01 May 6 Proven Strategies to Revitalize Real Estate & Home
Shortly after Kevin Fraley stepped foot in the offices of The Medina (OH) County Gazette as the Advertising Manager, it became clear he had a problem. Your Home, once a successful weekly tabloid real estate section, was foundering. He said:
“You have to keep things fresh, try to stay ahead of the game. We had real estate combined with home improvement, landscape and gardening for a long time, but with real estate still pretty weak, we decided to give home more emphasis. To me, these two categories just belong together. It’s a no-brainer. You’re either looking to fix things up or looking to buy or sell.”
Fraley and his team gave the section a new look, new logo and changed the size from tabloid to broadsheet. He merged home and real estate content from CTW along with local content created by the Gazette’s staff. Fraley solicited ideas from his team, showed them a mock-up well before launch and started selling a month in advance.
The just-published special Spring Showcase issue of Your Home generated a 60-percent increase in advertising over his 2012 issue. The regular weekly issues of the product also generate double-digit results over 2012, according to Farley. Advertising volume continues to increase.
“We’re still not getting as much real-estate advertising as we used to,” Farley said. “The Realtors all have websites and think that’s enough. So now we want to look at what we can do online to help them drive traffic.”
That’s precisely what Patrick Johnson, Real Estate Sales Representative for the Everett (WA) Herald decided to do: Take his successful print weekly online and add value for readers and advertisers. Johnson knew he needed additional ways to lure his readers to his new site. So he partnered with Zillow to provide reasonably priced real estate listings in his market on his website. He uses the content from CTW to give the site more weight and context.
“Everyone is interested in home prices,” Johnson said of what Zillow brings to the table. “Even if you don’t intend to buy or sell, you are curious about the value of homes like yours. When you are buying or selling, price is everything.”
The site went live just two weeks ago. Traffic is up, as is advertiser interest. Johnson is optimistic about the results.
“We have a lot of new home builders in our area and they wanted more digital opportunities from us,” Johnson said. “Most already advertise with us in print, but some are 100-percent digital so we weren’t getting them without doing this.”
The take-aways from Fraley and Johnson’s experiences?
- Keep things fresh. A new look, logo, name, format or digital presentation can give your sales team a reason to talk with their advertisers. Fresh starts engage readers.
- Forge strategic partnerships. Johnson partnered with Zillow and CTW to bring highly desirable, often-searched information to his real estate website to increase traffic. Fraley is really pleased with the result of his new section and knows it would have cost much more and might not have been as effective if he had to depend solely on limited local resources.
- Get team ideas and buy-in. Fraley solicited ideas before he developed the prototype for the new section, brought the prototype to his team for their comments and then started pre-selling a month before the launch to make sure the new section was a success from day one.
- Don’t ignore print. Builders, real estate agents and home retailers all have websites today. What they need is a way to bring traffic to their sites. You can be the megaphone that helps them build traffic.
- Involve your advertisers. Both Farley and Johnson provide ample opportunities for local advertisers to showcase themselves. Combining content from respected sources like Zillow and CTW actually elevates local advertorial content, making it more effective.
- Think like your audience. Fraley says everyone is fixing up, buying or selling. It makes sense to give readers and site visitors content relevant to all of these categories. Combining the content expands advertising opportunities. “With the economy picking up, Home Improvement is our strongest category,” Fraley says.
Have tips to add or disagree with our experience? Share it with us in the comments section.