A marketing plan is a tool for organizing the planning, pricing, and promotion of a product. Creating a marketing plan is a fundamental exercise for every business. Your building is a business. Its marketing plan should identify the target market to which you are going to sell space, the price, how you are going to make the building unique, and methods for communicating with those target markets.
Writing the marketing plan requires research and analysis. The steps involved in preparing a strategic marketing plan include:
- Analyzing the owner’s position
- Assessing the property
- Performing a market analysis
- Formulating goals and a strategy
Once the plan is established, you need to prepare a budget to fund it and pick people to execute it. In large property management organizations, entire departments may be devoted to marketing. If you do not have the luxury of a marketing department and are short on time, the following items are the basics for preparing a marketing plan.
- Financial goals of the building: This information comes from discussions with the ownership.
- Building analysis: This is a survey of the building—its classification, amenities, features, financing, reputation, and construction.
- Analysis of competing buildings: An analysis of the buildings in your micro-market that are competing for tenants.
- Macro-/micro-market analysis: Understanding absorption, vacancy rates, real estate trends, and new developments.
- Economic and business forecasts: Assessing business trends, interest rates, employment, and other data that indicate the economic health of your area’s business market and are a factor in the leasing program.
- Target market for tenant prospects: What is the profile of the most likely candidates for leasing space in your building? This will be determined by your floor plate, rent, and tenant mix.
- The amount of space to be leased over a given time: Start with all the vacant space currently available, then make a chart showing which leases will be coming up for renewal and whether you want to renew them. You can estimate how long it will take to fill the space after learning how long it took to lease space in competing buildings.
- A plan to actively promote the building to probable tenants: Communicating information about the building is a function of advertising and public relations.
- Detailed listing of who is assigned to execute the plan: This list should specifically cover the responsibilities and goals of all the personnel involved; for example, leasing agent A will make a designated number of calls per week.
Delegating work is also important to your success at marketing. You probably will want to retain an advertising agency to perform the advertising functions and a broker for leasing. You will also want to delegate internal marketing functions (such as direct mail campaigns) to competent subordinates.
Developing a budget is done in consultation with the owner. Creating a marketing budget is no more complex than putting together a building operating budget. Here are some typical items to include:
- The costs for hiring a market researcher or research firm to perform the analysis, and the interaction point analysis or the cost of staff time to perform these tasks.
- The entertainment costs, travel, meals, luncheons, golf outings, etc., for prospective tenants, key brokers, and others who can help you obtain tenants.
- The costs of writing, illustrating, designing, and printing literature, brochures, and promotional materials. Costs escalate proportionately as more colors and types of paper stock are used.
- The cost of hiring an advertising agency to design and produce an ad campaign. The agency should also give you a media analysis and recommendations where the ad should run to reach your target market.
- The cost of buying ad space in various media platforms. If you are using an ad agency, this cost will be included in the agency’s overall cost.
- If advertising on the Internet makes sense for you, then you will have the cost of setting up and maintaining a home page to let the prospective tenant researching your community know that you have space available. At the very least, a home page should be linked to other local sites such as the Chamber of Commerce home page, a BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association) chapter home page, commercial real estate firms, economic development agencies, etc.
- The costs of a community relations program that is designed to improve the building’s recognition as a cornerstone of the community. Tradeshow booths and any other types of promotional activities that will give the building greater exposure to its target market.
- Costs associated with following up leads generated from marketing efforts.
- Costs connected with marketing efforts devoted to tenant retention and lease renewal programs.
When you are developing budgets, you should also be creating time lines, which provide a guide for implementing the project that the budget is funding. A time line is simply a project road map.
Time lines need to show all the individual steps required to perform a certain activity and estimates of how long it will take to accomplish them.
For example, if you are planning a direct mailing to independent brokers, you will need to find out how much time it will take to:
- Prepare the mailing list and enter it into the mail merge database of a word processing program. To illustrate, assume that a 500-name list, at 2 minutes per name to input each record, would take about 16 1/2 hours.
- Draft a letter, add any pictures or graphics, and proof a copy (assume 3 hours).
- Print each customized letter using the mail merge database (if the printer does four letters a minute, then it will take about 2 hours).
- Print envelopes or labels (another 2 hours).
- Attach postage (about 20 minutes).
In this example, we have estimated it will take about 3 1/2 workdays to complete the direct mailing.
In allocating the staff resources to execute this project, keep in mind that the time for the work will probably need to be juggled with other routine office tasks.
For complex projects, you could use project-scheduling software to help develop the time lines. This type of software creates presentation-quality charts and allows you to revise activity progress and costs as changes occur.
This article is adapted from BOMI International’s course Leasing and Marketing for Property Managers, part of the RPA designation program. More information regarding this course or the new High-Performance certificate courses is available by calling 1-800-235-2664. Visit BOMI International’s website, www.bomi.org.