Commercial Real Estate marketing has evolved from simple signage in the early days to include more sophisticated, multi-faceted digital tactics we see in present day.
Real estate professionals operate in an economy that places great value on time and efficiency. Landlords have taken notice, and strive to implement marketing plans that provide current and prospective tenants with the most critical information in the least possible time.
As such, commercial real estate marketing strategy has evolved from simple signage in the early days to include more sophisticated, multi-faceted digital tactics we see in present day.
This article will examine a variety of different methods commercial real estate landlords have taken in order to more effectively communicate with their tenants.
Marketing to Current Office Tenants
In the past, commercial real estate landlords and office tenants communicated on an individual basis. Meaning, one representative of the landlord and one representative of the tenant, typically an office manager, consistently stay in touch via phone conversations, email exchanges, and face-to-face interactions to discuss the latest happenings in and around the development.
The problem? While this form of communication may be effective between participants A (landlord) and B (office manager), the goal of sharing this information is to disseminate it to all employees and tenants that occupy the space. Commercial real estate property owners are unable to measure the reach of their correspondence other than relying solely on the good faith of the tenant’s primary point of contact.
It is inevitable that people will forget to write things down and forward emails, which results in the loss of important information that retains tenants and keeps the business community engaged.
To avoid this issue, commercial real estate landlords need to get creative with marketing campaigns and think differently when it comes to distributing marketing collateral to current office tenants. While consistent contact with individual tenant representatives is still critical to maintaining a healthy relationship, there are new, innovative best practices that commercial real estate landlords can implement to expand reach. A successful commercial real estate marketing manager makes sure their message is being received by as many office space occupants as possible.
This can be most easily achieved by taking a multi-channel approach, which offers a variety of options for tenants to stay in the loop.
Enhance Property Websites to Accommodate Current Tenants
Any modern day commercial real estate property will have a beautifully designed website that demonstrates the benefits of procuring space in that particular development. While this is a bare necessity for properties seeking to obtain new clients, higher-quality websites will prominently display additional sections dedicated to communicating recent updates, information regarding the surrounding area, even a calendar of upcoming events, to name a few.
Taking a dive deeper, property websites could feature both visual and contextual content that focuses on the noteworthy achievements of office tenants. An example of this could be an article that highlights philanthropic volunteer efforts of tenant employees and other initiatives that have a positive impact on society. Another great feature to add would be a virtual tour of each available property. Adding as much detail as possible will allow potential tenants to get a firm grasp of your beautiful space you are promoting.
The benefits of doing so come two-fold for an investor. For one, it shows that it’s not all about monetization, and that commercial property landlords are proud of the businesses that occupy their space and genuinely do care about more than tenants simply signing the dotted line. Secondly, it fosters a sense of society that is critical to retaining tenants. It encourages non-participants to get involved, get recognition, and join their neighbors in their efforts to improve their community.
Outside of general public information, properties should consider developing tenant portals that can be accessed by company emails. The portal would bring the user to a microsite or something similar, which contains tenant-specific information that is targeted and extremely relevant.
Doing so saves the user time by cutting through content and delivering the most critical communications to particular individuals. Portals can be used to deliver a variety of messages to employees, including informational (e.g. elevator and parking services), marketing messages (events, specials), and safety alerts (evacuation plans, shelter data, etc.).
The overarching goal of including these features is to keep current tenants informed without having to convey the message on a person-by-person basis. The information is accessible to anyone should they choose to seek it, and acts as a non-intrusive form of communication.
Become Actively Involved in Social Media and Other Content-Rich Networks
These channels of communication are excellent mediums to quickly convey easy to digest, bite sized pieces of information that peak interest and can lead users to more in-depth content. If you haven’t pounced on these opportunities to market your commercial real estate, you have fallen behind. Here we will break down the key ways in which commercial real estate properties should use each medium to market to current tenants.
At the very least, every commercial property should have a Facebook page to help attract the ideal client. The most popular social media network on the planet, this medium serves as an all-encompassing space for general knowledge about the property such as location, contact information, hours of operation, and events. Office tenants have the option to follow the property’s page, publish their own content and geo-tag their location, or simply share a post made by the property to the user’s own social network.
Does your commercial property have beautiful views? Do interesting things take place in and around your property? If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions, your property marketing campaign will benefit from establishing an Instagram account.
Like Facebook, Instagram can be used to display high-quality images and video that capture the magnificence of your office space and the area around it. By doing so, you engage current and prospective tenants with visual content that emphasizes the benefits of securing space in your development, outside of square footage and fair pricing. After all, we are in the business of accentuating our amenities.
In general, small to medium sized commercial real estate landlords don’t have a need for a full-time, in-house public relations department. However, it is important that properties are able to communicate press releases, current events, and other happenings in the public forum in order to invoke new tenants and investors.
What’s a landlord to do? Twitter is a potential solution to this corporate dilemma. Limited to 140 characters, Twitter posts contain content that is brief and gets right to the point. It gives commercial real estate properties a voice on topics that they wouldn’t commonly be associated with, and provides an opportunity for landlords to more closely align with the things that matter most to their tenants (e.g International Women’s Day, environmental initiatives, etc.)
Other networks include YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs. The most important aspect of utilizing these different mediums is that they allow properties to interact with tenants on both corporate and individual levels. This content is easily accessible, sharable, personal, and arguably most important, measurable.
Digital analytics allow commercial real estate landlords to identify what resonates with users, and turn these insights into actionable tactics to more deeply interact with an audience.
Establish an Email Subscriber List of Current Office Tenants
This form of communication is among the most direct ways to reach individual tenants. Although difficult, it is attainable. Most people are reluctant to provide their business, let alone personal, email address. Nobody needs more “junk” mail (from their perspective) floating in to clog up his or her inbox.
A work around here is to incentivize this sharing of personal information with prizes, giveaways, etc. Simply getting a current tenant to subscribe is not enough. The dreaded “unsubscribe” button will surely be clicked if your commercial property bombards recipients with daily email blasts. Limit subscriber emails to monthly newsletters and updates that touch on the most important information.
This takes guesswork out of the equation and ensures your message is delivered directly to the individual. There is a delicate balance of building and maintaining such lists, and unfortunately, trial and error is the most efficient method to optimize this form of communication.
Physically Display Flyers, Brochures, and Other Informational Marketing Collateral
While we have primarily focused on the digital elements of marketing to current tenants, the fact of the matter is that not all tenants are as tech-savy as others. For individuals that are unwilling to embrace technology, compensate by posting print communications throughout the development.
Office tenants will pass by these communications regularly during the workweek, leaving unavoidable impressions and reinforcing digital communication efforts. Although it is not the most environmentally friendly form of communication, it is necessary until print marketing is squeezed out by the more widely adopted digital marketing.
Marketing to New Tenants
Cost, level of tenant service, building infrastructure and technology, safety and security, and proximity to customers and employees are just some of the many factors that new tenants consider when shopping for their next office space. All of these questions, and more, should be largely answered by the content posted on commercial real estate websites.
Leading prospective tenants to a property website, and then retaining their interest enough to spark a conversation, is crucial to filling commercial real estate vacancies. There is ample opportunity to lose new tenants along the way. In addition to some of the previously mentioned marketing strategies, this portion of the article will discuss more tactics that commercial real estate landlords can implement to improve the chances of gaining new tenants.
Produce Brilliant Video Footage
Displaying visual content in the form of video provides prospective tenants with more in-depth detail of the office space and triggers imagination. It gives a better feel of what it would be like to work in that exact office space without having to go through a time-consuming tour physically on-site.
This content can be posted on YouTube, live permanently on the property website, and be distributed as marketing collateral. Taking it a step further, advances in technology have allowed commercial real estate landlords to provide 3D, virtual, and augmented reality tours for potential tenants, all from the comfort of their own home.
These interactive tours immerse the user in a point-of-view perspective where they can navigate the property grounds and strut through hallways as if they were there in-person.
Invest in Copywriters, Retargeting with Emotion-Invoking Ads, & Big Data Analytics
All of these things are intertwined in the digital marketing realm. A good copywriter will write vivid descriptions of a commercial property, which are meant to emotionally attach the user to the commercial space. Rather than listing the basic features and amenities of the property, copywriters use descriptive words and phrases to spike interest and draw the reader in.
Moving on, let’s say that someone viewed your website to investigate your real estate offerings. Knowing your target audience and understanding their behaviors would be excellent tools when acquiring new business. This is possible by using retargeting pixels and digital analytics.
Pixels are placed on your website and attach to visitors when they land on your page. Following attachment, visitors to the website will see an ad for your commercial space appear while they are browsing the web.
Upon analysis, commercial real estate marketers can identify profiles and behavioral trends of website visitors, allowing landlords to optimize for conversions (i.e. filling out a contact form) and expanding their reach in the marketplace.
Leverage Vacant Commercial Real Estate by Hosting Business-Friendly Networking Events
These events can take place in one of the model units, or another desirable location on the property grounds. Rather than individual tours, it provides the opportunity for multiple prospective tenants to view the property in a fraction of the time it would take during normal business hours.
Similar to an open house, it is meant to be a casual, leisurely experience. Current tenants may also be notified of the event. It provides the added benefit of a networking event, while also mingling with their potential neighbors.
Posting an invitation online to one of the social media channels is also an excellent idea if capacity isn’t a foreseen issue. Doing so makes the information shareable, allowing users to organically spread word of the event organically.
There is a great deal of flexibility when developing these programs. If you have a healthy relationship with current tenants, alert them of the referral incentives for providing a qualified lead, or better yet an introduction.
A warm handoff such as this increases the odds of signing new businesses to a lease or sale, and also keeps vacancies at the top of mind for existing tenants. Rewards could come in the form of a catered lunch, discounts on rent, or even sponsored advertisements. Your real estate company has plenty of opportunity to get creative here, implement a revamped marketing campaign.