Biggest DON’Ts When Customizing Your Real Estate Newsletter

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During twenty years of helping agents to create custom real estate newsletters we’ve seen it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Whether you are just starting with your marketing newsletter or have been doing it for years, our tips will help you avoid common and uncommon mistakes. Or maybe you’ve been doing something for years not realizing that it is not the best way to achieve results.

Don’t make your clients take out a magnifying glass!

Very often agents want to put in the newsletter custom written articles that are just too long for the publication and in order to do that, will reduce the font significantly. We’ve received files that are 5-pages long with a request to fit it all on the front page. How can you do that effectively without cutting the text or printing it in un-readable small font?

Our advice: keep it short! People don’t have time to read a lengthy market report after 8 hours in the office and 2 hours of the commute! If you have an important topic you want to share, shorten it to a digest-style report highlighting the most important facts. The added benefit would be that readers will call you if they need more information.

Another solution to this problem is to put a QR code at the end of the articles that will take your readers directly to your website or blog with a full version of that article. Then those who would like to continue reading will bring more traffic to your website and may submit you a question, leave a comment, bookmark your website, share it on their social media pages or even refer you to their friends or relatives! It makes absolutely no sense for jamming everything you’ve got into a couple of pages. Two or three teasers with big headlines pointing to full articles on your website will work twenty times better than a really long one without QR code or link.

Some agents spend numerous hours on totally customizing their pre-written real estate newsletter content substituting close to 100% of it. While it seems like a personal approach to marketing which should be rewarding, in reality, it is not. Why hire a marketing company with pre-written newsletter if you are going to change all of it? Believe us, content is important but not THAT important.

The main goal of a real estate newsletter is to put your name in front of your clients as a local real estate expert, not to become a professional publisher of a neighborhood gazette. If the content of the newsletter is so awful that you have to change it all, find a new company. If it is decent, why waste your time on a task that will not bring you more business? No question, you should customize some of the content, but don’t spend all your time being a writer instead of a real estate agent.

If you are really into writing and don’t mind spending a lot of time on it then check out some of custom real estate newsletter ideas discussed in this article that will benefit you in many aspects by improving your real estate farming techniques.

CMA or …?

Many Realtors have been tempted to provide their clients with a detailed lengthy Market Analysis in every issue of their printed real estate newsletter and the majority of agents have been doing it for years thinking that it is what their clients need and want to see in the newsletter. Don’t waste your time and money!

If you think your readers want to scroll down 50+ lines of the report in ant-size font comparing Days on the Market, Price per Square Footage and amenities to get an idea how much their property is worth, you’ve never talked to your prospective clients and asked for their feedback. While you, as a professional, should spend time analyzing data, don’t put it on the shoulders of your clients—they only want the summary and they definitely will be interested in what is selling now in their neighborhood.

Our advice: you are much better off to put Just Listed or Just Sold property (you can alternate them) with a nice photo, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, main features, and a price. Real estate agents who followed our advice have seen an immediate increase in business and now have a Featured Home in every issue!

Try to position your listings so that clients can see them without even opening the newsletter. Remember, sometimes you have only 2 seconds when your newsletter is traveling from their hands to the recycling bin to make an impression and capture their attention. Don’t waste it with unreadable scrolls of numbers!
Read more about other ideas for real estate newsletters here.

Who needs quality images?

Over the years we’ve processed thousands of property photos and can say with confidence: top agents make sure they present their listings well! Don’t just use fuzzy web quality MLS photos – you’ll only spoil the first impression and irritate your sellers (if it is your listing) demonstrating that you don’t care or you are too cheap to invest in a better camera or hire a professional to take photos.

Believe it or not but, some agents even faxed their photos back to us in the days thinking that they’ll be usable for printing! Only 10-20% of agents will use high-resolution photos for their printed marketing materials. What do we call these agents? Successful?

Our advice: take high-resolution color photos with good lighting, inside and out. If you are not skilled to do it, hire a professional. It will be a great investment both in your marketing materials and your image. Your sellers will immediately see that you care about their property and you are more likely to find buyers for it quickly.

Staying forever young (on your personal photo)

We’ve seen real estate agents using the same photo for years and even decades. If your clients are getting your marketing newsletter regularly and then meet you at an open house or just on the street, they’ll not recognize you if your photo looks like high school senior class yearbook while you gracefully aged during your successful 30-year career!

Our advice: be honest and make sure your newsletter photo (if you are using one) really represents you well so if someone meets you they can say, “Hi, I know you – I’ve been enjoying your newsletter for years!” Some agents make it interesting and replace photo almost every month with some snapshots of their adventures, hikes, travels, etc. Others love to put the photos with their children or grand-kids – whatever fits your personality. Just make sure it is a high-resolution recent photo that looks really like you, the one that you’d use for your real estate business cards!

A hidden secret of real estate marketing – line spacing!

We had a fair share of difficult clients over the years that are hard to please. They will be spending hours (and even days) trying to make their newsletter perfect (as they think), constantly changing fonts, adjusting line spacing and making slight changes to the layout that doesn’t affect the content of the newsletter and are barely visible with a naked eye. We even had to adjust our proof policies after one client approved newsletter after 27 proofs dealing with line spacing! In reality, your clients hardly care if the title is in Arial or Comic Sans font and what is the line spacing of the front article—as long as it is readable ad information is accurate, to the best of your knowledge.

Our advice: don’t waste your time being picky about fonts and layout and don’t spend hours compulsively changing it to attain illusive perfection. Your main goal is to provide information in a clear and readable format—not to create a printed masterpiece. You are better off spending time doing your real estate farming: talking to people, passing newsletters and business cards in your real estate farm, and selling homes!

Faxing your hand-written articles – really?

When everyone has an email address, we still get an occasional article faxed to us. Some clients are even more creative: they’ll type it, not save the file (biggest mistake!), then print it out on a printer, scan it (!!!) and then fax it over. How much valuable time did you just loose while making more work for your marketing assistant?

Isn’t it more logical to create your article, save the file, then email it as an attachment or highlight the text, CTRL-C to copy it, CTRL-V to paste it directly into your email and you are done! It is easy to work with text that can be copied and pasted then with crooked scanned PDF files. Keep it in mind to make the process of preparation of your marketing real estate newsletter smooth and fast. Avoid faxing unless you need to make a quick change in a layout and it will be easier to mark it this way.

There are still some “busy” real estate agents that will fax us hand-written scribbles strategically placed on the margins of the page (to be partially cut-off) and then be upset that it is time-consuming and close to impossible to decipher them. They’ll refuse to cooperate when you offer to email them the text for easy editing and will insist on dictating it over the phone. It is not an efficient use of your time and your marketing assistant’s time. Use all the tools computers and internet give you and make better use of your day for prospecting and enjoying life.

Losing database of your clients

You would not believe how many agents rely on a 3rd party (sometimes, their marketing company) to maintain the foundation of their business – clients’ data. Understand that nobody protects your best interests the same way as you do. Your relationship with a marketing company can be compromised or severed and if they have the only recent copy of your data that you entrusted them with, you may never receive it back.

We had clients waiting for months (!!!) to get their data back while not being able to continue with their mailings and having to go through a time-consuming and painstakingly excruciating process of restoring data. Don’t jeopardize your marketing by being cavalier with these records.

It pains us to realize how many real estate agents don’t back up that data and ask us for a copy when their hard drive crashes and they can’t retrieve it. As computer experts say about the hard drives failure: “It is not the questions of if it will fail, but when.”

You should be prepared at any time. Nowadays, when there are numerous ways of safely backing up your data “on the cloud” (over the internet so you are not a prisoner of hardware failure, fire, etc), there is no excuse for not doing it. Research a backup company that suits your needs – Google Drive, Dropbox, Carbonite – there are tons of companies on the market right now – and diligently back up your data EVERY DAY!

…and one more cave-man approach – faxing your mailing list

Please never fax your mailing list or mailing labels to your mailing company… There is always a way to export/import data from any system you are using. Invest time in learning your data management system and use it to your advantage. If you don’t know how to ask technical support or computer-savvy colleague or try finding the answer on Google, like the rest of us.

Faxing data, so it has to be typed again, is a cave-man approach to mailing that will for sure introduce numerous typos and mistakes into your data. With postage steadily going up you don’t want to be paying for undeliverable mail and bad addresses or offend your clients by making typos in their last name – a big NO-NO in real estate farming.