The following is a guest post by Holly McKie, Founder of HM-2.
Ahem… “The full-page (& really pricey) real estate ad in the weekend paper is dead. Yep- Even for Grand Openings.”
A friend lamented the other day, “They put another full-page ad in the paper…and were able to track 13 guests to the models. I don’t get why we are still putting money into newspapers.”
My guess is that in this tough market, traditional channels can feel safe. And in Real Estate..it only takes 1 buyer of a $500,000+ home to make the ad worth it.
That said, if the $10,000+ was spent in another channel, would the return be higher? Does it make a difference that these days over 70% of people feel advertising lies? (source: 2010 Edelman Trust Barometer).
just say no to the full-page ad, unless…
Communication has changed. That homebuilder / community developer staple of display newspaper ads… well it’s probably beyond time to take a closer, objective look.
1. Get Some Real Data to Understand Print.
Given that over 85% of home search starts on the internet, chances are great that your website will be a customer’s first stop, not your model complex. (source: 2010 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers). By using an ad-specific tracking URL(domain) in the call-to-action, it is easy to see how many visitors were motivated to visit your website by your ad. For example, instead of using your main site URL of HamptonBay.com, create LiveHamptonBay.com & have it forward to your main site for clear referral tracking. Or better yet – have it forward to a custom landing page within your site that speaks directly to your ad content.
NOTE: Sourcing traffic at the model complex should be taken “with a grain of salt” : This practice tends to only credit the last media a customer encountered with finding you. Literally the question we typically ask people after they drive into our parking lots is “...and how did you find us today?” They logically answer – “Your Sign”. It’s a confusing question.
If a salesperson has a relationship with a guest, a more transparent question such as “Don, thinking back to your home search, any suggestions on how we can better reach people?” could yield interesting ideas.
2. Review the Results.
Using an analytics tool, such as Google Analytics (free) or similar, it is possible to review the ad’s performance. Simple metrics such as ”How many people visited the website via the ad’s unique URL? Did these visitors sign up for any of your offers, newsletter, or interest list? How long did they visit? Did they review your product page? Did they visit your directions page?
Whatever key metrics your team has developed to gauge marketing results, should be reviewed. I suggest starting with only a few key metrics to track. You are seeking actionable insights, not data overload.
3. Was It Worth the Money?
Looking at the numbers – analyze “did your print ad pay off better than- or as well as- other activities?” The goal is to always make your money work harder for you, especially in marketing. By getting the right data and comparing results objectively – you will see what actions yield the best returns for the money spent.
KEY THOUGHT: Only by measuring & understanding results – can you do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t. Chances are in this era of blogs, Facebook, twitter, email nurturing and integrated experience marketing – upon close inspection that traditional print ad won’t look so safe anymore.
About Holly McKie: Holly McKie is the Founder of HM-2, a marketing development firm specializing in integrated brand experience & strategy for the Building Industry. With 18 years of organizational design and marketing experience in diverse industries, she has worked for over a decade in marketing and research for nationally respected community developers in both the public and private arenas.