Reduce the cost of your farming

Step by step guide to the Ad Program top agents use at Discover

In Thanksgivings past, we’ve blogged about wonderful topics like gratitude and giving back. This year, with so many agents asking us how they can get more bang for their marketing buck in 2020, we decided to break from tradition and Talk Turkey.

Across the country, many markets still face limited inventory – and this is compounded by the seasonally slow months ahead. The sad truth is that the cost per lead – regardless of your strategy – goes up when the market is dry. Agents need to find smart ways to stretch every marketing dollar. The best way? Other people’s money, of course!

The vendors that have a good relationship with you should understand that those referrals have to come from somewhere – and no matter how many they receive, they’re always eager to get more. They are not paying for referrals under the guise of an ad; rather, they are supporting your efforts to grow so that they can receive even more opportunities in the future. They should understand this; if they don’t, explain it – but don’t be afraid to pitch the idea.

Here at Discover, agents farm with 12-page real estate publications, which have plenty of space for paid advertisements. Over 80% of our clients have an average of 2.2 vendor advertisements in their papers. Managing so many vendors would be impossible without a program in place, and a simple process for both the agent and the advertiser.

1. Identify your Ad Prospects

First, create a list of no more than seven local professionals who know you well and would no doubt benefit from any increases to your business. Well over half the ads we see are from title agents and lenders, and the remainder come mostly from insurance agents, landscapers, moving companies, and contractors.

Instead of thinking, “how can I sell a ton of ads?” – because that never works! – you should be thinking, “who are a few good partners who would see real opportunity in supporting my marketing?” Remember, you’re just trying to maximize your budget to generate leads and listings. Set a goal to save about 15%, and consider any additional savings a real bonus.

Agents who have the most success with advertising stay focused on the partnerships they have already built. Your ads should be from vendors you already know; you will spin wheels if you try to sell an ad to a professional you “want” to build a relationship with. If you don’t have many strong partnerships today, start by building a few good referral relationships, and then ask for ad support.

Here are a few industries to consider when making a list of vendors to approach:

  • Title Agent
  • Lender
  • Moving Company
  • Home Inspector (especially if you order a lot of pre-inspections)
  • Landscaper
  • Insurance agent
  • Interior Designer or Stager
  • General Contractor
  • Service Tradesmen (Repairs)

Once you have your list, contact your account manager to set your ad prices.

2. Set your Rates

You always have full control over the rates you charge, but Discover is here to help.
The process of determining ad rates begins with Discover examining the average home values in your farm, as well as the quantity of publications you mail out (your circulation). Based on this, Discover will suggest pricing for the different sizes of ads you wish to offer. Discover has three standard sizes, and some agents create custom sizes in addition to those options.

After you make a final decision on your ad rates, Discover develops a custom rate card for your ad prospects. This rate card will also include any special promotions or discounts you want to offer – and your account manager will give you plenty of ideas. For example, one popular promotion is to offer a free ad with a 6-edition sign-up.

3. Customize a Sales Plan

When it’s time to approach your vendors, you are in the driver’s seat and decide how much involvement you want Discover to have. There are two general tracks for ad sales here at Discover.

Full-service approach

Many agents take advantage of Discover’s full-service ad sales, which doesn’t cost anything and can make the process much simpler. In years past, Discover simply took your list of vendors and hit the phones. The results were lukewarm at best, so we’ve added the step of an email introduction, resulting in double the conversion rate.

  • First, send your list to Discover.
  • Next, send an email introduction to each vendor, and copy your Discover sales rep. Discover will provide you with an email template to use, if you choose. On this email, there’s no need to talk pricing; it’s just a warm hand-off to Discover.
  • Discover contacts the vendor via phone and email (up to three attempts), and sets up a short call.
    On that call, Discover will go over the benefits of the ad, everything that’s included, how many homes it will go to and how often, and how the paper is also marketed on digital platforms (if applicable). The rep will cover the different size options and rates, as well as any promotions you are offering. Most importantly, Discover will emphasize how effective real estate publications are for generating leads – not just for the agent, but for everyone the agent relies upon.
  • Discover will utilize a variety of sales tools such as a sample publication, advertising materials, and your custom rate card.
  • Discover also provides customizable ad agreements, so that both you and Discover can be protected from any copyright, design error, or payment problems that might arise. Discover will fill this out for any vendor who wishes to sign up (according to the perimeters you set up in the beginning), and send a copy to you.
Sell and Transfer approach

Depending on your relationship with your vendor, you may decide to pitch the ad yourself. In that case, we will arm you with all the tools you need to secure some ads. These materials include:

  • Email template for laying out the benefits of an ad
  • Custom rate card
  • Advertising sales sheet
  • Custom ad agreement
  • Custom advertiser landing page (by request) – a great tool to streamline the sign-up process, for larger agents expecting to enroll at least five advertisers

Once you’ve sold an ad, it couldn’t be easier. Simply put the advertiser in touch with your account manager, send Discover a copy of the signed Ad Agreement, and you’re done.

Some agents will mix up both ways of selling. For example, you can get a commitment from a vendor to participate, then introduce the vendor to your rep to finalize the ad selection and to sign the agreement. Whatever your preferences are, Discover is set up to make make ad sales easy and pain-free.

4. Enroll the Advertiser

You’re done!
Whether Discover sells the ad for you or you sell it yourself, your involvement ends there. Any details related to their ad are now off your plate completely.

Discover will take the ad agreement (if you’ve chosen to use one) and set up the advertiser accordingly. Your graphic designer will personally reach out to the advertiser to collect materials and design the ad. If the advertiser signs up for auto-pay, the billing department will contact them directly to set it up.

5. Get the Ad Credit

The best part of Discover’s ad program is the ad billing and collecting. Agents are so relieved to know they do not have to chase payments or collect money from industries that fall under RESPA guidelines.
Discover sends a bill to the advertiser about 30 days before each publication goes to print. The Ad Program is a free service, so once an ad payment is collected, 100% of the ad revenue is credited to your invoice. Discover does not take a cut.

On average, agents who take advantage of Discover’s Ad Program save 10-25% on the total cost of their farming. Some save far more than that, and some less. It depends on how valuable a marketing partnership is to a particular vendor, based on the opportunity for more business for them in the future. If you’re shaving about 15% off your bill, know that you’re right where most agents are, and don’t spend too much time trying to get even more. In time, if you nurture your vendor relationships, it’ll increase in an organic way.

Ads have benefits beyond money alone

In addition to offsetting the cost of your custom publication, advertising carries with it tremendous benefits for you and your vendors and affiliates. It’s a phenomenal way to increase loyalty and strengthen partnerships on both sides. It keeps you connected in a common goal.

In fact, several agents provide pro-bona advertising to promote charities and volunteer opportunities. Discover’s custom publications are a spectacular way to get your message of leadership, community involvement, and expertise out to thousands and thousands of homeowners – and this power can be extended to the causes you care about, too.

Agents have long known that content-driven direct mail raises brand awareness, but beyond generating leads and listings, it’s a chance to show the community that you’re a well-connected mover-and-shaker in the community.

Selling a few ads is easier than you think

We’ve tinkered, honed and streamlined our Ad Program process for many years, to give agents an easy way to take advantage of ad revenue.

Check out this page, which also has an informative video on the process of Discover’s Ad Program, for more information on how easy it is to get a few ads in your publication. Or, simply inquire below and we’ll set up a short call to answer your questions.

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