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The fine art of repositioning commercial properties

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Kick up the creativity

Everyone’s spouting the same advice: with commercial property sales and leasing, you have to get creative, or you won’t succeed.

No kidding. Like that’s big news (not).

The headlines make sense, but then the whining begins: “But what does that even mean?”

I’ve got commercial listings. I have vacant and unsold commercial properties. What am I not doing right?

Well, quite simply, perhaps you’re not creative ENOUGH.

Don’t market an auto dealership…

Take that auto showroom that’s vacant and listed for sale. (I know, take it, puhleeze!)

You’ve had it listed for months, but nobody’s buying old auto dealerships right now. You tell the owner you have it listed on 3 MLS systems, Craigslist, maybe Costar, Loopnet and more, and nobody’s in the market for an automobile showroom right now. Hasn’t the owner heard we’re closing dealerships, not opening them? Geez.

There, that’s the crux of your problem! You may be marketing the property but you’re NOT getting creative.

…. instead start from square one!

I have read articles just this past month of an auto showroom being purchased or leased by … a church. No kidding. The big wide open space is perfect for an auditorium/church audience. What else? How about classrooms? I just leased an old auto showroom to a group who will use it for an office/educational setting.

The medical sector is hot right now, snatching up low rent space in large buildings. One is leasing a former catalog call center to install mammogram and other radiology machines. Another is opening in a former grocery store.

Don’t market for former use, market vanilla shells

So if you have a 20,000 square-foot building that used to house a grocery store, don’t make your headline “Former Grocery Store for Rent/Sale”. Instead, market the square footage and potential users.

Who is buying/leasing space in your area right now? Medical centers or doctors’ groups? Education or retraining centers? Nonprofits looking for warehousing?

Do your homework

If you’re going to run with the big boys and say you can handle commercial, you need to know who is looking to expand/move right now. If you don’t know this, ask someone who is in the position to know. Go to Chamber of Commerce events, ask people in high level positions for your area’s economic development group, and start to educate yourself. What sectors are hot and need space?

Then don’t market a building just for the OLD use or one single use. Put it out there where a buyer/tenant can visualize the SPACE and location, and see if it can be renovated to suit his or her use.

It works. Really.

I leased an 18,000 square foot building this month, with a first floor auto showroom and auto repair garage, and vacant second floor (that was a former mail order operation). I leased the top to a group of lawyers, and the bottom to a human resources program that retrains workers.

If I had simply positioned it for another auto dealer and another mail order operation, I’d still be looking. Now I will have a fully occupied building in a month, with two brand new users.

Help them see the possibilities

The tricky part is not all tenant can see beyond what is there right now, so you have to help them see what CAN BE there, and how it can work out. I called in contractors to meet with us, the building’s owner met with his future tenants, and we drew up custom sketches on a drawing program to show them what it would look like.

It took a lot of vision, and bringing in contractors, going over the building’s plans with the tenants, and drawing sketches on paper to show them how we would convert the building for their use, but it was well worth the work.

So the next time someone tells you to “get creative” to see that commercial property, think outside the box and go out and seek users without preconceived notions of what was once in the space.

Photos courtesy Hugo90 via Flickr and House of Sims via Flickr

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. BawldGuy

    May 5, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Lady, you are the real deal. 🙂

  2. Erica Ramus

    May 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks BawldGuy!

  3. Candice A Donofrio

    May 5, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Brilliant, Erica. We’re doing the same – finding businesses who are established but in small spaces to market our larger ones to – and showing that restaurant can become medical or a construction office, a school.
    Just a jump to the left or a step to the right . . . 🙂

    • Erica Ramus

      May 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm

      Good for you! You are so right Candice… just think outside the box

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Business Marketing

Tired of “link in bio”? Here is a solution for Instagram linking

(MARKETING) The days of only one link in your Instagram bio are over. Alls.Link not only lets you link more, it gives you options for marketing and analytics too.

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Woman checking Instagram on phone

If you’re like me, you’ve probably swapped out the link in your Instagram bio 100 times. Do I share my website? A link to a product? A recent publication? Well, now you don’t have to choose!

Alls.Link is a subscription-based program that allows you to, among other things, have multiple links in your bio. I’m obsessed with the Instagram add-ons that are helping business owners to expand the platform to further engage their audiences – and this is NEEDED one.

With the basic membership ($8/month), you get up to 10 customizable Biolink Pages with shortened links (and you’ll be able to choose your own backend). You also get access to Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel for your pages. With the basic membership, you will have Alls.Link advertising on your Biolink Page. Plus, you’ll be allotted a total of 10 projects, and Biolink Pages with 20 customizable domains.

With the premium membership ($15/month), you get link scheduling for product drops and article releases, SEO and UTM parameters, and you’ll have the ability to link more socials on the Biolink Page. With this membership, you’re allotted 20 projects and Biolink Pages with 60 customizable domains.

If you’re unsure about whether or not Alls.Link is worth it (or which membership is best for you), there is a free trial option in which you’ll be granted all the premium membership capabilities.

Overall – premium membership or not – I have to say, the background colors and font choices are really fun and will take your Biolink Page to the next level. Alls.Link is definitely a program to consider if your business has a substantial Insta following and you have a lot of external material you want to share with your followers.

The day-by-day statistics are a great tool for knowing what your audience is interested in and what links are getting the most clicks. Also, the ability to incorporate Google Analytics into the mix is a big plus, especially if you’re serious about metrics.

If you have a big team (or manage multiple pages), I would suggest going premium just for the sheer quantity of domains you can customize and link, though there are various other reasons I’d also suggest to do so. Take a look and see what works for you!

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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