Lessons in Successful Advertising

September 2004
by Jeffrey Dobkin

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Years ago, a real estate broker hired me to help him sell more houses. We met for about 10 hours, reading over the real estate section of the paper and discussing his ads. I then told him I was ready.

“Sir!” he said in startled disbelief. “Do you mean to tell me we can meet for 10 hours and you can tell me how to sell more houses? I’ve been selling houses for 40 years. I’ve forgotten more about selling houses than you will ever learn in your life.”

It was true. My client had forgotten quite a lot about selling houses. The structure of his entire advertising campaign was wrong. Is yours?

What my client was trying to do was sell a house in an ad. You do not sell a house in a four-line listing. No one sees the listing and sends a down payment. The correct objective of the ad was not to sell a house but to generate a phone call. If the ad worked as planned, his phone would ring. It was then up to him to sell the house.

So we changed all the listings. “Call now!” the new ad copy said. “Call to see this beautiful four bedroom…” “For additional information by mail, call…” “For a free brochure with pictures of this house call us at…” If you read all of the listings, you saw that phone number dozens of times. My client’s phone calls tripled, starting in week number one. The first week!

Lesson 1: Write a clear objective for your ad before drafting any ad copy.IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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