If residential listings are the breadth of the real estate business, commercial real estate listings are the depth. Rather than focusing on more listings at lower dollar value, the commercial real estate agent may focus on fewer, larger listings — such as office buildings, retail spaces, and hotels — that may take more time for the deal to develop and close. With the bigger deal comes the need for a wider field of vision and strong attention to detail.
Work the Plan
Unlike many residential developments, each commercial property is unique, with different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, each commercial listing should have an individual marketing plan to encourage buyers to act. At the core of your marketing efforts should be the story about what makes the listing valuable and relevant.
Don’t sidestep the importance of putting your marketing on paper, too. Print and direct mail goes a long way when crafting a truly integrated marketing strategy for commercial real estate. Paired with a targeted list, PURLS, and tracking numbers, a direct mail campaign can result in a significant ROI.
Be sure to take the time after the sale to examine your marketing analytics; this simple action can make future marketing efforts more effective and the sale easier. Determine which statistics (ad impressions, website visits, or leads generated) would be most helpful, and ensure your marketing plan includes data collection.
To best tell the story of your property, you need high-quality photographs and perhaps maps, floor plans, and infographics to quickly convey complicated financial information. These would be central to the property’s marketing portfolio but can also be used throughout your marketing efforts. In addition, a clear, well-lit video can add perspective, a sense of flow, and a feel for the property’s dimensions, particularly for potential buyers at a distance.
Remember the International Effect
The United States is the world’s largest real estate market, and many of its buyers are international. By 2020, cross-border investments globally could account for more than 50 percent of all activity. As well as the top markets like New York and Los Angeles, international investors appreciate “New World Cities” like Boston, Dallas, and Seattle. These mid-size hubs are high-tech and high-value sectors supported by strong infrastructure, good quality of life, and transparent business practices. The successful commercial real estate agent prepares for international buyers on relevant properties.
Keep It Clear
Since the leak of the Panama Papers last year, which included information on corrupt real estate investments, transparency has become a staple in commercial real estate. Transparency refers to:
According to industry analyst JLL, the greatest progress in the past two years has been made in “market fundamentals” — the access to, depth, and quality of data on real estate market conditions. Increase access to your listings’ data and you’re ahead of the curve.
In an international marketplace, where does one find commercial real estate investors? Online, of course.
1. Loopnet has become an industry standard for online commercial real estate listings. The free app features more than 800,000 listings with easy-to-read maps and solid search filters. The goal is to help potential buyers quickly decide whether they want more information. At minimum, your listing should include a property description that tells its unique story, a full and correct address, and your strongest photos.
2. All your online channels should funnel prospects back to your personal web presence. This is a platform beyond the general-use site provided by your principal or brokerage. At minimum, it should include a blog to help establish your credentials as a trusted source of information, your listings, and your videos (or links to your YouTube channel). You can even require registration to view full details of your listings or videos, which helps build your prospect lists.
Another benefit of using your own personal real estate site is that you can more easily access online statistics such as Google Analytics, which tells you how many views you’re getting, where these views are coming from, how long your visitors are spending with you, and more.
3. In-app mobile ads are an emerging channel for reaching the millions of people — including real estate investors — who currently use smartphones.
4. Aren’t your listings worth moving beyond basic email? An email campaign automation tool allows you to handle all of your activities (planning, creating, scheduling, and distributing) at once. You could have the whole campaign for each listing ready to send automatically, months in advance, with no additional decisions or steps needed.
… Think Locally.
Your personal, insider knowledge is still your most important tool for developing credibility with prospective buyers and closing deals. Consistently look for opportunities to help your audiences feel a connection to you personally, as well as recognize your connection to your local area. For the most cost-effective campaigns to U.S. contacts, direct mail marketing automation tools will help you quickly create, schedule, print, and distribute a variety of marketing pieces that can be effectively customized, even in small batches.
Make Good Decisions
Implementing best practices for commercial real estate marketing can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it all yourself. Hire a professional marketing service provider to help you customize your plans, implement campaigns, and make sense of the analytics.
About the author: Eric Arnold is the VP of Sales & Business Development at Xpressdocs. Eric has been leading Xpressdocs' sales and business development efforts for more than 11 years. Prior to Xpressdocs, he held sales and management positions at various software and technology companies, including Expedia and Jobs.com. Eric graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Business Administration degree in Finance and Computer Applications.