The Claude Hopkins Guide to Real Estate Prospecting

Here’s the deal. In the book My Life in Advertising“, Claude Hopkins tells a great story about a gloomy copywriter named Powers–a story with implications of everything you’re working right now, today…

“A clothing concern was on the verge of bankruptcy,” says Hopkins. “They called in Powers, and he immediately measured up the situation. He said: ‘There is only one way out. Tell the truth. Tell the people that you are bankrupt and that your only way to salvation lies through large and immediate sales.’

“The clothing dealers argued that such an announcement would bring every creditor to their doors. But Powers said: ‘No matter. Either tell the truth or I quit.’”

The book continues:

“Their next day’s ad read something like this:

We are bankrupt. We owe $125,000 more than we can pay. This announcement will bring our creditors down on our necks. But if you come and buy tomorrow we shall have the money to meet them. If not, we go to the wall. These are the prices we are quoting to meet the situation.

Truth was then such a rarity in advertising that this announcement created a sensation. People flocked by the thousands to buy, and the store was saved.

What’s the moral of the story?

Powers’ breakthrough is as effective today as it was over a hundred years ago-–and suggests three ultra-powerful sales techniques with the potential to ramp up your response and revenues right now…

1. News sells. Power’s innovation–-presenting your ad as if it was a front-page news story…and then telling “the news of the store” in an objective, straight-forward, no-nonsense way is still a powerful way to get attention and establish credibility. But it’s only the tip of this iceberg.

Topicality–-tying your headline and opening copy to an event that’s at the top of the news is one of the nuclear weapons of the marketing world. In test after test, the timely, newsy test headlines focusing on a major on-going news story always left straight benefit-laden headlines in the dust.

Why? Because if it’s in the news, your prospect is thinking about it. If he’s thinking about it, he has feelings about it. Connect with those feelings, and you’ll make your copy nearly irresistible.

Next time you choose a theme or write a headline or lead, ask yourself, “What important, long-running news story could I hitch a ride on?” Interest rates? Hurricanes? Immigration?

2. Always have a reason. Always, always, ALWAYS. Explain why you’re writing this ad or why you’re calling this person…why you’ve decided to offer a free market evaluation…why you’ve decided to “bribe” a FSBO with a home selling package…and why why you need the prospect to make a decision in the next 24 hours.

Have a solid, believable, even self-revealing answer for these questions, and your credibility will soar-–along with your response.

3. Tell the truth. When everyone else in your market is writing unbelievable “blind-‘em-with-BS” headlines and ads…the simple objective, unvarnished truth in a headline lifts you head and shoulders above the din. Just like it did for the copywriter Powers. And just like it did for Volkswagon.

Couple this with the truth that their spilling out of Baylor University about the two most productive lead generation tools and you’re bound to hit a home run…even in this bad economy. At least you’ll get on base. Let me know what you think.

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