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"Tech Tips to Boost Your Commercial Sales!"

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Dustin Gellman Photo
6/6/08 Interview with Dustin Gellman

Catylist Inc.
444 N Wabash Ave, Suite 500
Chicago, IL 60611

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Targeted Marketing for Commercial Agents

  1. In the past, commercial practitioners did not do much targeted marketing; now recipients of commercial real estate marketing are expressing a strong desire to get information that matches their preferences, so the shift is toward targeted marketing.
  2. CRM databases are coming into popular use, more affordable market research is available, and more sophisticated software programs allow people to build big databases and refine them to do targeted marketing based on anticipated needs.
Commercial Listings

  1. Gellman is aware of 25 national commercial listing services plus a myriad of local solutions; the biggest national ones are Catylist, Loopnet and CoStar; other classified systems include CityFeet and Property Line.
  2. People want to use all of these as well as smaller ones such as and; the opportunities are numerous.
  3. Good brokers do not choose—they use all the commercial services by building a set of processes to participate as efficiently as possible.
  4. The basic process is to first say where you want your information to go, then how much information should go, at what time, and who is responsible for getting it posted; a repeatable process makes posting information online efficient.
  5. Offices that lack the resources to handle a commercial listing process in-house should outsource the process.
  6. Catylist is creating a bridge between its database and as many different partners as possible—10 major listing services so far; do not overlook the other 15 because each one has a slightly different target audience.
Advice for Single Practitioners

  1. Use listing services to level the playing field and even to gain a competitive advantage over larger companies; understand the differences of each listing service in terms of audience, cost structure and how to participate with minimal time and expenditure.
  2. Communicate to your clients that you use the commercial listing services for broad marketing distribution—it is a competitive advantage.
  3. Highlight your use of technology to impress property owners in listing presentations; have a marketing plan in place and communicate it clearly to prospects.
How to Develop a Marketing Plan

  1. The first step should be the production of materials; digitize property information into spreadsheets, word documents, audio and/or video.
  2. Next identify all the different places where the information can be distributed—e.g., online, or through mail, blogs or audiocasts.
  3. Finally, identify the target audience—that is, the most likely purchasers or tenants—and how they can best be reached.
Technology for Small Offices

  1. To stay within budget, brokers should understand what they are buying, so education (by reading or taking classes) is a necessary prerequisite.
  2. The first vital tech tool is a very good web site—clearly segmented and showing who you cater to and why you are good at it; preferably, the web site should be interactive.
  3. On the web site, clients should be able to see listings, leave contact info and preferences, sign up for a newsletter and report a problem; the broker should be able to keep track of clients’ needs.
  4. Commercial agents have lagged residential agents in embracing technology by three to five years, but initial commercial resistance is changing.
  5. The second imperative tech tool is email marketing, which has two dimensions—property marketing and corporate marketing; both should be preference-based.
  6. Corporate email marketing should be employed to keep in touch with clients and others on your proprietary database on a regular basis.
  7. Make use of industry databases as a supplement to your internal contacts; Catalyst’s program called Cmail is an industry database of 100,000+ people qualified to receive email on investment properties.
CRM Database

  1. Another important tech requirement is a customer relationship management (CRM) database to organization and keep track of what you do for clients; is the industry-specific CRM for commercial real estate.
  2. As a web-based solution, requires an Internet connection and runs a little slower than a CRM resident on your desktop; on the upside, it makes sharing easier and preserves your information if something happens to your computer.
Overview of Catylist Commercial Tools and Services

  1. One of the company’s core products is its listing service Commercial IQ, which aggregates local listing services from about 36 markets nationwide.
  2. Commerical IQ offers a toolbox of tech marketing tools, including commercial real estate web sites, a print engine to generate materials and demographic resources; an interface is being built to automatically enter all data submitted to the listing services into the other tech tools.
  3. Catylist’s local commercial multiple listing service (or CIE) remains the mainstay product; it covers about one-third of the nation now and is expanding; each local exchange offers a complete range of marketing tools.
Catylist’s Competition Edge

  1. The three main commercial exchange players—Catylist, CCIM’s A Site to Do Business and the new NAR commercial exchange—are all different; Catylist’s edge is that it leads with technology and the integration of all its products.
  2. Catylist offers the ultimate value to commercial practitioners in saving time and effort and increasing service to clients.
Favorite Web Sites

  1. RE BackOffice is an excellent source for custom marketing materials such as CAD and artist drawings, stacking plans and more at big savings.
  2. RealHound is a very practical site that offers a book, How to Make Money in Commercial Real Estate, explaining how to use RealHound products.
  3. Google Alerts can be used to track everything new on the Web related to keywords that you pick; the service can keep you current on the industry on a daily basis.
Contact Information for Dustin Gellman:

(v) 312-595-9384
(f) 312-873-4227

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Catylist, Inc.:
Major national commercial listing services:
Other classified systems:
Small classified systems:
Commercial IQ:
A Site to Do Business:
NAR Commercial Exchange:
RE BackOffice:
Google Alerts: