Technology Solutions

Flier Right

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 budget?

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, Fla.

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.

Next Steps

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.

Rich Rosfelder

Rich Rosfelder is vice president of strategic communications for CCIM Institute.

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