St Augustine, St Johns County Real Estate & Home Staging


Thinking of advertising your home staging company? Do you know what you have to sell to break even?

I am often befuddled when I hear home staging companies talk about advertising.  Occassionally I'll see my competition put ads in local papers, particularly Skirt Magazine.  Now I used to be the manager for a real estate office and I know what these ads cost.  Most range somewhere between $200-$400.  This doesn't sound like a lot to many.  When questioned, many home stagers will say something like, "all I need is one consultation to pay for it."

Really?  All you need is one consultation to pay for the ad?  Let's take a closer look at this.  Assuming that your consult fee is $250 and your ad is only $200.  Some will say that they are at the $50 profit mark. 

"See, that's what I'm talking about."  (said in my best NY accent)


Have you considered the expenses of what each job costs you?  Do you know how much you have to make from each job, or each billable hour to break even?  If you only get one job from an ad - unless you are making a solid connection where you will create future business, the time that you spend away from other activities in your business and the expenses associated with doing business may make that single job cost a lot more than you think. 

Many home stagers do not take the time to weigh out the cost of doing business.  They do not calculate their billable and non-billable hours.  They do not sit and calculate how many hours must be billable and exactly how much that rate needs to be to accomodate all of the non-billable hours in their schedule.  A firm grip on all of this information should be obtained before deciding to enter into any marketing or advertising plan that costs a large chunk of money.

Most marketing advisors recommend that your budget be no more than 10% of your sales.  Ideally it should be 5% or less.  This means that for that $200 ad, in reality, your return should be a minimum of $2000 in sales, but ideally closer to $4000.  As this isn't reality for most ads, consider marketing where you can create relationships with clients who will be multiple users - lifelong clients - as opposed to single use clients (homeowners). 



 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at, Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).


Comment balloon 11 commentsMelissa Marro • April 01 2011 10:37PM


Good points Melissa.  I think that some business owners just throw money at their issues with the hope a an "easy" fix.  Then they sit around wishin' and a hopin' that business will come their way.  I done know many businesses successful businesses, big or small, that succeed with that kind of business philosophy.  Could point out a lot of old adages that are really soundly based in business success but you did quite a good job above. 

Posted by Ginger Foust, Home Stager Oakhurst CA, Dream Interior Redesign & Staging (Certified Staging Professional) over 9 years ago

Melissa--many business owners don't understand the concept of overhead or what their actual time is worth.  There are generally many other ways of marketing one's business that may take time but not the investment of capital.  I walked into an open house yesterday, talked to the Realtor, moved three things around (as "suggestions") and he asked for my card so that when the trustee of the property comes in next month they can hire me to actually stage.  He had not considered staging before this, but knew they needed to do something to help this property.  I look for these types of opportunities all the time. 

Posted by Janet Jones, Home Staging, Interior Redesign Kihei, Maui, Hawaii (Just Your Style Interiors, LLC) over 9 years ago

Excellent advice, Melissa. I try to keep my marketing costs down to a dull roar. I use Constant Contact ($35/mo because my mailing list is larger) and I use Google Adwords, which I turn on and off to test effectiveness from time to time. I have very nice brochures that go in every house we stage. The rest of my marketing only costs my time and by far the best return on my investment is blogging and my website.

You make a very good point in your post about profitability and the percentage of your income you should spend on marketing.

Great information, once again!

Posted by Michelle Minch, Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA (Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA) over 9 years ago

Melissa- this is such a good post.  I've kept my advertising to very little. Like Michelle (#4) I use Constant Contact.  I'm also an Affiliate with my local Board of Realtors and spend a very small amount each month to be a vendor at their Lunch on the House.  In both of these cases I'm establishing a long term relationship.  Other than my printed matter that I hand out at these events, and of course, my blogging, that's it! 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 9 years ago

Great post!  My goal is always no cost marketing. I too am a CC girl, keep my site on trend and always update my portfolio, and my ace in the hole, being in the public's eye - From my little cable TV shows to public speaking with workshops and forums - Speak well and the rest will follow.  

Posted by Julea Joseph, Julea Joseph House Stager - Reinventing Space (Reinventing Space) over 9 years ago

I just had a call this week wanting me to advertise in a "golf" magazine that would be located in 6 area country clubs. The salesman said I had been "referred" by some of these high end clients. It would only cost $400.00 for the ad and one job from one of these high end clients would pay for the ad. I told him no thanks I was doing okay with my marketing...hitting my target!

Posted by Donna Schoby (Liberty Bank of Arkansas) over 9 years ago

I agree, great post! I get quite a few calls from companies saying they are "looking for home stagers" to advertise/publicize in their Resource Directory (I believe these calls are actually from a company that puts together "resource" directories for other companies for a fee, since all the calls are alike, as if from the same script). I always say "no" -- actually, one time when I left I message asking what the price was (since no cost was mentioned in the phone call touting this service as being so beneficial to me),  the person never even bothered to call me back! I have heard advertising is ineffective for stagers anyway -- just doesn't bring responses.   

Posted by Amy Bly, Styling Homes for Selling and Staying (Great Impressions Home Staging/Interiors) over 9 years ago

You're so good at the numbers game, Melissa.  Thanks for the reminder!

Posted by Beth Lester, Home Staging & Interior Decorating (Beth Lester Designs) over 9 years ago

Melissa ~ My advertising budget is very small, and fortunately I haven't had to advertise in the past 5 years.  Keeping my website optimized, blogging, and referrals from happy clients have all resulted in just the right amount of exposure for my business.  (Those companies selling ad space call me, but I've learned not to answer!)

Posted by Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging, "Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes" (Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR) over 9 years ago

Melissa we learned long ago that print advertising does not work for the staging industry. It only took one ad (or one mistake) to learn our lesson on that one! Our repeat clients, referrals, and visibility on line works just great!

Posted by David Peterson, Home Stager Portland OR-Synergy Staging-Portland Oregon (Synergy Staging ~ specializing in vacant home staging) over 9 years ago

Thanks, Melissa for describing this. I have a plan to start my own home staging company and I own home staging license too I am working hard for starting the company soon. Your points are so impressive. 

Posted by Ana Bell (training) almost 2 years ago

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