Brevity: The Long and the Short of It

In the commercial real estate industry, the only thing more valuable than real estate itself is time. Spend a day with a CRE broker, developer or investor and the ticking of the market clock is almost audible; phrases like “time kills deals,”  “speed to market,” and “hurry up and wait” are tossed around more than footballs.

A deeply ingrained sense of urgency combined with the sheer value of stakeholder time translate to an expectation of efficiency and brevity. So when marketing within the CRE industry, success often hinges on your ability to embrace these values. You have 6-8 seconds to capture the average person’s attention. After over a decade in CRE marketing, I’ll bet you have less than half of that in CRE.

Virtual reality is a powerful tool for generating empathy and a visceral connection to the built environment.
— Liz O'Carroll


1. Create a memorable experience. You only have 4-5 seconds to get my attention! Shock me, wow me, but PLEASE don’t bore me! Marketing is too expensive to be telling the same old story the same old way. Consider leveraging emerging technologies that immerse a tenant in a powerful story of place. Whether you use mobile VR to demonstrate you understand an entertainment company’s industry or augmented reality when presenting to Game Freak or Features (co-owners of Pokemon Go with Nintendo,) there are countless new platforms for telling the story of place. Increase the likeliness that your audience walks away remembering your presentation AND your project by making it stand out from the start.

2. Cut to the chase. Make sure you identify one compelling differentiator in those first 4-5 seconds. Get right to the heart of the value proposition. Too often time or layout is wasted on content that only aligns you with your competition. What sets your project apart?  Tell me and tell me fast or I won’t find the need to watch or read any more.

Appeal to human emotions. Don’t be afraid to trigger desire, incite laughter or appeal to your audience’s dreams.
— Liz O'Carroll

3. Don't be so serious. Look at brands outside of real estate that have been wildly successful with marketing and advertising. Apple, Nike, Budweiser. Not only are their campaigns considered industry benchmarks, they generate brand loyalty and have heavy enough impact on the bottom line that they are considered successful from any angle.  What do they all have in common? They appeal to human emotions. Don’t be afraid to trigger desire, incite laughter or appeal to your audience’s dreams. Mix up the usual macro to micro CRE video format, and instead of starting with a location analysis, start with a fun and sexy scene that brings the project to life and reinforces that top talent will be dying to work there. Consider having fun with some immersive technology. Virtual reality is a powerful tool for generating empathy and a visceral connection to the built environment. Why not show you’re building the kind of real estate that inspires a deeper connection, a sense of place, by creating a deliverable that does the same?



Before you use the above tips to decide, start by doing a little homework. (Assume we're talking about a singular deliverable here)

  • Make sure you understand who your audience is (likely prospective tenants and their brokers - but what kinds of tenants? What do tenants in your target industries care about? What trends are they embracing in workplace? What do their company cultures look like and what kind of talent wars are they waging?) Ultimately you want to keep your audience’s values, culture and motivators top of mind so you can determine why they might lease your project over the one next door.

  • Think about how your information will be consumed and shared. Is this a video that will be unveiled at an event but also featured on the website and shown in presentations? Do you want an immersive experience but you need to cater to a variety of demographics and group sizes? Mixed reality may not be the answer, but more traditional forms of visualization combined with mobile VR could be perfect! Circumstances and environment are important factors to consider in creating all marketing deliverables.
  • Evaluate your competition. What differentiators have they identified and how are they communicating them? What do their deliverables look like? How can you do things differently? Don't waste time and money on emphasizing the same things everyone highlights, (unless it's an important "check the box" for tenants). Too often in real estate we’re simply mimicking formulaic approaches. This is what has kept us in the cycle of telling the same old stories the same old ways.

Why not do something bold with your 4 seconds?

About Liz O'Carroll

Liz O’Carroll is a Managing Director at Studio 216 and is currently focused on expanding Studio 216’s footprint across the United States and Canada. She taps her background in marketing and over a decade of experience in commercial real estate to offer clients a unique perspective on leveraging immersive technology.