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Proactive vs. Reactive Marketing for Commercial Real Estate

January 27th, 2014

The world of marketing has changed dramatically over the past 10 years or so. The advent of the internet, social media and mobile technology has allowed marketers to take a much more targeted approach to reaching their prospective clientele. While traditional media outlets continue to survive and in some cases thrive, marketing strategies for most industries have adjusted to more efficient methods with great success. Commercial real estate is an industry that is primed to benefit from making such an adjustment.

What is your typical marketing plan for new listings? Do you order the property sign? Do you start designing print advertisements for local newspapers, magazines, Loopnet and CoStar? Do you use the multiple listing service? Post to your company’s website? Obviously these are logical and somewhat necessary steps to be utilized in marketing your new listing. However, the nature of these marketing methods is that they are reactive outlets designed to take more of a shotgun approach for exposing your listing to potential buyers or tenants. The pertinent information is showcased through these outlets in the hopes that a qualified prospect will find it and be compelled to call you and learn more. This typically leaves the commercial real estate agent sitting at their desk in anxious anticipation of getting that call and springing to action.

Now let’s contrast these reactive marketing methods with a strategy for proactively reaching out to qualified buyers and tenants. Proactive marketing is more of a laser approach to reaching prospects for your new listing. Marketing proactively begins with prospects that are literally at your fingertips. Specifically, your own data base. Assuming you have structured your business to specialize in a property type and geographic area, the first place to expose your new listing is to the most probable prospects within your own data base. Who owns a similar property? Which prospects have defined a criteria that generally matches the aspects of your new listing? The most effective way to present your new listing to these prospects is to simply pick up the telephone and call them. Even if these prospects aren’t interested in your new listing, calling them gives you a quality opportunity to talk to them about their current portfolio, what their plans are for perhaps selling or making additional acquisitions. If they are a prospective tenant this is an opportunity to learn more about their current or future expansion plans and how you might be of service. A “new listing” call is a great opportunity to build rapport, demonstrate value to your prospect and turn a cold call into a warm call.

Next, discuss your new listing face to face with other agents in and outside of your office. Take the opportunity to personally explain the merits of your new listing to other agents that you respect so that they can properly articulate that to their clients. This allows you to rise above the noise that we all encounter through blast emails, postcards, etc. from other agents who are strictly relying on a reactive marketing approach to get the phone to ring.

Another form of proactive marketing is commonly known as “rooftop” marketing. Many times the most likely buyer for your new listing is one of the existing owners in the immediate area surrounding the property. In the case of a leasing assignment, consider face to face discussions with surrounding tenants that may be considering expansion or know of a complimentary business that may be interested in leasing that space.

Also, when budgeting your advertising dollars, you may want to look into a form of advertising that internet marketers utilize (but commercial real estate agents rarely know of) called “Pay Per Click” advertising. If you’ve ever done a Google search and seen the search results boxed at the top with a faint heading that says “Sponsored Results” then you’ve seen pay per click ads. If you wanted to advertise your new listing only to people who are searching for the type of property you have listed, you would sign up for Goggle AdWords, create your ad and “bid” on the key words or phrases that relate to your listing (i.e. “New York Retail Space” or “Denver Office Investments”). You would set a budget of as little as $10 per day and your ad would appear every time someone did a search that contained your key words or phrases. You only pay for the ad when that person actually clicks on the ad which then directs them to your listing or website. Very targeted and effective. LinkedIn also offers similar pay per click advertising opportunities.

Consider the fact that having a proactive marketing mindset is a great compliment to your business development efforts. The most successful commercial real estate agents know that filling their day with constant client and prospect communications equates to compounded success over the long term. We work very hard to build a client relationship and earn a quality assignment. Don’t leave the positive outcome you seek to chance by counting on a prospect’s eyes finding their way to your listing. Take a proactive approach and aggressively seek out those prospects. It is not only the best thing you can do to enhance your personal success it is also the best way for you to properly service your client.


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