Here is where you need to begin seriously exercising caution with your fistful of dollars, because advertising space in print media can get very expensive and often yields little or no response. Even among the nation’s top Times, Tribunes, Chronicles and Posts, you can spend hundreds of dollars for a single tiny ad, only to sit and watch the weeks go by with no calls at all. And let’s not forgot about the cost of display advertising – frequently sold in those ubiquitous free real estate publications that are circulated around town at shopping centers and grocery stores. These are usually quarter-, half- or full-page ads – that are either in black and white or in color, accompanied with graphics and photos – and are much more expensive.
The best and simplest approach to print advertising is to pick a local community newspaper that you already know is actually routinely circulated and read every weekend. Smaller, local papers often tend to work better than the majors, because your specific audience is targeted and you get more ad space for less money. It is suggested that you buy a “no-frills” classified ad that runs only on the weekend (this is the primary time when most people look for rental notices in newspapers) and that you take advantage of as many characters (or words) permitted for the lowest price. Choose your words very carefully, because each one is going to cost you!
Don’t be coaxed into purchasing extra-special characters, bolding, additional bells and whistles or the like, for the sheer and simple reason that when someone is looking to rent in a specific area, most people will review every listing regardless of fancy letters and graphics – which, typically, isn’t a large amount to begin with anyway. The only enhancement (or “add-on”) we would suggest is the use of the Internet. Many newspapers either will post your ad online at no additional cost or will do so for a modest fee – and if that’s the case, you should seriously consider paying the extra couple of dollars, as there are significantly more people surfing the Web for listings than looking through newspapers.
If you own more than a couple of units and have to fill several vacancies throughout the year, it is strongly recommended that you inquire about signing an annual advertising contract with your local newspaper – especially if your initial campaigns have proven in past times to be effective. Advertising contracts (even classifieds) can yield considerable discounts, beginning at around 10%. As far as real estate publications, only heavyweight landlords that have several vacancies regularly and a substantial budget are encouraged to explore those display advertising opportunities – it just doesn’t add up for the small landlord.