The moving billboard: Is it worth getting your vehicle sign-written?

Turning your car into a roaming billboard is one of the most cost-effective marketing options available to any real estate professional. You pay once for signwriting and it creates business for you as long as you drive that vehicle.

The moving billboard: Is it worth getting your vehicle sign-written?

Last week I mentioned that in this issue I would be sharing ideas to grow your business in 2021.

To avoid bombarding you with jobs while you should be relaxing on holiday, I'm going to run through the strategies one at a time (one per email) so that you have a chance to mull over each idea and decide whether to add it to your marketing mix in the year ahead.

One of the challenges for proactive real estate professionals is that there are a plethora of marketing activities and strategies you can undertake to try and generate more listings.

For most of us, we find it challenging to decide which option will produce the best results, often falling into the trap of switching between strategies haphazardly as we search for the silver bullet which will bring in hordes of potential sellers.

So before adding any strategies to the mix. Keep these critical points in mind:

Key takeaways on the subject of marketing:

  1. There are no silver bullets.
  2. If you want to see results from your real estate marketing activities, you need to choose your key focus areas and be consistent.
  3. You need to choose no more than 3-5 key focus areas / activities for the entire year. Anything more and your efforts will be watered-down.
  4. If you want to grow your business, you need to leverage your time.

This week, let's start with the low-hanging fruit...

Getting your vehicle sign written

Turning your car into a roaming billboard is one of the most cost-effective marketing options available to any real estate professional. You pay once for signwriting and it creates business for you as long as you drive that vehicle around.

What kind of car should you get sign-written?

Best options:

Mini, BMW 1 series, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Aqua or Rav 4.

Eco-friendly choice:

Nissan Leaf or anything electric you can afford. Or, failing that, any hybrid except a Prius (you don't want to look like a taxi).

I suggest going with a hatchback or SUV style vehicle. Sedans look a touch weird with sign-writing all over them. Aim for a timeless style (hence the Mini suggestion) so that you don't feel like you need to upgrade every few years.

Essentially you want to fit in with your target market. If you work in an area with lower-priced properties, you may want to consider what your potential customers drive. Run with a tidy, modern version of a popular hatchback in your marketplace.

If you work in a higher-end market, you may want to consider the BMW option or an all-electric model.

Common mistakes to avoid: Putting your face on it (I did this once!) and not adding your phone number or web address in large font. Also, make sure you buy a colour that is 'on-brand'.

My two old sign-written Mini's - photo taken July 2015

But what if it puts off potential sellers?

Some agents don't like the idea of driving a sign-written car because they are worried their clients will be put off. As in, they won't want the neighbours to know they are thinking of selling so they won't call you in.

In my experience, this wasn't the case. I don't believe having a sign-written car ever cost me any business. In fact, I believe it was the most effective marketing strategy I ever employed outside of email marketing.

You can be considerate of your potential clients by parking a few houses away when you visit to complete an appraisal. This is a great way to keep your competitors guessing in case you have nosy ones in your town who might try and knock on the owner's door after they have seen you parked outside.

Sign-writing your car pays massive dividends. You essentially have a roving billboard, cruising around town, all the time, with no ongoing costs. You can sign-write multiple cars if you have team-members (or a supportive partner/spouse) and potentially make more of your vehicle costs tax-deductible in the process. Make sure you check that last point with your accountant, though!

I personally love marketing activities which work for you even when you're not working. You could be sitting at a café, enjoying a coffee with friends, while your car is outside, raising your profile and advertising what you do.

You know how good it is when you get a house to sell on a main road. You can't wait to get the sign up so everyone can see it as they drive past. Getting your vehicle sign-written essentially gives you this sort of publicity 365 days a year.

But I don't want to drive around in a sign-written car!

I hear you. It feels like an invasion of your private life. It feels very public. So essentially it comes down to this:

How committed are you to growing your business?

If you aren't happy with your current results and you want more success, getting a sign-written car is an exceptionally efficient way to help get you where you want to go. If you are serious about real estate, but you need more listings, don't shirk this idea. What's the worst that could happen?

Tip: I also had a second run-around car so I could be 'off-duty' when going to the supermarket after hours or travelling out of town with family.

What about a sign-written trailer, instead?

Many an agent has considered the sign-written trailer or 'moving truck' marketing ploy, offering clients that they can 'use this van for free when you list with me'. If you are using this strategy, I would love to hear how it works for you?

When I have used this option in the past (a sign-written trailer) I found the hassle to be more than the marketing was worth. It involved endless booking and co-ordinating with clients (often after-hours) so they could pick up keys or drop them off. You also can't be assured of your client's driving style and you don't want them hooning around town, cutting people off in a van or trailer with your details all over it.

Can't I just pay for a bus-back instead?

I've never paid to be on the back of a bus, but many agents have. I could never justify the ongoing expense. For the cost of a few months worth of bus-back advertising, you could buy an affordable hatchback, get it sign-written and own it outright. It'll be there to promote your business for months and potentially years to come, while still holding some residual value when the time comes to upgrade.

What sort of design should you go for?

Keep it simple, modern and easy to read. Fully body designs look best. Avoid going with the magnet option -where you stick magnets on your drivers door when you are 'on-duty'. They look non-committal and part-time-ish.

One final thought

Getting your car sign-written will force you to be a kind and courteous driver. If you go ahead with this strategy, it's critical that you don't cut people off, that you stop at pedestrian crossings and generally drive in a defensive style. Make sure any team-members driving one of your sign-written cars can commit to this standard, too.

Got a question on this topic? Reply to this email and I'll do my best to help.

Next week: On the power of checklists!

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