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Commercial Real Estate Must Kill the PDF!

YES,IT IS TIME! Why?  We sit here every day and get our inbox BLASTED with how many e-mail PDF’s of property from sources all over the world?  What is the point?

Bad Marketing? Spam? Laziness?

So this is your property marketing strategy?

– A flyer made by the assistant in marketing=you are effin lazy.

– You blast out to LinkedIn discussion groups= you don’t want to discuss anything.

– You automate with lists,old lists,bad lists,lists purchased= God forbid you should be on a list.

–  Expect only about 20%-30% to open=pissing off and wasting the time of the other 75%.

– Set up a savvy abuse@yourdomain.com to accept complaints from ISPs=you know you are a spammer.

– Limit the info available =If they happen to inquire,you can show your super sales strategy.

– Blatantly push your brand=not delivering value, creating resentment and just plain annoying someone.

– Putting your property “top of mind” status= It’s not listed anywhere,Loopnet, Co-Star, Commsource, E-property, Catylist, Google, your site,etc.etc.

– Assuming the potential client/ broker/user is stupid and does not know the market or market conditions= see previous.

– Assuming the client/broker/user will want to see property from AZ,NY,FLA,MN,TX,Dubai,India,etc.=see previous.

– Spam CRE Blast=put that name on every property pdf sent and see what the return on time,money and effort is.

Something Better or Just Techy Toys?

Well, what should you do instead?

1. Complete data,don’t be stingy.

2. Think Mobil. Are you the last human on earth without a phone?

3. Video, my thirteen year old has a flip camera.  How hard can it be?

4 .I pad apps. They are amazing gadgets…and how many millions have been sold.

5. Augmented Reality Layar app…for like the 1000th time, I mention this in a post.

6 .Hyper local lifestyle mapping.

7. Just plain fun free mapping.

8. Use a LinkedIN app.

9. Create your own marketing!

10. UH..YouTube..the number 2 search engine.

11. Please fill in your suggestions.

The quality commercial property that is marketed to today’s savvy client/investor/principle… using real technology……WINS!

Kill the PDF Blast once and for all?

YES… NOW…. PLEASE!!!  Thoughts?


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  • I think many of the above mentioned marketing tools are fantastic – but a CRE professional still requires a vehicle in which to deliver the content. Email may not be the best (or most permission-based) vehicle, but it is the most familiar.

    I agree that the PDF as an email attachment must die for all the reasons you mention and more, but I have no problem with an interactive PDF existing online at a dedicated URL – within a corporate website or SM-friendly apps that you’ve mentioned existing within LinkedIn (SlideShare or issuu, for example).

    • Duke Long

      Well Dave,
      Since it is like your job to market CRE properties….I guess I will have to agree…mostly. The interactive stuff I like…the spammy stuff not at all. Keep putting out the good stuff and thanks for commenting !

  • Hey Duke,

    Check out this link and then see number 3 – http://www.youtube.com/MOSatlantacom – Do I get a gold star?

  • The PDF has many good qualities, few of which are used by the CRE industry. Acrobat is capable of being part of simple or complex workflows which might simply indicate who has “seen” the content but can apply a secure signature or assemble content from a range of sources. It can also be used as a sophisticated intelligent form which, when filled, delivers digital content for import by other systems.

    Sadly few CRE people read the manual!

    • Stephen,
      Thanks for commenting!! The flat PDF with a bad pic contact info and leases/sale details<<< just sad!

  • I AGREE 150%. We use “constant contacts” so at least the image appears rather that placing the responsibility upon the user…very 1997! Video is powerful! I have received more “hits” from the video I posted on “my contact sphere” that all of my written blog posts! I have three words for anyone marketing real estate these days…QR Codes…liiok into them!

  • Duke Long

    Allen,
    QR Codes…..the way to market CRE !!!

  • Garrett

    Great post Duke.
    I don’t think PDF is necessarily a bad mechanism to display a property flyer, especially as you compare it to 3 page website with very limited content. Neither has much of a wow factor! I think the biggest issue that everyone still struggles with is wanting to provide very limited info so a prospect or broker has to pick up the phone. Its tough to effectively market when you have little to no content. Video is a totally different story and i think should/could change marketing habits in CRE.

    The email issue of brokers sending 150 emails a day to their entire localized market to make sure their listing/building stays top of mind has made effective email marketing very challenging!

    • Garrett,
      Agreed…. There has to be innovation or at least the willingness to look at the technology as not only a tool but a more effective way to communicate. Yes???

  • Patrick – I love what you are doing with video on YouTube. I’ve spoken with several CRE companies recently who are beginning to make video a more concentrated part of their property-specific marketing. They are all extremely happy with the results. An excellent example is Strategic Retail Group @StrategicRG | http://www.srgaz.com | http://www.youtube.com/user/strategicretailaz out of Phoenix. 5 years from now, I foresee YouTube having a major channel category for CRE video. Until then, does can anyone recommend additional CRE companies to “subscribe to” on YouTube?

  • Hamish

    Tend to agree. You need to understand what you are selling!

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  • Holy s#@! am I glad I came to this blog. This has needed to be said for years.

    I have been doing marketing for CRE for almost ten years. Initially for some of the large global players and now as a consultant. There is simply no industry so dependent on marketing that collectively knows so little about it.

    I know, that sounds harsh and reactionary. It’s not. Try to tell a listing agent to create online videos of available space or building amenities and watch their brain smoke. Or an entire market of brokers who use a listserv and still send attachment after attachment, seemingly ignorant of this thing called The Cloud.

    Think of all the money in CRE and then consider its presence on the Web. Ever seen a CRE commercial during a golf tournament? Or how about sponsoring something?

    You think consumer awareness wouldn’t help your brand? You’re nuts.

    Duke, you have a new, consistent reader. Awesome. And thank you.

    • Craig,
      Well, preaching to the choir! Jump right in there and let it rip………… Welcome to the jungle!

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  • If they replaced pdfs with XML feeds, it would make my life a lot easier right now. 🙂

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