Picture Ads Marketing

Keys to a Responsive Homes Magazine (Picture) or Newspaper Ad

Homes magazines and newspapers are the most common mediums used to advertise real estate. The ads solicit responses by profiling a picture of a home with a brief description. Ensure that your picture ads generate response by following similar rules to the rules used in your direct response advertising.

Use a headline that targets a specific demographic. The picture of the home functions as the offer, replacing the value proposition used in an editorial ad. Limit the amount of text you disclose under the picture to the unique features of the home. Instruct the prospect to respond in a timely manner in your closing words. The ad still contains the following necessary elements:

  • Headline – The headline drives the ad. It must generate sufficient interest to cause the prospect to read the rest of your ad.
  • Offer – The picture of the home is your offer. It creates value, credibility, and projects uniqueness.
  • Close – Your closing compels the prospect to respond in a timely fashion.

When using a picture of the home as your main value proposition or in a picture ad, ask yourself two questions:

  1. What do I want the prospect to know about the home?You want the prospect to know just enough about the home that they are clamoring for additional information. Do not disclose information to the point that you potentially disqualify the prospect and lose an opportunity to follow up.
  2. What do I want to know about the prospect?You want to gain as much information about the prospect as possible to allow a professional follow-up. Call capture is an extremely effective tool in managing this process. It helps you generate an increased response from traditional picture ads by eliminating text that disqualifies a prospect and requires them to dial the hotline to receive additional marketing information. Your call capture system provides you with all the necessary information needed to follow up after the prospect calls.

Everything Needs a Headline

All ads have headlines whether or not the advertiser consciously developed one; all picture ads require a headline. In TV ads, it may be the first few words you communicate, but it has to be a targeted message with the power to grab the audience’s attention. If you are running picture ads that do not use a headline, your advertisement will fail you unless the home is highly desirable and priced perfectly.

Value Creates Desire

If you have a highly desirable listing in a prime location and you’ve priced the property correctly, you should leverage that property in your advertising to create more opportunities. Many agents would not advertise the home at all, knowing it is going to sell automatically and hoping to maximize the yield on their commission. You should do just the opposite. You are not advertising to sell that desirable home. You are advertising to create more opportunities for future business. It is imperative to keep in mind that selling real estate is not as much about the real estate as it is:

  • Uncovering new listing opportunities
  • Winning competitive listing appointments
  • Pricing listings correctly
  • Negotiating price reductions
  • Uncovering new buyers
  • Qualifying buyers

Performance Creates Brand

Brand is created by performance. Performance is driven by sales, and sales are engineered by opportunities. Certainly, high volume, well-established, branded agents create momentum with branding ads, but those types of agents are few and far between. Focus on performance to create your brand.

  • Put emphasis on your headline.
  • Offer value in your copy.
  • Close with an instruction and a perishable time stamp.
  • Provide a simple way to respond that provides you with accountability.

Why Ads Fail

Learning from Failure

Writing ads that make you money is not a simple task. Developing an effective advertising campaign requires a concerted and systematic effort. It’s not difficult, but it requires creativity and resilience. Following proven principles of successful advertising allows you to separate yourself from your competitor and grow your business. As with many endeavors, you may fail in your initial attempts at advertising, even after you’ve followed the correct metrics in establishing a successful ad. It is imperative that you are resilient in the face of adversity

A True Story About the Power of Creativity and Resilience

Check out this true story about the power of creativity and resilience.

In 1914, British explorer Ernest Shackleton (Shackleton’s Way, Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell) began anexpedition to the South Pole. Just before reaching the Antarctic coast, his ship, The Endurance, got stuck in an ice float.

Stranded, Shackleton hoped that the warmer weather of the following spring would sufficiently melt the ice, freeing The Endurance to once again set sail. For an entire year, the crew lived on the ice float and existed on penguins and vegetation that Shackleton discovered. When spring finally came, the temperature did not warm enough to melt the ice and the men remained stranded. The disappointment was immense; the men knew they were stranded for at least another year.

Things worsened, as the ice float began to drift, dragging the men, already 1200 miles from the nearest outpost of humanity, further out to sea. Eventually, the ice shifted and crushed the ship, rendering it un-seaworthy.
When the second spring arrived, the men loaded into the lifeboats and set out for land. Shackleton led his crew in a fight against the raging sea for a week in an intense battle that pressed the crew to their physical, emotional and spiritual limits.

Finally reaching land, the team found the terrain virtually uninhabitable and lacking any sustainable food. Shackleton knew they would perish if they stayed, so he took five men and returned to the harsh sea and set sail for a landmark over eight hundred miles away.

After miraculously reaching their destination, the men discovered that in order to reach the civilization outpost, they would have to climb a frozen mountain range. It took four months for Shackleton and his men to reach the outpost. He left his men at the outpost and gathered a new crew to rescue the men marooned on the island.

Despite his unspeakable hardships, Shackleton remained determined to reach the South Pole. This time, his ship reached Antarctica, where he and three men set out on foot for the South Pole. He told his first mate to hold the ship until a specific date and if he did not return by that date to set sail without him, as he had either perished or the ship would get stuck in the winter ice float.

The South Pole was 800 miles away. The weather was so fierce that Shackleton could only hike 800 yards in the first three days. He built small shelters along the way for protection. Just 97 miles from his goal, Shackleton realized he could not reach the South Pole and still return to the ship in time, so he turned around.

On the return trip, the weather worsened and all of the men fell ill. Shackleton left them with all the remaining supplies in one of the shelters they had built and set out to reach the ship on his own. He lost the soles of his feet due to frost bite and literally tied them back on with rope. His men, believing there was no way he could survive the weather, decided to leave early fearing they too would not survive.

As the explorer struggled to make his way back to his ship, with his men leaving him f or dead, he literally saw the ship set sail from the shelter he had built just 800 yards away. He set the shelter on fire hoping the ship would see his signal and turn around, knowing that if they did not see his signal, he would perish because he had burn ed his shelter and had no food. The ship saw the signal and turned around.

Near death from starvation and exposure, Shackleton gathered a few crew members and set off to rescue the men he had left in the shelters. He dragged the men back to the ship on sleds.
For the two years, the men were marooned, not a single person perished. Every single sailor on The Endurance credited Shackleton’s leadership for their survival. Shackleton had to be creative; he discovered food or his men would have starved to death. Thanks to his leadership, encouragement and effort, Shackleton’s men survived complications their leader could never have foreseen and achieved a goal they had never intended. Faced with obstacles most would find impossible to overcome, Shackleton was relentless. As a friend of the great explorer noted, “Shackleton failed at only the improbable; he succeeded at the unimaginable.

This story, while extreme, sets a barometer by which we can all gauge our resilience when faced with failure. Over the past 14 years, Arch has consulted with tons of real estate agents, and we’ve heard thousands of stories of agents running ads in the fashion we have described while enjoying immediate success. There are also agents who have run ads in the same fashion and failed.

There are many reasons why ads fail. The key is that you should not abort a marketing campaign based solely on the failure of one or two ads. Our strategies have proved effective for thousands of agents across the country. If you face failure initially, instead of aborting the challenge, ask yourself, In the face of adversity, how resilient am I?”

Five Reasons Ads Fail

You must track your ads, and you can do it quickly and easily with a sourcedigit report obtained from the Powerline™Reports tab. Tracking the effectiveness of ads and their sources allows you to know which ad styles and mediums work best for you. Continue to run the ads that work, and edit those that don’t.It’s important to edit only one metric, such as the headline or body copy, at a time. This allows you to more easily track the effectiveness of your changes. Refer to the five following reasons that ads, in general, fail.

  1. Wrong Medium
    In the world of advertising, this principle is paraphrased as, No matter how good your ad is, you cannot sell dog food to cat owners. This implies that it doesn’t matter how good your message is if it is broadcast to the wrong audience. Magazines and newspapers aren’t read with the same frequency or by the same target audience. Before you choose a medium, find out:

    • Where the top agents advertise (call them and ask if this publication is working).
    • The number of paid subscribers of the prospective magazine/newspaper; in the event the publication is not free, this number will differ from total circulation.
    • If the publication has performance-based pricing; many electronic mediums offer such a model.
    • Definitive numbers through tracking the ad medium; you can even use your numbers as a reference for leveraging ad pricing.
  2. Bad Positioning
    One of the top reasons an ad fails is that goes unread. It was either positioned poorly (remember: what location is to real estate, position is to advertising), or it looked just like your competitors’ and got lost in the sea of copycat advertising. Fight for position, keeping in mind that the best location is the top of a front page, with the next best position being the top of the back page. Following that is the top right of the front or back page. In the event you cannot obtain premium location, make sure to do something to make your ad stand out. For more on ad positioning, refer to our Writing Ads whitesheet.
  3. Unresponsive Headline
    Your headline is the single-most important aspect of your ad. It is responsible for 90% of your ad’s success or failure. It must grab the attention of the reader. Focus on a specific target (specificity always wins out over generalities), and appeal to them on an emotional level. Decide if your appeal is going to be based on negative (pain), positive (ego), or pragmatic (security) emotions.
  4. Undesirable Offer
    Advertisements do not create desire. Don’t waste time trying to create desire. Focus on directing an audience with pre-established desire to yourself. If there is no pre-established desire for your offer, there will not be any demand or response. With that in mind, only advertise to a pre-established desire. Many markets across the country are turning into buyers’markets where listings are sitting for much longer. The desire is to move the property quickly. Capitalize on that desire.
  5. Misleading Offer
    If you run an ad that over-promises and under-delivers, you will turn away prospects. For example, if you ran a headline that said: When Real Estate Agents See Investment Properties Like This…This Is What They Do! And then display a picture of an over-priced and rundown apartment in an undesirable neighborhood, this ad will fail.


As you develop your advertising and marketing campaigns, consider these common mistakes. Powerline’s unique technology helps you track the success of each of your advertisements, but you must use the service intelligently.

Make use of the unique capability to track the effectiveness of each of your ads, and leave yourself open to the ideas of change. If a certain style of ad or a particular medium does not bring you results, look at these common mistakes to make sure you are designing your ads to avoid them. Tweak copy, placement, and headlines until you begin to see more tangible results.

Most importantly, remain resilient in your efforts to attract quality leads. Powerline gives you the tools to build your business. Make sure you use them wisely and with confidence. Your dedication to developing quality ads will grow your business.

Today’s real estate market has you leveraging technology or surrendering to it.