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How to Market Your Commercial Property


Nov 20, 2020 by Aly J. Yale
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When it comes to commercial real estate marketing, there are dozens of routes you can take. Listing platforms? Sure. Networking events and Chamber of Commerce meetings? Another great idea. Social media? That works, too.

These are all solid strategies, but the best one for your property depends on what category it falls into, as well as the clients it serves. After all, successful marketing is largely about catering to your target audience -- reaching them at the right time, at the right place, with just the right messaging. If you're not sure what marketing strategy is best for your corner of the commercial real estate industry, use this guide to shed some light.

Commercial real estate marketing for multifamily

In the current landscape (hello, COVID-19), the bulk of your new multifamily tenants will find you online. That means putting an emphasis on your online presence, as well as delivering the look and feel of your development virtually. This could include:

  • Creating virtual, 3D, and video tours (or even augmented reality/virtual reality experiences) that allow potential tenants to "walk through" the community from anywhere.
  • Beefing up your social media presence, leveraging your current tenants as influencers and maybe even advertising on these platforms.
  • Optimizing your website for SEO, largely focusing on geo-specific keywords and phrases.
  • Investing in high-quality photography and videography
  • Listing your units on a variety of platforms (Apartments.com, Zumper, Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) (NASDAQ: ZG), Realtor.com, etc.)

Outside of the digital world, creating incentives is a smart way to differentiate yourself from the pack. This might mean offering a free month's rate, free movers, waived application fees, or any other concession tenants might find valuable.

Finally, partner up with community organizations. Have your local coffee shop set up a table out front and give away free coffee each Thursday. Put your name on the back of your local Little League team's shirts, or hang some marketing material on a nearby sandwich shop's bulletin board. These are all opportunities to get your name out there, raise brand awareness, and get tagged in social media as well.

Commercial real estate marketing for retail

If you've got retail properties, you have a unique leg up in your marketing efforts: Your current tenants, who can help.

Let's say you own property like strip malls or small shopping centers. When your current retailers grow, so does your visibility -- and your chances of filling those vacancies.

For these reasons, it helps to not just market your business but also those of your clients. You can do that in a number of ways, but here are some of the more effective ideas:

  • Hosting regular events and market days, especially around the holidays and other celebratory times.
  • Building a search-optimized website with a detailed directory of all your shops and retailers.
  • Leveraging social media marketing, sharing your retailer's posts, tagging them in photos, and reposting content from customers and clients (leveraging influencers can help here, too).
  • Getting mentioned in local press and media -- even just local calendar listings -- to raise brand awareness.

These strategies help you twofold: First, by increasing the business of your clients, thus traffic to your property; and second, by showing potential tenants you'll be in their corner, helping them grow their businesses, too.

In addition to the above methods, asking your current clients for referrals, listing your vacant units on commercial property databases, and advertising in search engines and in trade magazines are also good strategies.

Commercial real estate marketing for office buildings

With an office building, you're looking at more business-focused marketing strategies. Localized SEO and search engine advertising is still a good move, as is listing your property on commercial real estate platforms, like Reonomy, CREXi, LoopNet, Ten-X, and more.

Additionally, you can also try these methods:

  • Networking events with local business leaders and executives (many of these may be virtual right now due to the pandemic).
  • Joining your area's Chamber of Commerce.
  • Investing in quality signage outside your building or at key crossroads near it.
  • Getting your name in print using tools like HelpAReporter.com or through a PR representative.
  • Advertising in local magazines, newspapers, and classified sections.

Offering incentives can help here, too, especially with many business owners struggling due to pandemic-related shutdowns. Another idea is installing air purifiers, antimicrobial LED lights, and other technology that can help them get their employees back to work safely.

Commercial real estate marketing for industrial spaces

For industrial buildings, a great option is trade magazines. If your building is outfitted for a specific use (data center, manufacturing, cold storage, warehousing, etc.), find publications geared toward that specific industry and take out the occasional ad. These publications might also have a website you can advertise on as well.

Consider these options as well:

  • Creating a dedicated website that breaks down the features of your building, its location, its benefits, and more.
  • Taking drone photos of the facility and posting them to YouTube (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Vimeo, social media, and your website.
  • Hosting broker's events to get the word out in the local real estate community.
  • Networking with local business owners and joining the Chamber of Commerce.

Again, you can also use commercial property databases to market these buildings. LoopNet, CBRE, and CREXi all have solid industrial property presences, so those are some good places to start.

Get help if you need it

When marketing your property, you don't have to go it alone. Consider enlisting a commercial real estate broker experienced in your property type. They may even know of a buyer currently on the hunt for space. A commercial real estate broker might also bring new marketing techniques to the table -- ones proven to work specifically in your market or niche.

Just make sure you interview a few brokers before deciding who to go with. Get a feel for their experience, ask about their marketing chops, and get the numbers of a few past customers. If they'd use the agent again, you've probably got a safe bet.

There's always the option to bring in a PR rep or outside marketing person, too. This might be the best option if you have a retail or office space, as they can help you gain publicity not only for your property, but the tenants and clients housed there as well.

The bottom line

Marketing your CRE property doesn't have to be difficult. Get creative, leverage the virtual tools you have, and get your name out in the community. When in doubt, don't be afraid to bring in some help with crafting that marketing plan. After all, a long-term tenant is likely worth the small fee you'd pay a PR rep or agent to help.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Aly Yale has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Zillow Group (A shares), and Zillow Group (C shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.