With In-Person Events Up In The Air, Digital Spending Becomes Marketers’ Solid Ground
Property marketers began 2020 with detailed schedules for the in-person events they would attend, the property tours that they would offer and even the signage they would print to promote the spaces they had to fill. The year, of course, had other plans.
With conferences and meetings indefinitely postponed, many marketing teams are still trying to figure out how to make the most of the budgets they can no longer use on live events. Even more pressing, marketers are trying to lay out budgets for a slate of 2021 events that may or may not be able to take place.
But as the future of in-person marketing remains up in the air, the digital world has gained ground, with marketers allocating unused spending to digital platforms and making large digital buys to have some sense of solidity going into an unpredictable Q4 and 2021.
ICSC RECon, the year’s biggest commercial real estate convention, was canceled just weeks before it was scheduled to take place this spring. Other events were called off even more abruptly. After each cancellation, marketing teams struggled to recoup spending they had set aside to promote their firms and properties.
With the marketing spending that was left, teams turned to online platforms like LoopNet, which saw record spikes in traffic during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic and have continued to post impressive traffic numbers as the era of social distancing dragged through the summer and into fall.
The most appealing aspect of online advertising may be that it allows marketing teams to constantly tweak their strategy in order to roll with the punches that 2021 may dole out. Depending on the state of the world, property marketers could tout their building’s commitment to tenant wellness, its virus safety protocols or even its proximity to bike-share stations.
LoopNet allows advertisers to actively change their messaging to set themselves up for success, and it gives marketers real-time data around how prospects are responding to changes in their listings. That immediacy stands in contrast to more traditional print forms of advertising. When property managers print a bulk series of fliers or brochures, they will typically want to hand out all the physical copies they have before printing another run with alternate messaging.
While online advertising can provide an outlet for unused pieces of a budget, marketers should not simply think of it as “plan B” if live events fall through. If they do, they may discover that they’ve missed out on grabbing the most effective online advertising spots. LoopNet, for instance, only offers 10 Platinum property listings in each of its submarkets, and only three Diamond listings, which typically reach 75,000 prospects.
And while marketers can send out as many emails as they like, business and real estate publications have a finite supply of newsletters and spots to advertise listings. Many marketers are coming to grips with the reality of a 2021 without in-person events at the same time, meaning competition may turn fierce for online advertising.
Across the commercial real estate industry, the hope is for a return to handshakes and networking face to face. But even as in-person events come back, marketers may come to realize just how much the digital marketing world has grown, even long before the pandemic. More tenants are starting the search for commercial real estate spaces on their own, and what were once nice-to-have additions for driving online traffic have turned into a crucial component of any property marketing strategy.
This feature was produced by Bisnow Branded Content in collaboration with LoopNet. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.