How to create real estate advertising that sells

In my career in advertising, I have often been asked the question of how to create ads that help sell the product. When it comes to FMCG, the answer is quite simple. That is because it is mainstream advertising.

The real challenge is when it comes to real estate advertising. It is not just because the ticket size is big, but it is also because, in most cases, it is the unbuilt spaces that are being sold. The combination of a long product lifecycle and intangible aspects of this tangible product gives rise to a lot of confusion among developers and ad agencies alike.

Here’s how this old conundrum can be solved and further chaos can be averted.

Position your product

Media is expensive and whoever tells you that a particular media (read digital) is inexpensive, you are being misinformed. Media errors in your advertisement are expensive. You cannot go wrong and so you need to know who is your prospect, what’s his profile, what are his requirements, his sentiments, and a whole lot of things. Real estate now is a game of demand and supply and so you need to know what your customer is like. The results of your campaigns depend less on how we write your advertising than how we position your product. Positioning coke as a refreshing drink and not a whiskey diluter mixer was a conscious call by great advertising gurus.

Sell the dream not the home

Selling residential real estate is all about the promises. If you underpromise you might not be able to sell and you give in to your competition. On the other hand, if you over-promise and under-deliver, you will lose the trust behind the brand and hence kill the business. Therefore, before you create any ads, know what you want to promise to your prospective client. A promise is not a claim, or a theme, or a slogan.  It is a benefit for the consumers.

Build a brand

Every advertisement should contribute to the complex symbol which is the brand image.  95% of all advertising is created ad hoc.  Most products lack any consistent image from one year to another.  The developer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand gets the largest share of the market. Most real estate developers forget that in a larger scheme of things, projects are a part of the brand. If you focus only on selling projects, you lose trust due to anonymity. Remember, you buy a Mercedes-Benz car because it’s a ‘Mercedes-Benz Car’. Would you pay as much for a car that looks like a Mercedes but has no company name on it?

Be realistic

Stop using words like luxurious and spacious. It is done and dusted and no one has been able to sell anything by boring its readers. Honest advertising is something that people have always appreciated and it has given results. The only reason we see for not being honest about your project can be because the project is not planned to the best of your ability or market requirements. If it is not your best, do not expect it to sell like a piece of cake. We are advertisers, not magicians.

Paying your agency

I might sound a little funny here, but pay them a little extra than they quoted. Media is expensive and it does you no good to be penny-wise, pound foolish. The agency knows how to save your buck. They have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. Paying them better ensures they are on your side. Obviously, this will also make them go the extra mile to ‘think’ about your product/project and come out with astonishing campaigns. It’s a simple technic of buying trust and loyalty.

Trust your team

This is the most important and very difficult to achieve. Advertisers have a gut feeling; they might come up with crazy ideas and it’s okay to reject but be sure when you do so. It takes a lot to come up with a crazy idea and we have seen wonders in the advertising industry. A campaign like ‘Daag Achhe Hai’ would not have been remembered if the company had scrapped it for its outlandish approach. If you are a developer do what you do best, let the creative guys do what they do best. Of course, the power of rejection is always with you, but keep an open mind for ideas.

The things to avoid

 1. Playing with graphic design layout

Trust the instant that you get on the first look of the creative. A deep dive later will destroy the thought. Meaning, reject layouts if you don’t like them at the first look. Don’t ponder and reject later.

2. Fidgeting about company logo placement and size

You love your brand logo, the whole world does not. A small or a big logo will not make a difference, it has to be seen and your creative team knows it very well.

3. Thinking one ad at a time

The project needs to have a design persona fixed for its communication. From colour palette to type of language, it has to be uniform. The ad campaigns can be changed but the ethos of the brand should not.

4. Frequently changing agencies

Don’t constantly keep looking for a better deal. Once you start working with an agency, stick with them at least for 6 months. Building rapport and showing results take time; give it to them. I’m not saying keep tolerating unprofessionalism and non-performance but also keep in mind that a new agency is going to take some time and your efforts with the previous one will be wasted.

About the author:
Amar Gulwade
Director & CCO
Square One Communications LLP.

Amar is an expert strategist with 10+ years of experience in advertising and communications. He is a keen observer of industry trends in advertising, digital or ATL, and believes creativity is still the key to the success of any advertising campaign. An avid reader, he recently subscribed to the idea of connecting to a wider audience by expressing his thoughts and ideas through blogs.

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