Q&A With Dylan Simon, Investment Sales at Colliers International
I am constantly touting the benefits of blogging and social media for CRE professionals. I have been doing it for years. I started my own news aggregator, The News Funnel, with the specific purpose of providing a distribution platform for much of this great content.
As part of this passion and focus, I am always looking to uncover as many great examples of how real estate professionals tap into the power of blogging to build their own business. I recently found a great one in Dylan Simon of Colliers International. I spoke to Dylan about how he uses Content Marketing to build his brand, and his business.
Michael: When did you initially launch your website and what were your goals?
Dylan: I launched my website in late-2014, primarily to host my thoughts on the commercial real estate investment market. Through marketing various assets and producing research on the Seattle real estate market, I began to develop investment theses about both known investment markets, as well as newly-developing markets. During meetings I noticed that clients would gravitate towards a particular thesis and want to know more. It became more efficient to write blog posts to describe my thoughts on the market. The first such post, Saturday Mornings & the Urban Myth, was based on an investment thesis I termed “The Importance of Saturday Mornings”. Once a prominent CEO of an investment company asked if he could use this concept in talking to his board, it was then that I figured I better write about it.
M: How does positioning yourself as a “thought leader” help your business?
D: Investors are always looking for what’s next. Whether attempting to decipher the timing of a market cycles or discovering an emerging submarket, our industry is hungry for knowledge. Thought leadership allows us (me and our Seattle Multifamily Team) to stay on the front-end of that conversation. Our blog posts, research and thoughtful marketing packages keep the phones ringing. Owners looking to sell an asset call us to better understand the market, as do buyers – even when we are not the brokers selling a particular asset. Many times buyers want our opinion on the value of an asset or viewpoint on the trajectory or durability of an investment market or asset. It’s become a very powerful tool in marketing assets – thought leadership inspires buyers to trust our guidance, thereby changing the typical “broker” conversation.
M: Where does the content come from on your blog?
D: Much of what I blog about is based on conversations with clients, reading multiple news sources each day and developing marketing proposals and campaigns. I endeavor to cross-pollinize with other industries, especially those that are important to Seattle’s local economy. For example, GeekWire is a favorite read for me to keep in touch with Seattle’s tech community. When it comes to deeper economic study I follow a few notable blogs: Zero Hedge, Calculated Risk and Seeking Alpha. For down-and-dirty market-level news I follow all of the neighborhood blogs – they give a very good sense of both the flavor of a neighborhood and thoughts and opinions of the lifeblood of our industry, actual users of space.
M: How do you get your blog out into the marketplace and to potential and current clients?
D: We send a weekly eNewsletter with our latest blog post every Friday. Its distribution spans the spectrum of real estate investors, developers, lenders and appraisers – pretty much everyone within our industry’s ecosystem. While our distribution is relatively curated (~7,000 people) we generally maintain a 27% to 30% open rate, with a +10% click-through rate – about 3x industry average.
M: What are your tips for a real estate professional who is considering writing their own blog?
D: Dig in and do it. Start it today and make it interesting and personal. The toughest part is getting started and maintaining consistency. The key isn’t making a post exorbitantly lengthy or complex, it’s finding a strain of thought that is topical and thought provoking. Although it sounds cliché, just start writing and publishing, that is the key.
M: What’s next for you and your marketing efforts?
D: Video and dynamic marketing packages. We’ve had huge success with market campaigns using video storytelling. Selling 80 Main Apartments is a terrific case study for us. We produced a short video that overviewed the asset, but more importantly highlighted the investment thesis. On a typical property marketing campaign maybe a few hundred people visit a property website. In the case of 80 Main, that numbers soared into the thousands. We exceeded our pricing goal, which was terrific. Yet, what was most satisfying is that our marketing was so strong our client forwarded the video to friends and family – they were really excited about our work. From here we would like to produce fully dynamic marketing packages based on Google Earth and a live website that pulls in real-time data about the market.
Dylan is a technophile, urbanist and investment sales advisor at Colliers International in Seattle, where he specializes in the sale of apartment buildings and development land with a focus on urban strategies.
Connect with Dylan on LinkedIn.