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By Craig Proctor

RISMEDIA, January 14, 2009- Most agents have used the classified ad section of their local newspaper in the same way for the last century. Their mindset is stuck in the paradigm that says that the classified “Houses for Sale” section is to be used to promote the properties they have listed and, like most of their fellow agents, they write an ad for each of their clients’ homes which laundry-list some standard features.

But if you stop to really think about it, you’ll realize that while these ads do a good job of pacifying your sellers, they do not do a good job of actually selling your properties. Why? Well, let’s think this through. You see, an ad designed to sell a specific property has a very narrow appeal, and thus is flawed from two key standpoints:

1. Very few people will call you on this ad in the first place, and
2. 90% of the few who do call will eliminate the property as being either too big or too small, in the wrong area, etc.

This leaves you with very few (if any) buyer prospects to work with. So while it makes your sellers happy to see a picture of their home in the paper, it doesn’t actually move them any closer to their goal (or yours) of selling their home.

When you think about it in this way, you’ll see clearly that there’s something dramatically wrong with this approach, and that it’s time for you to take a giant step back to examine your goals. What are your sellers paying you to do? They’re paying you to find a buyer for their home. How should you go about finding a buyer for their home? Certainly not the way you and most other agents have traditionally gone about it. There has to be a better way. So ask yourself: How can I broaden the funnel? How can I get more prospects to call me? And the obvious answer is that you need to make an offer that has a much broader appeal – an offer that many more prospects will respond to, and one that they can’t disqualify once they’d made the call.

Look at it this way. If you’re going to pay the newspaper anyway for the space to run an ad, would you rather run an ad that gets few or no calls, or one that generates droves of qualified prospects. The answer is obvious.

To address this, try running an entirely different kind of ad which I call a “Service Classified” ad. With Service Classified ads, instead of advertising a specific property listing, you offer property hotlists (e.g. zero down properties, distress sales, fixer uppers, etc.) and benefit-driven, non-threatening information (e.g. Costly Home Inspection Pitfalls, 10 Tips to Selling Your Home Without an Agent, etc.). These ads offer information that has very broad appeal to a very wide range of prospects. When prospects call you on these ads (and dozens of them will, each and every day), there’s no specific property for them to disqualify. Instead, they raise their hands and because the offer is broad, you’re able to help each and every one of them. From experience, a high percentage of these will go on to become your contractual clients. You will not only end up with more buyers, but your listings will also sell more quickly because you have a greater pool of buyers looking at them.

Here’s an example of one of my Service Classified Ads:

FIXER UPPER – Bargains, these homes need work, lowest prices. Call for a free computerized list with pictures. or Free recorded message
1-800-000-0000 ID#1048. Your Company Name.

As a bonus, you will never have to rewrite these ads the way you have to rewrite your traditional property ads every time you get a new listing. For example, I run the Fixer Upper ad (or any of the other ads) everyday, regardless of whether I presently have one listed that fits this description, because I know I can always find one, even if it’s listed with another agent on MLS. (Remember, I’m not saying I “have” them, I’m saying I “know” of them.)

Service Classified ads are responsible for dozens of calls every single time they run, both in my business and in the businesses of other agents who use them, and because of both the higher turnover of readers in the classified section, and the fact that you don’t have to disguise the fact that you’re advertising in this section, you’re able to run these ads with very high frequency. In fact, I’ve run the same ads for several years without changing a word. This is true automatic marketing! These ads will get you by far the biggest bang for your buck.

“In the past few years, I have made literally millions of dollars by running small benefit rich classified ads offering the consumer easy ways to get information on bank owned homes, fixer upper homes and other types of properties. In lieu of running a specific property ad in the classified sections, if I have a listing for say $300K in Mesa that is a 3 bedroom home, I will run a small amount of information on that home and how to get a free list of all homes in Mesa that match that description. Each ad utilizes a specific, benefit rich domain name which allows for tracking. Ads that don’t work, I quit running. Ads that produce well, I run more of them.” – Lester Cox, Tempe, AZ

Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/MAX Worldwide for 15 years and is the only real estate trainer who actually does what he teaches. Craig consistently sells over 500 homes per year to earn almost $4 million in annual commission. Over 25,000 agents nationwide use Craig’s system to make more money in less time. To learn about free Craig Proctor workshops held year round in cities across the country, visit: These three hour workshops coach agents on the essential success strategies for this market, including free lead generation, short sales, bank foreclosures and reverse prospecting. Learn how to run powerful ads that will compel motivated buyers and sellers to contact you, without spending money you don’t have; how to convert the best prospects to guaranteed income; and how to give yourself an unfair competitive advantage in your marketplace.