Tips for targeting and marketing to potential tenants

Tips for targeting and marketing to potential tenants
Published on March 31, 2020,07:10 am by Larry Genet for Forbes.com

Leasing a highly coveted space is easy. What truly distinguishes a mediocre broker from a top broker is whether or not they can lease those hard-to-lease spaces. Leasing difficult spaces requires persistence, hard work and creativity. It requires making those spaces your priority, rather than putting them on the back burner. And, at the end of the day, being able to fill those spaces is what will earn you longevity in the market, a strong reputation and lasting client relationships.

My team and I have dedicated extensive time and resources to tackling these hard-to-lease spaces and are constantly innovating. Below are tips for targeting and marketing to potential tenants that we have found particularly effective.

Ask yourself, ‘Who is the best candidate for this space?’

Imagine going to the end of the deal and working backward. What business will thrive in that space and why? Take into consideration factors such as location, infrastructure attributes, co-tenants, size of the space and so on. As you start to narrow down potential options, make a list of them. The list may include specific company names or general industries you’d like to focus on. Next, leverage whatever resources are available to you to locate the target companies and compile a personal database of the contacts, addresses, emails and phone numbers. Some helpful databases to browse are CoStar, Google and LexisNexis.

Launch a targeted marketing campaign.

It is extremely important that you focus on the target list you have created. Yes, broad strokes campaigns can also be effective at times, but it is critical to engage targeted marketing as well, including:

1. Snail mail: You read that correctly. With the sophistication of today’s email spam blockers, intelligent marketers are reverting to “old school” approaches. Believe it or not, these approaches can be extremely impactful. Just think about what it is like nowadays to receive a birthday card in the mail. Keep in mind that a generic letter will not go far at all. The letter must be personalized and provide value.

To do this, you can mail merge the contact and company name into each letter. The letter you send must have valuable content such as market knowledge. I recommend providing data about competitors (e.g., recent competitor leases) to pique their interest. I also recommend attaching a high-end, glossy flyer with the letter to provide extra information about the property you are marketing. If you have a larger budget, foldable video brochures, which have an enormous impact, can be sent via snail mail.

Finally, one of my best tactics for reaching hard-to-reach people is sending them urgent overnight FedEx or UPS letters. Letters sent overnight never go straight into the garbage — they will get opened and reviewed.

2. Cold calling: I previously wrote extensively about targeted cold calling, and why real estate agents should revive this lost art.

3. Email: Build your contact list around your likely tenant target list. This takes time but is extremely important – a lot of this information can be found online. Our team’s database is increasing daily because we regularly dedicate time and effort to growing it.

Email campaigns have become extremely tricky due to sophisticated spam filters. If you want to reach hundreds or thousands of prospects/brokers on your target list, you must do a few things to avoid getting flagged as spam:

• Refrain from sending more than 100 emails in a group. In other words, break up the campaign into smaller chunks.

• Become familiar with the internet service provider (ISP) protocols and adhere to them. Most ISPs have certain keywords or phrases that, if scanned in an email, will automatically flag them as spam. For example, avoid phrases like “make money,” “get it now” and “no hidden costs.”

Have a purposeful presence on social media.

Social media is barely utilized by commercial agents. Some post occasionally, but from what I’ve seen, a tiny fraction seriously invest resources into it. Our team spends tens of thousands of dollars a year on target messaging, advertising to tenants and promoting projects on social media.

The topic of social media marketing for commercial real estate is one that I am particularly passionate about and hope to cover in greater depth in the future. Today, however, I want to focus briefly on a few factors: connecting with contacts on your target list, choosing the right platform and delivering compelling content.

First, build targeted connections based on the list you created for that vacancy. Put time into building connections with them and others at the same company. The more people at the target company who see your posts, the better.

Second, make sure you are on the right platform to reach your target audience. Personally, I have found LinkedIn (followed by Instagram) to be the most effective in my market (South Florida). In fact, I ran a one-month comparison campaign on three different social media platforms and found that LinkedIn viewers were much more tuned-in to my video content.

Finally, it is important to generate compelling content that keeps people watching and actively engaged. Yes, you should, of course, post a high-quality video of your vacancy. However, people will quickly look past your content if all you post are property videos. Make sure to provide a mixture of content such as real estate articles, reposts, entrepreneurial quotes and so on. Content must be authentic, educational and entertaining.

These social media efforts have made a tremendous impact in our market. Landlords are consistently asking me to feature their properties due to the success of this strategy. And there is no question in my mind that we are obtaining new listings because of these efforts.

When you get that hard-to-lease vacancy, do not let it sit. Take a proactive, innovative approach to close the deal.