BLOG POST BY SARAH MALCOLM, CHIEF DIGITAL STRATEGIST AT THE NEWS FUNNEL
I’ve been in and around the commercial real estate marketing scene for years and made some really great friends that I respect and love learn from. I wanted the #CRE industry to see the amazing work and how these creative innovators think. So this is my #KeepingCRESocial Q&A series with the top marketing folks in our industry killing the game!
Sarah: Tell me about your background and why you decided to work in commercial real estate.
Kevin: For nearly twenty years, I've had a front row seat to the transformation of marketing. Through the rise of the web, to the birth of social media and into the data-driven revolution, my career has been focused on driving change and innovation in marketing for globally recognized brands. As a Full-Stack Marketer, my experience has been shaped by years working inside or supporting agencies, Fortune 50 Enterprises and countless startups. From launching the first Facebook experience for one of the world's largest telecommunications companies to introducing the world to the most recognizable product in Artificial Intelligence, my focus has always been on capitalizing on innovative ideas to drive business results.
Commercial Real Estate has the potential to benefit from innovation more than any industry. Whether through technology, experience design or marketing innovation, the next generation of brokers will find themselves right in the middle of a seismic shift in how relationships are identified, formed and nurtured. The expectations of clients when it comes to their experience is changing. They expect Amazon level convenience, speed and personalization. The opportunity to support the Next Generation of Brokers as they navigate the changing landscape and innovate in new ways taps directly into my desire to explore, experiment and redefine the status quo.
S: Tell me about your current role and about your company.
K: I lead marketing for RealMassive, the fastest growing online marketplace for Commercial Real Estate. Our data-driven approach enables us to create an ecosystem of commercial real estate products and solutions to rapidly inform and influence behaviors based on market trends and projections. We're currently building the most comprehensive, real-time commercial real estate database to provide transparency for brokers and empower them to optimize their listings, educate their clients and dramatically improve deal velocity.
My focus is on deeply understanding the needs of the community and empathizing with the challenges they face on a daily basis to create an experience that improves their business. With RealMassive's amazing technology, our team is able to leverage data and insights to deliver relevant information in personalized, targeted ways that provide value and utility for our audience while simultaneously reinforcing our commitment to an open data environment.
S: Who or what do you look to for inspiration?
K: As they say, Inspiration comes in many forms. For me, it's being naturally curious and committed to exploring. You can explore an idea, a place or an emotion and be inspired to your core based on what you discover. The more you place yourself in the world or try to deeply understand the people and things around you, the more your senses can lead you. Sometimes it's something you see or hear; other times it's something you smell or the way something makes you feel. Inspiration can strike in random, mundane moments if your open to receiving it.
S: What are the digital marketing trends you are most excited about?
K: For the past 10 years, deciphering value from hype has been a challenge in digital marketing. It's easy to get caught up in the promise of technology without understanding the role it plays in context of the business. While I'm excited about virtual reality and the prospect of autonomous vehicles, the practical implementation into commercial real estate is far away from where we are today. While those big ideas are exciting and fun to imagine, the immediate opportunity of IoT (Internet of Things) is something tangible with the potential to deeply impact every aspect of the industry. Without question, "data is the new oil." As we begin to improve the use cases for IoT, not only will we gain a better understanding of how space is utilized, it will become a competitive advantage for those looking for modern, connected buildings that can inform and guide everyone. Many of the use cases we've seen to date have mimicked the "smart home" revolution, but Industrial IoT has the potential to transform spaces across retail, industrial and offices. The insights marketers can derive from this data will create new ways to target and message people with contextually relevant information based on where they are to enhance the experience.
S: What advice do you have for marketing folks just beginning their careers in commercial real estate?
K: Embrace a culture of experimentation. In any industry, it can be easy to simply fall into the "this is how we always do things" trap. Marketers have always been the first to embrace new ideas and opportunities. Build a network that extends beyond commercial real estate so you are surrounded by people who are solving challenges that may appear to be different than yours on the surface, but are actually more relevant than you might realize. You have a unique opportunity to innovate inside one of our economy's largest industries. These opportunities don't come around every day, so take advantage of the environment you're in and lead by example.
S: What technology do you use to help you do your job?
K: We leverage the traditional marketing technology stack elements to assist with automation, targeting, personalization, etc. across email, paid media, and social. However, we also utilize highly specialized technology that allows us to analyze a vast amount of data to derive insights on local markets, property types and trends, etc. that informs our marketing strategy. As an open-digital marketplace, we're constantly looking at how our customers behave both on and off our technology. The more we can learn about our users, the more we can improve our products to ensure we are delivering an experience that exceeds their expectations. Once we've done that, these tools help us ensure that we are delivering the right message, to the right person at the right time.
S: What is the biggest opportunity you see for our industry and how do you see marketing helping to solve that issue?
K: I'm certainly biased in my answer, but creating data availability and transparency is the single biggest catalyst to innovation in our industry. Not only will an open data environment spawn a more robust ecosystem of technology solutions, but it will improve the way brokers work and accelerate deals. The first phase of any transformation is always focused on the process and operations. We're well on our way to "digitizing" many aspects of CRE, but the real transformation begins when brokers have access to real-time information that enables them to provide a better experience for their clients.
Marketers in CRE need to educate the industry on the value and promise of an open data environment. The challenge we have is that the term "data" is obtuse and many are hesitate to reveal and share data that they feel provides them with a competitive advantage. Unfortunately, if you see the limited amount of data you hold as a competitive advantage, than you are failing to recognize the opportunity you could create if you had 10 times, 100 times, 1000 times more data points at your fingertips. As marketers, we need to educate and inform while offering a vision of what the future can look like. We need the industry to understand the opportunity being left on the table by isolating data behind walled gardens and isolating the industry from emerging buyers.
S: Ok last question… You finish this Q&A and you remember you have a lotto ticket and forgot to check the numbers. You check the numbers and you discover you won $10,000,000. What do you do?
K: Invest in ideas to improve the lives of those living with Mental Health challenges and Parkinson's Disease. There are brilliant people all around the world with ideas that can dramatically improve quality of life for people struggling with depression, dementia, and degenerative brain diseases that simply can't obtain the funding they need to bring these ideas to life. Advancements with NLP, AI and Facial Recognition create an opportunity to anticipate tremors, behavioral shifts, etc. so that caregivers can proactively manage those around them before issues arise. Like CRE, Healthcare is also an industry that is currently focused on reactive technologies to improve process and operations versus looking for ways to influence the process from the beginning to change the outcome. As someone who has lost a parent to complications directly related to Parkinson's Disease and was raised by another parent who struggles with Depression, I have first hand experience in how little is being done and how much opportunity exists.
And yes, I would still be leading marketing at RealMassive.
To read more #KeepingCRESocial posts, click here.
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If you are interested in booking Sarah Malcolm as a speaker feel free to reach out directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.