This is a genius move and somebody at this company really does get it. What am I talking about? Well I was walking through a parking lot and noticed this tile installed at the entrance to this big box retailer. Being a building person, I wanted to know more about the product. Upon my extreme surprise, on each tile I found a website URL. I was so pleased and happy to know that I could snap that picture on my phone and upon returning to my office, look up the product online!

It brought me to thinking about commercial real estate, URL links, QR codes and how we can be more efficient and smart with our marketing of our properties!

In the example of this business owner, the URL on each tile is a real handy tool. A QR code would not work here, but a URL sure is handy and easy to remember! Yes, there are some using QR codes too, but, IMHO, the QR code is just not as commonly understood and takes more work to set up. Also, the QR codes are not as user-friendly to most people.

But most people do know what a website URL address is or a Facebook page or a Twitter url. In those cases, it will bring the customer to that page or site that you wish to use as a support to your marketing.

It is also a good way to bring traffic to your website or listing. However, there is a catch to using a website URL! You have to be sure once you get them there, your website or blog or post is equipped with all of the answers to the questions!!! For instance, images, maps, accurate contact information, additional sites, like blog, twitter, facebook, etc, as well as price, size, location, details, like number of offices or square feet. Basically, put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and provide the information that will help them to call you to pursue the property!

For instance, in the case of http://www.adatile.com, as soon as you arrive at the site there are prominent Facebook, RSS, Twitter and YouTube icons which provide an easy and user-friendly invitation to find more information, read reviews, watch videos, etc. To me this firm, ADATile has done a tremendous job of taking the customer and grabbing them and leading them to the product.

It should be the same experience for folks looking to purchase investment real estate, or lease space!

Now many will say that is all wrong and a phone number is all you need! Well in some ways I understand that mentality. You want them to call you! Okay, that is great, but what if you are on another line, out of town, busy with another client, etc. Or you have someone who is not trained, or not friendly or not responsive to their needs, and that person answers your phone. To me the first impression is so vital and if that first impression is painful, it can really damage your credibility and image.

So I guess you can say that a phone number is a great way to promote your business, but like I said, if I have a smart phone and I snap a picture and grab the phone number, that is great. Now I have to call you and make the inquiry. If I am today’s consumer, I really want to know more BEFORE I call you. Yes, I want to be informed and know BEFORE I call you. It is great that you want me to call, but there are still going to be folks who want to know more as they feel they are wasting your time and their own time, hence it is annoying NOT to provide a URL.

Now as far as the sign design, not only is it vital to have the key information visible, but it must show the URL or phone in as large a font as possible. Also, do not get crazy with fancy fonts or bad color combinations. Think about the person driving by going 45 or 75 miles per hour. How on earth can they grab that information going that fast, coupled with the conditions of nowhere to pull over, etc.? With a URL, most people can retain a web name, before a phone number. I guess I am one of those folks. To me the goal is to make your sign grab the person’s attention for a few seconds and make them remember what they saw!

I say, use a URL and make it easy to retain and also make it tell a story of the property that is simple word association or easily recalled based on a geographic or the type of property. For instance, if I drive by the sign, more than likely I may be back again or drive by more than one time. Eventually, that URL will catch my attention and I will probably retain it as well.

If all of your properties are easy to find on your website, great! Use your own URL but please have an easy way for them to find that property and remember it! If the site has a huge database of listings and now they have to do a search and figure out where the property is, that is a pain. If there is a way to connect your signs, intersections or easy to retain titles for those properties that would be much better and draw them into your exact property. But just make it easy to find!! People tire quickly today and give up as they get frustrated with too much technology.

Let’s say your sign is at a busy intersection or highway interchange. Why not use the headline of OfficeSpaceRoute75 or OfficeSpaceI-57, etc. when I drive by, I can retain that. Or street names, town names or whatever is something a person interested can easily retain. Even if the geographic is not exact, if they do an online search, it is more than likely to come up as it is unique. For instance, if you add a headline on a post, on some sites, the post assigns a custom URL to your pages or posts. That is your very own unique URL no one else on the planet can have it.

Here is a real example:

http://www.pointonecommercial.com/listings/beloit-industrial-space-for-lease/

and/or

http://thebrokerlist.com/have/industrial-and-office-building-beloit-wi-93

In these cases, Gary Seidel, a tBL member, gave the property a theme or name. Gary used that same theme and name in the headline. The system uses the exact letters and creates a dash between each word. That is really a good thing because Google can read the words and they are not all running together. The system assigns a code number at the end which is not meaningful to the post other than the computer tracks it in the database and Google does not care, because they still can find beloit-industrial-space-for-lease orindustrial building beloit wi or office building beloit wisconsin. So if you know the post and use that URL, most folks will be able to retain it. But most important is that Google will find it! If a person searches  industrial and office building beloit wisconsin, it should come up on page 1 of the Google search! Try it!

Another method is to use icons! If you use other sites to promote yourself, consider adding those URL links so you can be found quickly and shorten them with an icon:

 /theBrokerList

 @theBrokerList

 /theBrokerList

In the above case, we used our own set of icons, but we also know you can use the traditional icons as well and folks understand it, for instance:

 /theBrokerList

 @theBrokerList

 /theBrokerList

Now if you have your own website, the same holds true. If you create a post for each property you manage or lease or sell, it can have its own URL on your site or you can use sites that permit cre friendly URLs or if the property is a product assignment with a significant lease-up, it may warrant its own domain name.

For instance:

http://www.johnhancockcenterchicago.com/

It is actually downright annoying to see any form of marketing or media that does not have a URL or Twitter site or Facebook page or quite frankly a phone number that might be answered by an informed person, prominently displayed on it. In the case of the above URL, Gary Seidel makes sure that each of his listings has a page, plus he uses his headlines and other reinforcement sites using the naming conventions to tie them together.

The John Hancock Center is in Chicago, go figure! Now that is smart! They are using their entire keyword phrase as the domain. Now many do not have websites or blogs, nor are many brokers able to create great web sites like Jeremy Cyrier of Mansard has done, but there are sites like theBrokerList that give you that tool and provide a page for each property, as well as your own personal URL. Since Michael Hironimus does not have his own URL, as he works for a large firm, this is a no-brainer for him to use on his signs as it will take everyone directly to his properties! For instance:

 /michael-hironimus

The amazing part is how the world, not just commercial real estate, has a huge gap in truly understanding the power of the URL and these icon symbols! To make this clear, a URL is a “Uniform Resource Locator” and in common terms is the website address or domain name. Once you secure that name, it is your name as it relates to that site! If you register a domain name, it is your name for as long as you maintain that registration.

So if your company is marketing space for lease or a property for sale, what is the best way for a person to reach you to make an inquiry about the product you are trying to market? This is not a trick question. After reading this post, do you think it is best that they grab a phone and call you? If so, is the phone number YOUR phone number or the generic main number to your firm? Is there an email or Twitter site or website URL that can take the person directly to more information if they call and you are busy? Do you include a phone number, email, and additional information on your sign or other marketing material or online content? You need to decide who your audience is, are they walking, driving, highway, speed limit, etc. All of those factors have to be considered. Is a URL needed? More than likely, if you want the property to come up in Google search, yes, it is! If you are not interested in the property being found online, that is also acceptable, but understand what that means and own it!

What I observe in the business world today is a major faux pas! Most folks are not including a URL. Yes, this is so very true. It is often times physically impossible for a person to drive by and see a website URL and simply look up the information. If there is a phone number on the sign or marketing piece, it is highly unlikely anyone who answers that phone will know that it specifically pertains to, and it is rare to find direct phone number or cell numbers or instant access to anyone who can immediately answer the inquiry. Also there is no name or address on many marketing signs! Yes, you heard right, no address!! So if I am driving past, I have no clue what the address of the property might be. It is a generic marketing sign, but it is not informative.

It is a game of cat and mouse in so many cases. Do not make your customers chase you like a mouse! Give them the target answers and/or the person who can give them the most instant answer they need and do it efficiently. Time is of the essence and should be kept at the forefront of your online marketing as well as sign design.

What is your method of creating your marketing headlines? Do you have a technique that works?

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