Monday, August 6, 2012

Match Powerful Photos With Powerful Headlines to Get Ads Noticed

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Match Powerful Photos With Powerful Headlines to Get Ads Noticed

Not all houses are the same, so why do so many real estate ads look alike? Stop writing complacent advertisements and start helping prospective buyers visualize what it's like to live in a home.
An example of a photo from the advertisement that helped columnist Ian Grace sell his home.
What is the most important part of any ad? The top, of course!
When it comes to marketing a property, it is essential to make sure that the image and headline at the top of an advertisement are powerful enough to attract the attention of prospective buyers.
Because it’s in people’s nature to skim from one ad to another, rather than read every line of text, we know the first thing they see when looking at an ad is absolutely vital to helping them decide to read further. Unfortunately, most real estate ads ignore this rule completely.
In my last article, I talked about the ad campaign that sold my own home — it was only the fourth day of the campaign when the buyer contacted us. I also said the main photo I used would blow you away — I will come back to that later, but it illustrates a vital point: It’s time for a paradigm shift in how you approach an advertisement.
First, in order to grab the initial interest of prospective buyers, the ad has to offer them a benefit, communicate news or information, or spark their curiosity.
For example, visualize a properly that has a lovely ocean view from the back deck or veranda. Now, let’s assume we have a headline such as “Watch the Yachts Sail By.” The body copy might continue with “Relax with your feet up on your back deck, your favorite drink in hand, and enjoy this glorious view of the sea, the seagulls circling, and the yachts sailing by.” Got the picture so far?
Now, what would be the ideal photo to complement that headline? You’ve got it, haven’t you? A photo taken from that back deck, with the view prospective buyers will enjoy once they are living there — in their new home.
With this combination of photo and headline, you can see how well they work together to give the prospective buyer a clear picture of what they will be able to do in the home as a result of their purchase (remember HOODOO?). Certainly a photo of the front of the house would not make sense.
Just to reinforce what I am saying, pick up a magazine or your daily newspaper and look at the advertisements. Do you think you might find advertising photos and headlines working together to identify prospective customers, their wants, their needs, and their problems (and how to solve them) in ads constructed by professional advertising agencies? This helps potential customers make a decision to read past the headline, and see what the ad has to offer them. Pretty logical, isn’t it?
Photos and headlines must work together. But this is where we come across a common problem. Looking at real estate ads, whether they are on the Internet or in magazines, newspapers, or flyers, what do you find as the main photo in almost every case? That’s right, it’s a photo of the front of the house.
If the rule of photos and headlines complementing each other makes sense, then ads featuring the front of houses in the main photo with different headlines can’t all work. It’s breaking one of the most vital rules of advertising — placing the most important part at the top of the ad. Therefore, the main photo doesn’t have to be the front of the house.

Put it to Use in Brand Marketing

In my homeland of Australia and the neighboring country of New Zealand, there is a real estate franchise that wanted to develop a new logo or identifying symbol that would imply the message of success. Their research found that while people skim across advertisements, they often mentally, visually, or physically cross out the ones they feel aren’t for them, and circle ads they might look at in more detail.
To tie this practice into their design, the company came up with a logo that looked as if somebody had roughly circled a graphic interpretation of a house. The branding implies that buyers mentally circle their houses before others, and for those intending to list their property, their company is the obvious choice.
This example powerfully illustrates knowledge of the audience and how to attract interest visually.

Rethink Print Advertising

The real estate industry has been very fortunate to have specific advertising avenues that focus purely on real estate, whether it’s Web sites, real estate magazines, or newspaper real estate sections. However, the industry has been complacent over decades, placing the same old, boring succession of ads in front of the buying public. If department stores and services did what real estate ads do, they may as well close tomorrow — they would be out of business.
Have you ever looked to buy a property yourself? Then you know what it’s like to look through page after page of ads showing the front of houses. How can people possibly make an informed decision about what it would be like to live there, in that house, with those neighbors, in that area with everything it has to offer, by looking at those ads?
Consequently, prospective buyers end up looking at a property they saw advertised, only to learn it is not for them and it is nothing like they expected from the ad. This is a waste of everyone’s time.
Another observation — have you ever noticed how people will often buy a house that’s totally different from what they had first specified? Very simply, they had a clearer picture of living in the property they actually purchased, and they were prepared to change or sacrifice some of the features they thought they originally needed.
Once again, that is what good real estate advertising does — it puts the prospective buyer in the picture, so they can already visualize themselves living there — very powerful!

Make Your Ads Leap Out

Remember the headline of the ad I mentioned that sold my own home? “Relaaax in Privacy, After a Hard Day.” The main photo showed my wife and me in our hot tub, relaxing with a glass of wine. The three “a”s emphasized relaxing. The buyer who first saw the property on the Internet asked if it was me and my wife in the photo. It totally personalized the ad, gave it life, depicted enjoyment, and created the perfect picture of what the buyer could do once they owned the home.
Once you get your photos and headlines working together, as I said before, the results are absolutely amazing. But it is important to remember that the other photos you take must also match the wording of your advertisements, in the sequence that the features are addressed.
As my ad continued past the main photo and headline, the copy talked about doing some laps in the pool, or just relaxing in the shallow beach area — so the next photo in the ad was of the pool. Then it talked about enjoying a game of billiards, and, of course, the next photo showed the game room with the pool table. Oh, by the way, we had more than 20 photos total, showing the home and all the area had to offer. If there was a photo of the front of the house, it was among the last to be seen. In this instance, it was not as important to showcase the front of the house as it was to market the various rooms and property features.
If a house has “street appeal,” then that’s a bonus and it might be more appropriate to feature the front of home at the top of an advertisement. However, street appeal probably won’t be the reason a buyer purchases the property — except on very rare occasions.
Do you get the picture? Can you imagine how different ads will be that follow these rules, and how they will stand out against your competitors’ ads?
Have fun, and don’t miss my next article where we will talk more about photos, personalizing ads, and putting together a multimedia advertising campaign.

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