A discussion of the style of real estate advertising
involves everything from a study of human emo-
tions to preparation of copy.
i. A real estate advertisement must attract
An advertisement that gives rise to pleasant
thoughts or pleasant sensations instantly attracts
attention. That which causes pain or displeasure
has the opposite effect.
When a prospective buyer is in a pleasant frame
of mind he is susceptible to suggestion. When he
is pained, angered, or displeased he becomes dis-
trustful and a mental resistance develops that can-
not be overcome.
Art work, typography and text must be pleasing
if proper results are obtained.
In art work and text, portrayal of the following
is pleading: Youth, beauty, growing things, happi-
ness, contentment, comfort, success, prosperity. On
the other hand a real estate advertisement depicting
BASIC PRINCIPLES 13
wretched conditions of living would be displeasing
to most readers and therefore ill advised.
In typography, large type of course attracts, as
does artistic border design. A well known adver-
tising dictum, however, is: “All display is no dis-
play.” For that reason the type should not be too
large nor the border too ornate.
Capital letters attract, especially in headings, but
under no circumstances should an entire advertise-
ment be printed in capital letters all of the same
size. This fault frequently is observed in classified
advertisments. When so presented they are ex-
ceedingly difficult to read.
Square spaces and top-heavy advertising dis-
plays are usually displeasing and should be avoided.
The square business card shown above is at once
displeasing to the eye. The oblong card is much
more attractive. It is for this reason that letter-
heads, envelopes, books, printed matter, paintings
and many other things that depend upon their
I 4 REAL ESTATE ADVERTISING
pleasing qualities for their effectiveness avoid
MERTON INVESTMENT CO.
497 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
Have a Home
and a Business
waiting for you in Southern
California. Chicken ranches
near Los Angeles are prof-
itable. Write for booklet.
Have a Home
and a Business
waiting for you in South-
ern California. Chicken
ranches near Los Angeles
are profitable. Write for
MERTON INVESTMENT CO.
497 WILSHIRE BLVD., Los ANGELES
The balanced advertisement on the right is pleas-
ing in appearance and more likely to gain the inter-
est of the reader than the top-heavy example on the
2. An advertisement may be emphasized by con-
A display advertisement or one of any consider-
able length in the classified section should have suf-
ficient contrast so that the high points stand out
and are easily read. There are some persons who
are too busy or too lethargic to read an advertise-
ment in its entirety. By emphasizing the main fea-
tures the reader can be reached with at least an
outline of the message, or his attention perhaps
focused on some particular item of interest.
The headline is a means of emphasis. It should
be short. It should say something. A headline is
most effective when it contains not to exceed five
words, preferably less. If the story requires more
words, the line should be double decked, as
BASIC PRINCIPLES 15
Build Your Summer Home
On Lake Tahoe
When a headline is double decked, each line
should contain a complete thought, if possible, as
above. The following heading is faulty in that it
violates this principle:
Build Your Summer
Home On Lake Tahoe
Proper use of white space and border also lends
emphasis to an advertisement. Numbering items
to be stressed sometimes is an aid to focusing the
attention of the reader. Art work has become an
essential for successful real estate display advertis-
ing. While it is not impossible to produce a result-
getting advertisement without art work, it is most
important to visualize wherever possible. Art work
of the proper sort undoubtedly adds to the attrac-
tiveness of any advertisement.
Magazines and periodicals present an opportunity
for the use of color. Contrasting as well as har-
monious colors may be used effectively, but cheap
or tawdry effects or clashing colors should be
3. Association of ideas influences the mind of the
By proper association of ideas proper sugges-
tions occur. For example, a large mechanical re-
frigerator manufacturer has adopted the name
16 REAL ESTATE ADVERTISING
“Frigidaire” for his device. The idea associated
with Frigidaire offers an appropriate suggestion
in considering refrigerators, and the name is. a
valuable advertising asset. The “Kelvinator” is a
competing device. This name also is founded on
the plan of associating ideas. It is named in honor
of Lord Kelvin, a great English scientist. The
association of ideas, in this case, however, is too
remote from the mind of the average reader upon
whom the manufacturer depends for his sales. In
this instance the association of ideas fails. The
word Kelvinator, however, has the virtue of
being euphonious and repetition finally will estab-
One large subdivider has very successfully used
the association of ideas by emphasizing the fact in
all advertising that his district is an ideal place for
bird life. He encourages the building of bird
houses, has had a bird census taken, and offers
prizes to children for the best essays on the habits
of birds in his district. The morning song of the
robin, the happy chatter of the wren, and the twi-
light serenade of the brown thresher are irrevoc-
ably associated with a home in this district.
Thoughts of the birds bring visions of towering
poplars, sheltering honeysuckle and flowering
shrubs. This association of ideas makes the dis-
trict the natural goal for a prospective home
owner. Thus “atmosphere” is created.
BASIC PRINCIPLES 17
Association of ideas wherein physical action is
suggested has great potency. For example:
Kansas Land Ready to Plow
is far more effective than
Rich Kansas Land For Sale.
The first associates the idea of acquiring the farm
immediately with the thought of plowing it in time
for reaping the next harvest. There is no time to
be lost. The buyer must act now.
The reaction to the second advertisement is not
strong enough to stir him to action.
Art work, color schemes and copy design are used
to assist in associating ideas.
4. Ingenuity may assist in focusing attention and
The inventive genius of an advertiser has been
responsible for the success of many real estate proj-
ects. Ingenious devices that attract attention or aid
the memory or elicit a response are of first import-
ance among his resources.
The outstanding example of ingenuity in real
estate advertising is the coinage of the word
“Realtor,” * and so presenting it to the public that
* “Realtor” A person engaged in the real estate business who
is an active member of a Member Board of the National Association
of Real Estate Boards, and as such an affiliated member of the
National Association, who is subject to its rules and regulations,
who observes its standards of conduct, and who is entitled to its
i8 REAL ESTATE ADVERTISING
it is associated with ideas of honesty, integrity and
high business ideals and ethics. C. N. Chadbourn,
of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the author of this
term which now is generally accepted throughout
the business world.
The use of a slogan is one form of ingenious ad-
vertising. The most famous real estate slogan is
“Own Your Home/’ fostered by the National Asso-
ciation of Real Estate Boards.
A prominent broker specializing in business real
estate and leases successfully employed
“Location is everything See Us.”
Another well-known broker’s watchword is
A slogan may be in tune with the type of busi-
ness being done by a broker, as for example:
“Leases Our Specialty” or “Forty Years Without a
Single Loss to An Investor.” These apply readily to
special branches of the real estate business. Slogans
also may be more general in their wording and be
equally forceful, and are useful to the broker doing
a general business. Examples of this may be found
in the following: “If Tatum says it’s so, it’s so,”
“Wright deals right,” and “Confer with Confer.”
Often a slogan can be used as the foundation for
a trade mark. An example of this may be found
in Chapter XVI. Signs-Letterheads in the repro-
duction of the W. H. Wright & Co. real estate sign.
BASIC PRINCIPLES 19
Here the slogan has been worked into a trade mark
design. (See illustration facing page 186.)
Slogans when not carefully chosen sometimes
react on the user in an unpleasant way. If there
is any doubt about the merit of a slogan it should
not be adopted.
For example, “See us first” was adopted by a real
estate broker in exploiting his home selling depart-
ment. A rival broker destroyed the effectiveness
of this slogan by advertising “See others first.
Then come to us for real values.”
The return coupon preferably set cornerwise on
the page where it may be clipped with least effort,
suggestions to write for free booklet, broken bor-
ders, focusing points to attract the eye, are products
of the ingenious advertiser.
A real estate broker even may be called on to ex-
ercise his creative powers in properly presenting
his name to the business world. For instance, John
Henry Smith is more easily identified than J. H.
Smith; J. Logan Jones is certain to become better
known than J. L. Jones.
5. Repetition is vital.
An advertisement to be productive must be re-
membered. Every device known to make it easily
remembered should be employed, such as familiar
words and phrases, short sentences, brief para-
graphs, concise statements and visualization.
Even with these aids, however, an advertisement
20 REAL ESTATE ADVERTISING
must be presented over and over if it is to become
fixed in the memory. Even a comparatively poor
advertisement can be made productive by repeti-
tion. It is an expensive method, but will get results.
Psychological research has established the fact
that in the first two to three seconds after reading
an advertisement our impressions are most vivid.
After that we forget very rapidly for the next thirty
minutes, when only the high lights of the message
are left, if anything at all remains. Thus repeti-
tion of an advertisement daily or twice daily is not
too often. For this reason also an advertisement
run once may produce no results, while the same
or similar copy repeated daily for a week or a month
may produce magnificent results.
If $500.00 constitutes the entire advertising
budget it should not be used to buy just one large
space, regardless of the desirability of big displays
and white space. The money should be spread over
a greater period of time, depending on repetition
to get results.
6. General rules to observe.
In designing an advertisement or a campaign the
following general laws should be obeyed:
Make the copy simple rather than complex.
Make it short and easy to read but still tell the story.
Give reasons why the buyer should buy, instead of why
the advertiser should sell.
BASIC PRINCIPLES 21
Appeal to the reader, not to the personal vanity of the
Make it dignified but not bashful.
It should be artistic but not ornate.
Common weaknesses in real estate copy are:
Too much detail, lack of human interest, use of worn out
words and phrases, exaggeration, too wordy, vague general-