On Business Tech Takes - Developer Goes Digital to Lease Office Building

Winter 2012

Electronic and social media marketing may not yet spell the demise of glossy brochures, tombstone ads and other traditional marketing techniques to lease commercial real estate, but they are additional and powerful tools that can be applied, along with more common methods.

Case in point is 1776 Wilson Boulevard, a new project under development by Skanska USA Commercial Development Inc., in the Rosslyn submarket of Arlington, Va. The project, a five-story, Class A, office building with first floor retail, is designed to LEED Platinum standards. The property is within walking distance of two subway lines, multiple shops, restaurants and hotels.

Sarah Hubbard

Sarah Hubbard

Sarah Hubbard, leasing manager for Skanska; Christine Delucchi, president and owner, Delucchi Plus and Blue Bug Digital; and David Menda, senior digital account manager for Delucchi, Skanska’s marketing firm, spoke at the NAIOP Development ‘12 conference regarding the innovative ways the project is being marketed.

Delucchi Plus is frequently asked if CEOs of major companies conduct Google searches to find office space. “The executive starts with the broker and determines where the company wants to move. However, either before or after the property tour, the company will most likely do a Google search, view a video on the project and conduct research on the landlord and brokerage team. Delucchi Plus does not want to be fooled into thinking that the prospective firm is not using Google as a tool to assess the project and validate their decision regarding the building and the submarket,” remarked Christine Delucchi.

Christine Delucchi

Christine Delucchi

Hubbard noted that for the 1776 Wilson Boulevard project, “Skanska decided to do a tour book, rather than a brochure. The tour book replicated a brochure, but was slightly more customized for the prospective tenant. It was glossy and bound but changeable,” she said.

Skanska also produced “A Day in the Life,” which was an amusing video distributed to tour participants. The material discussed how employees might interact with the building and the neighborhood, and also outlined available transportation options near the property.

“Skanska conducted a six month ad campaign on CoStar,” but we were not getting the targeted click-through rate, so we stopped it and allocated the marketing dollars elsewhere,” noted Hubbard. The company sent the traditional email blasts to brokers, sending out flyers or announcements. The blasts were not working so the firm turned to digital marketing. “Brokers receive nearly 20 daily email blasts so the information must stand out for brokers to open it — right now they are mostly hitting delete,” said Hubbard.
Menda noted that Delucchi used an array of tools to get the 1776 Wilson Boulevard project noticed on the Web. These included: social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, videos, digital public relations, outreach to the local media and bloggers who cover real estate, as well as creation of a dedicated website, www.1776wilsonblvd.com.

Menda said that before these strategies were launched, it was difficult to get the 1776 website to rank at the top of search engines. However, after implementing the digital marketing strategies and making sure each effort was operating effectively, it was easier to control the information that was being shown online about the project.

How are these efforts paying off? Hubbard said that a key prospect recently toured the two top floors of the building. Shortly thereafter, Hubbard was contacted by the Delucchi team that the wife of the prospect “friended” the project on Facebook. “Skanska inferred that the prospect may have been talking about the building with his wife who then went to the Facebook page. It’s all about how the information is pushed out,” commented Hubbard.

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1776 Wilson Blvd