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By Craig Proctor

RISMEDIA, Nov. 5, 2008-Big business can afford to sink millions of dollars into pretty, image advertising that builds brand loyalty and consumer sales over time. Real Estate agents do not have this luxury. In this business, where most of you are small business owners with limited marketing dollars, the most effective way to attract prospects is to market to them in such a manner that they raise their hand in response to a specific, compelling offer you make which identifies them as in the market to buy or sell a home.

Buyers will comprise some of your most profitable (and easy) business in the current market. There are many places to generate a buyer prospect: from For Sale signs, at your Tour of Homes, off classified or report ad etc. I’m going to focus on classifieds because they are the most effective and cost efficient way, bar none, to find the hottest ready-to-buy buyers.

The goal of your classified ads is to generate a contact from the prospect (either to your hotline or your website). In fact, the ONLY reason to run these types of ads is to get the buyer to pick up the phone or visit your website to initiate contact with you. With your classified ads, you’re attracting mostly ready-to-act now buyers, although some longer term prospects may also browse the classifieds from time to time. In most cases, though, if a prospect is reading the classified sections, he or she is not just thinking about buying a home, they have already made the decision that they are going to buy. They’re in the classified section to shop and find.

If you want to stop your buyer prospect, you have to speak to their needs. Your job is to offer them a solution to a problem they have, and you have to make it easy and non-threatening for them to get further information.

What is the problem you have to solve? What is it that buyers crave? Well, where home sellers want to sell fast and for top dollar, home buyers want to get the best home they can for the best price possible.

What does “best home” mean? The definition of “best home” will be a little different depending on whether you’re speaking with first-time buyers or move-up buyers. For first-time buyers, the psychological need at the root of their desire to own a home is the need for safety, security and comfort. It’s the need to finally control their environment, to put down roots and find their own safe haven to run away to. When you understand this, you’ll understand why an ad that offers them free, easy-to-get information on how to own for less than renting (whether this is in the form of a report on tips or a list of properties available in a price range they can easily afford) is so effective at attracting first-time buyers. It speaks to their fears and their problems, and offers them a life raft to safety.

Move-up buyers are less concerned about safety and security because, by already owning their own home, they have already achieved safety, security and comfort. They already have roots and a safe haven. These emotional needs are “assumed” in the purchase of their next home. What these buyers crave instead is esteem and prestige.

You should be trying to address these psychological needs in your classified ads. Classified ads are one of the oldest and least understood types of advertising that real estate agents use. Most agents confuse the issue by thinking that the reasons they are running a classified ad is to sell a seller’s house. This is why the typical house ad is little more than a laundry list of physical “features” of the home (such as a new roof, garage door opener, main floor laundry, etc.), some of which may be important to a buyer, many of which are not important, and some of which actually dissuade a buyer from even considering the property.

The real truth is that NO ad can actually sell the house it’s advertising, and when you think about this, you’ll see that it’s true. In fact, no big ticket item can be sold solely on the basis of some advertising copy. The most you can hope your ad to do is generate enough interest on the part of the prospect that they contact you to get more information. It’s improbable that a prospect would make an offer on a home, site unseen, simply on the basis of a 4 line description (or even a full page description with picture, in the paper or on the Internet).

Think about it in another way. When you run a classified house ad, what usually happens? Well, for most agents, the ad generates some calls from buyers, but it’s rare that any of these buyers will actually purchase the property they call on. More often, you will try to leverage this first contact into the opportunity to show this prospect other homes. In other words, your ad didn’t sell the house, instead it simply got a buyer prospect to raise their hand. It got them to initiate contact with you.

You should therefore be writing your classified ads understanding that the one and only purpose of running these ads is to get prospects to call you, and the best way to get prospects to call you is NOT to blather on about a long list of features, but rather to hit the emotional hot buttons that speak to their deepest urges.

But just speaking to these urges is not enough. You also have to:

– Show them that this home is affordable by showing them an incredibly low down payment and monthly payment, and

– Make it easy and non-threatening for them to get additional information.

Compare the following two classified ads for the same property:

NEWMARKET – 1 ½ story, 2 bedroom, new roof, C/V, water softener, new paint, garage opener. (905) 898-1234. Bob Smith, XYZ Realty.

NEWMARKET – lovely home on private treed lot, great neighborhood. Only $2,600 down. Free recorded message 1-800-222-1111 ID#1234.

The top classified ad tries to sell the house in the ad by listing some largely irrelevant details, and then makes it difficult for the prospect to get this information by telling them to phone the agent. Most home buyers are familiar with the kind of cat and mouse game that will ensue if they connect with a real estate salesperson and will avoid it like the plague!

In contrast, the bottom ad doesn’t try to sell the physical house, but rather hits on the very powerful emotional hot buttons of safety and comfort. It speaks to the prospect’s heart that is yearning for the safety and escape that these few carefully-chosen words have managed to convey. People make decisions on emotion, not on logic.

“I’m a big believer in classified advertising as a source of good quality leads, especially for those buyers moving to a market and first time buyers. Why? Because it works. And it is still the least expensive way to generate leads from people ready to buy real estate now. This is especially true if your major newspaper also posts your classified ad on their website. Now that’s the best of both worlds. Over the years, I’ve found that many people moving to our market not only search online, but either subscribe to the major newspaper or buy it on newsstands. And Craig’s classified ads are designed to get those buyers to raise their hands and contact you for more information.” – Lester Cox, Tempe, AZ

To find out more about how to build a profitable buyer business, you can visit where you can learn about my 3-day SuperConference where I train agents on my VIP Buyer system which shows you how to attract and qualify the best buyers in your marketplace.

Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/MAX Worldwide for 15 years. To receive free training from Craig with no obligation, visit: