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By Greg Harris

RISMEDIA, Oct. 16, 2007-Print ads and listing publications. What is the return on investment? Does anyone really know? We keep hearing that print ads don’t work anymore, and yet we keep doing them because the home seller expects it. They want to see a picture of their house in the local newspaper and Real Estate Book.

The Internet has created a shift across all industries. Large newspaper and magazine publishers are all building or acquiring online services. Circulation is down, and the smart companies see where the consumer is getting their news and information these days.

A few weeks ago, the New York Times announced that they are adding a text message code to their real estate classified ads. Readers can now send a text message and have information sent to their mobile phone. There is a reason the Times is at the top of the newspaper food chain. They are smart. Like the Wall St. Journal, they see the shift. They need to get online, and they need to get mobile. In the meantime, the printed newspaper is not dead yet, and they will do what they can to extend its life.

Adding a mobile component to a print ad is a must. There are over 200 million mobile phone users in the U.S., and just about every single home buyer has one. Remember when you didn’t have your Web address on your ads? Remember when you didn’t even have a Web site? Well having a Web site and a Web address on a newspaper ad doesn’t help much when the buyer is reading it over lunch at the diner. All they see is a black and white picture of the outside of the house, and a Web address they can’t go to.

In reality, this is a lead that you will most likely lose at the end of the meal. A buyer was interested in knowing more. They wanted to see pictures of the inside of the house. They are not going to call you from the diner for that. So unless they do it later at a computer, that lead is lost. You can’t afford that. Like candy on the shelf at the supermarket check out counter, you need to be there when the buyer has the impulse.

The New York Times gets it. By simply adding some words to an existing print ad, you can capture that buyer’s information, provide them with details that may excite them, and push your phone number to their mobile phone. This is an extremely powerful tool. Once the buyer is viewing the information, they can then do more searches and view more ads from their mobile.

The other benefit of placing text message codes on print ads is that you can finally get some feedback as to how the ad is working. Right now you have no idea how many (if any) people are reading your ads. If you put an ad in a local paper, and receive 10 leads this week, then you know people are reading it. You can also assume that much more than 10 people have read it. Would you have received those leads otherwise?

Those print ads are expensive. Make sure that you do everything you can to get the most value from them. You want to capture every lead you can. Providing the reader with as much information as possible is what is in the best interest of everyone. The home seller sees their house in print, the buyer gets the information they want instantly, and you capture the lead for follow-up.

Greg Harris is the Founder and CEO of Mobile Visions, Inc. Mobile Visions is the provider of Cell a House, and, a new service that provides agents with free individual property sites for the mobile Web. Cell a House is a mobile phone based lead generation and information tool for agents and home buyers that uses text messaging to capture the buyer’s contact information.

For more information, visit

For a free mobile property site, visit

Mobile Visions, Inc can be reached at 1-888-808-6274.