Remember the good 'ol days when commercial real estate lead generation meant blanketing current and prospective clients with piles of direct mail and stuffing mailboxes with glossy flyers and brochures? Gaining the attention of a client meant making yourself stand out in an intrusive way that was more like a castaway signaling for help than a business developing leads. Generating commercial real estate leads today still involves signaling, not in a “look at us” way but rather in a “we want to build a relationship with you” way.
Buyers, sellers, tenants and investors are all radically more informed than they ever have been in the past and, as a result, able to make more thoughtful decisions about who they are going to partner with to fulfill their commercial real estate needs. That doesn't mean abandoning tried and true methods like commercial real estate flyers, direct mail or email marketing. It does mean taking a new approach with those tools and adding in some new ones to make sure you're guiding the buyer along the path to doing business with you.
So, how do you build that path? By making sure your marketing plan is focused on creating visibility and also on building ongoing relationships with clients. Modern day commercial real estate lead generation starts with letting a client know that you understand the problem they need to address and then offering up some solutions on how to fix that problem. By demonstrating this understanding, you'll eventually earn the right to say “here's how we might be the right company to help you solve that problem or fulfill that need”. Below are some suggested tools for paving that path.
Use Content to Drive Inbound Interest – You can use blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics, ebooks, webinars and other content to drive leads. When done well, you'll learn why businesses that have adopted an inbound, content marketing approach are generating 67% more leads per month than those who don’t. Inbound marketing, when done well, focuses on creating quality content that aligns with your customer’s needs. They'll be drawn to the prospect of finding a solution for their problems – even if they haven't yet identified specifically what the problem may be. When prospects feel as though your company is an expert in the commercial real estate industry, you become a thought leader and someone that they believe is able to help them.
Social Media - Social media drives traffic to landing pages and stimulates conversations centered around your offering, prospectus or hot new property. Social media doesn't necessarily directly generate leads, but is a powerful tool for building and nurturing relationships. Since you're probably using social media to some extent already, why not tweak the way you're using it? Identify your followers that are most like your target audience – maybe there's only a few of them – and focus your posts, updates and rich media on solving their problems. It's better to have fewer strong relationships than trying to be everything to everyone. Remember, you don't have to solve every problem, referring prospective clients to the right answer is just as important for establishing your role as a thought leader.
Email Marketing – Use high value newsletters and other email content to direct traffic to a landing page or other destination. Few things generate quality leads like valuable email that incorporates an attention getting subject line. The key with email is not to think of these as a one-shot deal. Develop a series of emails that guide your client along the path to a deeper relationship. With each email, expose them to increasingly valuable content. One of the keys to this approach is that you sell the value of the entire series and get your targeted client to anticipate what they'll receive with each additional installment.
Targeted direct mail – Like social media, you will achieve far greater results with direct mail by narrowing your targeted set of prospects. Finding ways to segment your audience and then reaching out with a personalized letter can be one of the most affective forms of mass communication. For example, supposed you're targeting commercial real estate investors. You might try including an opening that speaks directly to them: “Over the years, we've found that our investors want to distinguish the best investment opportunities from those that have them losing sleep at night. We've also found that we can keep help set their minds at ease by [fill in your secret sauce here]”. That's pretty captivating stuff because immediately a personal connection is created with the investors by acknowledging pain points they've likely experienced.
Networking – Finally, in an industry built upon personal relationships, personal networking is must. Don't think of this an opportunity to simply press the flesh. Look at every networking opportunity as one more opportunity to do what we've been speaking about – create a lasting relationship. Building bridges by helping others solve problems turns you into a commercial real estate lead generation magnet. After a while, people will be seeking you out for advice, consultation and insight on the next big commercial real estate opportunity.
Some people may call these just marketing tactics, but each of these can be instrumental in building your commercial real estate lead generation funnel. Lead generation is critical for any business and sometimes you may only have once chance to get it right. Think about all of the blogs, websites and tweets you've read, never to seek out the business that created them. Not only did those businesses fail to capture your attention at that given time, but they lost the opportunity to reconnect with you in the future. No matter which tactics you use for generating commercial real estate leads, make the client, not your business, the focus of that effort and you'll be sure to see the return on your efforts.