The real secret of effective advertising – it’s all about “HOODOO”

This is Part One of a 10 Part Series from Ian Grace that will help you to write great real estate ads, that sell, every time.

Hoodoo.™ Remember that word and you will always remember what effective advertising is all about, not just a week or two after you have read this article, but for the next 10, 20, 30 years or more. It’s the most effective way I know, to help you to understand, always, the formula for effective advertising.

In fact, once you read and understand this, it will drive you and/or your partner nuts when you are next watching TV and the professionally created ads come on — “there it is, HOODOO — and there’s another ad, HOODOO” — you are going to see “HOODOO” in every good ad from today onwards.

Let me explain, while I take the mystique out of effective advertising. Virtually everyone has sold household items at some time — when they do, being untrained in advertising, all they do is describe the item, perhaps it’s make or brand, its condition, price, person to contact and contact details. e.g. a bicycle for sale — it’s a Malvern Star, Rockbreaker model, green colour with two wheels lined up one in front of the other (which is pretty handy), bell on the front, brake at the back, right handlebar, left handlebar (you get the picture?), price, person, phone number – have you seen those kind of ads? We all have — but sadly, most real estate ads are doing the same thing — merely describing the property for sale — and that is certainly not effective advertising.

Professional advertising agencies obviously know what product or service they are selling, but they won’t write anything about it, or (particularly take note of this) take any photos, until they have first determined WHO will see the most value in the product or service they are advertising — and when it comes to real estate, they are the people who will always pay the highest price.

Once they have established WHO they are aiming at, they now know how to talk to them e.g. if they are advertising a high-class department store, they may be talking in the main, to a very different audience and in a very different way, than if they were promoting a bottom of the line discount store — make sense?

When it comes to real estate, families with young children, retired couples, career couples or singles, all have very different needs and values and should be spoken to appropriately, once identified as your prime WHO — obviously being aware of and using common sense, when it comes to local anti discrimination legislations.

Now they know WHO, in their advertising they proceed to show and tell their target audience what they will be able to DO as a direct result of the purchase — and that is what effective advertising is all about.

It’s all about HOODOO — a memory device that will always help you to remember — WHO and DO — so now you know what effective advertising is all about.

Let’s test it — who’s ever seen an ad on television for washing powder? You know, the one where mum, for example, is trying to get the family’s clothes clean, but they’re always rolling in the dirt or the grease at work, whatever. Then, along comes Mr/Ms XYZ washing powder representative, who saves the day and all the washing is cleaner than clean, whiter than white — have you seen ads like that? They’ve been around for years — and as you can see, it’s all HOODOO – in this case, she is the WHO and that is what she can DO, as a result of her purchase, when she buys that particular washing powder. How are we going — is it all making sense?

Another example — imagine a TV ad for a 4 wheel drive vehicle or SUV, perhaps driving along the beach, or out in the rough somewhere. Now if you can see the driver, you can pretty well guarantee it won’t be an 80 year old person driving the vehicle — pretty obvious isn’t it?

The advertising agency will have already very specifically determined that their prime market, where most sales will be made, may for example, be 38 year old males — that is their WHO — then, they go to the model agency and book a 38-year-old male model, place him behind the wheel, roll the cameras and there’s your ad, as he enjoys himself driving through the rough or wherever — he’s the WHO and there is the DO – simple, isn’t it!

With real estate advertising, this concept is mostly totally ignored, with Realtors merely describing the house that is for sale and as we will see later, that is not what they are selling – firstly, establish WHO will see the most value in the property you are selling and the area where it is located, depending on their particular value structure at that stage of their lives — then show them and tell them what they will be able to DO as a direct result of their purchase — now, you’ll be starting to produce really effective real estate advertising that will achieve the best end net result for your sellers.

So, it’s all about HOODOO – WHO/DO — then later, when we look at putting together an effective media mix advertising campaign, we look at the WHEN and WHERE the advertising will be placed.

Next Week: Ian will be discussing the topic of Headlines, how vital they are and the formula they must follow.


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Ian Grace

Known internationally as “Mr Real Estate Advertising”, Australian born Ian Grace is acknowledged as the world’s leading authority on real estate advertising and customer service. For more information visit iangrace.com