Should you use controversial advertising to create exposure?
"There's no such thing as bad publicity"
We have all heard this theory before. But is it really true?
Recently I put up an edgy post on the HoltonWise Facebook page. It was a very simple post. One sentence "It is never a good idea to stop paying your rent." This sentence was then followed by several pictures of evictions we had done throughout the year.
See a screenshot of the ad below.
Why did I make this post?
1. A warning to future tenants: We run a tight ship. We remove all non paying tenants. No questions asked. (Related: 4 reasons why your tenants let you evict them) Some landlords do not operate this way. They try and work something out with their tenants. In our experience this almost never works out in the landlord's favor. Because of this we have a zero tolerance policy for non paying tenants. We want all potential tenants to know about our zero tolerance policy prior to considering one of our properties. If they have even the slightest idea that not paying rent will be tolerated in any way we want to assure them that it will not be tolerated before any of our time and resources are wasted.
2. A warning to current tenants: Sometimes you have to let your tenants know that the rent is always the number one priority. Sometimes they forget that and they think going out on a friday night is more important than paying rent on the first. Perhaps they think that their phone, cable or internet bill takes priority. That is not the case. A reminder every now and then keeps everyone's priorities in check. When taking over an apartment building that has a history of delinquent or late tenants a quick eviction right off the bat really goes a long way to get all of the other tenants to understand that they are going to be held accountable or forcefully removed.
3. A warning to future investors: Real estate investing is not always rainbows and somersaults. Bad stuff happens, that is just a fact. I get a lot of investors who ask me if I can guarantee them that there will not be any evictions if they build a portfolio with my company. I tell them that if they work with us long enough I can guarantee there WILL be evictions, that is just a fact. Evictions are ugly and everyone involved in this business should know what one looks like.
4. An assurance to our current investors: They hired us to take care of their properties. That means taking care of the dirty work that they do not, or cannot do on their own. We want to let our investors know we are ready willing and able to make the tough decisions.
5. Publicity: We really like publicity. We are always looking for ways to put our business in the limelight. Our goal is always to get out in front as many people as we possibly can. To do this you need to get as many people as you can talking about you and your company.
Truth be told this post has been viewed 3x's more than our average Facebook post. Why? Because it is controversial. People are sharing their opinions about the ad. Some agree with the ad and expressed their opinion of support. Others think it is distasteful. Those who did not like it had no problem letting us know just how horrible HoltonWise is for posting something as distasteful as this and that they would never consider doing business with a company that was willing to post something like this online.
So the question remains. Is getting out in front of 3x's more people because of a controversial post a good or bad thing for business?
About the author:
James Wise is the Broker and Owner of The Holton Wise Property Group, a real estate brokerage and property management company operating in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area.