Star Trib Advertising Woes

Once upon a time, people shopping for a home looked in the local newspaper’s (print) housing classifieds.

Not anymore.

Consider the following numbers from today’s (Sunday) Star Tribune (chosen for St. Louis Park, as an illustrative example):

37 — Number of Realtor open houses in St. Louis Park today (out of 370 active listings total).

6 — Number of Realtor open houses in St. Louis Park advertised in today’s Star Tribune’s Sunday Open House Directory (including one of mine).

3 — Number of St. Louis Park open houses running picture ads in the Star Trib.

0 — Number of St. Louis Park open houses running classified ads.

In fact, the total number of classified ads for St. Louis Park’s Star Trib advertising zone — which covers 30 suburbs including Edina, Golden Valley, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Chanhassan, Richfield, New Hope, Robbinsdale, and Eden Prairie — is 8!


Call it “the reverse car dealer effect.”

Advantages of Clustering

As everyone knows, car dealers famously cluster in the same parts of town (restaurants tend to, as well).

The reason is that, by doing so, they create a destination in consumers’ minds that drives traffic and thereby benefits all of them.

Yes, they compete directly, and only one dealership will ultimately make the sale. However, the “traffic effect” outweighs the “competition effect.”

No “There There”

The same phenomenon and psychology applies to selling homes.

As a Realtor, the above advertising numbers tell me that the number of people looking in the Star Trib print ads has fallen below a critical mass.

If no one’s looking there, spending good money to advertise your listings there is . . dumb.

No wonder Edina Realty pulled its Star Trib advertising insert more than two years ago, opting instead to pump the money into its Web site.

No wonder the Star Tribune filed for bankruptcy protection last January (it recently emerged), and faces a daunting future.

P.S.: memo to Star Trib: the open house ad I purchased today is my last, for the reasons mentioned above. Like Edina Realty, I’m instead spending the money on improving and marketing my Web site . . . and this blog!

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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