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Must know where office tenants are, when leases expire, square footage needed

Commercial marketing requires networking, image building

Parkway Properties features one of the most comprehensive, user-friendly Web sites in commercial real estate. Earlier this month, the successful self-administered real estate investment trust, specializing in operations, acquisition, ownership, management and leasing of office properties, announced its 76th consecutive quarterly distribution to shareholders.

The H.C. Bailey Company, located seven miles away from Parkway Properties’ downtown Jackson headquarters, does not have a Web site. Yet it is also one of Jackson’s most successful landmark real estate development and investment companies.

“We’re building a Web site, but we don’t have it up and running yet,” said Stewart Speed, president of Colony Properties, LLC, a subsidiary of H.C. Bailey Company. “Ours is a different animal. I’d characterize us as developers more than Realtors. We handle leasing and management, but mainly for our own in-house products.”

The H.C. Bailey family began its real estate empire in the 1930s in metro Jackson, and is especially known for its role in the development of Highland Colony Parkway.

“We stay in close contact with the broker community,” said Speed. “The Jackson area has a broad commercial realtor network, and if those folks are aware of your inventory, you’ll find some business there. We directly contact end-users with marketing collateral and sales pitch in person. There’s no substitute for doing that. You must make sure your net is cast pretty wide to your target audience.”

Commercial Realtors use a variety of marketing techniques to reach customers, but most agree that word of mouth is the most effective.

“Your record speaks for itself, especially around here,” said Kenneth Herring, in charge of sales and marketing for the Kerioth Corporation in Jackson. “We don’t do a great deal of listings. We reach people through either brokers setting up meetings or people talking. We just recently started advertising, and are working on a massive marketing campaign for The Township at Colony Park, a mixed-use development. In the next 12 months, we’ll be putting up another 10 to 12 buildings of Class A office space with live-above condos, townhouses, single-family homes, retail shops and a fitness center. We have a marketing strategy person working on it right now.”

Commercial Realtors agree that networking through community involvement is vital and they frequent chamber functions and high-profile events. “It’s hard to make all of them, but it’s good to have a face there, especially for larger groups,” said Herring.

“Networking for office space is knowing where the office tenants are, when their leases are coming up, the square footage they have and need,” he said. “Direct contact with the office manager or managing partner is the best way to find out. A majority of people in this market calls us. It’s very rare that we miss anyone of considerable size without putting a proposal on the table.”

Buck Covington, president of marketing for Parkway Development, uses an umbrella approach: direct marketing, shotgun and “good ole pressing the flesh,” he said.

“We do a lot of direct advertising,” he explained. “The shotgun approach is just that, getting your message out to anyone who listens. Many times, we’ll pummel an area with logos and properties in three or four newspapers, and we make sure to promote our company along with the properties we’re representing. That kind of advertising doesn’t really grab someone, but you’re covering the market to sell your image so people associate you with real estate. Pressing flesh on the street is simply meeting people and seeing how you can assist them. Community service is also a huge deal, making sure you’re associated with charities, volunteer work, and so on. It all goes along with marketing an image.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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