The Psychology of Advertising

Advertising is an age-old concept but its effectiveness will be limited if you’re sticking to outdated methods. If your advertising is going to psych out your competitors, first of all you’ll need to get into get into your customers’ heads. Story by Paula Irvine.

Successful agents recognise the importance of advertising for the success of their business. Advertising enables agents to tell consumers about their services and the properties that they sell and/or rent on behalf of property owners. Advertising ensures that information about properties can be provided quickly and in a way that reaches a greater potential market than ever anticipated by talking to people individually.

The better our advertisement and the copy, the more impact it will have and the more potential enquiries the agent will have to work with. Sometimes this is an agonising task that is often put off until at the end, when an advertisement is quickly penned to meet the deadline.

We then wonder why the phone doesn’t ring or there are no e-mails or internet enquiries. All we have to do is look at what we have written and how poorly we really communicated our message. The advertisement we have written has just become one of many other advertisements – all trying to compete with one another, and in doing so, slipping into oblivion.

In order to find out how to create effective advertising copy, the agent must first develop an understanding of the psychology behind what actually makes an advertisement work.

We are now a part of an accelerated culture, consuming information and entertainment faster than ever before. Consumers’ lives are being overloaded by commitments, activities and responsibilities that extend beyond the simpler work and lifestyle choices of the second half of last century.

Newspapers, free-to-air TV, and radio are no longer the sole sources of providing news and information to consumers. They now compete with pay TV and the internet for a share of the consumer market. Communication by telephone has been equally challenged by mobile phone text messages and e-mails.

With this bombardment of rapid technological developments, consumers have changed the way they absorb and respond to information. No longer does this method simply depend on the tidy, rational thinking of gaining the information (reading, watching or listening) and logically analysing, interpreting and memorising it.

Particular consumer changes include:

  • Information now has to be of direct interest or involve someone or something famous and be fast, otherwise the consumer will tune out.
  • Individuals are now using low, rather than high, levels of involvement to analyse and process information.
  • Many choices are now being made with little rational consideration of why that particular choice is being made.

In psychological terms, right brain perception (longer term memorisation with more irrational, illogical processing and low involvement) is now playing more of a role in gathering and storing information than the left side of the brain (the area of short term, high involvement rationalisation and decision-making).

The body has called on the brain’s right side to compensate for the rapid stream of almost continuous information that is overloading the left, rational side. Essentially, this means that purchasing decisions are now based on longer-term data and influenced more by irrational and illogical factors.

This change explains the popularity of modern brand names (clothing, shoes, food outlets) with consumers building up a long-term trust in the name and recognition of its product rather than rationalising about the perceived value.

The way we advertise consequently needs to acknowledge these changes. An agent must be aware that what was effective advertising five to ten years ago is no longer effective today, and that marketing a listed property (a one-off product) to get a sale or rental in a short period of time goes against the psychological grain of today’s consumer behaviour.

Real estate advertisements today need to accommodate these psychological changes by implementing marketing ideas that:

  • are bigger, faster, more creative, visual and verbal (to gain the attention of the consumer above and beyond other competition).
  • involve branding and long-term perception, for example company/franchise names with advertised reputations for being ‘best real estate offices’ or having ‘No. 1 agents’ (to encourage the consumer to trust their services).
  • introduce an emotional aspect appealing to consumer ego, good feelings, or a solution to a problem or perceived need (to encourage the consumer to act immediately)
  • alternatively go very soft and move away from the hype, speed and glamour.

It is the last two ideas, the emotional aspect of advertising copy that can be instrumental in making the consumer act quickly and want to buy or rent a property.

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Paula Irvine

Paula is a well respected Real Estate agent with over 25 years of practical experience across the industry and property training. Paula is the RTO Manager at Harcourts Academy.