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How Tech Has Changed Commercial Real Estate Marketing

Until somewhat recently, the concept of marketing commercial properties was largely left to a building’s amenities. The various characteristics of a building — a gym, dry cleaners, wi fi lounge or rooftop deck, for example — is what made a property attractive and brokers would flaunt them to prospective tenants. A building’s location was also a main draw. Could people walk to a quick lunch and tackle some nearby errands during their work day? Prior to today’s tech-driven world, this was a typical tenant’s thought process.

Tenants preferences have now shifted.  Amenities have been commoditized. It’s a check list and if you don’t have them, then you’re eliminated off the bat. The focus now is less on the quality, location or class of the building, and more about the space itself. In other words, a first-rate office space in an average building is preferred to a mediocre space in a top notch building located in a prime spot. This was not always the case.

With the emphasis on physical office spaces instead of buildings, tools now exist that allow tenants to understand and envision the potential look and feel of a space without having to go physically visit it. After all, it’s often the “vision” that is missing from a tenant’s thought process when viewing empty rooms. They wonder, how can we make this a hip office space? What paint color should we use? Where will the private and common space be? Space utilization is a big part of this. Tenants have a hard time envisioning how space will be utilized without some guidance. They wonder: how big should we make our conference room? Where should windows go? Where do we build walls? Today landlords can provide answers about aesthetics and space planning upfront which becomes a major driver of marketing.

Fast Office, for example, shares accurate 3D visuals of vacant spaces before office seekers take the time to physically visit them. It is these visuals that attract tenants to consider renting a space. Likewise, Truss recently partnered with Matterport to provide virtual tours of office spaces. These 3D tours enable people to understand the look and feel of a space at the get go, which in turn slices down on the number of wasted tours for brokers – they won’t waste time on people who would not be interested. Similarly, Floored provides real-time changes in the design of a space and can show tenants things like what dark blue walls would do to a space or what size workstations would best accommodate the employee headcount.

Each of these resources automates space viewing so that landlords can show prospective tenants upfront “just how cool” an office space could be. Tech tools today build visualization models of spaces, which in turn markets them too. In others words, space planning has become more than just space planning – it’s a key pillar of a landlord’s marketing strategy.

Brokerage marketing has become more efficient through tech as well. Smaller real estate companies that do not have the resources to hire marketing teams now have a way to help with exposure and syndicate their listings. A couple years ago, Buildout developed software so brokerages could automate their marketing activities. Through the tool, brokers or marketers can simply enter the specs of a space along with any media, and automatically create marketing flyers in their brand and syndicate the listing across marketplaces. It’s a great tool that has automated marketing for hundreds of brokerages.

It’s worth mentioning: a lot of these marketing techniques that center on visualizing spaces were stolen from the residential side. While not tech-focused, commercial landlords are now starting to stage spaces, which is a tactic the residential side has been using for decades when marketing properties. Finally, the CRE industry figured that if landlords can provide tenants with the vision right in front of them instead of leaving it up to their untrained imaginations, they have a much better chance of securing that lease. Thankfully, tech is helping landlords and brokers do just this.

Propmodo is a global multimedia effort to explore how emerging technologies affect our built environment.

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