What the commercial agent should be focusing on and what not to waste their time on in 2011 – IMHO…
These are either ahead of their time, redundant or just not applicable to commercial real estate. Only about a quarter of the population has a data-enabled phone and for these to work well, the camera has to be good quality (and good lighting conditions). There are different formats, readers – it’s just too confusing not to mention annoying to have to take a photo of something to get somewhere. I noticed some of the early adopters (magazines…) have jumped ship/gone back to posting URLs. What’s that tell you? And really, did you expect anyone to get out of their car and take a photo of one of these on a building or sign?
Skip it if you don’t like this type of networking – and maybe even if you do and its become a giant time suck. The day the head of real estate at IBM wants to do a deal with me because they liked my Facebook page or a client insists I be on LinkedIn is the day I’ll change my mind. Just maintain a presence (preferably on LinkedIn), keep your profile updated and let it go. Consider becoming more active if you need to make connections with other agents for both inbound/outbound referrals and you can’t get to the conventions.
Apps are swell, but unless you’re prepared to develop them for multiple platforms, stick with mobile formats. The Android user who can’t use your iPhone app will thank you.
A review of your company is great for SEO purposes – even if they’re bad. But there’s an unspoken agreement among CRE agencies not to go here. They probably remember all those times they clicked on some competitor’s Google ads just to make them pay (and before Google figured out the click fraud thing out). Don’t post some glowing review of your own company, don’t pay anyone else to do it and stay away from reviewing competitors.
Mobile Site Development
Americans love their cell phones and they’re getting so feature rich now that people are using them more than a “real” computer. Plus, with slate/tablet form factors in the mix, it’s time to review how your site looks on these smaller devices. Yeah, you can zoom in and out, but if you’ve tried reading a website with a fixed width of 1200 pixels on your cell phone, you’ll appreciate a site with relative sizing or a smaller fixed width.
Consider creating a mobile version of your website – or at least the property search section even with limited functionality. There are some conversion tools that will take your site and “mobilize” it, but the results can be…unexpected. Start from scratch and synthesize your content to its most important elements. Keep it simple and take different mobile OSs and screen sizes into consideration (not to get too techy, but tagging phone numbers is a problem – some phones understand one tag, others another…so use both!). And even though it seems counter-productive, provide a link to your non-mobile site.
If you’re on WordPress – and many other content management platforms – there are add-ons that will automatically detect requests from mobile devices and serve up mobile friendly pages. Haven’t tried these out myself, but I hear the results are mixed…in part because of the different and ever increasing types of “user agents” (devices with their various OSs and screen sizes…). To avoid any problems, put a link to your mobile site on your regular site.
Have you checked your business listing on Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, etc and so on? Do they match? Have duplicate listings or old locations floating around. Better fix them now because this is where the money is going – local. Create accounts with the majors and correct your listing. Most of them are getting the info from other sources, no matter what you put, so hit those other sources – like ExpressUpdate – and anywhere else you find your business listed incorrectly.
Also consider upgrading to enhanced at Yahoo. Though Yahoo might not be the powerhouse it once was, it’s still considered an authoritative source and still gives you a lot of SEO juice. Plus it’s cheaper than Google.
Social Augmented Reality
Make sure you have a presence on FourSquare, TagWhat – all those “augmented reality” services. You want your company coming up when someone is searching an area – even if they’re just looking for a coffee shop. Will get into this more later, but this combines local with mobile – and that’s where the action (as in marketing dollars) will be. We’ll see how this fits in with the commercial real estate space.
I hope during the CRE lull you all got leaner and meaner. Because if you haven’t gotten organized by now you’d better figure it out because while you’re calling the office to get a copy of that presentation emailed somewhere, your competition is all ready showing theirs to the client. Focus on email, contact management, pipeline/opportunity tracking, backup, file organization and how you can access these from wherever you need them.
Put a little thought into how you like to work, how disciplined – or not – you are about setting up folders in Outlook, whether you’re comfortable enough with technology to set up rules, sync your cell phone, and so on. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do – determine what you can do and then find something that will work for you – not against you. If that’s a paper system, so be it. But nothing worse than watching some agent try to copy Mr. Clean’s system and failing.
Of course, if you have company systems you have to use – document management, email, CRM and the like – stop complaining about them and, as we say in the tech world, RTFM. Or put some suggestions out there for improvements.