The Internet has changed the way the real estate market and real estate marketing operate. The traditional mainstays and methods of advertising and promotions no longer function as effectively. Who has a phonebook? How are you going to cold call an e-retailer? You can buy an ad in the newspaper, but the only customers it will attract are the kind of customers who still have a newspaper subscription.
Our Internet habits are also leading to the fragmentation of the digital universe, where no two people are seeing the same combination of information sources. The world is also more media savvy than ever. This means advertising simply does not work as well as it used to. People are less likely to see your ad, no matter where you put it, and are inclined to view it with suspicion when they do.
People are intolerant of solicitation in general. Most people won’t open up for a door-to-door salesperson, viewing them as an anachronism at best and a nuisance at worst. Cold calls are practically useless, especially now that so many people have cell phones and unlisted numbers. Most cities do not even print home phonebooks anymore, and the commercial phonebooks are usually trashed upon delivery.
When someone wants information, they will pick the most convenient and direct route to get it. The Internet is many times more effective than a phonebook because it’s usually more accessible. Advertisements, if they are to have any hope of reaching the customer, need to appear where the consumer will actually see them. In the digital age, one click away can seem too far to go, so an ad printed in a book on the other side of the room might as well be on the moon.
Out-of-home signs and billboards retain their usefulness, but trade ads and magazines have lost currency. The types of trade and lifestyle magazines that used to run real estate listings have dwindled, and the magazines that are doing well tend to be free local papers. Even newspapers have lost much of their impact as classified ads have migrated to the Internet.
When real estate agencies do advertise in the local weeklies, they focus on marketing the real estate agency as a reliable and reputable business versus dedicating space to current listings. Customers will find listings through online search engines and aggregator sites. What print advertising buys now is reputation and an appearance of trustworthiness.
The Internet can be a powerful tool for agents looking to advertise the expertise that purchasers seek. Promotional ideas must continue to evolve in the digital space or risk wasting funds on ineffective marketing.