Once the cornerstone of commercial real estate marketing efforts,
printed property fliers have since been overshadowed by listing services,
emails, and other digital platforms. But given the wealth of marketing options,
why haven’t fliers disappeared altogether?
“If CBRE, Colliers, NAI, Jones Lang LaSalle, and other large
firms are still using fliers, then so will I,” says Ashley Bishop, CCIM, broker
with Southeast Venture in Nashville, Tenn. “Fliers don’t sell or lease
properties, but they are effective references that allow companies to showcase
their quality and attention to detail.”
To produce high-quality materials, many large firms employ
full-time marketing departments that use proprietary software. But how can
small firms and solo practitioners produce effective fliers on a limited
Print vs. Digital
The first matter to address is whether fliers should be printed,
distributed digitally (usually as a PDF), or both. During the past few years,
digital has overtaken print as the delivery method of choice among CCIMs.
T. Sean Lance, CCIM, managing director of NAI Tampa Bay in
Seminole, Fla., made the switch to digital for three reasons: time, litter, and
cost. “I can distribute the information instantaneously, it reduces clutter,
and costs associated with printing and mailings are virtually zero,” he
explains. Plus, if Lance amends the flier based on recipient feedback, he
doesn’t have to reprint them (or throw away the old ones).
But paper fliers have at least one thing going for them that
their digital counterparts do not: tangibility. “Fliers are great ice breakers
at CCIM chapter marketing events, and they give fellow brokers something to
carry home to remind them of my properties when that perfect buyer appears,”
says Richard X. Gonzalez, CCIM, agent with Crosby & Associates in Tavares,
And in the age of the email blast, a paper flier with a personal
note can have a powerful effect. “Mass mailing hard copies is waste of money,”
says D.H. Watson, CCIM, CPM, manager/principal of Watson & Watson in
Dallas. “Mail the flier to selected prospects with a note scribbled in the
margin.” Even if recipients call merely to get help deciphering the
handwriting, it gives senders another opportunity to pitch the property.
Whether print or digital, there’s a temptation to pack all
property details, reports, and images into one flier. But for an initial push,
succinctness may be more effective, according to David Sigg, CCIM, of Global
Real Estate Advisors in Mentor, Ohio. “With information overload, limited
attention spans, and other demands on recipients, shorter fliers are less
likely to get set aside,” he explains.
Bishop typically uses a two-page layout based on a CCIMREDEX
template. He includes photos or aerials from STDB or Pictometry on the first
page and uses the second page for traffic and site maps. “I always put my
bullet points on page 1 of the flier,” he adds, referring to the executive
summary that includes property type, size, location, and other details.
Of course, the details and reports must fit the property in
question. For example, investment sales fliers should include net operating
income and capitalization rate, whereas a land sales fliers should include
zoning information. Price and rental rates are generally included as well.
However, two essential elements are branding and contact
information. “Our signage, advertisements, fliers, business cards,
e-newsletters, and website have a consistent look and feel,” says Robert J.
Dikman, CCIM, ALC, SIOR, chairman and chief executive officer of The Dikman Co.
in Tampa, Fla. “We have spent a great deal of time recreating our brand.” Phone
numbers and email addresses are not only part of a company’s brand; they’re
also the key to connecting with recipients.
Measure and Modify
It also pays to track property fliers’ effectiveness and make
changes based on the data. For digital fliers, this is relatively simple. CCIMs
use basic Web analytics programs such as Google Analytics and email marketing
software such as Constant Contact, Emma, and iContact to track open and click
rates, which can be compared with incoming call and email logs. A low email
open rate, for example, might indicate a need for a more enticing subject line.
Other tracking methods work for digital or print fliers. Brian E.
Fratzke, CCIM, principal broker with Fratzke Commercial Real Estate Advisors in
Bend, Ore., uses a separate phone number, email address, and URL to determine
which prospects are contacting him via the flier.
QR codes, square symbols that can be scanned by smartphones, have
also begun to appear on fliers. Dikman tracks scans, which direct users to
virtual property tours or websites that include additional information.
Including a time-sensitive call to action is another effective
way to track — and motivate — flier recipients, Dikman adds. “For example, we
offered a $5,000 bonus on top of commission for a property in which we were
seeking a bank or credit union,” he explains. If someone called about the
bonus, he knew how they found out about the property.
Anecdotal responses can be valuable as well. When anyone calls or
emails, they should be asked how they discovered the listing. A month’s worth
of inquiries might provide enough data to determine whether a flier is obscuring
a property’s charms or effectively spotlighting them.
Rich Rosfelder is associate editor of Commercial
Investment Real Estate.