How to Create a Commercial Real Estate Marketing Plan
What is a real estate marketing plan? And why do you need one?
There is no one size fits all marketing plan that can work for every commercial real estate marketing business. Instead, it is imperative to create a CRE marketing plan that is unique and works for your company, your service lines, your resources, your objectives, and your target audience. All this while recognizing that when faced with an abundance of different marketing tools and solutions, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of spreading your game plan thin and losing focus on core objectives.
The plan that you create must be unique, yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated. Creating a real estate marketing plan will serve as a blueprint for your property marketing efforts covering a specific timeline, and can be adjusted as time goes on. It will help you document and organize key activities, comprehensively track progress, manage multiple tasks with efficiency and succinctly communicate your marketing plans with all relevant stakeholders.
Here are 5 steps that will guide your creation of an effective commercial real estate marketing plan:
1. Define Your Objectives and Answer Basic Questions
Whether a game plan for your real estate firm, or a property development marketing campaign, at the planning stage you should be asking the following questions:
– Who are you targeting and what are their key challenges? It sounds obvious, but prepare a detailed analysis of the individuals or companies you want to sell or lease to.
– What is your budget and how are you going to allocate for different marketing activities?
– Who are your competitors and how do they market themselves and their properties? What do they offer and how can you differentiate yourself from the pack?
– How will you define success and what are the KPIs you will track?
– What commercial property types (retail, office, multifamily, hotel, industrial, etc) do you specialize in and how can you most effectively put the spotlight on your offerings?
At this point it is also an ideal moment to:
– Invest in high quality professional photographs or renderings that can be used across all online and offline marketing efforts. A fundamental step towards introducing your property to potential customers is through strong visual and atmospheric imagery that brings the property to life and tells its unique story.
– Create an identity and brand for the property – establish a reputation by creating an original, distinct identity and logo for the property that targets your niche market.
– Define your key message(s) – what makes this property stand out from competitors? Crafting the value proposition with good copy will help set the foundation for your marketing communications and materials.
2. Develop Your “On the Ground” Game Plan and Collateral
It may appear like the world of online marketing has nudged traditional offline methods to one side, but despite constant advances in technology, online marketing for commercial real estate really is only half the story. Tried and tested offline marketing approaches are still the most successful way generate trust, familiarity and gain a personal association with possible investors and tenants.
Here are our 6 key tactics for generating more visibility:
– Print collateral – invest in high-end print collateral such as a glossy brochure, flyers, research and other marketing materials that tell prospective customers the right story about your commercial real estate property. Where possible, ensure that the design can be adapted for digital use.
– Display and window signage – stand out from a multitude of other properties by reinforcing the brand and creating an eye-catching banner, monument sign or window graphic that visually showcases what the property has to offer in a nutshell.
– Broker events – stage a memorable networking event at the property that will enable you to connect directly with prospective customers and brokers within the environment of the product you are promoting.
– Print media – it always pays to build brand awareness and maintain a strong and active presence in major newspapers and industry specific magazines.
– Direct mail – mail can still be an effective way of getting property information into the hands of brokers, if done correctly. The key to success is access to a laser targeted list and investing in a direct mail piece that stands outs.
– Networking (locally & nationally) – it is paramount for people to put a face to the name. Networking at local or national CRE events can help generate more awareness for who you are and put you in touch with the right people to do business together.
3. Create Your Digital Assets and Online Marketing Campaigns
With so many online marketing strategies out there it can be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to planning a rewarding online campaign. But establishing a highly visible online presence is vital. In this section we have put together a stellar online marketing formula for this competitive marketplace.
– Website development – create and launch a custom-made website that allows users to find, view and interact with key information at the click of a button. With almost 80% of investors and tenants starting their search online, it’s imperative your website not only looks good, but also can be found. Websites need to be visual, informative and user-friendly for any device (desktop, tablet and mobile). Break up the text with special features such as downloadable floor plans, interactive stacking charts, high-resolution images, videos, and dynamic location maps to set your self apart from the competition.
– Ongoing updates – keep the site regularly updated with relevant news about your company or property . You can add an engaging blog or news section where you can communicate with potential tenants, investors and brokers on a less formal level to give a human personality behind your brand. Provide useful insights on industry trends, highlight lease transactions, offer expert advice, news and other interesting company and property updates.
– Outreach – attract potential tenants and investors by connecting with 3rd party journalists, industry influencers, analysts and bloggers that can produce effective press coverage and industry specific articles. Alternatively you can even contribute as a guest writer on real estate blogs and external websites, but be sure to include links that then transfer the reader over to a specific page of the property site.
– Email campaigns – to avoid your brokers alerts and emails being deleted before it’s even read, ensure the content speaks to the customer you specifically want to target. Include information about the property as well as relevant industry updates and be sure to link it back to your website and social media pages.
– Online press release – this trusty PR tool will allow you to stay ahead of the game and as it’s online it can be passed on and shared at the click of a button. Make sure it has something definitive to say and contains unique, newsworthy content. Include descriptive anchor links that when clicked on will take the reader to a chosen page of your property or company website you wish to highlight.
– Social Media – don’t underestimate the power of social media. Now a widely accepted commercial real estate marketing tool, sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn are used to demonstrate expertise and get the corporate message across in a more informal way, opening up discussions and allowing users to leave comments.
– Videos – marketing videos with the use of drone footage and aerial shots that capture the full scope of your CRE properties are pivotal in today’s market. People love visualizing through live images, and it also broadens your base of potential clients, as they don’t need to be there physically to experience it.
– Media placements – buying advertising space in relevant online magazines, business journals and news publications will make sure you are generating impressions in front of your target audience and help your property to ride high in google search engine results.
– Performance-based advertising – using cost-per-click (CPC) based campaigns through networks such as Google Adwords, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is a very effective way to deliver solid publicity through very targeted online marketing and can quickly generate thousands to millions of brand impressions. A major advantage of this type of advertising is the immediate and measurable results and its ability to give you more control over ROI.
– SEO – investment in Search Engine Optimization is one of the most efficient and impactful ways that a commercial real estate firm can give themselves an edge over the competition. Get started by setting up a Google Analytics account, then install an SEO plug-in into the backend and optimize the technical aspects of your website, such as meta descriptions, page titles, and alt tags.
4. Measure and Track Your Results
– Metrics – determine what are they key metrics that will measure success of your marketing campaign and find a way to track progress of your activities. 4 basic KPIs you may want to consider:
- Brand impressions (for Ad performance)
- Website visits (for online marketing campaigns)
- Clippings (for PR activities)
- Leads generated (for overall success)
– Reporting – reporting results of your marketing initiatives is the only way to measure success and make informed decisions to improve campaign performance. A good starting point is using Google Analytics, the most useful tool for measuring levels of online performance and conversions (or “leads”) and also gives you the ability to create custom reports and dashboards.
5. Organize Your Marketing Tasks and Set a Timeline
To plan and execute your next steps, organize the main components for your CRE marketing strategy in the context of a timeline to help you summarize multiple tasks and easily communicate the project plan from a single document. Use a simple spreadsheet or Gantt chart to help you organize this. You can also commit to using a variety of tools that will help you organize your time and to-do lists.
Tools to help you organize:
- Trello – a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. It tells you what’s being worked on, by whom, and where everyone is in the process. Like a digital white board filled with post it notes, aka tasks for your team.
- Basecamp – an online collaboration app that lets people manage their work together and communicate with one another. It can be used to keep track of all the tasks, deadlines, files, discussions, and announcements that happen around work.
- Monday – a customizable work management platform that helps teams and organizations increase efficiency by tracking projects and workflows, visualizing data, and collaborating as a team. A simplified task management tool that organizes tasks into lists.
- Google Sheets and Google Docs– when it comes to general versatility and all-around usefulness, you can’t beat Google’s offerings. Google Sheets and Google Docs in particular take the functionality of Word and Excel, then add an even easier layer of accessibility by allowing users to collaborate in real time.
BONUS: CRE Marketing Plan Template
Need a sample template?
Download our commercial real estate marketing plan template in PDF or Excel and customize it to your property marketing needs here: