Top 11 Commercial Real Estate Marketing Trends for 2015

by | 10 November 2014

It’s an exciting time for commercial real estate marketing as industry players up the ante, from real estate firms to landlords, and marketers to technology providers. No matter the tactics, techniques and tools coming our way in 2015, you can be sure they will turn the industry on its head. In a really good way.

11. Property management groups step up their marketing game

Property management groups are no longer the neglected baby brother of asset management and real estate services firms. Look to see these groups step up their building communications and asset positioning to align with their leasing strategies and retain tenants.

Gone are the days of the cheap photocopied “out of order” sign taped to the washroom door. Expect higher quality and more sophisticated building management communications in 2015 and beyond.

10. Hi, tech

There is an abundance of technology tools hitting the market to help promote commercial real estate, from sophisticated enterprise solutions to basement startups.

There are integrated listing and data platforms, online space planning resources, 3-D rendering tools and even websites that help developers raise investment capital through crowdfunding.

Some of these will fly, and some will fall. But expect to see some new ones in 2015; the successful ones will have a lasting impact on the industry.

9. Photography Wars II: Attack of the Drones!

Remember the days when drive-by property photography complete with a dirty window was acceptable and even the norm in commercial real estate? Fortunately, commercial real estate photography has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years as real estate marketers have attempted to stand out in cluttered listing websites. Now we’ve started to see drones used more for aerial photography, as well as in creating images of how views might look from buildings that haven’t even been built.

Look for this to become more of a standard in 2015 along with more virtual tours and renderings.

8. Abundance of data

Big data will play a big role as occupiers and owners alike look to rationalize real estate decisions.

With all the major real estate firms investing heavily in this space, you’ll see more comprehensive insights and information as technology allows these firms to combine real estate data (listings, availability, comparative transactions, etc.) with other available data points such as demographics and sociographics.

This will be one of the key factors in driving more marketing and research content (See 4) as providers and assets look to differentiate.

7. Jump in vertical marketing

As landlords compete to fill their buildings and real estate firms compete for mandates, you will see a much stronger emphasis on marketing in key industry verticals as they attempt to differentiate.

Expect the tech and media sectors to be heavily targeted in the office sector, and the industrial side to increase their focus on e-commerce, logistics and distribution.

6. Property marketing spends go up

Especially in markets where vacancies are rising, we’re going to see landlords looking for better outcomes from marketing activities.

Good sales and leasing agents alone aren’t going to get the job done. There’s a lot at stake for landlords — especially in secondary sectors.

Expect to see landlords investing more heavily in their marketing activities, looking to reposition second-generation buildings to help maintain and improve their occupancy rates.

With prospective tenants and buyers having multiple options, owners will need good marketing to help them differentiate in a cluttered market.

Savvy landlords will realize they need to budget for their own property marketing as agency-sponsored marketing budgets might not pack the punch they need for success.

5. Putting their money where their mouse is

Commercial real estate advertising is still stuck in the doldrums of news print. As real estate marketing professionals adapt to online advertising tools, you’re going to see their budgets shift to paid digital advertising real fast.

The No. 1 reason for a lack of adoption in this space is the skill set of the average marketing professional in this sector. In 2015 we’re going to see plenty more online ads for real estate and real estate services through general media and social media channels as the marketing skill set improves.

4. Death by content

It’s already started. Look to see a continued abundance of real estate reports, sector reports, white papers, seminars, webinars and case studies.

All the service providers are clamoring for a share of the social media and search space, and this is the result.

While the content out there is still cluttered and daunting, the good news is that you’re likely to see some better quality insights and information than ever before as better data become available and as service providers hone in on content for key niche target markets (See 7 and 8).

3. Social climbing

With more content and insights than ever before, marketing teams will continue to look to social media to help distribute that content in a meaningful way.

The industry’s demographic is welcoming more Generation X and Millennials into key real estate decision-making roles, and they depend heavily on social media, particularly LinkedIn, to source colleagues, partners, jobs and insights to help solve their real estate challenges.

This isn’t a fad, and it isn’t going away.

2. Build-to-suit marketing campaigns

As owners and agents seek to do a better job positioning their assets for success (or to avert failure), you’re going to see more customized marketing campaigns.

Look to see more branded asset offerings for sale and/or lease as owners invest in their assets’ identities to avoid commoditization.

Expect to see less templated marketing collateral along with more creative signs, brochures and digital assets as landlords try to clearly differentiate their buildings.

1. S&M: The winning combination

Look for greater integration of Sales and Marketing teams. Real estate advisors for landlords who are great at marketing will rise to the top.

As the market becomes more competitive on the demand side, real estate advisors who want to help landlords fill their vacancies are going to need more than a good rolodex.

Those who understand the value of positioning an asset and can work with their marketing teams to execute impactful, creative and aligned marketing and sales programs will enjoy rental premiums and faster uptake of space.

Consequently, they’ll become a pretty hot commodity in 2015 and beyond.

Lex Perry is Director of Marketing and Communications for Colliers International in Canada, where he focuses on corporate brand strategy, market research and intelligence, content marketing, public relations and digital marketing.