by John Frazer-Robinson
John Frazer-Robinson has written 11 books on marketing and was a professional copywriter for some thirty years. Here he gives a brief insight into marketing your rental property most effectively…
First: you need to grab them!
The order in which your website or brochure will most usually get read is: first, the headline: second, the pictures: third, the photo captions: fourth, the sub-heads and finally the rest of the text. When you write your text or ‘copy’, you need to bear this in mind.
Think long and hard about the headline. It must include a benefit or promise. For example, living in Collioure and faced with writing a headline, I searched my memory to see what people had said to me about the town. One of the most common – and someone said it again to me just the other day – is “You can’t help but fall in love with Collioure.” That’s perfect. And, of course, we use this for our property. So, if you are renting out a property in Collioure, please note, we can’t all say the same!
In my early days of copywriting I would have said this benefit or promise was not direct enough, not tangible enough. These days I take the view that this short sentence, from the view of a lover of France who hasn’t visited Collioure, is laden with promise and a holiday destination they will fall in love with, is a massive benefit!! For someone who loves Collioure and has already fallen in love, they agree and you are reminding them of their strong feeling for the place. A good start in either case!
Before we move on from headlines, but just as applicable to all the other copy you will write, a word or two of general advice. As a teacher of the art for many years, I wrote and espoused this maxim: write what the reader wants to read NOT what the writer wants to write. You may be renting a property, but they are buying a holiday experience.
Let’s think about this difference. You might have provided large double beds with great linen for your bedrooms. By applying the maxim, you will turn “large double beds and good, clean linen and towels” into “hand-laundered fluffy towels and big, snuggly beds and bedding”. If your words can trigger emotions of pleasure rather than just describe things, you are about to win Customers.
Next you need to help them picture their holiday…
After years in the advertising world where there still remains huge debate about the value of pictures versus words, I have to say the jury is still out. And as each new generation of young advertising people starts to grapple with the business, so it continues. But with holidays and what holiday buyers are looking for, the jury is, in my opinion, back…..and they have a verdict! Pictures, especially on the web, play a vital role in securing your bookings.
Not only should your photos give a superb photo-story of the accommodation, but the setting, the facilities and the surrounding things to do and see, can provide a strong sales pitch. With key photos use them large and try to relate their captions to other features or benefits. For example “The huge pool area enjoys excellent views of the mountains and is a real suntrap.” Or “A spacious surround to the huge pool includes ample sun loungers, tables for drinks and nibbles, and comes complete with a safety system to protect your children”.
Always add captions to your photos. They will, as hinted earlier, have much higher levels of readership than your main body of text.
Now another general point. Don’t be scared of how much you write. Holiday hunters are voracious – if they think they are on to something great they will absolutely devour your every word. However be clear, you have to ‘hook’ them first. If your words are dull or boring, yes, they will, of course, drop away. But if you can light their fire, whet their appetite, and tap in to their dreams, just keep hammering those keys!! Have the courage of your convictions. Let your confidence in your property shine through.
…next, just keep thinking about them, their experience, their concerns.
OK, so now they are beginning to reject other properties in favour of yours. How do you clinch the booking? Are you the easiest to book with? Have you abandoned the phone and the post? Can you complete your reservation all on the web or by email? Have you made it as easy as possible to pay? Have you thought of all the concerns and worries your prospects might have about paying money to someone they don’t know? Frequently paying for a property they haven’t actually seen, and often, way before they will actually be there!
If you don’t understand or see the point, think this through. Because if something in your ‘conversion’ process – closing the sale – let’s you down, they will holiday elsewhere. The best copy in the world won’t convince someone to complete the booking if they are in anyway uncertain about those they are about to book with. A great source of confidence here can be gained from testimonials. What people have said about you, perhaps in your Visitors’ Book.
For example, Bournemouth-based Terry and Sharon Owens kindly wrote of our St Cyprien apartment, “We were delighted with the personal thanks card from you and Elaine and it just rounded off the whole experience being a quality ‘home from home’ holiday. We saw a review saying that yours should be the standard others should have as the norm and we cannot agree more. By the time we left, we had achieved all our ‘holiday goals’. Thank you for working so hard to give people such a good holiday.” Such testimonials are always gratefully received and make it all worthwhile. And yes, we do work hard to achieve them.
Such comments are also hugely influential in providing an authentic reassurance to prospective Customers that you are professional, competent and above board and that your properties live up to their descriptions.
How to write great stuff!
Many professional copywriters will tell you that they picture their prospective buyer in their mind and write to them. So let me help you choose such a person. I have always maintained there are only three types of advertisement reader in the world.
First there is the ‘Yes’ Reader. These people like you. They have read all your stuff and want to holiday with you. They are ALREADY convinced. You don’t need to write for these folk.
Next there is the ‘No’ Reader. They have read your fine words and don’t like the sound of you. They think you are overpriced. And, for them, it all sounds just too good to be true. Their mind is made up. They will NEVER be convinced to book their holiday with you.
Last is the person you must focus everything on. The ‘Maybe’ Reader. These people are open minded, interested in what you have to say and remain to be convinced one way or another. They maybe want to rent your property. Maybe not.
Now imagine your ‘maybe’ reader is a friend or neighbour sitting opposite you at a coffee table and just imagine how you would tell them about the place. Sprinkle with plenty of enthusiasm and passion. Write down your words. And there you have your copy. It’s that easy. Honest!