Real Estate Folder Ads

While I try to highlight the local marketing strategies that work, sometimes it’s necessary to point out the ones that don’t.

The Real Estate Folder Ad is one of them.

While my experience was with real estate folders, I’ve also heard of this being done with golf scorecards and school schedules.

It’s not *technically* a scam… but it’s definitely a waste of your money.

We bought into one of these things last year, and have received several sales calls for similar programs since.

If you’ve ever received a call from someone “representing” a local business or institution who wants to offer you an ad space on their printed materials, you might know what I’m talking about.

Here’s how it works:

The “Marketing Company” (there are several) calls real estate offices all over the country and offers to send them free marketing material. Flyers, folders, whatever.

Having gotten some sort of approval from the real estate office, they then call local companies like us and sell us on having our ad in their marketing material.

We pay between $300-$1200 to get featured in their material, which we’re told is going to be used exclusively by this prestigious local real estate office that we recognize. Also, if we don’t sign up, they’ll sell the slot to our competitors (gasp).

They do the graphic design, and bill us. We pay money.

The project is delayed for months because of other advertisers asking for revisions in the design process. At least, that’s the excuse I’ve seen.

Eventually, the marketing materials are ostensibly printed and shipped to the golf course(…) Since they didn’t pay for the material, and they’re now filled with ads, the real estate office deposits them in a back room and forgets about them. Or just dumps them in the trash.

Is this even legal?

Technically, the Marketing Company has fulfilled their contracts – they did graphic design work for you, and they shipped the material to the real estate agent. They take your money in payment for their hard work, and keep going. Since most local businesses don’t track their leads, they can re-sell the services the next year.

If you want to advertise with a local company, talk to them directly and get a written contract that states how much you will pay and what you’re paying for.

The Real Estate Folder Ad is a definite “no” in my book. Put your money into Facebook Ads, get a billboard, or buy a round for everybody at the bar this weekend and put it on your company card*. All much better uses of your advertising dollars.


*I am not a CPA and I’m pretty sure this doesn’t qualify as a deductible expense.