To be successful at marketing real estate (specifically commercial real estate), there is no “one size fits all” solution or “magic program” to help individuals or teams grow their businesses and/or sell their properties faster or better. Rather, one must look at the whole picture and understand that “marketing” is not a single act or a strategy in and of itself but rather a complementary force to sales efforts and a key addition that both builds upon and enhances the core strengths of a sales team.
Most of the commercial leasing and sales teams within my company—which includes over 300 offices in more than 50 countries—are structured whereby a marketing person typically supports a commercial real estate broker or a team of brokers who then conceptualizes, carries out, and services both business development and property marketing strategies in order to assist with growing the business unit.
As a marketing professional whose worked alongside some of Northern Nevada’s most successful commercial real estate brokers for the past nine years at a company that has been a leader in U.S. investment sales for the past six years, here are my nine steps to formulating an unbeatable “holistic” real estate marketing strategy. (Steps 1-3 cover the need for building a strong platform, steps 4-6 touch on ways you can cultivate successful habits that lead to measurable business results, and steps 7-9 cover marketing’s specific role in the process.)
- Possess or develop core abilities – In an era of unprecedented lack of trust in financial institutions and financial services, it is important that a real estate salesperson possess certain core abilities as a prerequisite to doing business in that they understand not just the products and services they are selling, but the environment in which they are conducting business, as well as the needs and wants of their customers. A real estate salesperson must, at the very least, have the financial wherewithal, business acumen, and understanding of the legal landscape in order to handle a variety of multi-faceted, complex, and multi-party interactions both efficiently and effectively.
- Promote the perception of ability – A salesperson’s perception of ability is only as strong as their worst critic’s opinion of them. According to Kyle Lacy, there are no shortcuts to establishing a good reputation. “Focus on providing something awesome, gently ask the clients who love you the most to get the word out for you, and wait. Your awesomeness will sell itself, in time.” In addition to working hard and establishing a solid reputation, you can leverage your perception through public relations efforts, whether it be speaking at an industry event, writing a column for a local business journal, or sharing a case study that is relevant to the community’s economic development efforts.
- Be consistent – According to John Jantsch, veteran marketing coach, award winning blogger, and author of Duct Tape Marketing, “consistency builds trust.” Whether it be producing a monthly newsletter, a quarterly report, a reoccurring event in your market, or always returning calls within a certain amount of time, establishing consistency in your approach to business will build trust over time: the foundation for solid relationships.
- Create S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely) – From a recent article entitled “12 Things Successful People Do Differently,” the authors suggest that successful people tend to create S.M.A.R.T. goals. This surely holds true for real estate professionals. By formulating goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant to the business, and timely, S.M.A.R.T. goals are more fastidiously realized and achieved.
- Cultivate the right relationships – This one speaks for itself. Whether your goal as a real estate professional is to sell more properties, represent more buyers, gain additional market share, or be a resource to the community at large – make sure you’re spending time formulating the types of relationships that lend themselves to accomplishing such objectives.
- Focus on being productive, not busy – There are brokers who talk about doing things and then there are brokers who get things done. Spend your time accomplishing goals and objectives, resolving issues, and being proactive as opposed to filling in extra time with distractions, unnecessary meetings that do not affect your bottom line, or activities in general that do not tie in with your overall strategy.
- Find ways to efficiently match buyers and sellers – These days there are countless technologies, both proprietary and subscription-based, that strive to quickly and efficiently match buyers with sales opportunities. While purchasing mailing lists and email lists is generally frowned upon, there are still certain individuals who will subscribe to such marketing practices; fortunately this type of “annoying marketing” is not sustainable. In fact, it is quickly dying because consumers are fast becoming immune to this type of messaging. A better (and more authentic) strategy focuses on leveraging opt-in communication, nurturing leads, and being a present, integrated force in your local market who is well-versed in the needs of its respective buyers and sellers.
- Leverage platforms to promote product and service offerings – There are a variety of platforms (most notably Loopnet.com, Costar.com and your company web site) that work to promote your product and service offerings. By continuously monitoring the effectiveness of such platforms, you can adjust your usage of each service to meet the level that most effectively matches your business goals.
- Create an inbound marketing plan – For brokers who rely on cold calling, direct mail, and newspaper advertising, the audience for such messaging is quickly dwindling. Much more effective than an outbound marketing strategy is an inbound marketing plan where business flows in to you based on the information and resources you put out to the world so that people can find you, whether it be through establishing a blog or Twitter account, joining a specific LinkedIn group, or formulating a social media strategy in general. Click here for an overview of how one individual is managing his personal inbound marketing effort.
In short, to be successful at marketing real estate there are no shortcuts. Building a successful strategy requires taking a look at the whole picture; building a strong business requires hard work, critical thinking, and strong execution skills. You must not only have the know-how, the strategic approach, and the appropriate team in place to actualize goals, but the alignment of sales and marketing efforts in order for the business to grow.
Above all, satisfying customer needs through a systematic approach to uncovering opportunity and effectively servicing requirements through a foundation of strong relationships is not only the most straightforward, but sustainable approach to growing your business. When understood and leveraged properly, marketing can work to amplify and increase the reach of such messaging to result in a simply unbeatable approach.