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October 19, 2011

posted by: Carissa Drohan-Jennings

3 Copywriting Secrets That Make Rental Ads Sell

3 tips for copywriting

When was the last time you paid attention to a television commercial?  If you’re anything like me you hear the initial three seconds of the commercial and then mute the station until your show returns.  While I’m patiently waiting in silence, the advertisers have lost their opportunity to reach me.  However, sometimes I catch myself watching the commercial, and in those cases I’ve done so because during the first three seconds something caught my attention.  Advertisers have termed this the three-second rule, and the rule can be applied in apartment marketing as well.

If you’re a landlord who is designing a print ad or writing an online apartment listing, knowing how to catch a renter’s attention is critical.

These three copywriting secrets can help your ads attract more rental leads. 


Secret #1: Eye Catching Headline

A well-known copywriter said, “The first 15 words matter more than the 15,000 that follow.”  The headline therefore is the lifeblood of any ad; a crucial component that provides the first, and perhaps only, chance to make an impression on the renter.

Would it surprise you to learn that professional copywriters often spend half of their time coming up with a headline and the other half writing an actual article?  It’s true.  In fact, although eight out of 10 people will read a headline only two of those people will actually read the entire article or ad.  With those slim numbers it’s no wonder that copywriters spend ample amounts of time writing a headline.

So how do you develop a good headline?

A good tip is to look on the cover of the magazines at your local grocery store because Cosmopolitan’s headlines sell magazines!

5 Proven Tips For Losing Weight
3 Key Reasons He’s Not Calling
WARNING: Diet Pills That May Be Killing You

Headlines like these are meant to attract attention and compel a reader to read the article – and they work.

Apartment headlines will obviously be a little different in nature compared to those examples, but the concept of baiting a reader with juicy information can still be utilized.  Take these headlines for example:

Amazing Apartments: Exploring 3 Buildings That Provide Renters With A Perfect Home
3 Shocking Reasons Why 99% Of Residents Like Living At Riverside Gardens
Living At Riverside Garden Apartments: Secrets That Every Toronto Renter Needs To Know

In most cases renters will only be able to read or scan about 7 words in those three seconds, so it’s up to you to make those words count. 

Once you’ve got them interested it’s time to sell them with the body copy.


Secret #2: Bodies That Sell

The body copy of an ad is meant to provide a renter with information about an apartment. Although the information in the body should be factual in nature, adding a little sizzle to the text will help keep a reader interested.

Here are some ways to add a bit of sizzle to your body copy:

Storytelling: Everyone loves a story and storytelling is a great way to keep a reader interested in what you have to say.  Try incorporating a story about a tenant that readers will identify with emotionally.

Benefit Selling: It’s always important to remember that you’re selling a lifestyle, not just an apartment unit. Explaining the benefits of living in your building to a renter is a great way to win them over. 

Instead of using bulleted lists of basic amenities or highlights of a building’s location, try listing the benefits that provide for a better lifestyle. This will not only set your building apart from that of your competition, but it will also help the renter see the added advantage of renting in your building. Here are two quick examples:

[Brand New, Energy Efficient Refrigerators]

You’ll enjoy the brand new, high efficiency refrigerators included with all of our units.  The quiet operation of these models allows our residents to keep a calm and quiet ambiance within their units, while the high efficiency keeps food at a steady (and safe) temperature all year round.

[Close to University and Transit]

Riverside Garden is nestled in a quiet neighborhood close to the University of Toronto campus.  Our student residents enjoy living close to campus and having that extra few minutes of sleep everyday, while young commuters enjoy living only a 5 minute walk away from the TTC and their morning Tim Horton’s coffee.

Even though it may seem obvious that living close to transit and the university is a benefit to many individuals, painting a picture of daily life allows them to imagine what their life could be like living at your property.


Secret #3: Call To Action

After the renter has read the body copy there needs to be a call to action.  A call to action tells the renter exactly what to do, how to do it, and that you want them to do it right now!  Do you want them to call today?  Do you want them to email you for more information?  Do you want them to come by the building for a tour?  Whatever the next steps are, lay them out clearly.  Here are some examples of effective calls to action:

Call (555) 555-5555 and ask for Charles to give you a no-obligation tour today!
Send an email
to with "Info Package" in the subject line to
receive your free move in package today!

Call for a tour and  be entered into a draw to win a free iPod! Don’t Delay. Call Today!

It’s not enough just to list your phone number, email and website address.  You need to take it one step further and ask them to contact you.  The old adage is true, “Ask and you shall receive”.