Importance of the commercial agent website
20 July, 2011 | Web design
Commercial property suicide
It seems ridiculous in this day and age to still be banging on about the importance of a good company website, but the more time I spend dealing with the commercial property market, the more I feel like I’m working in a ‘land that time forgot’.
While the business world is considering digital strategies for mobile, SEO and social media, much of the commercial property sector still hasn’t understood the importance of their website. It is alarming the amount of commercial property practices that seem to think it is acceptable to present themselves to the world via out-dated technology, complacent design and generally poor marketing communication.
Even the archaic marketing practices of the traditionally conservative accountancy and Legal professions look positively innovative compared to some that I see within the commercial property sector. Why sectors populated by highly qualified and intelligent professionals should exhibit, what is essentially a lack of common sense, has always been a mystery to me.
Is commercial property really all about relationships?
It may well be true; you’ve worked hard to build up your network. So are you just going to stop now and rely on that alone? If you stand still you die, so where are those new contacts and new opportunities coming from and most importantly, how do you standout from the pack?
The average commercial property practice will derive around two thirds of it new business prospects from its website, in some form or other. That could be prospective clients visiting your website:
- Via an ‘organic’ Google search for Chartered Surveyors or RICS in your area
- After receiving a personal recommendation
- Following an initial first meeting with you
These visits are about building confidence, in you and your company. The customer uses the website to build a better understanding of your company’s personality, to validate what you have said and to position you against your competition.
So, why would the owner of the latest prestigious office development believe that you could represent them correctly, if your own marketing was poor? Yes ‘relationship’ is important within the commercial property market, but why allow a poor website and brand to hinder that.
Your book is being judged by its cover
So your website is a vital ‘touch point’ during a potential clients initial fact-finding. Even if they like your ‘talk’ and your ‘walk’ comes highly recommended, emotional and sometimes irrational conclusions will be made about you and your company based on your website.
On the whole it’s mid-to-small Chartered Surveyor and Commercial Agent websites where the greatest atrocities are committed. At its worst, a poor website and out-dated branding projects a slovenly approach to business.
Of course, if you wait long enough, everything comes around again including that logo you had designed in 1984, the problem is you are a Chartered Surveyor, not a painfully cool Shoreditch bar, designed in retro 80’s chic.
Commercial agents are in the service sector
Let’s be frank, any number of agents in your primary market can supply the client with the same service and skills. What makes you so different and why should they instruct you? Your website has to visually convey that ‘difference’, and in only 3 seconds.
As with any service, Chartered Surveyors and Commercial Agents are marketing an intangible product. Intangible, because the client only knows how good the ‘product’ is after they have purchased. No opportunity to road test, to sample, to touch or interact with the product. Therefore when marketing a service, that which is tangible - office, staff, brochures and off course websites – need to work hard to establish ‘difference’ and engage. Your website is there to convey your company’s unique attributes and position within the local property market place. If done well, it will establish an emotional engagement with the client.
Words are cheap
Knowledge, integrity, expertise, professionalism - all words used by Chartered Surveyors to describe themselves whether they are great or whether they are terrible commercial agents. Consequently these words have become devalued, perhaps even meaningless.
It is the environment that these words exist in that will give them any chance of delivering value and impact, an environment that is an online creative interpretation of your company and its values.
Great opportunity for you
All of this poor marketing communication practice and out-dated digital strategy within the commercial property sector is of course a great commercial opportunity for you, my enlightened and dynamic Chartered Surveyor. It is a very easy way to get a march on your competition.
Web is the environment to project all that is good about your company and to convey a personality what makes you unique. All you need now is to find the right web design agency to help you. Where are you going to find them?
Philip Burrows Marketing Consultant