The power of storytelling in real estate ads

Tim Cronin, Published: Thu 13th Apr, 2017

If anyone remembers anything from being taught how to write essays at school it’s probably the idea that every piece you create needs a story arc - a beginning, a middle and an end.

The same applies to real estate ads.

To many of you that will be Writing 101. But you’d be amazed by how many ads I read that are lacking one of these key components. All too often ads open on random points which are likely to have very little influence on purchasers. It’s as though the writer has put no thought into how the ad will play out, simply sitting down at their computer and typing whatever springs to mind first.

Others lack that strong finish which all good marketing requires. There’s no point going to all the trouble of painting the perfect picture of your property only to forget to finish with a compelling call to action at the end.

Just like an essay, your opening statement introduces your argument, the middle provides the evidence to back it up, and the conclusion summarises your case.

Starting out.

Your window of opportunity to engage with a prospective purchaser is small. Very small. A matter of just seconds.

And so it’s fair to say the opening sentence of your advert is important!

Make it as compelling as possible, and make it benefit driven. What do I mean by that? I mean talk to the outcome for the new owners. For instance, the home might have large, interconnecting living areas and excellent indoor/outdoor flow. But those are features. The benefit is the ‘ability to entertain’, or ‘the flexibility which will appeal to families of all shapes and sizes’.

The second part of your introduction, which is directly linked to the first, is your audience. Start talking to the right people straight-away. So, if you think the likely buyer of your property will be a mum and dad with school age children, mention the great local schools, the safe neighbourhood or the large section in that opening paragraph.

Getting down to the details.

After that first sentence or two it’s time to start getting down to the nitty gritty. But before you start listing every single feature of the home, take a minute to think about your audience again.

This will help you prioritise what you talk about from here. If we’re targeting families, we want to lead with things that matter to them. So talk first about the abundance of accomodation, the versatile living spaces or the convenience of having multiple bathrooms before you mention the distinctive decor or the fabulous walk in robe.

Remember to self-edit what you mention in the body of your ad. We’re not trying to write a 1200-word essay here – we’re trying to make the most compelling arguemnt possible, in the shortest period of time.

So if it’s a luxury residence that’s going to appeal to true high-end buyers, the premium Italian tapware may be worth a mention. But if we’re back talking to our classic Kiwi families, then things like designer fittings in the bathroom probably aren’t going to matter as much. Leave them to discover those little extras when they look through the online images or visit an open home, and use the 150-odd words at your disposal in your ad to hammer home those key points.

But what’s the benefit!?

Of course, just because we’re starting to get into the details doesn’t mean we should forget the benefit. So, if we take our luxury residence as an example, we could say…

“The kitchen is simply stunning, with stone surfaces, European appliances and a large scullery.”

Sounds great. But if we really want to make it relevant and stir some emotion in our buyers we need to add the benefit…

“The kitchen is simply stunning, with stone surfaces, European appliances and a large scullery ensuring the ability to cater to both intimate gatherings and large scale get-togethers.”

Another example…

"Outside, the section is big and features established gardens and manicured lawns.”

With the addition of a benefit, becomes…

"The section is big, with established gardens and manicured lawns making it perfect for both the adults to entertain and the kids to stretch their legs.”

Wrapping it up.

Use your last sentence or two to recap the primary attributes, remind your target audience that you’re talking specifically to them, and create a sense of urgency. For instance...

Offering all the space and versatility growing families could ever wish for, this immaculately presented home is sure to attract a lot of attention. Interested parties are urged to act quickly – call now to learn more.

Here we’ve reminded readers about the key aspects of the home (in this case ‘space’ and ‘versatility’), reiterated the fact we believe it’s perfect fort families, and encouraged prospective purchasers to act quickly.

Of course, every property is different, and sometimes you’ll need to adapt your approach. But 99 times out of a 100 this is how I’d set about crafting an ad.

Hope it helps!


Tim & Jarrad.

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