Is the Commercial Real Estate Market Underexposed?

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In this modern-age digital landscape, being over-exposed is not an uncommon sentiment. From our personal lives being on full display via social media to our online shopping habits tracked, bundled, and sold to the highest bidder, it seems that sentiment is not without merit. 

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With everyday e-commerce transactions, being over-exposed is a win-win for both parties. Sellers have multiple platforms to offer their goods to consumers, and in return, consumers have a full spectrum of options from which to choose. The same can be said for most major industries, including travel, automobile, apartment rentals, and residential home sales. Even used goods that were previously only found by scouring garage sales on Saturdays sell on sites like Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp.

This change begs the question:

Why is the commercial real estate marketplace so underexposed?

Common sense tells us that a seller of any item cannot be successful if the potential buyers are not aware the thing is for sale in the first place. It stands to reason that the larger the buyer pool, the higher the seller’s chances for success and vice versa. 

In the prehistoric days of BD (“before digital”), there were minimal options available for commercial real estate brokers to market their property listings. For buyers, locating properties in general mostly fell on one or two websites with search parameters that weren’t necessarily user-friendly, and more importantly, cost money to get necessary information like the listing broker’s email or phone number.

Fast forward to the present day, and those options haven’t evolved like they have in almost every other industry. Maybe the lack of technology contributes somewhat to CRE’s underexposure, or perhaps the industry is just slow to adapt to the quickly changing times? 

Both are likely culprits but continuing to operate in a silo fashion without universal, shared platforms that offer an unmatched customer reach that also give insight and analytics to any marketing efforts employed isn’t a sustainable model for success. In layman’s terms, there is no Amazon for commercial real estate.

This is not to say that those who work within the CRE industry are not utilizing digital marketing strategies in their company model. We at CREXi work with many companies who attest that they place a high value on technology and its implementation into their business model across all service lines.

So many marketing tools, so little CRE time

However, even with all the digital marketing tools available, many CRE companies aren’t equipped to take advantage of the many online strategies like search engine optimization (“SEO”), pay-per-click (“PPC”), and marketing automation. For the larger, global CRE firms that offer multiple services across many industries with hundreds of websites dedicated to each category, implementing a strategic online plan isn’t really feasible. For the smaller boutique CRE firms that don’t have the resources to employ an entire marketing department, it’s understandable that extensive attention to online marketing doesn’t fall high on the priority list.

Without an all-in-one platform, executing a basic digital marketing plan can be time-consuming and inefficient. Many brokers and support staff use different outlets for their email marketing, contact management, reporting, and digital property collateral. The problem with this reality is the limitations of being able to quickly and efficiently differentiate ROI across multiple marketing efforts. Also, trying to make sense of insights and stats from numerous platforms produces inaccuracies and hinders the ability to get a snapshot of the overall performance results.

For example, when sending a property eBlast, how many people opened the email? How many email addresses were undeliverable, which offers hints that specific contacts need updating? If you are marketing the property on a third-party site, how many page views are there, who downloaded the due diligence materials? What information do you know about these prospects? Are you able to capture that data and recycle it for future marketing plans with similar listings?

To be able to make an informed decision, these insights can offer a significant advantage, not just for necessary adjustments for the current property being marketed, but for efforts on future listings as well. When pitching to a new client for a listing(s), wouldn’t it be great to have your relevant successes and the means to which you achieved those successes available at the click of a button?

For buyers, dealing with different listing brokers presents its own set of challenges. Submitting LOIs, offers, obtaining due diligence materials hosted on different servers that require additional software downloads, efficiently managing a closing checklist with multi-department responsibilities; these are all challenges that hinder a seamless, efficient transaction process.

As individuals who have spent entire careers marketing commercial real estate, we have experienced these roadblocks and the limitations they place on executing an overall marketing strategy. The solution is a platform where these challenges for both buyer and broker are diminished or eliminated.

Why choose Crexi?

Our mission at Crexi is to be a comprehensive solution, offering buyers a free marketplace with thousands of properties, smart search filters, direct in-app messaging, the ability to submit LOI’s/offers, and a closing tracker that keeps both broker and buyer on the same page. Tools like the marketing portal for email marketing, contact list management capabilities, a two-tiered secured due diligence vault, real-time alerts/activity feed, lead drawer, and one-touch reporting are all tools created to alleviate brokers’ pain points. 

By striving to bring the commercial real estate industry into the digital age in offering new and convenient ways to bring buyers and brokers together while streamlining the sales process, CRE will no longer be underexposed.

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Lawson Dees
Lawson Dees

SVP Operations

Lawson started at Crexi before its launch in 2015, serving in several capacities since. He began his career in the National Real Estate Group at McGladrey, now RSM, primarily working on assurance engagements with private equity funds and operators.

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