Building Inbound Traffic
Maximize the marketing potential of social media, primarily LinkedIn, to allow potential clients to find you.
You are passionate about commercial real estate. You're knowledgeable about the properties available in your market. You know what it takes to complete a sale or a lease. You are an expert. If not, you wouldn't be a CCIM designee or CCIM candidate.
But how do you get this message to potential clients? Considering the prevalence of social media, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to develop and disseminate content to your target audience that shows you are the right person for the job.
Broadly speaking, there are two methods of engaging with potential clients - outbound and inbound marketing. Picture outbound marketing as someone standing on a street corner with a bullhorn, yelling to the broadest possible audience. TV and radio advertisements are perfect examples. Other types of outbound marketing include email campaigns, cold calling, and direct mail.
Get involved in your groups. Produce positive, educational content that you can share with a group that includes people in your target audience.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, focuses on getting information out there so people who need your services can find you. Tech giants - Google, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn - are useful platforms to give potential clients an idea of your qualifications, your experience, and your personality.
Surveys have shown companies, not just in real estate, cite common problems with social media - there's not enough time and ROI is difficult to measure. These worries are connected - if you can't see value in social media, why should you dedicate more resources to it?
In some respects, success online is similar to face-to-face interactions in real estate. Knowledge is key. Networking and relationships are vital, especially in less than ideal economic conditions. These things are still paramount online. Now, with billions of people on a handful of social media platforms, best practices are important. But for this discussion, I'd like to focus on LinkedIn.
Have a Robust Presence. It should go without saying, but include as much relevant information as possible in your profile. In addition to a professional headshot, outline your experience, education, expertise, etc. Ask yourself, “If somebody was searching for an expert in my specific field, would my profile pop up?” Make sure you have keywords in your profile - mentioning markets, skills, specialties. This is your resume, so if you're not showing up, you're missing leads.
I've also found worth in listing volunteer work and other interests to find commonality. I work with the Boy Scouts of America, for example, and that's been a great conversation starter. A little tidbit like that can help quickly build relationships.
Build Your Network. For me, LinkedIn isn't about amassing as many connections as quickly as possible, but more about building your network. For me, after I attend a meeting or a conference, I'll sit down with the business cards I collected and look up these individuals so we can connect. This opportunity lets you see profiles and explore how you may connect and partner down the road. Not every handshake will lead to a connection, but err on the side of building a healthy audience.
Similarly, engage in LinkedIn groups. CCIM Institute has one. Plenty of local chapters have groups, too. Additionally, join groups that attract your audience. If you specialize in the medical office market, for example, engage with physicians and other potential clients via their groups.
Stay Active. For recommendations, try to engage with people who are part of your audience. Getting positive feedback from another broker, for instance, is nice, but it's much more impactful to receive feedback from a client after you helped close a deal. That kind of feedback is so valuable in presenting you as an expert to your audience. Also, if you are looking for recommendations, be prepared to write them in return, as a bit of social media etiquette.
Finally, get involved in your groups. Produce positive, educational content that you can share with a group that includes people in your target audience. For the medical office market example, write an article discussing the advantages of owning your own medical office versus leasing one. This content informs group members and establishes you as an expert in the market. As long as you are targeting the correct contacts, this type of content marketing can be a lead generator. Think of it as starting a discussion by sharing your knowledge of commercial real estate.
Editor's note: This article was adapted from the CCIM Institute course “High-Tech Marketing for Commercial Real Estate.” In addition to the best practices for LinkedIn, the course examines strategies for building and maintaining a presence on other social media and websites to convert visitors into leads and customers.