A simple postcard, with a really bad message went viral and created the kind of “buzz” you don’t ever want for your business. Here’s the story and what we can learn from it.Here’s the picture from David Kaufer’s Twitter page. Thanks David for sharing it. Click the below link to view the image of the postcard on his Twitter page.
This is a real ad produced by a Seattle real estate brokerage firm. Wow – really guys? pic.twitter.com/F5oUcYorU7— David Kaufer (@DavidKaufer) September 14, 2015
A Really, Really, Bad Marketing StoryIn late September of 2015, the Costello & Costello Real Estate Group from Seattle ran a postcard campaign which was done in very poor taste and it completely backfired on them. The Costello & Costello Real Estate Group appears to have been a team headed up by two brothers and they had several agents in the team. They used to hang up their license at a Re/Max bro Soon after this postcard was sent to homes in their target market around Snoqualmie Ridge, Washington local residents and fellow agents began voicing thier opinions on it . They then began to take those opinions and images of the postcard to social media channels and it went viral from there. Local, national, and international news outlets picked up on the story and now everyone knew who the Costello & Costello Real Estate Group were. On social media, comments from mom’s and fellow real estate agents lit up the messageing behind this postcard and the Costello & Costello Group went immediately into a public relations nightmare. There were many news outlets online that picked up the story, including the Huufinton Post. Here’s a link to the story there. CLICK HERE Locally, this story was picked up by all the major local news outlets. Here’s a link to the story on local news station FOX13. Check out thier piece here (watch the video). CLICK HERE
The Backlash and AftermathI did some digging online to find out more about who the Costello & Costello Group were. However, a lot of their social media pages and their website have been taken down now so I couldnt find too much. NUTS They took down their Facebook Business Page and I can’t find them on Twitter anymore. I did find one of the brothers still had their LinkedIn Profile up. CLICK HERE to view it. Their website for the Costello & Costello Real Estate Group, www.costellonotcostello.com is now taken down. At the time this postcard was sent out they we’re working for ReMax on the Lake, but now they are no longer listed as agents at this brokerage any longer. Finally, their reviews on Yelp are still up. They received over 40 reviews in the days since this advertisement became an international story and they are very telling of the anger and sentiment brothers created with the ad. You can check out their Yelp Page here. CLICK HERE
What You Can Learn From ThisTheir are a lot of lessons which can be learned from this public relations and marketing disaster. What I want to do is go beyond the obvious problems with this marketing postcard and get to the root of why this type of marketing message was doomed from being successful even before it was printed. Print marketing can work, but you have to be able to produce creative print materials which can capture your audience’s attention and provide them with some sort of value. You may ask WHY? Why can’t you just put out more postcards and mailers and hope that 2% to 4% of them will call you back. (seriously, when do you ever get excited for 2% of anything) I would say this is not marketing. This is just pure advertising, and it’s advertising of the worst kind. Flooding an area with your advertisments until someone responds is not a marketing plan nor an effective way to reach people.
What We Can Learn from ThisThere is so much we can learn from this huge marketing and public relations disaster that every real estate agent can benefit from. We’re going to dive deep into breaking down this marketing postcard campaign and identify all of the DO NOT’s and lessons from it. Then, we’ll break down what should have been done in the first place.
Part 1: Don’t Go Negative on your CompetitionGood marketing is all about executing one single thing very well, which is, communicating your message clearly. To execute this properly you need a valuable message to send. There’s never a reason to go negative on your competition. If the first thing to come out of your mouth is something bad and/or negative to say about your competition when you first meet someone, what does that say about you and the type of business your running? More importantly, what kind of a message does it give the other person your trying to communicate with? That person is much more likely to view you has jealous, insecure, or incompetent if the only thing you can think of communicating is how “bad” your competition is. It works the same if you have to say how great you are. Giving yourself “props” for how awesome you are can be “unbelivable” by the people you’re trying to convice of it. This postcard goes negative on working moms and any real estate agent who is part time. Basically, the message in the this marketing postcard is saying: “We are great because we are full time agents” ,plus “Everyone else is part time and that means they are not great”. Furthermore, “these part time agents are working moms and they can’t handle giving you the service you deserve.” Even if the image of the working mom being taken over by her kids wasn’t used, the overall message in this marketing postcard is extremely ineffective because it goes negative.
Part 2: The Power of Visuals in MarketingThe human brain is wired to process visuals very efficiently. Therefore, we prefer seeing visual and using visuals for communications. In marketing we use visuals to help deliver our message. If it’s done correctly our message is delivered and it’s received well on the other side. The power of visuals in our communications can be demonstrated in this simple excersize. In the slideshow below there are two slides for you to look at.
- First, look at the first slide. Then pause for 20 seconds and think what runs through your mind. Think about what the first slide makes you think of.
- Second, look at the next slide. Now ask yourself the same question. What do you think about now?