There’s always something to howl about

Charmed, I’m sure

DC: A very charming Georgetown house in the very center of the east village…

CHICAGO: Very charming Gunderson style home located on great block…

SF: Sunnyvale charmer! Updated kitchen. Great neighborhood…

Let’s step past the navel-gazing** about why most real estate copy is so dreadfully banal, and step up to the question: What can you do in the next 10 minutes or so to make your listings more attention getting, more interesting, and most of all, more effective?

And let’s start by dispensing with the myth — if not mystique — that marketing and advertising is more difficult to understand than other professions.*** Doctor, lawyer, real estate agent: It’s all about problem solving.

“Doctor, I’m feeling pressure in my chest.”
“Counselor, I’ve been sued for divorce.”
“[Your name here], I want to sell my house.”

There is one key difference. Those professionals are looking for solutions to clear and present problems. You, however, start with the solution in hand — a property for sale. Your job is to find the problem. Advantage you, for therein lies the path to better copy.

You simply need to become a method writer. At your keyboard stop and think: “What problems do my listings solve? And for whom?” Write your answers in simple declarative sentences. One after another. Action verbs preferred. And go easy on the adjectives and adverbs — no matter how charming, elegant, and delightful you find them.

Here are two to get you started.

For that in-town condo:
The end of your two-hour commute — this is a country home in the city with the kind of kitchen that causes suburban envy.

Or that suburban ranch:
In the basement…your health club. In the master suite…your day spa. In the family room…day care. Out back…your florist. In this home…your new life.

While I can’t see your listings, I already know the kinds of problems for which you have solutions.

“I’m eating at the same three restaurants every weekend…”
“I never see my kids because I’m commuting hours each day…”
“I’m sick of taking my clothes to a laundromat…
“I’ll never meet a man living out here alone in the boonies…”
“Yada, yada, yada…”

The more specific the problems you describe, the better your copy will work. Because instead of appealing to no one in particular in a misguided attempt to reach everyone who might be appealing, your copy will — in a few $10,000 sentences**** — target that perfect someone who will walk on broken glass to find the solution only you possess for their problems.

Of course “solutions-in-search-of-problems” is hardly an original marketing idea of mine. In fact the best thinking — or more accurately, the best instruction — on this instantly effective technique comes from New Zealand by way of Sean D’Souza of PyschoTactics.

And so that is a second thing you can do in this 10-minute copy workshop. Read his 25 free articles and follow his lessons on the subject.***** He’s giving away far better than what I charge $265 an hour for.

These three are good starters:

Is Your Marketing Solution Your Biggest Problem?

The Power of Why: Your Psychological Ally To Marketing Success!

Is Nature a Marketing Guru?

And sign up for his free newsletter. It’s the opposite of spam.

As you start to explore this you’ll discover “words that sell” are a big, consequential topic. And so we’ll return to it later. But enough for today. After all, I’ve got my own problems to solve.


** great for the consultants full employment act, but despite what Greg claims in my one-line bio to the right, I think of myself more as a provocateur than a guru (let’s see if he changes it!)

*** Which is different from saying (and welcome Ronan!) that it is easy to do.

**** Greg and I talk about the worth of well-written listing copy versus ordinary listing copy…this is my shorthand for that.

***** Special interest alert: Sorry, none in this case. But I did buy some of their non-free products and found Sean’s advice works, well, like the solutions to my problems.

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Related posts:
  • The Carnival of Real Estate…
  • So what’s your problem? (Or a 10-minute makeover on how to make your listing copy more attention getting, more interesting, and most of all, more effective.)
  • “My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel — it is, before all, to make you see. That — and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts: encouragement, consolation, fear, charm — all you demand; and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.”


    5 Comments so far

    1. Richard Riccelli November 28th, 2006 4:25 pm

      Kaizen copy: Or more problems your listings can solve

      “My friends are moving away–and up–to better homes…”
      “My last kid’s first tuition bill is due and we no longer need a four bedroom house…”
      “Walmart is planning a new store just down the street from me…”
      “There’s not even a Walmart anywhere near my house…”
      “I’m newly divorced/married/out of the closet…”
      “I’d like to get divorced/married/out of the closet…”
      “I need more closets…”

      Don’t be shy. Use this comments section to add your “problems” to our list and I’ll collect them and post a compendium that will make your listings the hottest copy on the net — and the best reading in real estate.

    2. Todd Tarson November 29th, 2006 6:18 pm

      “I live on a washboard dirt road about two miles from a paved one”

      “I have an older home but want to sell it at a comparable price to the newer homes with all the bells and whistles”

      “I have renters on a lease through August of 2007 but want to sell the home today”

      “I live in a dry climate and want to move to Idaho”

      I hope these present a challenge… and thanks for those links I’ll be checking them out.

    3. [...] Your photos are staid because you do not obey the peekabo law November 29, 2006 By and large, real estate photos are staid and boring. They don’t solve a problem and they don’t follow the “peekaboo law,” which states: Evolution has seen to it that the very act of searching for the hidden object is enjoyable [...]

    4. Cathleen Collins November 30th, 2006 1:09 pm

      > Vote with your mouse.

      Well, I’m not going to be shy. Charmed has my vote. Why? Because this is the juice that draws attention… attention to the homes we list and attention to us listers. And you get a great big vote from me for so generously sharing the science of the art of writing. (So I guess this second vote goes to both posts.)

    5. [...] Speaking of real estate carnivals, our good friend Greg Swan and Jim Cronin are also doing their fair share of clowning around this week. Jim is hosted the carnival of marketing over on his site” The Real Estate Tomato. Greg on the other hand, decided to hold his own carnival with his pack of bloodhound contributors by picking Richard Riccelli’s article titled “Charmed, I’m sure” on how real estate agents can effectively write listing copies that are designed to make houses sell faster and for more money as this week’s bloodhound article of the week. [...]