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Marketing Centers Help Close Deals
November 18, 2019
What does effective marketing do?
Create brand awareness, share your story, and generate new sales prospects. It’s no different in commercial real estate. Direct mail to search engine optimization, there’s no shortage of ways to generate inbound leads to lease office space and sell property. Once the dialogue starts, how do your brokers sell the prospect on the future of a space, when it has not been built out? When a property tour is scheduled, will the client be able to imagine their business in the space?
Don’t miss a core element of commercial real estate marketing. Immersive, colorful and designed to generate buying signals, marketing centers start conversations. What is a marketing center? An available commercial real estate space decorated with furniture, graphics, and amenities. It encourages your buyer to imagine the possibilities of a space.
Share Your Story
Every property has a story to share. Marketing centers make it possible. Jeni Moore is an Art Director at Jones Lang LaSalle and has designed numerous spaces. “We may only get one shot at telling our building’s story,” she says. “it’s our goal to use signage and installations to convey messaging about the property as quickly and simply as possible.” What do you share before a space is constructed or the buildout has not taken place?
“When owners are going through capital improvement projects and construction projects or the build has not started, it can be a challenging sell,” says Andrew Fredricks, Director of Marketing at Avison Young. “If you can effectively tell the story and pre-market amenity centers before they are complete, it’s a great opportunity.”
Not only does it provide the client a visual, it provides peace of mind. Back to Andrew. “It proves to the potential tenant the ownership group is prepared to invest in the asset.”
They Don’t Live in a Vacuum
Similar to multi-channel outreach, you should have a robust promotional plan. Marketing centers are just one piece of the puzzle.
Jennifer Masi is one of the owners at Torque, a creative brand and marketing firm focused on commercial, multifamily and mixed-use real estate. “Marketing centers are a piece of the plan and strategy. It cannot live in a vacuum and should complement larger campaign efforts.” Make them work in tandem with efforts, such as renderings that show future development, videos about the property, and broker books. “It can also include direct mail, email campaigns, and construction signage – these are all strategic elements working together.”
Centers are not a standalone tactic. Messaging needs to be consistent across platforms. “You’re not going to replace other traditional channels with a marketing center,” says Andrew. “It reinforces the quality of everything else you are doing though, and one of the first impressions you are going to make. If a group can’t get that right, the prospect may wonder: what will the actual build be like?”
If you don’t create opportunities for dialogue, there’s not much for a broker to discuss. Competition is increasing and amenities are increasingly becoming an expectation. Consider marketing centers an imagination engine: Can your prospect picture a future in the space? Will the location attract the right workforce? Can the business thrive in the location? Give your team the tools to move the deal forward.
Visuals help brokers zero in on pain points and narrow down what is of most interest to a tenant, when time can be very limited. “Some brokers can be very creative; most have worked with are very literal. And visuals help paint a picture,” says Jennifer. “To encourage guests to walk a space, create walking points, with panels that list amenities.”
Don’t just throw up graphics. Think about what works for the space.
“Be strategic: how does it relate to the campaign and brand? Show what can we completed in a space.” Consider a map with neighborhood hot spots, property square footage or proximity to public transportation. Prospects can be looking at a dozen properties a day. What sets yours apart and helps your team uncover what’s most important?
“It helps the broker get to the hook faster and key in on the things that matter to the prospect, the most.” Says Andrew Fredricks, Director of Marketing at Avison Young. “If a tenant notices a specific amenity, it helps us understand what they want to see and what’s of the most interest.”
Back to Jeni Moore. “Marketing centers allow us to tailor a story to a space or building.” When your prospect steps inside, literally add visuals, messaging and a storyline to the space. “From the strength of ownership, location advantages, building amenities or the efficiency of the floor plan, the space allows the brokers to show the property in the best light and best impression.”
A well-designed marketing center is aesthetically pleasing and shares a narrative.
Chances are significant investment has been made in amenities the tenant wants. Incorporate this! “Picture a start-up that wants to draw in a young tech work force,” says Jennifer Masi. “Show them the property is the type of place they need to be in. Create big maps of the area, showcase what’s happening around the neighborhood and create a vibe.”
Marketing and content efforts have evolved, but in the end, get your messaging right and positive results follow. When properly designed a marketing center can help set the tone for a building. Giving a solid first impression is vital to establishing trust and integrity.
“It allows us to control the story,” says Jeni Moore. We can set the pace for the conversation, lead the tour through our optimal touch points and, potentially, dispel any beliefs about the space, building, location or ownership.”
Investment in branding also proves the ownership’s commitment to the brokerage community, and more importantly to existing and potential tenants. “It provides piece of mind that we’re not selling a pipe dream,” says Andrew. “Marketing centers, brochures, renderings of what’s to come – these are small investments to dissipate apprehension.”
Furthermore, any renderings or collateral used in the marketing centers can generally be re-purposed in other facets of your outreach, from social platforms to press releases. “We’ll share them on social media or include in broker announcements,” says Andrew. “Although marketing centers will always be part of a larger multi-channel campaigns, they are certainly becoming an expectation in many of the city and suburban submarkets. It will be interesting to see how they evolve.”