Power of the Pin
This CCIM credits his success to designation-oriented marketing strategies.
Though he is based in the small market of Champaign, Ill., Alex Ruggieri, CCIM, vice president of Sperry Van Ness/Ramshaw-Smith Co., knows the value of thinking big. Ruggieri, who consistently ranks in Sperry Van Ness’ top 10 percent of gross annual commissions earned, credits his success to leveraging large-scale marketing strategies — along with the CCIM designation — to his advantage. Commercial Investment Real Estate asked Ruggieri to share insights on how to use the CCIM designation to gain a competitive edge.
: You’re a fairly new designee, having earned the CCIM pin in 2007. Can you share an example of how the designation has enhanced your marketability?
Ruggieri: An executive with a large hotel management organization recently contacted me to help the group with site selection. While I was happy to get the call, I wondered: Why me? He said he searched online to find an experienced local commercial broker and saw my Web site (www.ruggieriteam.com). And though my personal marketing paid off, it was my CCIM designation that made the difference, the client said. It placed me in a competitive vacuum — I had no competition at that point.
How can other new CCIMs use the designation to position themselves as market leaders?
Ruggieri: Don’t go anywhere without wearing your CCIM pin. Put the logo on your business cards, Web site, and collateral materials. The designation represents the top echelon of commercial brokers in the world — why not make that fact known to your clients and contacts? Beyond that, as CCIMs, we should all work to raise public awareness about the designation and the expertise it represents.
So when talking with prospective clients, how do you illustrate the value your CCIM designation brings to the deal equation?
Ruggieri: If I did nothing but show clients the technology tools, I could position myself miles ahead of the competition. STDBonline (www.STDBonline.com) is an excellent resource. The reports and packages I prepare instantly position me as a consummate professional in clients’ eyes. Also, the CCIM training gives us in-depth understanding of critical decision matrices and metrics that surpass the simple rules of thumb many non-designees use to evaluate problems. So when we walk a client through a sale-leaseback scenario or lease-versus-buy analysis with the institute’s tools, programs, and forms, we can take a very complicated problem and reduce it to the salient points----. It makes it much easier for clients to make executive decisions quickly.
What specific marketing approaches are most effective in the current economy?
Ruggieri: Public relations is a big part of my marketing strategy. When PR is done right and comes from the right place, the process happens organically. It sets you apart from others and puts you on the radar in a positive way.
An example of this is a local television show I started about three years ago to highlight outstanding business leaders in our community. This project is a passion of mine and focuses not only on community leaders’ achievements, but also the values they espouse and live by. I don’t get paid for doing the show and have to sell advertising to support it, but it’s my way of giving back to the community. In fact, the show was noticed by a local media corporation executive who invited me to do a similar show on the radio. I am having a load of fun doing these projects and, in truth, could never afford to buy the kind of exposure I get from these two shows.
What role did marketing play in your most recent successful deal?
Ruggieri: I recently closed on a 97-unit apartment complex, and the fee was substantial. What’s interesting about this deal is that I did not call the seller — the client actually called me! The presence I have created in my area through marketing efforts is now driving business to me.
In today’s economy, the ratio of deals on the market to deals closing is about six to one. How can CCIMs use marketing — and the designation — to complete transactions in this environment?
Ruggieri: There’s a lot of talk about flight to quality in the marketplace. The good news is that for those who invest in themselves and their education, these can be the best of times. As the market rebounds, there will be another flight to quality — a flight to quality brokers who know what they are doing and can demonstrate as much to clients. What better way to do that than through the CCIM designation?