Make sure broker has a marketing plan

Published: Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

At the risk of giving away trade secrets or otherwise proprietary information, I want to devote this month’s column to marketing plans for getting commercial properties leased or sold.

Some brokers promise you the world and tell you what you want to hear in order to secure an exclusive listing for your property. Most professional brokers will create a customized marketing plan tailored to your specific property. Without such a plan, coupled with effective implementation, the sale or lease of your property is left to dumb luck.

What is a marketing plan? Each parcel of real estate is somewhat unique. A good broker has a skill set that will enable him or her to create a written description of the attributes, features and benefits of any given property. That information can then be packaged into custom formats and shared with the world in a multitude of ways. A marketing plan, then, is a written outline of exactly how that broker intends to expose that property to the market.

Here are eight key elements of a highly effective commercial real estate marketing plan:

1. Signage: Twenty percent to 30 percent of all calls into a brokerage come from signs. If you don’t allow one, you are hurting your exposure.

2. Electronic databases: Seems like most prospective buyers/tenants who don’t call on signs start by searching the Internet for their information. Specific databases cater to commercial properties and are the “go-to” sites for data. CoStar and Loopnet are the kings. There are others. Brokers pay huge sums to be able to put their listings in these services and search these golden resources for available properties. Some databases are geared to brokers and others are aimed at the public.

3. Company website: Most companies have a website where prospects can log on and do a property search. Visits to the website are driven by a well-conceived marketing strategy and search-engine-optimization plan.

4. Direct mail: Some firms have company newsletters, which are sent out via snail mail or electronically. Certain properties might warrant buying a targeted mailing list and doing a direct calling or mailing campaign to likely prospects.

5. Advertising: Our advertising consists of selective trade publications when warranted. (Food Industry News is a good one for restaurants.) Beyond that, we use e-blasts to proprietary email lists that are compiled and constantly kept updated. Many of these lists are aimed at brokers who specialize in the property type being marketed.

6. Trade associations: Commercial real estate has numerous trade organizations. Mailing to and networking with the members of these organizations is an integral part of a complete marketing plan.

7. Public agencies: Each property lies in a governmental jurisdiction (city, town or county). Most communities have economic development committees that monitor and actively promote commercial properties. Various chambers of commerce keep databases on available properties for sale and lease. Making sure properties are exposed to the correct personnel can make the difference in a broker’s success rate.

8. Publicity: Sometimes referred to as “free advertising,” many publications accept press releases about properties of interest being marketed by brokers. Large or unique properties tend to get the most play.

Holding your broker accountable to implement a written marketing plan is key in increasing the odds of a property selling or leasing.

No plan can guarantee that even a well-orchestrated effort will be 100 percent effective. Overall demand and proper pricing have considerable bearing on whether a marketing plan can be effective.

But without a plan, you are casting your fate to the wind.

• Bruce Kaplan is a senior broker associate with Premier Commercial Realty in Lake in the Hills. He can be reached at brucek@profit-success.net or www.profit-success.net.

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