It’s an exciting time for commercial real estate marketing as industry players up the ante, from real estate firms to landlords, and marketers to technology providers. No matter the tactics, techniques and tools coming our way in 2015, you can be sure they will turn the industry on its head. In a really good way.
11. Property management groups step up their marketing game
Property management groups are no longer the neglected baby brother of asset management and real estate services firms. Look to see these groups step up their building communications and asset positioning to align with their leasing strategies and retain tenants.
Gone are the days of the cheap photocopied “out of order” sign taped to the washroom door. Expect higher quality and more sophisticated building management communications in 2015 and beyond.
10. Hi, tech
There is an abundance of technology tools hitting the market to help promote commercial real estate, from sophisticated enterprise solutions to basement startups.
There are integrated listing and data platforms, online space planning resources, 3-D rendering tools and even websites that help developers raise investment capital through crowdfunding.
Some of these will fly, and some will fall. But expect to see some new ones in 2015; the successful ones will have a lasting impact on the industry.
9. Photography Wars II: Attack of the Drones!
Remember the days when drive-by property photography complete with a dirty window was acceptable and even the norm in commercial real estate? Fortunately, commercial real estate photography has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years as real estate marketers have attempted to stand out in cluttered listing websites. Now we’ve started to see drones used more for aerial photography, as well as in creating images of how views might look from buildings that haven’t even been built.
Look for this to become more of a standard in 2015 along with more virtual tours and renderings.
8. Abundance of data
Big data will play a big role as occupiers and owners alike look to rationalize real estate decisions.
With all the major real estate firms investing heavily in this space, you’ll see more comprehensive insights and information as technology allows these firms to combine real estate data (listings, availability, comparative transactions, etc.) with other available data points such as demographics and sociographics.
This will be one of the key factors in driving more marketing and research content (See 4) as providers and assets look to differentiate.
7. Jump in vertical marketing
As landlords compete to fill their buildings and real estate firms compete for mandates, you will see a much stronger emphasis on marketing in key industry verticals as they attempt to differentiate.
Expect the tech and media sectors to be heavily targeted in the office sector, and the industrial side to increase their focus on e-commerce, logistics and distribution.
6. Property marketing spends go up
Especially in markets where vacancies are rising, we’re going to see landlords looking for better outcomes from marketing activities.
Good sales and leasing agents alone aren’t going to get the job done. There’s a lot at stake for landlords — especially in secondary sectors.
Expect to see landlords investing more heavily in their marketing activities, looking to reposition second-generation buildings to help maintain and improve their occupancy rates.
With prospective tenants and buyers having multiple options, owners will need good marketing to help them differentiate in a cluttered market.
Savvy landlords will realize they need to budget for their own property marketing as agency-sponsored marketing budgets might not pack the punch they need for success.
5. Putting their money where their mouse is
Commercial real estate advertising is still stuck in the doldrums of news print. As real estate marketing professionals adapt to online advertising tools, you’re going to see their budgets shift to paid digital advertising real fast.
The No. 1 reason for a lack of adoption in this space is the skill set of the average marketing professional in this sector. In 2015 we’re going to see plenty more online ads for real estate and real estate services through general media and social media channels as the marketing skill set improves.
4. Death by content
It’s already started. Look to see a continued abundance of real estate reports, sector reports, white papers, seminars, webinars and case studies.
All the service providers are clamoring for a share of the social media and search space, and this is the result.
While the content out there is still cluttered and daunting, the good news is that you’re likely to see some better quality insights and information than ever before as better data become available and as service providers hone in on content for key niche target markets (See 7 and 8).
3. Social climbing
With more content and insights than ever before, marketing teams will continue to look to social media to help distribute that content in a meaningful way.
The industry’s demographic is welcoming more Generation X and Millennials into key real estate decision-making roles, and they depend heavily on social media, particularly LinkedIn, to source colleagues, partners, jobs and insights to help solve their real estate challenges.
This isn’t a fad, and it isn’t going away.
2. Build-to-suit marketing campaigns
As owners and agents seek to do a better job positioning their assets for success (or to avert failure), you’re going to see more customized marketing campaigns.
Look to see more branded asset offerings for sale and/or lease as owners invest in their assets’ identities to avoid commoditization.
Expect to see less templated marketing collateral along with more creative signs, brochures and digital assets as landlords try to clearly differentiate their buildings.
1. S&M: The winning combination
Look for greater integration of Sales and Marketing teams. Real estate advisors for landlords who are great at marketing will rise to the top.
As the market becomes more competitive on the demand side, real estate advisors who want to help landlords fill their vacancies are going to need more than a good rolodex.
Those who understand the value of positioning an asset and can work with their marketing teams to execute impactful, creative and aligned marketing and sales programs will enjoy rental premiums and faster uptake of space.
Consequently, they’ll become a pretty hot commodity in 2015 and beyond.
Lex Perry is Director of Marketing and Communications for Colliers International in Canada, where he focuses on corporate brand strategy, market research and intelligence, content marketing, public relations and digital marketing.
Creating a successful commercial real estate marketing strategy requires more than having a fancy print brochure and pushing your listings to Costar. In the rapidly evolving digital landscape, the game is shifting quickly and you need to appear where your clients are looking to increase the chances of success for your business.
Since every real estate project is different, we will give you a recipe to devise a successful game plan that can work for any commercial real estate firm.
Exclusive Download: Download a free marketing strategy template + 3 additional marketing templates.
A healthy commercial real estate marketing strategy should have a well-balanced marketing mix and leverage Earned, Paid and Owned media.
The notion of diversifying your risk also applies in commercial real estate marketing. Your marketing mix should be distributed across different channels to mitigate any down-side risk in the case of unexpected issues with a specific marketing area.
So, just how do you start?
Here are 15 important activities that should be part of your commercial real estate marketing strategy:
1. Create a Professional Company Website
Your company website is often times the first impression you give a potential client and a key factor to instill trust and confidence to prospects.
It can also serve as an important marketing outlet allowing you to feature company news, demonstrate thought leadership through blog posts and research studies, and promote your properties.
2. Launch Individual Property Websites
In 2018, if you don’t have a strong digital footprint for your properties then your competitors are going to eat your lunch.
Creating a property website for your properties is a big step beyond a simple listing page on a company website or CRE portal. It not only serves as a digital hub for your property marketing efforts, but can also add “wow” factor to help engage and convert visitors much more effectively.
3. Send Targeted Email Marketing Campaigns
Building and segmenting a database of potential prospects for sending targeted email communications is one of the single most important marketing activities you can do to help fuel your sales or leasing efforts.
There are plenty of ways to start building your list through your website, blogs and lead capture pages. Whether you use a commercial real estate CRM, an email marketing platform or simply store your contacts manually, make sure you have a game plan in place to grow and nurture your user base.
4. Create Useful Content
Content marketing is one of the key tactics to stay top of mind and nurture your prospects until they are ready to actively engage with your business.
However, not many commercial real estate companies know where to start or what to do.
The key to content marketing is this: don’t just be part of the noise.
Create high-quality content that is useful, relevant or entertaining. This can be done in many different ways including blog posts, studies, infographics and videos.
5. Share content on Social Media
Social media marketing is free and an effective way to build brand awareness and drive eyeballs to your website. Savvy commercial real estate professionals are also using social media to spark conversations and facilitate connections with potential customers and partners.
Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook are the most relevant social networks for commercial real estate, and where your company should be most active.
6. Get Press Coverage
Building relationships with influencers, journalists and bloggers can pay off big. Outreach takes time but press mentions can help propel your brand awareness and have a massively positive impact on your marketing efforts.
Having your own “black book” of influencers is a key asset and will save you thousands of dollars in PR agency fees who essentially spend most of their efforts around outreach.
7. Optimize Your Website for SEO
Make sure you develop a SEO plan as early as possible. Visibility from search engines can have a powerful impact for your business and help drive tenants, brokers and investors to your website.
However, SEO is a long-term process and requires can take months to start seeing impact.
8. Post your Listings on Commercial Real Estate Listing Sites
Advertising your listings on commercial real estate portals is an effective way to generate visibility in front of a very highly relevant and targeted audience.
Besides Costar and Loopnet there are several other alternative CRE listing websites worth considering to promote your properties and drive leads.
9. Set Up Paid Google Keyword Campaigns
There are 500 million searches on Google every day and chances are that your clients are searching for keywords related to your property or business right now.
Google Adwords is a very powerful acquisition channel to help you attract leads but real estate keywords can be very expensive depending on your target market. However, what’s great about Adwords is that you can specify your Ad budget to whatever you feel comfortable with and stop at anytime.
10. Set Up Paid Display Campaigns
Display advertising comes in different formats and can help raise brand awareness and impact thousands (or millions) of people very quickly. Working with Ad networks like Adwords will provide you with very granular targeting and allow you to decide what websites you want your Ads to appear on.
11. Target Your Visitors through Remarketing
Remarketing goes beyond simple display advertising. When a user visits your website, a cookie is dropped on their computer so you can target them and show relevant Ads when they browse on different websites.
This can be an effective way to stay “top of mind” and drive visitors that engaged previously back to your property listing or company website.
12. Don’t Ignore Social Media Advertising
Another way to raise awareness and acquire visits is through performance-based advertising campaigns on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook.
These platforms can offer very laser-targeted campaigns, allowing you to select who, when and where your Ads are displayed.
For example, if you are leasing a life science property you could launch a campaign targeting C-level executives in the bioscience industry in a specific geography.
13. Advertise on Trade Journals
Commercial real estate trade journals and online publications are read daily by thousands of potential investors, brokers and other industry peers.
Almost all industry journals offer advertising opportunities to help maximize your exposure in front of a large, national audience or a more focused regional segment.
14. Develop a Marketing Plan
What is a real estate marketing plan (and why do you need one)? A real estate marketing plan provides a comprehensive structure for all of your earned, owned, and paid media assets. It allows you to document your marketing activities and define objectives so you have a clear understanding of where you’re going and how you’ll get there.
Moreover, a marketing plan is a key component of any real estate marketing strategy as it helps you plan and manage both your timelines and budget.
15. Measure Your Success
“If you can’t measure it, don’t mess with it”
The most critical component of a success commercial real estate marketing strategy is measuring the success of your activities. Define key metrics for each of your marketing channels, setup a real estate marketing report, and make data-driven decisions to continuously improve your efforts.
Don’t let your strategy get stale. You should constantly be testing ideas and tactics to see what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t have any impact.
Most importantly, don’t lose sight of how your marketing strategies impact your business objectives. If you can’t quantify the direct or indirect impact on your lease-up, sales or tenant retention efforts (or whatever else) then you need to go back to the drawing board.
Marketing Strategy Template (Bonus)
If you want to create an effective commercial real estate marketing plan, you need a systematic approach that defines the overall strategy, objectives and key metrics for each key channel you want to engage in. The following real estate marketing plan template is an Excel spreadsheet that will help you organize all of this.
Download Now:Commercial Real Estate Marketing Strategy Template (Excel)