By Jeff Lincoln
RISMEDIA, July 21, 2008-Real estate agents have always realized the sales advantages of branding themselves in this highly competitive industry. They hand out business cards, promotional items such as calendars, pens, and mugs, and advertise in print and on the web. However, with all the marketing tools available to them, the yard sign is the most visible yet underutilized.
This is despite published results that 63% of homeowners responding to a National Association of Realtors survey said they used information from a lawn sign to help in their home search. This is a higher percentage than those who relied on print ads, open houses or home magazines when seeking homes.
Nike, Coke or Apple would pay millions to have the opportunity most agents take for granted. No other industry is able to publicly post its marketing message for free. Other businesses would pay up to $1,000 per sign for this chance. Why? Because better exposure equals greater sales.
In today’s information-saturated marketplace, successful marketers must learn how to stand out from the crowd, or risk losing market share. Your signs give you the opportunity to communicate directly to your target market. Yet most agents ignore this gold mine and even worse, allow their signs to fall down and look crooked, rusty, and unprofessional. Is that the best representation of your name? By upgrading something already available to you, which has a proven pull, you could be delivering better results for a fraction of the money.
So how to start?
1. Begin by treating your sign as a valuable and critical part of your marketing efforts. This means making sure your sign is installed with care and that you or your staff periodically checks to make sure all your signs look professional.
2. Brand yourself. Each one of your signs represents an opportunity to gain additional listings. Prominently display your name along with your agency name and logo.
3. As an extension of your professional, successful image, be sure your signs are clean, unbroken and chip-free. Don’t buy the cheapest sign available. Inexpensive signs are the first to show wear and look unprofessional. Include more colors or add a photo into your design as another affordable way to make your sign stand out. By projecting a more upscale, professional appearance and customizing your look, you can turn your standard lawn sign into a targeted marketing tool that delivers a clear message to your key market.
4. If you include a brochure box with informational flyers, make sure you give your client plenty of extra flyers to refill that box whenever it’s nearing empty, especially on the weekends.
5. Include specific listing information with your sign. Add custom rider signs noting valuable details and unique features, such as “Pool,” “One-acre lot,” “Excellent school district,” “Walk to train.” This is an opportunity to increase interest in each of your properties. At the very least, you should include your web address to draw prospective clients to your personal web site. This is an economical service that shows your client you are committed to selling their home.
6. Now that your sign looks more professional, consider adding a slip-on outer frame that will further upgrade the look of your sign and increase its visibility. These simple to use frames are a quick way to grab a lot of extra attention, and that is half the battle in selling a home in this crowded market. These outer frames also allow for additional riders, helping you to further brand yourself and include extra information.
7. When you hold an open house, add flags or balloons to your sign a couple of days ahead to generate more traffic.
8. Why not add lighting onto your sign and extend your sign’s selling reach? This is a great way to draw more attention to your listing, especially during the fall and winter months when it turns dark earlier.
Your lawn sign is the ultimate tool for delivering a highly coveted form of advertising. Be proud of your signs– treat them with the respect and value they deserve. You can beat your competition simply by upgrading the look of your existing signs and revamping your image.
Jeff Lincoln, MBA, is president of Lincoln Lawn Frames. He is an award-winning marketer and inventor.