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Where’s the Outstanding Commercial Broker Marketing in Our Industry?

By Jim Gillespie | February 25, 2008

When I first got into commercial brokerage full-time in 1980, the emphasis on developing one’s business was almost entirely on prospecting. And now in 2008 there’s not a lot that’s really changed in our industry. The focus is still pretty much on prospecting.

Now prospecting represents a great opportunity to develop one’s commercial brokerage business, it’s just that it’s also very limiting for brokers. For one thing most commercial brokers don’t want to do it, and they end up oftentimes only doing it when they don’t have enough good leads to work on. Then once they develop a good amount of new leads to follow-up on from their prospecting, they stop doing their prospecting. So the process of developing new leads to work on can become intermittent for many brokers, and their income will suffer because of their lack of an ongoing abundance of great new leads.

One activity that’s common in industries outside of commercial brokerage, including residential real estate brokerage, is principals and business owners marketing themselves outside of just doing prospecting. Web sites, mailing, E-newsletters, and keeping people informed on what’s going in their area is very common practice for top residential agents. But all of this is almost non-existent on the commercial side of the business.

Which has led me to develop the following motto:

“Show me a commercial broker who says mailing doesn’t work and I’ll show you a commercial broker who’s never had much of a mailing campaign.”

Drawing the conclusion that mailing doesn’t work after sending out one or two mailers is like drawing the conclusion that prospecting doesn’t work after doing just one hour of it.

Some commercial brokerage companies still don’t even have Web sites, and it’s very rare for a commercial agent to have his or her own standalone agent Web site. Between having a Web site, sending out an E-newsletter, and mailing to your clients and prospects two more more times a month, you have an opportunity to completely stand out from all your competitors and keep yourself in the forefront of the minds of all your clients and prospects. This is a golden opportunity for many commercial brokers but very few ever take advantage of it. And then these same brokers will often wonder at the end of the year why they still haven’t made the amount of money that they wanted to.

The ultimate cardinal sin of marketing that I still see some entrepreneurial brokerage companies making is having their E-mail addresses with their own domain name in them, but not having any Web site already up and running when you type that domain name into your browser. I can’t believe that the people running these companies don’t recognize that people are going to go to their Web site when they show their own E-mail address as something similar to bob@rfkcommercial.com on their business cards. And lo and behold when the prospect goes to the Web site there’s nothing there, making the company look very unprofessional. The principals of the company have enabled the domain to send and receive the company’s E-mail, but there’s no Web site there. This is the Internet equivalent of showing the company’s office address on one’s business cards, but when your clients and prospects go there, there’s no office.

And when it comes to doing great marketing, a few months ago on one of my Million Dollar Commercial Real Estate Agent Inner Circle Teleconference calls, I interviewed a commercial broker who spends more than $100,000.00 a year on marketing himself to his clients and prospects. And as part of his marketing program he mails to his clients and prospects 5-7 times every single month. This had him close more than $55 million in total sales and leasing volume last year, in a city with a population of just 50,000 people, which sits in a larger region with a total population of just 620,000 people.

So with all of this being said, here’s the summary of what I recommend to you:

If you’re relying only on prospecting to develop new brokerage business you’re costing yourself a lot of money. Especially if you’re not always getting your prospecting done. Develop a newsletter and send it out regularly. Write articles on what’s going on in your marketplace and send them to your people. Or send them postcards with information they’ll definitely want to know about.

When you mail to your clients and prospects two or more times every month over the next year, I can almost guarantee you’ll never go back to the old way of doing brokerage, because you’ll be making a lot more money.

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