There has been a great deal of approaches to marketing commercial real-estate. Much has been written over the years and there have been various degrees of success for many of the strategies deployed. But marketing is a complicated process and the subject of marketing is both broad and deep as one begins to study the various approaches and attempts to define what works, what works better and what does no work at all. I will concede that there are a number of outside factors beyond one’s control that can affect the outcome for a particular program. Perhaps the two factors most often voiced and may change the outcome are; timing and luck. Yes, sometimes it helps to be at the right place at the right time and all the planning and hard work in the world may not make any difference in the outcome. How about the lazy salesman who sits in the office all day and waits for the phone to ring? He is quick on the draw and is first to answer the phone. He gets lucky one day and picks up the phone on the first ring and gets connected to the million dollar buyer on the other side of the call. Of course that does not mean that you simply sit by the phone and wait for the call. That seldom occurs for the successful salesman who develops a well thought out program tailored and designed for his product.
Countless marketing programs have evolved over the past decades and technology has driven numerous new tools and approaches. The principal goal of a marketing program for commercial brokers is to first reach out to qualified buyers and generate interest in the property. Exposure and interest represent the initial steps in most programs. This involves exposure of the property to those prospects that are best suited for the property.
Effective marketing does require a balanced strategy that involves a thorough understanding of the property features as well a process for identifying qualified and targeted prospects. So perhaps it may be more important to first understand who you are selling to, who are your target prospects. Marketing programs involve any number of a myriad of elements including; property features, advantages, market trends, costs, valuations, timing, financial analysis and others. But it is critical to identify the buyer and understand the buyer’s need. This perhaps can be best described as consultative selling. You are viewing the sale not from the seller’s perspective but stepping in the shoes of the buyer and viewing the property from their perspective. You are assisting the buyer in envisioning your property with regard to their value and their purchasing criteria.
Timing is Everything
Some have said that “timing is everything” and the real estate market is cyclical. That may be true and short term fixes usually do not work. However…if we focus on the longer term…not just today, but next year and beyond…and focus on the positives…you may be able to establish a clear vision for matching the property features to the buyer’s purchasing criteria. Expand your viewing horizon out further improves value, expands the possibilities and may help to develop broader interest and attract your buyer sooner rather than later. My father-in-law, who was a commercial real-estate broker for over 50 years, would often tell me that you sell a property not for what it is, but rather for what it can be. You should therefor focus your marketing efforts on the long term interests of our prospective clients.
Build Marketability-Look Beyond the Features
One of the most subtle forms of marketability is building positive perceptions into the product itself, doing everything one can to make your property “Buyable.” Marketability cannot be read out from market studies, demographics and focus groups alone…but must be intuited. It involves looking at the fringes, looking just beyond them and interpreting-perceiving-underlying motivation as to why someone would really want to buy property to locate their business operations at your location. Marketability is further distinctive from marketing in that it is done, or should be done, before the fact, and if it is done correctly it doesn’t cost anything. Marketability is also a more active form of selling. It takes the selling process one step further. (continued next page)
Another way to describe marketability is to look beyond the features and to build value in the eyes of the buyer. Selling by necessity, is product oriented-features-functions-advantages, but understanding your product’s marketability puts the buyer into the picture. Your focus therefore becomes customer centric and enables you to look beyond product features and functions and develop tailored marketing programs based on the criteria and requirements of the targeted user. So, marketability then brings value into the program. The marketing program then must therefore be developed to identify the value drivers that are related and apply specifically to the specific buyer type and not necessarily based on the product features.
The Internet has changed the buying methods of the consumer. Not just for real estate but for most product types. Just as new store fronts and site designs and locations that offer a greater out-reach can improve a retailer’s effectiveness, the store front of a real estate marketing program will also improve out-reach. It goes far beyond the old approach of sticking a sign in front of the property. That store front is an electronic store front taking the form of a computer screen or smart phone, and delivered through the use of the computer and the Internet. These can consist of Web sites, blogs and social media programs such as Facebook, Twitter and You-tube. The good news is that while it may be a bit more complicated than the old methods, it does provide a broad and deep outreach to thousands of prospects at a lower unit cost. If you understand the buyer value drivers and target those customer needs you can easily integrate these features into an electronic story- board of presentations and promotional marketing material.
The Internet provides numerous delivery mechanisms for improved efficiencies both in terms of development costs and implementation costs when compared to the traditional methods. Future article will discuss their effectiveness and use and hopefully provide some new ideas for success in the complex and highly competitive commercial real-estate arena.
Building marketability into your marketing program involves understanding your buyer and understanding their needs from their perspective. Your message must reach out to them in a language that they understand. Your goal is to expose and attract them to your property and build positive perceptions about your products. Build value by identifying their value drivers and showing them how their investment will yield greater dividends. If you understand what their value drivers are, only then will you be able to build a positive vision for them.
One final note. It is not just about your marketing program. It is also about you. Collaborate with your prospects and customers and act like a business partner and always strive to educate your customer. Assist your customer and demonstrate to them that you understand “Their Value Drivers.” Work with the prospect and provide them with the necessary information about the marketplace. Assist them in identifying where their customers will be coming from and how they can compete successfully. When that occurs you will add value. When you add value, you are not just a sales professional you’re a serving in the role as a business partner…a consultant. That will help you and your buyer to look beyond the features and serve to move you closer to your desired outcome…the closing table.