“Marketing for CRE Firms” is a four-part series from CrowdStreet CMO Molly Moore. In the series, Moore dives into the strategies CRE Sponsors can use to build brand credibility and drive demand for their commercial real estate offerings.

Investors have a plethora of options when it comes to how and where to invest their money. Most of these options are ones that have been available, accessible and understood for many years. From the stock market to residential real estate, there is a sense of established norms that people feel comfortable with.

Access to commercial real estate investments, on the other hand, is relatively new to the majority of investors. In fact, most of us know that it wasn’t until the passing of the JOBS Act, and advancements in technology that allow for online crowdfunding, that this type of investment was even really on the radars of most investors.

The advantage for CRE sponsors in this scenario is that “retail investors” in commercial real estate presents as an exciting new avenue for wealth creation. The disadvantage lies in that many CRE firms have not spent the time or resources necessary to build up a credible online image.

As the world of CRE has historically been relatively insular and played out in large part by word of mouth and on a basis more akin to face-to-face relationships and networking, it wasn’t considered a high priority by many CRE sponsors to ensure that their online brand image matched the reputation they’d established out in the broader market of the average accredited investor.

Consider this from the Perspective of an Investor

If the choice is made to invest in a company listed on a public stock exchange, it takes only a quick Internet search to uncover that company’s website, the latest news stories it has been associated with and a full history of its stock price data.

If an investor were to visit the website of a company they were considering investing in and found that the look and feel of the website and the company’s brand didn’t provide a feeling or overall experience of being one of value, chances are high that the investor will come to second guess placing their funds with the company.

Whether the look and feel fell short because of poor design choices, spelling errors, inconsistencies in information across different pages, a poor user experience, or any other factor that plays into how a company’s brand is perceived online—at the end of the day, consumers have very high standards as it relates to what they expect from a company’s online presence.

Now consider commercial real estate. An investor doesn’t typically have access to seeing the hard numbers and success (or failure) data related to a CRE sponsors track record. With this type of information not available, the only thing an investor can look to in helping to determine whether a CRE investment makes sense for their portfolio is by searching for that CRE sponsor’s website and any other online research that can be gathered.

This is why ensuring that your CRE company’s online image is pristine is of such importance.

Establishing Credibility with Investors

So how can a CRE sponsor go about establishing the credibility needed to compete—from a brand image perspective—with publicly traded companies? How can a CRE sponsor ensure that the investments they’re offering to the public will be seen in a comparable and valuable light with potential investors?

Projecting the credibility necessary for investors to feel confident placing their money with you requires a concerted effort. This effort starts by completing a thorough audit of your company’s online image. This entails working with a neutral third-party who is able to review your brand in an unbiased fashion.

From logo and color palette, to web design, functionality and brand voice/tone, all aspects of a company’s online image must be weighed together and viewed both from a 30,000 foot perspective and one that is focused on even the smallest details. In fact, this is exactly why CrowdStreet went through the process of a rebrand earlier this year—to ensure that our online image matched the premium experience and product that our investors and CRE professionals have come to expect from us.

Because whether we like it or not, in this age of commercial real estate shifting from a face-to-face endeavor, to one steeped in the digital realms, investors are now often judging an investment’s value and attractiveness by the way it, and the company, looks online.

So being able to communicate a sense of confidence, trust, reliability and premium offering is foundational in the pursuit of attracting new investors to your commercial real estate offerings.

Earning Trust with Consistent Communications

Another aspect of building credibility for your CRE firm comes about when you’re able to stay in front of investors and top of mind. As face-to-face interactions are rapidly being replaced by digital touchpoints (such as email), it’s absolutely essential that CRE sponsors are staying on top of the look, feel and messaging that goes out on behalf of their company.

From consistent branding and tone of voice, to regular outreach, you’ll want to establish an email and social media plan that keeps your communications consistent and communicate a clear sense of the value your CRE offerings have for the investors who receive them.

CrowdStreet Partner Marketing Program

To assist Sponsors in meeting these investor expectations, CrowdStreet developed a Partner Marketing Program to ensure that all Sponsors have access to the online marketing resources necessary to attract new investors with digital advertising, compelling content and a polished company and brand image.

The CrowdStreet Partner Marketing Program was developed in tandem with PMG, a content marketing and demand generation agency, to enable the success of our valued partners. The program offers CRE Sponsors the marketing support needed to reach new investors online through a variety of marketing packages designed to help you build your company’s brand and drive increased demand for your investment opportunities.

With 15+ years of experience, PMG knows what it takes to attract investors. From creating a trustworthy brand image to developing and maintaining consistent communications, this program has your digital marketing needs covered. Learn more about the CrowdStreet Partner Marketing Program.