writing effective advertising copy and can get you results in eight easy steps.

I first talked about the acronym memory aid for writing advertising copy in my book 5-Minutes to a Great Real Estate Ad (Cengage Learning, 2006). Here's how you can use it.

G: Grab the Reader's Attention

To perform this task, use a headline or phrase that will cause the reader to stop and want to read more. Your local television station is excellent at getting our attention and causing us to tune into the newscast (e.g. “You won’t believe what this six-year-old boy did today at the zoo!”). They’ve got your curiosity and make you want to know more.

E: Entice the Reader With Information

Giving useful, interesting information about the property is the next step. But you need to go beyond the basic info. For instance, if you’re promoting a three-bedroom, two-bath bungalow for $159,900, you’re going to need to distinguish it somehow. After all, there are lots of these kinds of listings.

What’s especially appealing about this bungalow? How’s the floor plan, the woodwork? What words can you use to paint a picture about this home?

T: Truth in Advertising

You may have heard the saying "Don't let the truth interfere with a good story," but in advertising to the public, it's bad business practice. Always paint an accurate picture in all of your promotions. In the long run, misrepresenting a property or exaggerating features will hurt you. Once the consumer visits the property or otherwise discovers the misleading information, then the game is up. 

C: Close the Sale

It may seem odd to ask for consumers’ business in classified ads, but it’s a smart practice. There are a number ways to ask for the business: Tell them to contact you for more information about your services or schedule a private showing, or to visit your Web site for a virtual tour. Whatever method you decide, make sure you take steps to move the transaction to its successful conclusion.

A: Ask the Seller What They'll Miss About Their Home

This is often overlooked by many real estate professionals, but one most sellers understand when asked. Think about your own home for a moment: If you planned to sell your house today, what would you miss the most? I’m sure you could come up with a lengthy list of positive features you will be reluctant to leave behind.

The same is true for your clients. These are excellent features to list in your advertising copy.

L: List Key Features About the Home

For example, you'll want to point out bedrooms, baths, central air-conditioning, location, school, price, and other important aspects of the property that consumers need to know. There’s actually a debate on whether to include area schools or location. Both have pros and cons—use your judgment in every situation.

However, certain key features about the home are essential to any promotion. Normally you would include this information somewhere in the middle of an advertisement.

L: Look at Other Ads

Whether you’re new to the real estate business or a veteran practitioner trying to increase your sales, one good way to improve your advertising copy is to watch and read what other “successful” real estate professionals are doing. Just don’t copy what they’re doing!

Simply read and watch to help create new ideas for you when developing classified ads in the future. It will make a huge difference in the way you market yourself and your clients’ properties if you look at ads that are producing results for other real estate pros.

S: Spend Time Preparing and Writing Your Ads

Write several ads for each listing you have. This is an overlooked practice in the real estate industry. We spend thousands of dollars on marketing our listings, hours of time earning new business, and agree to follow a strict fiduciary obligation with our clients. But then we only write one or two ads in a brief 60-second drill to move on to our next “to do” item.

Avoid that pitfall by reminding yourself to devote a significant amount of time and effort to developing multiple, quality ads.

By following the G.E.T. C.A.L.L.S. format, you will be able to build effective ads and, most importantly, get calls from prospective buyers!

John D. Mayfield, ABR, CRB, e-PRO, GRI, is a sales coach, author, and broker/owner of Mayfield Real Estate in Farmington, Mo. You can contact Mayfield through his Web site, www.BusinessTechGuy.com.