Although many of us may have reached a certain level of fatigue regarding Covid-19 related analysis, the truth is that, in the grand scope of long-term pandemic related paradigm smashing, we’re still in the early going. How will the great work-from-home/shop-from-home experiment of 2020 impact commercial real estate in the future? Millions of words have been authored on the subject and the conclusion is… we can’t be sure. What seems safe to say, however, is that those hoping to find commercial real estate success in the future will have to stay current with both real estate and marketing trends as they attempt to attract attention to their available space.
Redesigning and Repurposing Commercial Real Estate
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, remodelling office, retail and residential space to better fit the needs of a pandemic afflicted population will give lessors a leg up on the competition. Sometimes this involves logistical tweaks like touchless elevator buttons or reconfigured furniture layouts, other times it means reimagining the entire purpose of commercial properties in an attempt to better meet shifting demands. Will abandoned malls find new life as e-commerce fulfilment centres? What about medical offices, or even churches and low-rental housing? The city of Los Angeles is considering repurposing empty retail space to create badly needed affordable housing.
“It’s very wise, because we already have in some places a lot of density, and we don’t have to increase it,” says US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. “We can leave the density where it is and create affordable housing. The building is already there.”1
Repurposing has its challenges, not the least of which being potential precarious zoning issues, but for commercial real estate agents looking for solutions to potential market disruptions, it’s wise to consider all options.
Websites and Virtual Tours in Commercial Real Estate
It goes without saying that, for the modern real estate agency, a visually impressive website is a must. If virtual tours were considered convenient before, they are now considered pillars of a socially-distanced shopping experience.
“In 2020, if you don’t have a strong digital footprint for your properties, then your competitors are going to eat your lunch,” claims Sharp Launch, an all in one marketing platform for commercial properties. “Not only do they serve as a digital hub for your commercial property marketing efforts where you can display your photography, video, floor plans, 3D virtual tours, brochures, availabilities, interactive real estate maps, and more but can also add “wow” factor to help engage and convert visitors much more effectively.”2
It’s a sentiment echoed by broker Cori Dean, “Virtual tours, walkthroughs and floorplans are now imperative and will be a staple in an agent’s arsenal and listing offering. Make sure your photographer offers these features and package deals. Also, be prepared to do video showings and YouTube videos for your buyers. Site unseen offers are on the rise!”3
Social Media for Commercial Real Estate
The true power of social media is that the information flows both ways. Utilizing LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to their fullest potential means using it as a marketing tool to spread micro-targeted awareness about your brand, and your listings, while also harnessing its research capabilities, peering into the consumer mind frame on both a macro and micro level.
“Commercial real estate has not even begun to tap into the power behind social media,” says ‘consumer analytics nerd’ Carrie Bobb. “We will see social media platforms becoming even more important to conducting business. The data, analytics and insights are extremely valuable and they speak directly to the wants and needs of the core audience.”3
Blogging, Podcasting and Content Marketing
A blog is an excellent way to attract traffic to your website and create a connection between staff and potential consumers, while establishing expertise. As evidence of this, consider the fact that you’re on the Goldbeck Recruiting site blog right now! Videos, newsletters and podcasts are other great mediums for building relationships with the marketplace, so long as the material has value.
Alex Hochhausen is a podcast specialist whose company, Astronomic Audio offers podcasting production and distribution services for clients in a wide range of industries.
“Podcasts can be used to promote everything from self-help services to real estate,” says Hochhausen. “The key is to provide relevant, interesting, authentic and specialized information up front, creating an audience for the eventual sales pitch. A podcast that’s all sales with no substance will fail to generate interest.”
Commercial Real Estate Marketing
As in any shifting industry, commercial real estate marketing must not go by the wayside during these uncertain times. Digital pay-per-click campaigns and portal listings can exist side by side with more traditional communications efforts such as trade journal advertisements, press coverage and industry event networking. The key is to understand your industry, understand your audience, and meet them with relevant messaging at the right time and place.