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Coming from automotive industry marketing, I thought one of the coolest things about real estate marketing would be the yard sign…Think about it…

For cars, I have to buy the big outdoor board on the Turnpike between Exits  13A and 14 if I wanted to reach consumers in NJ outside of their homes.  In real estate, I get to post 1,000’s of signs on manicured lawns in neighborhoods from Ridgewood to Cape May.  WOW.  How cool is that?

So now that I’ve been with Coldwell Banker Real Estate for almost 3 years, I am amazed at how antiquated  the signs are in my new industry.  What are they telling me as a potential buyer?

First, they sometimes tell me “For Sale,” sometimes “For Rent,”  and many times they don’t tell me anything.  I guess the fact there’s a sign on the lawn should indicate some real estate activity is going on, but during election season (we are voting for mayor in my town of Mendham, NJ this month) there are lawn signs all over the place.  Plus, now that the economy is coming back, it seems home improvement is on the way up so you have more and more of those contractor signs on the lawn competing with us.

Second, what are the signs trying to tell me?  The brand name (and I am biased here) always catches me first…that’s actually how I know that the women on the sign isn’t running for City Council.  Then I get bombarded by a collection of names (company and agent), phone numbers (the agent’s and the office’s), a website url, a text number, an agent photo, and who knows what else.  They have crammed so much stuff into a 2’x2’ sign that I’m lucky to get any info as I drive by at 35 miles per hour.  And, there is no set standard…that big phone number is preferred by this agent, while that agent wants a big photo and their url.  Some stress company names while others stress “Text Here!”  Some are higher up on posts and others are very low to the ground, competing directly with Joe’s Construction and the Invisible Dog Fence company.

Now, when I did outdoor boards on the Turnpike, we had a clear direction with our ad agency.  A headline.   A subheadline – only if absolutley necessary.  Our logo.  A beauty shot of the car we were promoting.  A url at the lower right.  And this was on a 20’ x 60’ piece of ad space 100 feet in the air.  And on my days on the Turnpike, I am driving only 25 miles an hour anyway because of the rubber necking by the Ikea store, so I had plenty of time to read it.

So hopefully we can get our 2nd most valuable assets*– the yard signs – to better communicate what we want them to.  So that you, the consumer, knows that this house is for sale, and here’s how you find out more about it.  Hopefully, as new technologies emerge and go mainstream, you already know what site to go to (for example, you already know or guessed that  Coldwell Banker ® properties can be found on coldwellbanker.com) to find the info.  Maybe a YouTube video logo so you know there is a video on the property.  Maybe even a solar-powered digital display?  And of course, that nice, bright “For Sale” rider on the sign.

We can’t and shouldn’t squander such a huge opportunity for our industry.  Otherwise, you just might end up voting for your neighborhood real estate agent for mayor…

*our great agents being our first most valuable asset

** Tesla re-recorded Signs, but what band did the original recording in 1970???

Yard sign photo by Flickr user: Reflective Signs.  “Signs” by Les Emerson.