Is the CRE industry emerging from the stone age?

My brokerage colleagues from our Jones Lang LaSalle Philadelphia office were kind enough to invite me down to their office last week to talk about the use of social media and technology as sales tools for brokers. I have discussed this topic on several occasions, in front of several different groups, but this discussion was the most thought-provoking because the audience was a group of people just like me – brokers. I am fascinated by marketing strategy, and I think that the internet is beginning to move the marketing needle in the commercial real estate industry towards a targeted analytical approach, much like it has for so many other industries. While I was planning to use the nice, shiny Powerpoint presentation I prepared, the talk turned into a healthy discussion by the second slide, and we went right into discussing the benefits of the tools that I use. And because brokers like to talk so much, I didn’t even have to finish my own sentences. A few takeaways:

1) Commercial real estate services companies need to stop thinking about marketing as an excuse to create glossy brochures, but rather as a way to target prospects and turn them into customers – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, blog comments, property websites with calls to action. These are all tools that will help salespeople, marketers, brokers, etc fill the top of their sales funnel. In order to effectively manage all of these media, you need to be a marketing machine. You need to have a strategy. If your company has a marketing team, they should be designing this strategy and helping you implement it. Marketing is no longer about brochures, it’s about getting found online.

2) It’s not that hard to create a web presence  – A common question that I was asked during the discussion was, “How long did it take you to set this up?” or “How much time do you spend a day on social media?” The process is front-end loaded but it’s worth it. Get home from work on a Friday evening, pour yourself a stiff drink and create a Twitter profile. Once you do this, and you get rolling with other applications, you will find that there is a universe of tools out there that help you manage all of your content. The set up might seem daunting, but if it was so difficult, why would everyone be doing it?

3) Social media lives in a 24 hour work day – One of my favorite aspects of on-line marketing is that the internet does not shut off at 5:30 when your prospects leave the office for their evening commute. This means that you can spend the 9-5 portion of the day making your cold calls, stopping in on clients, executing deals and holding internal meetings. All the while your web presence persists on-line and should be working for you 24 hours a day. If you ever find yourself waking up with 7 new Twitter followers you know what I mean.

Comments? Questions? Hit me up.

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