The commercial real estate industry is a very crowded marketplace—decision-makers have quite a bit coming at them on a daily basis.
There’s two ways to look at that…
In one scenario you might think, “it’s harder than ever to stand out amongst my competitors.”
Another way to think about it, though, is that when you do stick out from the rest of the pack, the rewards you reap will be much greater than ever before.
It’s an ever-evolving medium for an ever-evolving industry.
In this definitive guide to commercial real estate marketing, we dive into the most important aspects of creating a successful marketing plan—from finding and understanding your target market, to optimizing your content and campaigns to drive leads to conversion.
Commercial Real Estate Marketing
There are now more ways to reach your prospects than ever before.
So really, success is not beholden to a select few—it’s more so a matter of you finding out what the most successful strategy is for you and your business.
If you’re going to delve into the realm of commercial real estate marketing, it’s important to take a thoughtful approach and commit the time and resources needed to deliver a tremendous customer experience across all marketing mediums.
At every touch point, you want people to walk away thinking, “wow, that was helpful,” or “wow, what useful information,” and not just, “what are they trying to sell me?”
There are many steps you need to take to get to that point.
First, we’ll show you how you can find buyers and targeted property owners with Reonomy. Then, we’ll give you some tips for your website, social media, content, email, paid ads, and marketing analytics efforts.
Finding Buyers and Owners with Reonomy
Often times, you’ll likely use your marketing efforts to gather contact details for your prospects—through online signup forms, email outreach, and so on.
If you already have the contact details of prospects, you can also employ further marketing to continue engaging them and push them closer to becoming a client.
Reonomy’s search platform and detailed property owner contact information allow you to either forgo some of your planned marketing efforts, or find owners that you want to market to on the spot.
For instance, if you’re trying to sell a 50,000 square foot commercial office space, your target audience might be large corporate clients.
It wouldn’t make sense to create marketing materials targeted to residential real estate buyers if they aren’t in your target market.
That’s simply a waste of time. So why not weed those residential buyers out?
Understand Your Target Audience
In order to understand your ideal prospect, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:
- Who am I currently selling to successfully?
- Where do these people currently buy similar products and services?
- What is my exact service area (geographically)?
- What is the average income, company, or property size that I want to sell to?
- Historically, what is the profile of my prospects that have converted?
Once you understand who your audience should be, you can begin to research the properties and property owners that fit within that audience.
And that’s where the Reonomy Platform comes into the equation.
Reonomy lets you search completely off-market to find ideal properties and owners based on very specific qualifications and signals of intent (for example, if an owner is likely to sell or refinance).
From large metros like LA and NYC, to tiny Opportunity Zones in Oakland, and on, you can build a marketing lead list in a matter of minutes.
You can find your target audience by running a filtered property search.
Run a Targeted Property Search
You can identify properties within your target market by searching geographically, by asset type, by sales and debt history, owner name, and more.
For the sake of example, let’s say you’re a commercial mortgage lender in Baltimore, MD.
Your institution specializes in multi-family property loans of a specific size (in terms of both number of units and mortgage amount).
Believe it or not, when using Reonomy, generating a list of multi-family properties in Baltimore in need of refinancing is quite simple.
Searching for Properties by Location
The first thing you can do is search within Baltimore.
By visiting the “Location” tab of Reonomy’s search platform, you can search for properties by state, city, county, zip code, street name, and exact street address.
In this case, enter Baltimore into the “City” search bar, along with any zip codes or street names that may apply (if you prefer).
Searching for Properties by Asset Type
From there, you can add a filter for a specific asset type.
In this case, we’re searching for multi-family properties, which can be done in the “Asset Type” tab of the search page by adding a filter for “All Multi-family.”
In the “Building & Lot” tab of the search, page you can also add more layers of filtering, adding specifications for number of units, building and lot size, as well as other filters for property age, renovations, and zoning.
Search for Properties by Sales and Debt History
Once you’ve searched for properties based on their physical characteristics, you can begin adding filters for specific sales and debt characteristics.
This is where you can build a list of property owners with specific intentions. If they’ve not sold in a long time, they might be willing to sell now. If they’ve recently purchased a property, they might need some renovations, and so on.
Reonomy let’s you search for properties based on their most recent sale price and sale date, as well as most recent mortgage amount and date, and lender.
Being able to search properties with such granular filters lets you find your target market and easily build lead lists to fuel your marketing and cold outreach campaigns.
From there, you can begin establishing your brand and building targeted marketing campaigns to win more business from commercial owners.
Tips for Commercial Real Estate Marketing Success
It’s likely that you have at least a few competitors serving your same target market, so you need to figure out what sets you apart from them.
Are you the low-cost competitor?
Do you provide tech-enabled solutions for your customers?
Maybe you only focus on ultra-high-end listings within your marketplace.
Perhaps you have access to off-market properties and your competitors don’t.
Whatever the case may be, you need to understand how you’re different from the rest.
Develop a logo, mission statement and/or company values that reflect your identity or brand.
At a minimum, you should have a strategy in place that includes a well-designed website, content marketing, social media, email, AdWords, and remarketing, all backed by the necessary tracking and analytics.
Your strategy should outline a path for integrating each of these components over time.
Website Design Tips
By some estimates, more than 80% begin their search for products and services online.
That means you need to create a highly responsive, engaging website.
Your website should be intuitive. People need to be able to find the information they’re looking for with the click of a button.
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to learn about a product, service or company and having to navigate multiple pages to find what you need (or worse, NOT find what you need).
Here are the basics to consider when designing a new website:
Be sure to feature professional images that highlight you, your company, products and services.
Invest in high-quality photos if you haven’t done so already.
But make sure they’re not too large, as slow webpage speeds can cause much higher rates of leaving visitors.
Description of Products/Services
Include targeted pages on your website that clearly describes the products or services you offer. Be sure to keep each page very benefit-focused.
This should be obvious, but it’s amazing how many websites fail to include their own basic contact information!
If people want to learn more about you, your products or services, they need to know how to contact you. Ultimately, that should be the biggest goal of actually having a website.
Embed a contact form, or at a minimum, simply give a contact name, phone number and email address for those looking to touch base offline.
Calls to Action
A “call to action” is one of the most critical aspects of a commercial real estate website.
When thoughtfully done, it can draw the contact information out of your website visitors—information that’s overwhelmingly beneficial when prospecting.
For instance, you could offer a free commercial property assessment for those who enter their name, address, email and phone number.
Or you could offer a market prospectus, that you make available for download after the visitor enters their contact information.
It’s important that the product or services you offer through the call to action are of high enough value to engage your audience.
Search Engine Optimization
Start by doing research on the most often searched keywords relevant to your target market. Then create and publish content on your website that includes these keywords.
This makes your website what’s called “SEO-friendly.”
“SEO” stands for search engine optimization and in short, refers to your website’s likelihood of ranking high in website search results.
You could design the sleekest website of all time, but it won’t matter if people can’t find it!
Content Marketing Tips
Content marketing is no longer a buzzword – in fact, it can be the linchpin to an effective commercial real estate marketing strategy.
The Content Marketing Institute, an online resource for information on all-things content marketing related, describes content marketing as follows:
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Content marketing can take on many forms: custom webpages, blogs, podcasts, videos, data reports, and more.
The key here is providing highly valuable, narrowly-targeted content for your specific audience. You can share this content across all media, and in each case, the content you share should be optimized to be SEO-friendly.
Social Media Marketing Tips
Social media is a great way to connect with your target audience.
But again, be sure to create a thoughtful, sharable social media strategy.
Which forums do your prospects engage with most?
If you’re targeting a younger crowd, you might focus your attention on Instagram or Snapchat.
If your audience is older, consider Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
But remember—even the most sophisticated, technical companies tend to have younger people manning their social media accounts—so don’t rule out other forms of media.
For instance, a company executive might not monitor his company’s Twitter account, but you might be able to connect with the company’s social media intern to set up an introduction to that executive.
One caveat to all social media marketing: be careful not to over-self-promote.
Social media should be used to share information about your own products and services, but it’s also a great way to share other thought leaders’ content and generally connect with those in the industry.
A second caveat to social media marketing: social media is often like getting a puppy dog. It’s fun and exciting at first, but the puppy dog eventually turns into a fully grown dog.
That fully grown dog needs to be loved, nurtured and cared for over time.
Commercial real estate professionals often launch social media strategies and then fail to follow through.
Social media is a major time commitment (if you want to be successful with it), so be selective with which platforms you decide to use.
Be sure you can post content consistently to remain relevant.
Email Marketing Tips
As your email database of prospective and existing clients grows, consider launching an email marketing campaign.
Hyper-targeted campaigns can be a great touch point for keeping you top of mind with your target market.
Consider a monthly email that offers a discount on your product or services. Or every so often, send out an email blast that details your company’s recent successes or major transactions.
Another strategy is to cultivate market information or commercial real estate market trends that you can share with your target audience – this will help position you as a thought leader within your market niche.
Google Ad Tips for Real Estate
Ever wonder how Google makes money?
The search engine sells ads through their aptly named platform, Google Ads.
Google Ads is an advertising system that publishes paid, clickable ads based upon a user’s keyword search.
For instance, if you’re a hard money lender in the Miami area, you might want an ad for your company to show up when someone in Miami searches for “alternative forms of commercial real estate capital.”
Or if you’re a retail broker, you might want your ad to appear when someone searches for “retail space” in your target market.
Real Estate Remarketing
For commercial real estate professionals working within a limited budget, consider real estate remarketing.
Rather than advertising to the masses, real estate remarketing is a form of online advertising that only displays ads to people who have previously visited your website.
This is another great way to keep your company top-of-mind with people who are at least vaguely familiar with your brand, products or services.
Tips for Marketing Tracking and Analytics
How do you know whether your commercial real estate marketing strategy is effective? It’s all about data, data and more data!
There are several tools available to collect, monitor and analyze your marketing efforts.
Google Analytics is the most basic way to track your website and social media metrics.
There are many benefits to tracking and analyzing this data. First, it tells you how far you’ve come.
If you analyze your performance before implementing your new strategy, you’ll be able to quantify your gains after implementing the strategy.
Second, you can determine which marketing strategies are having the greatest impact – in other words, which tools are helping to generate the most leads?
This allows you to target precious marketing resources most effectively.
Commercial Real Estate Public Relations
We’ve already mentioned the types of content that can help you become a thought-leader in the CRE industry, but why does that matter?
People like doing business with professionals—others that they know are credible.
Building relationships with external publications and businesses can serve as terrific forms of advertising.
One of the easiest way to get in front of your target audience is by getting into their most-often read publications.
Better yet, try to get an article placed in those publications that reference your product or service.
An alternative strategy is to write a guest column or op-ed in one of those publications that highlights your expertise within your specific market niche.
Likewise, local business journals are a great way to market your knowledge, experience or services to a hyper-local audience.
One of our favorite techniques is to speak on an industry panel that the publication will likely feature—thereby getting your name in front of your target audience in an indirect but important fashion.
Sticking Out in a World of Marketing
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into creating a successful commercial real estate marketing strategy. Start by creating a manageable strategy, and build upon that strategy over time.
It might be that you only focus on designing a highly-responsive, beautiful website at first. Then you might decide to test the waters with weekly blogging as part of your content marketing strategy.
When you’re ready, embark on a real estate social media marketing campaign that helps distribute that content to a broader audience.
In the end, what matters most is that you’re in-tune with your own needs and the needs of your target audience.