At The News Funnel, we are always on the hunt for influential bloggers that can all learn a thing or two from. I recently started following Coy Davidson, Senior VP of Colliers International in Houston, TX and one of the most influential bloggers in the industry. His blog, The Tenant Advisor, combines his passion for economics and commercial real estate with the constantly evolving technological changes. He is one of the best resources to learn about the impact that technology and changing demographics has on the real estate world.
His 22 years of experience in the industry makes him an expert in a wide range of categories, so I couldn’t wait to discuss his blogging strategies with him. It was such a pleasure to chat with Coy about his experience as a real estate blogger and the business he’s gained as a result.
Michael: When and why did you start blogging?
Coy: I started blogging in September of 2009 after researching what other successful bloggers were doing from various B2B industries. One of the biggest challenges a broker faces from a business development perspective is simply educating the marketplace as to who you are and what you do. I looked around the CRE landscape and realized nobody in our industry was trying to establish a significant presence in this space, and believed it was a huge opportunity. I saw where social media was headed from a business context and it appears to be playing out just like I thought it would.
Michael: Sounds like you stay ahead of the game! Blogging can be very time-consuming. What do you hope to get out of blogging as an overarching goal?
Coy: My ultimate objective with blogging is business development. The more people who know you are, what you do and the services you provide, the more opportunities that come your way. I try to stay away from the temptation of achieving popularity versus providing value to my target audience (clients, potential clients and referrals sources). I have gone from just another respected broker in the Houston marketplace to being known all over the country. It is all about differentiating myself from my competitors with content marketing.
Michael: Personal branding is so important from a business perspective. Have you gotten any direct business as a result?
Coy: Absolutely, it didn’t happen overnight, as it took time to build visibility and a strong ranking by search engines (Google primarily). Today, after nearly 4 years, it happens much more frequently. These days, people are researching service providers online before they grant you a sales call. More than half of my blog traffic comes from Google search. I have also seen my direct referrals from colleagues in other markets increase significantly.
Michael: Where do you get your ideas/inspiration?
Coy: I try to write posts that my target audience will find useful. I stick to my niche – office leasing and corporate real estate, economic trends, technology and the Houston market. I try to think about the issues my clients face and the nuances of corporate real estate they want to better understand, as well as what trends are emerging in the workplace. What is happening in the economy is always appealing since it has such a tremendous impact on business activity and real estate fundamentals. The ideas come in many forms. Sometimes it is a question a client may ask or from the identification of emerging trends. Sometimes people just want fresh news. As a broker with our boots on the ground, we often hear of newsworthy events as they happen.
Michael: The CRE tech space is exploding with lots of new innovative sites. Which are your personal favorites?
Coy: It is refreshing to see how new innovative technology increases efficiency and how commercial real estate transactions are initiated and executed. My personal favorites are the ones that I use most often and are relevant to what I do as a tenant rep. This would include Costar’s mobile app (CoStar Go), TenEight and Lease Matrix.
Michael: What is your social media strategy and how do you use it to get your message out?
Coy: My social media strategy is to build visibility and credibility and leverage the speed and reach of the Internet. Real Estate has always been a social business. The business value of social media is the connection. I don’t just blast out content; I engage and get to know people via online platforms. Social media is another tool to ultimately get face-to-face with potential clients. My blog is the centerpiece of my online efforts and popular social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are tools to distribute relevant content and engage with new people.
Michael: Do you have any tips or advice for new bloggers?
Coy: Strive to be informative and entertaining, people do not want to read a bunch of self-promotional content and most importantly be patient. It takes time to build a blog audience. My first month of blogging my site had about 200 visitors and it slowly but steadily increased to today, where I average between 12,000-15,000 visitors per month.
Michael: How do you tie your blog in with your job at Colliers Houston?
Coy: My blog has become my primary marketing tool. I have found that when I enter a sales call now, I come in pre-qualified and don’t have to spend any time espousing my qualifications and can focus the discussion on the potential clients real estate issues. People research who they are considering doing business with online before they grant you a face-to-face meeting. From a branding perspective, I worked closely with our corporate office to adhere to our branding guidelines. In the beginning I was concerned how senior leadership both at the corporate level and our Houston office would view my social media efforts, but they have been very supportive of my initiatives. One interesting fact is that my blog receives more than twice the traffic than that of our company website.
Michael: Wow, that’s impressive. It seems that your efforts have landed you lots of national recognition. How's business in Houston?
Coy: Houston was one of the last markets to enter the recession and one of the first to emerge. Our job growth has been the strongest of any major market in the country since the recession ended and transaction activity reflects that. The fact that the energy industry has been so strong and Houston is the energy capital of the world has driven economic expansion in our city. Most companies are expanding in Houston both in the office using and industrial sectors. The volume of leasing activity is near pre-recession levels and the construction crane is now a familiar sight. Houston has also gained preferred market status from investors and the number of trophy property transactions has been astounding. If I had to sum it up in one word it would be “brisk.”