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Advertising Online - Communications and Crossed Wires


Advertising Online - Communications and Crossed Wires


It is not a prerequisite that you have a computer to advertise your rental property online, though most people nowadays own or at least have access to one. Some adverts can be placed by completing application forms by hand and posting them back to the rental agency. And likewise the proof for the advert can be returned to the owner by post. There are, of course, huge disadvantages in not having access to a computer eg setting the advert up is more laborious and slower than 'instant' email, you cannot see your advert live on the web or those of your competitors and, importantly, you cannot receive enquiries by email. Most responses to an online advert will be by email. It is the preferred solution (path of least resistance) for those who have several enquiries to make - simply send off some emails and wait for the responses. If your advert carries no email address then you will almost certainly receive fewer enquiries.

Email is very important for initial contact but often the telephone is used subsequently to discuss details in more depth. In our opinion this is to be recommended. Emails are very anonymous, though good for retaining a printed record. While a telephone call is not as good as a face to face meeting it is a step in the right direction. It can help to sound someone out. Ideally though, the owner and tenant want to meet and have the tenant view the property prior to any agreement being signed, this is particularly important for longer rentals.

Do remember to keep your contact details updated on your adverts. This includes your email address. If your old redundant email address is still being used on your adverts, then you can, obviously, expect zero enquiries by this method. It's surprising how many advertisers remember to update their telephone number but forget about a change of email address. An error message is not the best reply to an initial enquiry.

Also, take care not to exceed the capacity of your mailbox, for example if you go on holiday and you receive some large files from friends, this can soon eat up your space. Once your capacity is reached any incoming emails will be returned to sender with an error message.

If you are going to be absent how best to deal with incoming email enquiries? The great thing about email is that it is more or less instant. The bad thing about email is that many expect a nearly instant reply. No response for several days or a week and chances are the enquirer is looking elsewhere. One solution is to set an auto responder so that a pre-written automatic response is sent to all your incoming email messages, this can advise that you are 'unfortunately' away on holiday and will deal with their email promptly on your return. This is better than no response at all but has the disadvantage of replying with the same message to all your incoming mail, including any SPAM you may receive. A better solution is to access your mail by web mail when away from home. Login from any computer with your password and deal with your urgent emails. Great, though your holiday will no longer be 100% escapism. Alternatively, have a friend manage your emails in your absence. That one great enquiry is guaranteed to come when you are away on holiday - blissfully out of internet shot, you've just changed your email address but forgot to let your advertiser know, and your old mailbox is full.

If you have more than one contact telephone number, do show them all. Remember to specify at which times of day you can be contacted on each number. You should always identify if a telephone number shown is a mobile, this allows overseas clients in particular, the choice of taking cost into account before deciding which number to use.

Do give your name in adverts. People like to know who they are dealing with and a mysterious Mrs J will appear less approachable than Jane Johnson or even just plain Jane. It can also help to specify what languages you are comfortable with. Monique could be from deepest Scotland and not have a French word in her head. Advertising her French property she may puzzle over the French enquiries she receives, many from Brits assuming she is not. I think it's time to close this....

(Published May/June 2008)




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