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Commercial property marketing in a difficult market

Recessions and economic downturns are never pleasant for those in the commercial property market, which is seen by many as a bell-weather for the wider economy, being one of the first sectors to feel the impact of recessions and downturns. However, there are positive steps that you can take to keep the wolf from the door. Trust us, we’ve been there

Promoting and marketing commercial property under difficult economic conditions, when fewer businesses are looking to grow, can seem counter-intuitive, but maintaining a high profile in a tough market is even more important in a tough market than it is in times of plenty.

From the perspective of property owners, managers and surveyors, it is a question of being tenacious and looking under every stone to identify businesses who may buy or lease commercial premises. Every opportunity needs to be pursued and this means ensuring that the profile of a business in the market, along with those of individual properties, is kept as high as possible.

Maintaining market profile

As recessions bite, whatever the cause, the “feel-good-factor” evaporates. Confidence falls and consumers, worried about their jobs and livelihoods, look to reduce their spending. As consumer spending falls, many businesses suffer from a lack of revenue, confidence takes a further knock and things can begin to spiral down. Unfortunately, some businesses will cease trading.

A very visible result of this is an increase in vacant shops on the High Street, empty industrial units and unoccupied office buildings.

There goes the commercial property sector...

On the face of it, it’s a pretty grim situation to be in, and trying to find occupiers or buyers for empty buildings under such circumstance is challenging. However, deals are still agreed and transactions continue to happen. Recessions cause churn in the market and while it might be more difficult to find tenants and purchasers, there will be entrepreneurial businesses that see opportunities. Often through individual necessity, recessions and economic downturns spark creativity and innovation in businesses, which can lead to an increase in demand from businesses looking for space in which to grow.

As entrepreneur and best-selling author Seth Godin said: "In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible." While a marketplace in a recession may not be ‘busy’, it will be competitive. ‘Standing out’ in the crowd is perhaps more important in a tough market that it is in an easy one.

So how do you ensure that you do not become ‘invisible’ during a recession?

It is a situation that is commonly aggravated by a reduction in marketing budgets. Spending on advertising, publicity and events is often one of the first casualties of an economic downturn. The logic is easy to understand, ‘should we cut the marketing budget or make people redundant?’

However, there are numerous studies that have been conducted down the years which show that businesses who maintain marketing activities during a recession not only emerge the other side in a stronger position but, by maintaining their profile during the downturn, they are more likely to get though the tough times in good shape.

Businesses that continue to promote themselves during a recession remain prominent in the thoughts of customers (applicants and clients). By demonstrating that you remain active in a market, even when it is suffering from economic hardship, the key message you are broadcasting is one of market leadership. Conversely, suspending marketing and publicity efforts during a recession reduces your market profile; presenting an opportunity for your competitors.

In 2010, as the world began to emerge from the Global Financial Crisis, Harvard Business Review published a study into the performance of 4,700 companies across the periods before and after three recessions. The research revealed that 9% of the companies analysed “flourished after a slowdown, outperforming rivals by at least 10% in sales and profits growth.” The report outlined that the high-performing businesses had adopted strategies that involved a “delicate balance between cutting costs to survive today and investing to grow tomorrow.”

In 2005, a study by Srinivasan, Rangaswamy and Lilien “Turning adversity into advantage: Does proactive Marketing during a recession payoff?” 
suggested that ‘proactive marketing positively influences business performance during a recession’ and identified that businesses should have a strategic approach to marketing that focuses on their competition, their brand, their customers and their communication.

In your market, you will know who your competitors are and what they are doing. You will know your brand, its values and what it represents. You should also know your customers and will understand how to communicate with them. Focusing on communication is different to understanding the need for it. Broadcasting messages and demonstrating your market activity, knowledge and leadership is something that needs repeating on a regular basis. It takes time, resources and effort, and we appreciate that, in a recession, time is of the essence and resources can be thinly spread.

This is where Realiser can help. Our combination of advanced technology and human oversight allows the rapid creation of content and stories about the transactions you are involved in. It's fast, efficient and cost-effective and gives you more time to get on with the day job.