With your commercial real estate marketing plan created, reviewed and socialized with your team, you're ready to move onto the next step of plan development and follow through. That means taking a closer look at who it is you're going market to. Because of your experience in this industry, you intuitively know which prospective clients you want to go after. You likely have a good sense of where they are located, whether they're pure investors versus buyers or leasers, as well as which industries have been lucrative for you in the past. That's probably a pretty big pool of prospective clients, but what if you could raise the bar on your marketing efforts by narrowing your focus? Target marketing is about attracting very specific audiences (using good website design, social media and other tactics, of course) and in doing so, creating a nice return on your marketing investment.
Why targeting works
Every business targets their marketing in some way. Even the biggest of businesses know that it's impractical to try to reach every single potential client or customer, so they only market to a portion of the larger population. By narrowing your focus, you extend your marketing resources. Think about your marketing budget for the year. Next, think about all of the potential new clients you could market to based on some big cuts of the population like geography, industry and investor type. With the marketing budget you've set out, how many times could you engage that target audience? Once, twice, maybe three times? Now, let's imagine drilling deeper into those potential clients so that we only focus on highly relevant prospects and fit inside of the niche that you’ve already pre-determined. The list gets pretty small – right? But, as a result, you would be able to extend your marketing dollars and potentially start twice or three times as many conversations, create more brochures, develop greater volumes content and ensure it was more tailored to the audience. By focusing your efforts, you become a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
How to go about targeting
There's no big secret to targeting. All you're really doing is digging deeper into the populations of prospective clients that you already know. A traditional way of doing this is by looking at the entire marketplace and then using a process called segmentation. The science of segmentation probably warrants at least several blog articles of it own, but here's a great overview of Market Segmentation in B2B Markets. In a nutshell, however, segmentation is the first step in narrowing your focus on where and to whom you'll direct your marketing efforts. The grouping together of prospective clients that “look alike” enables you to target your marketing and set marketing objectives for those groups.
As you know, the Commercial Real Estate Industry differs in many ways from other businesses, so identifying your target market will be one part science and one part art based on experience. Some things to look at that may provide you some clues on which prospects to target might include:
Your existing clients – Who are they? What types of offerings do they have interest in? Are there common characteristics among them? You may not have ever thought about this in the past, but are the clients that you work with prone toward longer term investments or shorter? They may have a proclivity for opportunities within certain focused locations, like just the greater Orlando area, for instance, or maybe they prefer investing in healthcare facilities. It is very likely that other businesses in your targeted regions have similar interests to those of your existing clients.
Your competitors – Know who your competitors are targeting. They may have developed some insight that you missed or perhaps tapped into an audience that may not have been worth a second look in the past. By the same token, maybe you'll find a market they're overlooking.
Consider timing – As marketers, it seems we often get very focused on the who. The when can be just as important, however. Some prospects may be cyclical in their decision making – they invest every 18 months for example. Others may have a seasonality or only time their investments with new construction starts.
Your existing resources – Chances are you've got subscriptions to some great on-line databases. Make sure you use them to your advantage in determining the cut for your targeted campaigns. Costar has tools to help you uncover how embedded your competition is in areas, as well as see community trends, rent and sales statistics and status of new construction for any area. By contrast, Loopnet enables you to filter, parse and connect with target markets that are important to you from their database of nearly five million industry professionals that search and list via the company's services.
Of course, there's always some good old-fashioned detective-style work which, if you sweat the details a bit, will reward you with additional clues for targeting. Check the leadership pages on company websites for executives you think you want to target. You'll be amazed at the information that some business leaders are willing to share there and each morsel of information enables you to get more focused. For drilling down on property owners, tax records can provide information on pace of purchase and overall investment levels. There are even a bunch of on-line resources that can help like The Site To Do Business, Prospect Now as well as several others.
Time spent up front drilling down into your target market will save money and up your success rate. Regardless of how you go about that identification process, be sure that your targeting refers back to your overall company goals as well as those set out in your marketing plan. Finally, make sure you consider your offerings, often those will hold the most clues.