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Real Estate Newspaper Ads… Should You Use Them in 2024?

These days, you may not personally read the newspaper anymore.

But if you do, you’ll realize one big reason newspapers are still around — the advertising space within them can be incredibly profitable… when you use it the right way.

As a real estate agent, broker, or investor, there’s strategies you can use with real estate newspaper ads to drive more deals into your business.

So while you may not necessarily read the newspaper every morning… people in your target market probably do.

And in this guide, we’re going to break down exactly how to get their attention and how to get them to reach out to you in an effort to work together.

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know exactly who is reading the daily news, the messages they’ll need to see in order to convert, and how you can turn a profit with your newspaper ads.

Before we get into that, though…

Is Newspaper Advertising Effective For Real Estate?

There’s usually a bit of a disconnect when you start telling real estate professionals that they can profitably advertise in a newspaper.

But when you stop and look at the numbers involved, you quickly realize just how much potential exists.

For instance, the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper is currently ranked as the #8th most read newspaper in the United States, falling just behind the Wall Street Journal.

During an audit in March 2013, it was reported that the Chicago Sun-Times had an 11% circulation.

That means more than 11% of Chicago (and suburban) citizens read the newspaper.

Based on the demographics provided by the Chicago Sun-Times, their average reader is at least 35 years old, has a college education, and has a median household income of more than $78,000.

Also, at least 69% of the readers own their home.

So if you’re attempting to attract the attention of 35+ people who already own a home and average more than $78,000 a year in income, the Chicago Sun-Times has your perfect target demographic reading it.

Taking a deeper look into the demographics of the newspaper, though, reveals an even better opportunity.

Since more than 30% of the Chicago Sun-Times readers are under the age of 35, it’s worth noting that there’s huge potential inside since young adults (who may be looking to purchase a home) are also reading it.

To make your real estate newspaper ads effective, though, you’ll need to take a specific approach.

While most agents, brokers, and investors will try to go straight for the sale, they’ll learn that newspapers aren’t exactly effective for that.

Instead, there’s a different strategy that needs to be taken when it comes to profitably advertising with print ads in local newspapers.

Real Estate Newspaper Advertising Strategies

One of the first strategies most investors, agents, and brokers will attempt to use is running a print ad in a newspaper in an attempt to go direct to the sale.

What they’ll quickly realize, though, is that strategy is actually a waste of time, energy, and money.

When people are reading the newspaper, they’re in consuming mode. Not a buying mode.

That means the approach you take needs to be slower and more methodical. Think about building your brand and building recognition in your area instead of trying to convert someone into a new deal.

When you start becoming recognized and use newspaper ads to help build your brand, you increase the chances that someone reaching out to you will convert into a new deal after speaking with you.

Your goal with newspaper ads should be to intercept someone who is already in the frame of mind that they want to buy or sell a home — and get to them before they get to your competitors.

Your strategy should revolve around drumming up conversations, not necessarily trying to convert someone into wanting to work with you as soon as they call.

There’s subtle differences in the approach, which we’ll help break down for you later in this guide.

As a general rule of thumb, though, if you’re going to advertise in the newspaper, keep your print ads focused on increasing your brand and name recognition — instead of going straight for a deal.

It’s a longer term approach to advertising but one that works incredibly well once you realize the subtle differences between the two strategies.

Best Practices For Real Estate Newspaper Ads

Now, when it comes to actually advertising your real estate business in newspapers, there’s a right way and a wrong way to design your ads.

Below are some of the best practices you can follow to ensure your ad flows with the newspaper, grabs attention, and keeps attention long enough for you to make your mark.

Image Sizing

One of the biggest mistakes agents, brokers, and investors make with their ads is trying to overload them with as many properties as they can.

It’s understandable why they do it, too. They want to make sure they’re giving people enough opportunities to spot the right property and potentially convert that person into a buyer.

What actually happens, though, is that the person looking at the ad gets overwhelmed with options and flips to the next page in the newspaper.

(The exact opposite of what you want them to do.)

Instead of making this same mistake, make sure your images are sized at least 2 inches in width while keeping to the rule that less is more.

Rather than advertising 8 properties, because you have 8 available, cut the selection down to 4 but make those 4 take up more real estate in your ad.

Also, use bright pictures with minimal shadows so people can see the beauty in the property.

Color Usage

If you’ve ever flipped through a newspaper, especially one as big as the New York Times or Chicago Sun-Times, you’ll realize fairly quickly that there are a ton of real estate ads in them.

It can be overwhelming for people reading the paper.

This is especially true for ads that are heavy in text.

To make your ads as effective as possible, you want to make sure you’re keeping text to a minimum. And, if you are using text, make sure the colors compliment your ad while also standing out.

Avoid using high-contrasting colors like bright yellow on a black background. Remember, you want your text to be easy on the eyes — not overwhelming and hard to read.

Using softer, more inviting colors that closely match the photos you’re putting in the ad can dramatically increase the number of people who take the time to read your ad.

Then, when it comes to text, make sure you’re only including 2 to 3 of the biggest key selling points instead of listing everything you possibly can about the property.

Avoiding Dark Colors

On the same token, you also want to avoid using deep heavy colors, like black or dark blue.

These colors present an issue with the printers and will often appear washed out instead of crisp and clean like they’ll look on your original design.

This washed out appearance can take away from your ad and make it look lower quality.

Another thing to take note of is that you want to avoid using gradients. These do not print properly and instead of appearing smooth on paper, they’ll appear pixelated and washed out.

The best approach you can take with the colors you use in the ad is to ensure they match your branding, avoid dark colors, and avoid high-contrast colors.

Also, while you’re designing the ad, print a few copies onto standard paper to ensure that the design you’ve chosen will translate well once it’s printed in the newspaper.

This single step can save you a ton of heartache after the newsletter gets published only for you to realize that your design didn’t convert well and you’ve essentially spent money on a low quality ad.

Positioning Your Ad

There’s a rule of thumb you’ll want to follow that most advertising companies and newspapers may not necessarily let you in on.

When a newspaper is published, it’s typically folded in half or into fours.

There’s an advertising term that’s called “above the fold” and refers to any content or advertising that appears on the front page and is visible without unfolding the paper.

This is prime real estate for advertising — and an area most real estate agents, brokers, and investors simply won’t use.

But as the newspaper is unfolded, ads begin to appear spread out across the pages.

Sometimes, these ads land directly onto where the paper was folded. Having a fold in the middle of your ad dramatically reduces readability and actively works against your bigger goal.

To keep this from happening, make sure you’ve taken a look through the paper you intend to advertise in and pay attention to where the folds are happening. Then request inventory away from those folds.

Using Proper Type & Fonts

The text that you choose to use in your ad is insanely important. Too much is distracting. Not enough doesn’t give the details a reader will need to decide whether or not to move forward.

Getting just the right amount of text into your ad is critical.

But something most advertisers don’t think about is the font they’re using for that text.

Many attempt to use Serif fonts or something similar to what people are accustomed to seeing whenever they read the newspaper.

While this may not necessarily be death knell for your ad, it can decrease readability. Since you want your ad to stand out, you’ll want to use a font that isn’t too closely related to the font used in the paper itself.

Studies have shown that you can increase your readability by using a separate font while also keeping the number of fonts you use to no more than two.

Real Estate Newspaper Ad Examples

If you’re looking for a bit of assistance with getting your creative wheels spinning, check out these real estate newspaper ad examples we came across while doing our research:


Don’t Let Your Incoming Newspaper Ad Calls Go To Waste

While advertising in the newspaper (especially using what we’ve given you in this guide) can be incredibly effective, it does come with one specific downside…

People read the paper at all hours of the day, even at night.

That means when your ad works, you’re going to start generating calls at the most random and, sometimes, inopportune times.

Think about when you’re in the gym. Or in a dentist’s chair. Or in the shower. Or eating dinner.

It doesn’t matter to prospects what you may actually be doing when they decide to call — they’re just going to pick up the phone and call you to learn more about what you mentioned in the ad.

And unless you’re available and ready to actually take those calls, chances are that any potential deal that might have existed is probably going to fall through the cracks.

If you’re spending good money advertising in the newspaper, that’s the last thing you want to have happen.

Instead of forcing yourself to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer phone calls, if you want to keep deals from slipping through the cracks, you can use a service like Call Porter.

Our professionally trained reps can answer your incoming calls for you, pre-vet prospects as they call, and then put the pre-qualified appointments directly onto your calendar.

Then, you show up ready to speak with someone who already knows why you’re talking and you already know what they want to talk about.

If you’re looking to increase your ROI on the real estate newspaper ads you’re running, it’s worth having someone in your corner to ensure the right calls are getting onto your calendar — and that you’re not wasting time with tire kickers or letting calls fall by the wayside because you were busy.