The top ten things that kill real estate vendor website copy

I’ve been exposed to a host of interesting applications as a result of submissions to our Real Estate 2.0 Mind Map.

And I have noticed patterns within the Website copy that pitch these applications. Too often they include big blocks of confusing copy. Bad copy. Superfluous copy. Technical jargon. Unsupported claims. Grandiose promises that wax miraculous from page to page.

Vendors: These things increase the distance between you and your target customer. They take up valuable space on your site. They muddy up your offering. And ultimately impede sales. I understand the issues you face. Maybe you are a start-up with no marketing department. Or a fully staffed firm whose marketing department lacks skilled web copy writers.

Nailing your copy. Clearly positioning your brand. Conveying value. Defining your benefits. Calling visitors to action. It’s an art form. It needs to be gorgeous. Truthful. Original.

Top 10 cliches that can kill sales

Movie scripts are replete with cliches. “Go on without me, you can still make it.” “Don’t you die on me.” What part of _________ don’t you understand?” Overused lines sound as empty on screen as they read within the script. Poor writing can easily send a great plot to the B list.

Real estate vendor websites endure the same issues. Good solutions lie hidden under poor copy.

Here’s a list of the ten most common – and harmful – offenses: Terms, phrases and claims that should be avoided.

10. Revolutionary – iPod/iTunes was revolutionary. So was Obama’s use of social media. Portraying your widget, rent calculator, map mash-up, or iPhone app as “revolutionary” stretches the boundaries of what that word implies. Real estate has produced too many “revolutionary” things that ended up fizzling out like an open can of Tab on a hot summer day. Scale down the hyperbole. It hurts you.

9. Designed to help you serve buyers while capturing valuable leads – I have a hard time believing that asking consumers to deposit their ZIP code into a form to receive a home valuation which comes days later from some sleeper cell agent is designed to help anyone. I’m pretty sure today’s broker agrees. If your product is designed to capture valuable leads, go deeper. Publish conversion rates. But don’t patronize brokers with how “win-win” your product is. It comes across as insulting.

8. The Best – Ever wonder why Porsche doesn’t market itself as the “best?” They don’t have too. Being the best, or the largest, or having the most users is a good way to set yourself apart. By making that claim yourself, you automatically establish doubt.

7. Home buyers are more savvy than ever Duh. I am almost certain that by now every broker and agent in real estate got the memo. If this is the hook on the end of your line of copy, don’t expect to catch any broker fish. Consumers are online. They are savvy. We all get it.

6. Real Estate Professional – I realize we live in a politically correct world where we now place everyone and everything on a pedestal. Even agents will tell you how transparently obvious this pandering appears. Not everyone in real estate is a professional. The ones who are know it. They don’t need to be lumped in with the yahoos who have magnetic signs on their cars or don red hats. They are happy to be called what they are, proudly: REALTORS.

5. It’s so simple – Maybe for your programmers. But for the rank and file broker or agent who did not grow up using the Web, much of this is not simple. Making your reader feel stupid is a bad move.

4. Empower – Like the noun “paradigm,” “empower” is an easy verb vendors like to hang their benefits on. Consider the possibility that subconsciously, brokers might be a bit queasy about licensing another empowering product that cultivates a smarter consumer who, as a result, may emerge feeling so empowered as to bypass using the broker altogether.

3. Cutting Edge – Defined in the wider world as the position of greatest advancement or importance, cutting edge in real estate has been overused, abused and tied to some of the most worthless offerings in our industry. I would suggest that cutting edge has become synonymous with unproven, untested, not fully realized, and a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. If what you offer is really cutting edge, it will be revealed without you claiming it.

2. Free – As far as real estate tools go, “free” translates to poor or no customer service. It also represents a lure to suck prospects into the rest of your offering – the part that requires payment. If you are offering something for free no need to mention it. Real estate folks want things that work.

1. Our software will change the way real estate will be transacted – If your website copywriter pens this statement, take their keyboard away. Despite all the advancements in technology, the transaction today is very similar to what it was twenty years ago. Besides, the rank and file broker is not looking to change the way real estate will be transacted. What they want is more transactions. What they really want is reliable vendors who deliver what they promise and provide great customer service forever.

The solution

A particular take-out restaurant might pride itself on marketing its fare as the best in town. Or having the most varied menu. Or the cheapest prices. But if they dug deeper they might discover that the real reason people order take-out has nothing to do with price or selection. It might just be that it’s a better alternative than staying home and doing dishes.

When you hit on the core reason people are drawn to a product or service like yours, you will find yourself at the threshold of writing great copy.

Davison Twitter: 1000wattmarc