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Billboards vs. Books: Who Wins?

Mar 24, 2018 2:22:35 AM

According to a national study, 71% of travelers ages 18 or older notice the advertising messages on billboards either sometimes, most of the time or each time they pass one; nearly one in 10 notice the advertising message each time they see a billboard.

Billboards can cost thousands of dollars a month, with costs reaching as high as $14,000 or more in larger markets like New York City.

We talked to a few of our members who have used billboard advertising to see how their success stacked up against results they’ve gotten using our MyBooks program.


Dave: I have, you know, done it all probably in the last 15, 16 years. I've been through four or five billboards, which absolutely do not work because it's more know, it's a great ego boost.

But it absolutely does nothing. I've done the buggy riders on the shopping carts at grocery stores. I've done the ad on the prescription bags. I've done Frisbees and mugs and 'Cuzzis and, you know, just balloons. You name it, I've done it over the years. Just the bottom line, bottom line is, I think the books are the most effective marketing tool I've used.

Smart Agents: Wow, that's great to hear.

Dave: As far as return on investment and buying and getting listings, absolutely incredible. Best tool I've probably ever used.

Smart Agents: That's wonderful. How long have you been using them?

Dave: I've used them, I guess now, probably about four months now, maybe. Four, five months, and out of 25 listing appointments, I have gotten 22.

Smart Agents: Oh, wow.

Dave: Yeah, again, it's not the only thing that gets the listing, but it sure is a powerful way to make that happen. Better than all the other stuff, 'cause you can spend a gazillion dollars on pens and magnets and, like you said, billboards, stickers and flags and flyer. The bottom line is, that's something tangible that these folks can put their hands on, and every one of them has said they've read the entire book. So yeah, 22 out of 25.

Smart Agents: That's a really good record.

Dave: Yeah, then two of those, two of 'em I lost because they were friends that were good friends with the Realtor. Also, it's kind of hard to overcome that.

Smart Agents: Yeah, definitely.

Dave: Other than that, really near perfect success rate with them.

Smart Agents: That's wonderful. Which book or books do you use?

Dave: I'm using the main one.

Smart Agents: The Business Card book?

Dave: Yeah, yes, absolutely. That's the main one I use. I've used some, and the other one, but that's just if I've got to put all my, you know, eggs in one basket. That would be the book I think that really gets more attention than anything I say.

Smart Agents: So are you done using things like billboard advertising?

Dave: Yeah, and it just comes down to just good hard work. Getting out, prospecting, going after a lot of the lower hanging fruit, the expired and withdrawns or sale by owners and getting that appointment. That's the whole thing. If you can get that appointment, just a shot, then that book will go miles for helping me.

Smart Agents: And what other techniques do you use now?

Dave: I do my own custom folders. I have a graphics arts person that puts together my listing presentation. Of course, I've done a lot of relocation throughout the years. I'm a former Century 21 franchise owner, so it's a combination of just going in there, believing in yourself and giving them 110%, and just saying, "I know I can sell your home for more money. In fact, I even wrote the book on it."

Smart Agents: That's very cool.

Dave: Yeah, and that's it. You do that and you will be successful. Definitely.

Smart Agents: What kind of feedback do you get from the people that you give the book to?

Dave: I haven't seen one yet that didn't open their eyes and go, "Wow, that's cool." I've never seen one yet, so it absolutely helps cement the deal, especially if you're running neck and neck with somebody. It's really that kicker that gets you across the finish line.

A great concept and amazing results. Amazing results. I've been very, very pleased and will definitely be ordering a bunch more.


Smart Agents: So, you mentioned that you wanted to get back into using the books. How long ago did you use them, and for how long?

Steve: I did this, I'd say when you first started having the websites and we were pushing the Facebook advertising for sellers. I used it back then, and I got several leads. I'd say I got quite a few, actually, off of the ad that we were running.

And then I also bought into the books. I have probably 15, 20 books still, and I'd like to get back into it because I've had some good outcomes with the books as well.

Smart Agents: And what made you stop using them at the time?

Steve: I was trying to go a different route. We were thinking of opening another third office, another place. People had their ideas, I had my ideas ... I kind of let myself get guided, so I want to go back to basics.

Smart Agents: Right. Yeah, that makes sense. So you said that you've also used billboard advertising. Do you still use that?

Steve: We're under a lot of looky-loo business. It does increase your exposure, and it increases it to everyone, not necessarily to people that are looking to buy or sell or something like that. So, a lot of leaps, when it comes to that. That's what I've found. Now, it may not be everyone's experience. Other people, they can probably turn it into something, I just feel like I'm taking a shotgun to a situation where I should be doing something very precise, and the other ones are more precise. Even if I just drop off a book, it will at least get the person thinking. So when I drop by again and I'm not pushy — that's the other side of it — if I'm not pushy, I have a chance of getting them to buy.

Smart Agents: What other marketing techniques have you used? Were they successful?

Steve: I've used Facebook advertising. I've done...Trulia and Zillow have always made money for me because I was a hustler. I would answer the calls quickly, get onto the person. If you do that, you're gonna turn 5 to 7% of that into business. But it doesn't help with the seller leads at all.

I may have gotten two listing contracts off the entire time I was on Zillow.

Smart Agents: So, which book or books did you use whenever you were a member?                                 

Steve: I've used a for sale by owner book, I've used ... that one was really good, actually. The for sale by owner, the inheritance book.

I really want to get into probate and combine that with the book. I think that's a really good area. It's almost ... I'd like to say recession proof because people just die. It's got nothing to do with whether the economy is up or down.

Smart Agents:  What are some of the best leads that you've gotten with the books?

Steve: Well, I met somebody in a restaurant.

Smart Agents:  Can you tell me about that?

Steve: I started a conversation up, but of course, you meet people in the weirdest places, and you start a conversation and you go, "Oh, well I do real estate" and sometimes, if you're not talking about real estate and you go there and they need something, and you've already established that they’re interested, and I go, “Oh, I’m a real estate agent, he's like, "Oh, here he comes." I gave the guy the book, and he actually read it cover to cover. He kind of caught me off guard on a lot of it. I had to go back and read the book because I wasn't prepared.

That's one of the things you really gotta tell other people. Read the materials before you give them out, so at least you're familiar with it.

Smart Agents:  So, would you say the books gave you more visibility than a giant billboard?

Steve: I think it gave me more visibility with the people that ... and it gave me that expert position, which you can't buy. Even with a billboard, it's advertisement. Everybody knows it's advertisement.

Smart Agents:  Right.

Steve: A book has educational qualities that a billboard doesn't have. If the blog is about billboards versus books ... like I said, the billboard will get people to know you and it's not bad to do it because if it gets your face on a billboard, it's just reinforcing. It's another touch. If you email them, or call them, or whatever.

I had better results from the books, without question.


Smart Agents: How long have you been using the books?

Hector: I’ve been using the books for about 2 months.

Smart Agents: When did you use billboard advertising? Do you still use it?

Hector: I used billboard advertising 4 years ago. I don’t use it anymore because I did not get good results. The billboards are good to get your face in front of people, but it doesn’t translate to business.

Smart Agents: What other marketing techniques have you used before?

Hector: I have used flyers, Homes & Land magazine.

Smart Agents: Which book/books do you use?

Hector: I’m using the FSBO, Expired and Buyer books so far.

Smart Agents: How have the books changed your business?

Hector: So far, the change to my business has been that I get instant credibility from the prospects.

Smart Agents: What are some of the major successes you've had with the books?

Hector: My clients are quite impressed with the books. They appreciate that I am knowledgeable based on the books.

Smart Agents: Would you say the books gave you more visibility than a giant billboard?

Hector: I would say that the books give you more credibility than a giant billboard.

Smart Agents: How much did you spend on billboard advertisements? How much do you spend on the books each month?

Hector: I spent $2,500 for 6 months on billboard advertisements. So far, I have purchased $200 on MyBooks and plan on buying more books.


avatar_joeJoe Nickelson is a real estate professional dedicated to helping home buyers and sellers achieve their dreams of owning property, and helping real estate agents stop using the sometimes-vicious tactics that weigh on their consciences. He believes that the Smart Agents books will, quite literally, change people’s lives for the better. Check out his full bio here