by Dan Rafter
Mark Hulsey, managing broker of RE/MAX Results Commercial in Saint Paul, Minn., has a simple philosophy about the importance of marketing: If you want to maximize the service that you provide to clients, you must maximize your marketing efforts, too.
And for Hulsey, that means relying on technology to market retail, office and industrial buildings, everything from Web sites dedicated to single properties to aerial photos taken by drones.
Those brokers who aren’t tapping the latest technology to promote their listings? Hulsey says that they’re not providing their clients with the best possible service.
“We take marketing very seriously,” Hulsey said. “That old way of looking at marketing a property — grab the listing, keep it close to the vest and promote it to a small circle of brokers and potential buyers and then take it to the wider market if that doesn’t work — is no longer the right approach. I came from a different theory: If you want to maximize your value you have to maximize the way you market properties.”
Hulsey points to a vineyard that he is selling. There are multiple elements to the property — everything from the vineyard to several outbuildings. Hulsey not only hired top photographers and videographers to snap photos of the outbuildings and take video of the property’s landscape, he also used a drone to take aerial photography and videos of the entire property.
This allows Hulsey to showcase the property to potential buyers in California, Chicago or anywhere else on the globe. Hulsey just has to send these buyers a link to the video taken by the drone. Now potential buyers can evaluate whether the property makes sense for them before they take the long trip to the Twin Cities region.
“Now they can get a really good understanding of the scope of the property from above,” Hulsey said. “They can get a more realistic portrayal when talking about an investment asset. They can see what surrounds that asset. Rather than mapping out for them that there’s a Home Depot or McDonald’s nearby, you can show them these neighboring properties from a drone point of view. It helps investors to get a better handle on that asset without even leaving their desks.”
Drones certainly sound high-tech, and they are. But Hulsey says that this technology is now becoming almost commonplace among the most marketing savvy of commercial brokers. The next frontier? 3D virtual walk-throughs. Virtual tours of properties, of course, have been popular among real estate brokers for years. 3D tours, though, are even more realistic, creating the illusion that potential buyers are actually walking through a property. Brokers can even create 3D tours for commercial properties that are not even built, relying on renderings to give potential buyers a sample of what they might want to purchase or invest in.
Hulsey said that he hasn’t yet tapped into 3D walk-throughs. But he does plan on making this technology his next big marketing investment, he said.
“Commercial real estate has been viewed as more of a slow-adopting industry when it comes to technology,” Hulsey said. “That is changing. All industries now have to adopt more quickly to new technology. Now more of the players in the industry recognize that you don’t have be bleeding edge, you just have to make sure that you are using the technology that is available to you. If you don’t, then you don’t have an edge. In our industry that is so competitive, using the latest technology to market your listings can become a real advantage.”
Hulsey said that clients come to him because of his marketing skills. He’s worked in marketing and communications for about 30 years, something that has helped as he’s built his commercial real estate business.
“Clients today understand how important marketing is. They don’t just want people who have a thorough understanding of valuation and due diligence. They also want marketing experts to showcase their properties in front of the largest number of potential buyers,” Hulsey said. “It’s a matter of saying that we need to get our listings out to the market in a big way, especially in the changing market we are now in after the Great Recession. The exceptional marketing skills are so important today.”