Every quality listing in commercial real estate brokerage should be the subject of a comprehensive and specific marketing plan. When the elements of the property are matched to the levels of enquiry, the prevailing property market conditions, and the client, the marketing plan is likely to produce the better results from the selected target market.
Most high quality listings today are the subject of a competitive tender involving a number of brokerages and agents. You may only have a short period of time or one brief opportunity where you can present your promotional ideas and marketing strategies to your client.
Your presentation, the listing pitch and the marketing plan will need to be of exceptional quality and relevance to attract the interest of the client and convert the listing. It is very likely that the best agent will win the listing based on recommendations, commitment, and confidence.
The Best Way to Set Out Your Marketing Ideas
Here are the elements of a property marketing plan in commercial real estate brokerage. These ideas will help you prepare your professional marketing plan:
- The title page – give the property and identity through the use of a title. That title should be specific to the property and where possible incorporate the history of the property. It is quite likely that the local property owners and business proprietors recognise the property in a particular way. That image or recognition can be incorporated into your marketing plan.
- Use professional property photographs – the front of your proposal or marketing plan should feature a professional photograph. That strategy should continue through the document. Most clients will be drawn to the proposal that features the asset in a creative and professional way. Through your marketing submission, you can add a number of professional photographs taken at different times of day, of different parts of the property, and use photographs that enhance the strengths of the asset to the target market.
- An executive summary – at the front of the document, make sure that you are using an executive summary to pull in all the features of the asset and the intended marketing campaign. The executive summary should be no more than one page in length and feature a number of dot points as part of the layout. You want the executive summary to attract the interest of the client and refer them further into the document for greater detail.
- A table of contents – simplify your marketing proposal with a table of contents so that the client can refer to the correct parts of the document as part of the review.
- A preference for simplicity – keep your marketing document simple and informative. Avoid bulky submissions that complicate the marketing process. Help your clients see the promotional strategy to be used with the target market. The best way to do that is through the use of a Gantt chart displaying the different marketing strategies and the timing process to be applied.
- Property analysis and recommendations – show the client that you really understand the property and its position in the prevailing market conditions. Summarise the property as you see it today and provide details of comparable property market activity in the location. From that information you can make specific recommendations towards a target market, the enquiries, and the inspections.
- The marketing plan – from the target market, you can specifically apply strategy to the marketing plan when it comes to the choice of the right media, the timing, and the expenditure. Help the client see exactly how you will be spending the money and why that is so. Show the client that you are in control of the property marketing process and the feedback to be encouraged.
- Implementation and control – make it easy for the client to formulate a decision and move ahead with their marketing challenge. If there are any problems within the property that need resolving prior to promotion, provide specific solutions and ideas to help that occur. Make it easy for the client to see the best way forward with their property challenge based on the attributes of the asset and the local property market.
Taking all of these things into account, you can make your marketing proposal stand out as specific and special with any good quality commercial real estate listing. Make it easy for the client to select your services as the agent of choice in resolving their property challenge.
The commercial property market is a challenge at the best of times. There are plenty of things to do when it comes to commercial brokerage and agency. Each and every day a certain number of hours should be devoted to the prospecting process. That activity will be at a personal level for any agent or broker.
It stands to reason that a good broker will have a successful prospecting model to encourage new clients and listings in a regular way. The earlier that agents and brokers move towards this planning process and its implementation, the faster they move up the ranks of the market with listings and commissions.
Here are some tips to help you with the prospecting process that should be applied to office, industrial, or retail property. Given your local market conditions, you can add to the list as appropriate:
- Understand the activities of the market over the last two or three years. As the market been attracting activity or has it been contracting? It is best to work within a market that has growth and opportunity. It is best to work with property types that have a future.
- Many brokerages employ agents on the assumption that the agents will bring in the required new sales and leasing business. Certainly that is the case to a degree; it should however be observed that a good real estate brokerage will have generic marketing strategies and material to help the agents with their daily prospecting activities. An agent or a broker with little or no support from their principal will struggle.
- It is critical that a broker or an agent get signboards into their territory as soon as possible. Those signboards should be on exclusive listings. Signboard presence will always help local market profile and encourage inbound telephone calls. On that basis you can build your database.
- The Internet today offers significant opportunity when it comes to business profile and property marketing. Every brokerage or agency should have a substantial business website to promote sales and leasing listings. The brokerage should always be updating the website with the latest technology tools to capture inbound enquiries. A database portal is part of that process.
- Set aside 2 hours per day to contact new people through the local area. The easiest way to do that is through a consistent and professional cold calling process. When you have connected with a number of people across the telephone, you can move out into the marketplace and door knock a number of businesses and property owners. Personal contact in our market today is really important.
- Every new property listing will give you an opportunity to talk to many other property owners and businesses in the same location. Every successful transaction will give you further reasons to connect with the market place. Use your existing listings and exclusive listings to connect with the property market.
In looking at these activities, it is easy to see that the involvement of the agent or broker at a personal level is critical. Momentum is required every day to establish a good prospecting model to convert more listings and commissions.
Signboards in commercial real estate are a critical part of branding for both the brokerage and also for the agent. The greater number of signs you have in your territory the easier it is for you to build your listing opportunities.
Most of the clients that use our services don’t want to list their property with a ‘secret agent’. They want the agent with the best exposure to the market that can attract the enquiry fast and efficiently. Signboards help with that.
I should qualify this further and say that ‘exclusive listings’ are better for your signboard profile and exposure. On that basis every sales pitch and presentation should be centred on converting a listing in that way. Top agents dominate the market with ‘exclusives’. When you control the listing stock, the market has to come to you. That assumes that you have listed the property correctly and at a market rent or price.
So let’s go back to the matter of ‘signs’. Here are some tips to using this marketing tool effectively for building your profile individually and for the brokerage.
- Do a ‘sign count’ each weekend so you know exactly your position in the market with listings and board visibility. This monitoring process also gets you into your territory on a regular basis so it helps with market awareness. The best time to do the ‘count’ is on a weekend when traffic and access is easy. For some brokers this is first thing on Sunday morning.
- Understand the regulations that apply to the placement and approval of boards on properties. Some local councils or municipalities will have regulations that set some rules to stick to.
- Have a contractor check your signs weekly for vandalism or weather damage. Nothing detracts more from a listing than a damaged sign.
- On any quality listing and particularly any exclusive listing, the board cost should be covered by the vendor paid marketing fees. On that basis the board should be specially created for the listing and the location.
- Use ‘dot points’ on the sign so the features of the property are easily read and captured by passing traffic.
- Put a reference of the property on the board so the person reading the information can call you and quote a reference number to take you immediately to the listing information. Be prepared to take telephone enquiries about a property at any time (that includes weekends).
- Size does matter in this type of property marketing. Understand the best legal size for the board and its placement strategy. Face the board to the passing traffic.
- When you place a board on a property, directly contact all surrounding businesses and property owners. A new listing is an excuse to talk to many people in the area.
Respect the opportunity in marketing that this sign strategy offers you. It is silent and yet so effective. All quality listings should feature a great signage marketing solution.
In commercial real estate brokerage you need a good database. When I say ‘good’ I am not referring to the complexity or brand of database. What I am referring to is that of the accuracy and volume of data that you have collected.
There is no point running a database unless you keep the information up to date and accurate. So many brokers struggle with that requirement. You may have heard the saying, ‘rubbish in and rubbish out’? That rule certainly applies in this case. Keep your contact information up to date and accurate.
If you want to dominate your market, then you will need to contact plenty of new people each day. If you prospect for 3 hours per working day (the recommended average), then half of that time should be devoted to new contacts, and the other half of the time should be devoted to current contacts. Over time the pipeline of contact that you establish will help you with sales and leasing opportunities.
Over time your prospects and clients will be contacted many times; that is how you build market share and opportunities. On that basis your customer contact system has to be flexible and accurate. It also requires the personal involvement and accuracy of the agent or broker.
Here are some rules to help you with your prospecting and client contact systems:
- Split your prospecting time 50/50 between current contacts and new people. That is how you will build new business.
- Focus on the process of ongoing contact. That will mean telephone calls and emails to the people that you know in an ongoing way. Record the results of your last points of contact so you can refer to earlier client situations and discussions.
- Get email addresses and the consent of the people that you are talking to about ongoing contact through email. You can then set up an ‘auto responder’ for that process. Not only is it economical, but also very convenient. It will save you a lot of time.
- Build ‘trust’ over time with your clients and prospects by providing valuable local market information. You can do that with listing sheets and sale or leasing updates.
- The ideal contact frequency to use with all of your clients and prospects will be your choice, however it has been proven that you will need to make valuable personal contact (telephone or meeting) at least once every 90 days.
So there are some key things to do here. Establish your prospecting system efficiently so you can get results in your market and with the property owners or business proprietors that really do need your service.
What is the value that you bring as an agent to a client in commercial property today? It is an interesting question for a client to ask when it comes to an agent selling, leasing, or managing commercial real estate.
Most agents would say one or more of the following:
- We know what we are doing
- We have good people
- We understand the property market
- We have done some great deals recently
- We sold (or leased) other properties like this recently
- We know how to market the property
The sad fact of the matter is that when they have said these things, they go no further. They do not back up their claims with detailed proof.
If you say anything to a client about your relevance or skill as a local commercial real estate agent, be prepared to expand on the issue and talk about it comprehensively and directly. Show the client some proof of why your statement is so important to their property position or need.
Here are a couple of ideas to use when it comes to showing the client that you really are the right agent for the job of marketing the property:
- Use a Gantt chart that shows the steps that you will be taking in marketing the property and converting the result that they need. Have different Gantt charts for the process when it comes to sales, leasing, and property management (commercial or retail).
- Define the target market in such a way that you are clear on exactly how you will connect with the right people and help them understand the property market.
When you pitch or present to a client, don’t discount your services and lower your marketing fees for the sake of attracting the client’s attention. Offer real and relevant marketing solutions that are so good that the client cannot ignore you. Sign them up on an exclusive listing.
In commercial real estate agency today, the cold calling process is critical to the market share that you require and commissions that you create. You cannot avoid the process if you want to rise to the top of the market.
That being said, it is interesting to note that the cold calling process is something that many agents avoid with a great passion. Call reluctance is a real problem in the industry.
Top agents that work in the industry know that you have to make the calls to get the business. The strength and size of your database is fundamentally important to the commissions that you create. Each day you should be phoning into your database to make contact with the right people. You should also be creating new contacts and leads to help that database grow.
Here are some tips to help you in establishing a cold call prospecting system as part of your commercial real estate career.
- From the very start of the process, you will have some mental hurdles to address and overcome. Call reluctance is a big problem until such time as you see results and momentum from your efforts. It takes about three or four weeks of hard work to break through this barrier. Creating a habit to the call process is quite important. Only a habit will take you through the barrier of call reluctance.
- Determine the ideal property type and geographical area in which you should centre your prospecting efforts. Each night you will need to do the necessary research to find new people to call the next day. Don’t waste your precious calling time on research. The research can be done the night before. Keep up your momentum with calls and avoid in any distraction or diversion. In a period of 2 or 3 hours you should be making 50 outbound calls. You will not get through to 50 people as part of that process, but you should get through to about 20 or so people. From that rate of connection you should create 2 meetings with people that have a genuine interest in commercial real estate agency activity.
- Track your ratios of calls to connections, connections to meetings, and meetings to business opportunity. The ratios are really important to keep you on track and also to show you what is working. When something starts to get traction, you improve the process through practice.
- Confidence and dialogue are two important parts of making the calls. Both of those factors are personally controlled and can be improved. What you can do here is practice your call conversations and scripts as part of rising each morning and in preparation for the working day. Over a period of a few weeks, the call conversation and connection will significantly improve.
- Use a database program that has significant flexibility to capture the information that you come across. That will include a property type, location, price ranges, contact details, ongoing meetings and connection results, and future needs. Make sure that the database program can integrate with an e-mail newsletter and also a direct mail merge.
- Your confidence in making the calls will be significantly boosted if you choose to stand up as part of the calling process. It is a known fact that the conversational ability of people improves greatly when you are standing on two feet and moving around. Use this advantage to help you improve your call connections.
For an agent to be successful in commercial real estate, they need to be focused on growing their market share and their database. Use some of these factors above to help you get the momentum and traction that you require from direct call contact. Over time you can improve these things to a system that works for you.
When you take a commercial property to the market today, the message about the property has to be clear and precise. There are limited levels of enquiry coming from most marketing campaigns given the current economic climate. This means that you have to do more with less.
It should be said that this is not a seller’s market, not a buyer’s market, but it is an agents market. We as property agents are well placed to encourage enquiry and connect with the right people. Your database is a key factor in this process.
We can produce the right momentum in marketing through developing a direct promotional strategy for each listing. The days of generic marketing are well gone. Specific campaigns create far more enquiry than the traditional generic approach.
When you take on a new listing, be very specific when it comes to structuring the marketing campaign and attracting the right target audience. It should also be said that the exclusive listing process in this market is far more effective than an openly listed property.
If the client chooses to openly list their property, tell them about the weaknesses of the process and the longer ‘time on market’ factors that normally apply. Most clients don’t like to be an ‘experiment’ when it comes to marketing; they want results and the exclusive listing process is the only way to do that with some control and reasonable success rate.
Here are some tips to help you with establishing a successful marketing campaign and correctly promoting a commercial property for sale or for lease.
- There is a significant difference between direct and indirect marketing today. The generic approach involves indirect marketing and most particularly advertising in the newspapers, placing a signboard on the property, and listing it on the Internet. This will only produce limited enquiry. With commercial property you must take the direct approach in addition to the more traditional promotional processes. The direct approach says that you need to get into the local area and take the listing to all of the property owners nearby, the local businesses, and the industry professionals. In this way you will attract more leads and opportunities. Talk to more people; that is the rule today and not the exception.
- The best method of sale or lease should be chosen for the property, the local area, and the target market. The method that you choose should encourage enquiry, inspections, and negotiation. Momentum is the key to getting a good result in commercial property marketing today.
- At the time of listing the property, undertake a comprehensive inspection with the client. Move through the asset together so that you can identify strengths and weaknesses that will need to be addressed as part of the promotion and the advertising. Any weaknesses should be carefully assessed and dealt with prior to the commencement of campaigning.
It is in property markets like that which we have today where the marketing process becomes more important than ever before. Attracting enquiry and converting more inspections is central to attracting offers and closing negotiations.
If you want to be a top agent in this market, take a serious look at your marketing efforts, and your listing processes. Everything needs to work in harmony.
As a commercial real estate agent today, you need to grab your share of the commercial real estate market and optimize it for listing and commission opportunity. The business is out there for those that work hard.
It is no secret that the competition with the other agents that you are up against will be significant and fierce. That being said, you need some solid processes to consolidate the market around you and provide you with quality leads and listings.
Here are some facts that you need to be aware of when it comes to working in commercial real estate agency today and building your market share around the competing agents.
- There are always plenty of people to talk to on a daily basis that need your services. Systems and discipline are part of the process when it comes to connecting with your local property market, and growing the database. Devote at least 2 or 3 hours each day to connecting with new people in your local area.
- It is very difficult to capture a share of the marketplace when you don’t specialize in a property type and location. There are far too many agents that are generic when it comes to property specialty and location; they will take on anything as a listing, and usually do only an average job with it. That is not how top agents perform; they develop a specialty relative to the location and the quality of property that they can relate to. They then build their brand around that specialty. That being said, you must ensure that your special property type has sufficient activity and listing opportunity over the long term for you to earn the commission that you require.
- It is a known fact that most (80%) salespeople in any industry are fairly average when it comes to performance and systemization. Commercial real estate is no different. That creates a massive opportunity for those commercial salespeople that are striving to rise to the top of the industry. Expect hard work as you proceed through the industry, and systemize what you do.
- When you look at your location and daily tasks, there will be two or three things that are really important to helping you build your client base and listing opportunity. Those two or three things should be done every day. Nothing should interfere with those key tasks to help you improve your market share. Most agents in the industry struggle through a series of peaks and valleys relating to performance, and that is simply because they have no sustained and consistent personal marketing system to stick to.
- Your local area and your property type will have special facts to understand and monitor. They will usually be rentals, prices, tenancy mix, inspections and negotiation processes, methods of marketing, prospecting, time on market, and methods of sale or lease. Each of these factors requires special attention. An average approach produces average results. There are far too many average agents in the industry.
Choose to develop the right processes to take your position at the head of the market. There is plenty of room for more agents at the top of the industry.
You can get more tips on this in our Newsletter for Commercial Real Estate Agents right here.
As an agent in commercial and retail property, you need to understand your local property market comprehensively and fully. In achieving this level of focus, you will find opportunities for leasing, sales, and property management.
The commercial property market is largely based on relationships. When you get to know a lot of people locally, the listings and opportunities start to evolve. That being said, these clients and prospects do need to trust you as the top agent of choice in the local area.
Here are some tips to help you get to know your local property market at the appropriate level.
- You will need to maintain a database of contact information. This is not something you should delegate to another person in the office. The fact of the matter is that the database is your foundation of business and goodwill. When you take personal ownership of your database, the information becomes more meaningful and relevant. On a daily basis you should be frequently moving in and out of your database to make calls and capture information. This then says that you will require the necessary computer information and computer hardware to do the job correctly.
- Split your area into zones of priority. Some of those areas will be very active and desirable from a business and client perspective. Review those areas so that you can understand and quote the levels of activity to the right people when you are presenting or pitching your services.
- Your property precinct, suburb, town, or city will have a property history that is real and relevant to your activities today. You should identify the types of sales, types of leases, time on market, levels of enquiry, and region demographics. That information should be relative to the last five years and be particularly accurate over the last two years. These figures will show you trends of opportunity and change. Top agents seize the opportunity and move their market focus as required.
- Get copies of the local development plans as they apply to commercial and retail property. Understand the differences between the property zonings and the property locations. A property location or zoning can have significant impact on the listing and marketing of any property.
- The supply and demand for commercial and retail property will change throughout the year. An oversupply of space will saturate the market with excessive vacancies and empty properties. You can stay ahead of this change by monitoring the new property developments that are being considered at the local council or municipality. Whilst a new property developments are an opportunity for listings and fees, they can also skew the market when it comes to pricing, rentals, and incentives.
- Check all the listings locally that are held with other agents and with private owners. Over time some of those listings will be an opportunity for change and perhaps listing with your agency. Whilst they remain available for sale or for lease today, they will give you an indication of what prices and rentals are doing.
- Network into your area on a daily basis. This means making the necessary cold calls and dropping into local businesses on a daily basis. Through this personal contact you will generate opportunity and fresh listings. Top agents are very visible to the local community of business owners and property investors.
You can’t win many listings by sitting at your desk. Desk time is actually downtime. You should only be sitting at your desk to make the necessary cold calls or to have meetings with the right people. Every other part of the day should be outside of the office meeting with people and checking on properties.
Today it is a fact that email newsletters are a part of commercial real estate marketing. Every agency should have a solid system of client or prospect contact using a database and an email newsletter.
Permission marketing is part of the email process in that you should only send these emails to people that have agreed to be part of the process. You can easily get ‘permission’ through refined strategies when talking to clients and prospects. That will be in:
- Telephone calls
- Property inspections
- Previous marketing efforts with other listings
It should also be said that the email system you adopt should have an opt-out provision and capability so that any person can step out of the newsletter system if they require.
What do you want to do?
If you are going to create a newsletter in this form, it is essential to develop the right strategy and processes. There are just too many poor quality email newsletters sent today. Relevance is everything.
So let’s look at how you can improve the process and make it a valuable part of your marketing effort.
- Use an auto responder to send the emails and track the open rate. You will then see what articles or properties create more interest.
- Many agents struggle with the issue of frequency in sending the newsletters. At a minimum they should be sent every 2 weeks. In an ideal situation they should be sent every 7 days with meaningful and new market information and listing detail.
- The best time to send the newsletter is between Wednesday and Friday. The ‘open rates’ on emails are generally higher at that time. Publish on time every time. Get a pattern to sending your emails.
- It is easy to get an email template established to start your newsletter. You simple add content inside the shell of the email
- Add to the value of the contact process by providing quality professional photographic images of properties for sale or for lease. Think and display quality at all times in your newsletter. One poorly photographed property will detract from the entire newsletter.
- Your exclusive listings should be marketed in your newsletter. Open listings should not get the newsletter treatment (open listings are a process of luck). If the owner of a property did not trust you enough to give you an exclusive listing, then they do not get the quality marketing processes.
- Have property relevant information in your newsletter that tells the reader about the local commercial real estate market and any changes that are coming up. At the top of the email, have an editorial area for this process. As agent you should write the commentary of 3 or 4 paragraphs and include a photograph of yourself in the process. You are building your ‘brand’ remember, and a photograph will help with that.
- All of your newsletters should feature links to your website listings, your informational blog, and your social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook). Make it easy for people to follow you.
- Each email newsletter sent should be about 6 properties in depth, plus an editorial. If you work on different property types, you may like to make the newsletter specialised to the property type (eg Retail, Industrial, or Office).
When it comes to marketing yourself and your listings today, these are critical issues to take your listings and your real estate business forward.
You can get more tips like this in our free Newsletter for Commercial Real Estate Agents.