Colliers International in Canada wants to dominate the online space with a first-of-its kind digital marketing campaign.
This month the company launched an integrated online advertising campaign with The Globe and Mail and RENX Commercial Real Estate News (the parent site of Property Biz Canada). The initiative will highlight a Colliers box ad displaying featured client properties and a search function for all commercial real estate articles on theGlobeandMail.com and on RENX.ca/commercial websites.
As well as alerting users of the latest listings, the banner features a property search and feed functionality, a first for the Canadian commercial real estate industry.
“We really want to be seen as the number one commercial brokerage, commercial agency firm for online marketing,” said Lex Perry, the Vancouver-based director of marketing and communications for Colliers International in Canada. “The second objective, which in some ways is a more personal one, is to raise the standard of online marketing for our clients who are trying to lease and sell their commercial properties.”
Perry, a veteran of the Australia and New Zealand real estate markets with Colliers, sees the Canadian market as “a little underserviced” in comparison. “When you look at those markets, I think the industry here can perform a whole lot better.”
Specifically, Perry wants information to be readily available for buyers or leasors of office space in Canada, he said. “More importantly, it will be presented in a more easily digestable way. Right now there is a lot of clutter. There are a lot of places to get information and it is not always presented with the best foot forward.”
The mixing of Colliers’ brand marketing with listing is deliberate and part of the firm’s intention to raise the standard of property marketing for the industry. Perry hopes other firms will follow its aggressive lead with regards to how it advertises listings with its Globe and Renx.ca agreements. “It will push us to be better, it will create innovation in the marketplace and most importantly it will improve the overall experience for the end user.”
The first step to the digital marketing push was to revamp Colliers online presence through its main corporate website, ColliersCanada.com. “That was a prerequisite before I could get into the online advertising arena,” said Perry.
Perry views the Canadian marketplace as far less competitive than countries such as Australia and New Zealand, where he has adopted many of the marketing innovations of the residential property sellers.
Perry said the major surprise for him when he came to Canada two years ago was landlords’ approach to listings. “Landlords seemed to be quite comfortable with a standard of property marketing that I thought was quite low,” he said. “Whack a sign up, post a listing on Space4Lease or CraigsList and send out an email blast and `My marketing work here is done.’”
The major difference between the Canadian market and Australia/New Zealand is that in those countries, the vendor would typically pay for the marketing effort out of its pocket as part of appointing an agent. “What happens as a result of that is the brokerage firms need to be a little more accountable about how they spend, and the quality of it, and the landlords are a lot more engaged as to what is going on. They want to sign off on everything and make sure they are getting good value for their dollar.
Perry said that more emphasis on digital marketing makes great sense in an industry in which so much activity is already happening over the Internet. “Real estate companies have partnered with news companies for a 100 years,” he said. “We have always done deals for space in papers, but we really haven't moved online beyond posting listings.
Most of our clients get our news online not by buying the paper. So in terms of getting brand exposure associated to news stories, related to commercial properties, this is something that has been boiling for a couple of years and I think that we are going to see a lot more of it.”