While tried and true prospecting tactics of cold calling, golf and networking events are some of the most productive for commercial real estate brokers, these tactics are time intensive and usually very costly.
An alternative to these face-to-face prospecting methods is online lead generation. The downside of utilizing the internet as a lead generation source is that, in most cases, the prospect only needs a small amount of space (95% of Patrick Braswell’s online leads from MOSAtlanta.com were 1,000 sf and smaller).
If you are just starting out in the biz, or work for a boutique firm where the splits are more favorable, even smaller requirement leads can be a way to gain valuable experience and income, while building your resume.
So, understanding the underlying dynamics of web-based lead generation for CRE brokers, what are the possibilities?
DIY – do it yourself.
In this instance, a DIY lead generation site is a blog. The most well known example of this type of DIY lead generation platform is CoyDavidson‘s The Tenant Advisor blog, but others include The Tenant Advocate and Toronto Office Search. In a recent post, Coy outlined the 6 benefits of going the DIY/blog route. These benefits include the ability to:
- Showcase your expertise
- Build credibility and trust
- Create your own content
- Enhance your reputation
- Create customer loyalty
- Be found
There are several critical elements in order to be successful if you chose to go the DIY route –
1. A consistent content creation schedule. It is critical to create content on a regular basis. This content needs to be relevant and informative to the target audience. For many brokers, providing free advice and market statistics is counter to what they consider to be a proprietary advantage. Many brokers think, “If tenants or investors can get information for free, they won’t need to call me.” This is just not the case. In fact, providing this type of information enables you to become an authority making it likely prospects will seek out your advice more readily.
2. Optimize for SEO. If you needed to Google “SEO” to learn what it stands for, this approach probably isn’t right for you. Search Engine Optimization takes time to understand and monitor. It also requires continuous improvement and optimization, as Google regularly tweaks their search result ranking algorithm. Also, keep in mind, other people are targeting and competing for the same keywords you are.
3. Engage in social media. The competition is fierce and friendly all at the same time. Engage your peers and monitor what they are doing. They are competing for the same keywords you are, usually just in a different city, state or country. Building a good rapport with your peers will mean you won’t be shouting into a dark, empty room every time you write a new blog post (when you first start blogging, it will feel this way…). By producing quality content your peers will share it with their followers, driving traffic to your site. After that, it’s up you to create more content for these visitors to continue to visit your site.
Four key resources for the DIY approach –
1. WordPress. THE resource to getting a blog up and running. It’s free.
4. Web Hosting. In order to use your that SEO-friendly domain name, you’ll need a webhost. There are several options available, all which include 1-click WordPress installs. Most WordPress hosting packages start at +/- $35 per year.
Pay to play – utilize a 3rd party lead referral source.
If you don’t want to spend the time curating new content or learning SEO, paying a 3rd party lead source could be a better use of your time and money. There are a couple variables which you’ll need to consider before choosing this route.
1. Your time vs. your money. This technique does not require as much time, but could cost more money in the long run, through advertising and/or referral fees.
2. No ability to build a brand. This approach does not provide some of the other benefits of self creation, including being able to create and maintain your own brand or becoming known as an information source or authority in particular a niche.
Two resources for the pay-to-play approach
1. OfficeSpace.com. These guys know SEO; just look at their domain name. They are generating tons of traffic and share 1000s of leads with their users. The quickest way to get in front of potential prospects is to buy space next to the listings in your home market.
2. Rofo.com. ROFO also optimizes for SEO and refers leads to tenant rep brokers and feature brokers in a specific market, much like OfficeSpace.com does.
Keep in mind, these two techniques are not mutually exclusive. In fact, using both is likely to increase your rate of success. If a lead gets referred from an online source, the first thing s/he’s going to do is Google your name in order to prequalify your capabilities. And this is where Coy’s Six Benefits of having a blog come into play.