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The Relationship between Print and Online Marketing

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By John Voket

RISMEDIA, Jan. 2, 2008-Is it divorce or marriage for print and online marketing? That’s an important question in today’s Web savvy world, according to Ken Jenny, CEO of TranCen.com, and moderator of a session on Integrating Print and Online Advertising, during RISMedia’s Leadership Conference.

The panel-industry professionals who all shared unique experiences about how their own companies or their real estate clients are handling the intricate challenges of piloting the powerful and sometimes unwieldy team of print and online marketing-included: Paul Boomsma, president of Luxury Portfolio and LeadingRE; Ed Toomey, president, AdWriter/Homes Illustrated; Michael Bonfils, director of e-marketing for First Team of Orange County, California; Scott Dixon, president of the real estate division, Network Communications; Ginny Cain, founder of Cain Communications; and Jamie Clymer, who represents Homes.com and Agent Advantage.

With regard to a relationship between print and online marketing, Boomsma believes in marriage. “We have a Web site, but half of our traffic comes from strategically placed print. We do targeted ads in publications like The Wall Street Journal, and Architectural Digest,” he said. However, his strategic marketing drives visitors to his site who spend about 10 minutes, and view 30-40 properties.

Bonfils drew laughter describing a marriage, “…with a seven-year-itch.” But he was serious about the necessity to keep an eye on the comings and goings of marketing dollars.

“We’re always debating [about print or online]: what is dead, what isn’t. The only way to figure it out is to put analytics around everything you do,” he said.

Dixon called attention to a proven online/print marriage in another arena.

“LL Bean had a significant drop in online orders when they dropped the catalog circulation,” he reminded the panel.

His own company’s research indicated first and foremost, home shoppers look at multiple media. “This is a simple business, when you get into the zone looking to buy or sell a home, anything that gets in your way you will use as a resource,” Dixon said.

In sizing up her clients’ needs, Cain considers marketing at 360 degrees. “It’s not about online; offline it’s about in-line. Are you in line with your customers, your brand promise, your agent expectations?” she asked.

She pointed to an established and successful online company – Red Envelope.com – which is now sending catalogs. Cain’s bottom line, if you are considering print, consider its ROI – “Let’s measure the print we are using.”

Jenny questioned why some panel members were still acquiring more print outlets.

Clymer said his clients who are using online and print successfully, are seeing the interest in their properties go up.

“You can’t have an on-line presence and not a print presence. Coming from a print background, I know we didn’t do a good job showing and understanding ROI. Now with online it’s easier to show the ROI from print,” Clymer said.

Dixon is buying more magazines, and then working with strong print publishers adding a rich online component.

“We believe both media serve the agent really well,” he said. “Agents and brokers admit the online exclusive source simply isn’t enough to drive business.”

Clymer believes the integration of print and online sales is the future of successful real estate marketing, although he fully acknowledges the challenges to convert longstanding print sales devotees among the agent force.

Cain said it is critical to marry the two.

“It’s just like marketing and technology. It’s different languages but you have to do it. The Internet is a marketing tool, so you have to get them…you have to have people selling both,” she said.

Transitioning to the Q&A portion of the workshop, an informal show of hands revealed very few attendees admitting to having an interactive marketing person/consultant.

“Three or four of you – that’s part of the problem,” Jenny observed. “People expect real estate companies to be extraordinary marketing companies.”

Responding to a question about the value of banner ads, Bonfils said he hasn’t seen them being good for lead generation, but great for branding tool.

That led to a question about advertising on blogs.

Bonfils likes the targeted niche, but he advises ad buyers on blogs to be careful.

“Read them first to be sure they aren’t trashing your company. Other panelists saw blogs as having tremendous potential, describing them as, “…intelligent micro-marketing.

Wrapping up, Jenny referred to an earlier discussion about tracking the results of marketing as tightly as possible to ensure ultimate success.

“If brokers can’t recite the stats on what your media dollar is doing, you shouldn’t be spending it,” he said. “If we can’t measure each dollar by listing, cost per listing, you are going to be in trouble because you can’t be spending the amount you are spending today without measurable results.”

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