Every day, people form impressions of brands from touch points such as advertisements, articles, conversations with clients and colleagues, and service experiences. Unless consumers are actively shopping, much of this exposure may appear wasted, but it is not. What happens when something triggers the impulse to buy? These accumulated impressions then become crucial because they shape the initial-consideration set: the small number of brands consumers regard at the outset as potential purchasing options.
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The accumulated experiences are part of a journey the customer takes when interacting with your commercial real estate brokerage. This journey is referred to as the buying cycle, or Customer Decision Journey (CDJ). What does the CDJ look like in practice, and how can it be applied to your commercial real estate marketing? Here’s an example, paraphrased from a scenario originally described in a McKinsey article on this subject.
Diane is on a business trip from New York to Chicago. Once she lands in Chicago, Diane grabs a cab to her appointment. As she approaches the downtown area, she spots something and asks the driver to slow down – it’s a commercial building that is leasing office space (Diane’s company is thinking of opening an office in Chicago and this building looks interesting).
The signage that grabs Diane’s attention promotes a web address for more information. Diane uses her phone to go to the web site, which is optimized for mobile phones and which is focused solely on the particular listing. The leasing company’s site provides relevant details about the property—price, layout, amenities—and a direct link to the broker. From within the site, Diane can submit her contact information to connect with the broker and for access to details about the area’s real-estate trends, such as recent sales and rentals and mortgage.
Because the leasing company now has Diane’s contact info, the broker sends Diane an e-mail message asking if she would like to schedule an appointment to talk about the office space. When they connect by phone later that afternoon, Diane has already been sent a link to the details about the space for her reference during the discussion.
Let’s break down this example and examine how it fits into the four stages of the Customer Decision Journey.
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Diane was already familiar with the brokerage through posts she had read on LinkedIn and blogs on topics she had researched. In fact, her familiarity with the logo is what initially caught Diane’s eye in the cab – she wasn’t actively looking for property options at that point in time but because the commercial real estate brokerage brand was top of mind she took note and considered the signage.
The signage prompted her to “Get Property Details”, followed by a web address. The brokerage came through on its promise by delivering Diane a mobile optimized site that focused exclusively on the property in question, providing just enough information for Diane to determine if the property initially made sense and next steps – contact the broker and receive more details about the property.
Diane certainly is not going to conduct a deal over the phone, but her initial experiences helped to build trust online toward the brokerage. She now has had multiple, professional exchanges, and we all know, unless and until there is a certain level of trust, a deal won’t happen.
Every experience along the buying cycle, or customer decision journey, is an opportunity to build trust, or erode it. Diane’s experiences result in a satisfied client. In fact, Diane is so satisfied that next time she reads a blog post by the brokerage firm she shares it on her social media network.
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Today’s empowered consumer is driving the marketing equation. You need to not only align all elements of your commercial real estate marketing— internet strategy, spending, channel management, and message—with the journey that consumers undertake when they make purchasing decisions but also of integrating these elements across your CRE management practices and your organization. When you understand this journey and direct your commercial real estate marketing spending and messaging to the moments of maximum influence, you stand a much greater chance of reaching your prospect in the right place at the right time with the right message. And this, after all, is the goal of marketing.