To B2B or to B2C? That is the question – in real estate public relations

Are you marketing your commercial property to businesses or consumers?  While business to business public relations was once the obvious answer to this question, marketing to consumers is becoming increasingly important for driving revenue in commercial properties.  While business to business marketing positioning strategy– particularly to leasing and investment brokers – remains critical, there are other audiences to consider.

Considering business to consumer public relations for commercial real estate – strategy setting by commercial property type:


Marketing to consumers has long been thought of as the domain of the retailers themselves – while mall owners set their media relations strategy based on reaching retail real estate brokers.  But in recent years, having a mall-wide program to support individual retailers has


become increasingly important.  Every retail owner should consider: how are we promoting the brand of each shopping center, to its core target consumers?  Digital pr strategy and special events typically play key roles in these strategies.


When brokers market an office building, they need to demonstrate to potential tenants that the location will support their business goals.  Consider: how can you position the building in

the marketplace to support those goals?  For example, professional buildings in which doctors, dentists and other service providers lease space can benefit from a brand marketed

as convenient and accessible to the surrounding community.  Many office buildings also include components that may directly benefit from a consumer public relations campaign – see the example below of Chicago’s John Hancock Center.


“Hotels are commercial properties, but they go to 0% occupancy every day at check-out time,” goes the old saying in the industry.  If you’re an owner/investor – check out the consumer marketing campaign that the hotel’s brand is running, or that the management is considering.  While the location and building quality of a hotel is certainly critical to its core value, its ongoing cash flow will be largely determined by how well its marketing program reaches consumers.


Consumers rarely need to visit distribution centers; if they do, the buildings are positioned differently, as “factory outlets” or other types of big box retail (see above).   But consumers can become a huge factor if a community opposes the development of an industrial park, or

of a specific facility.  When land use battles begin, industrial developers need to engage in a

consumer public relations campaign – and fast.


Buying, selling or refinancing your multifamily property?   B2B will do fine.  Leasing units?  Now that is a consumer public relations and marketing strategy.  In particular, most

successful multifamily owner are now engaging their potential tenant communities with

creative print advertising campaigns featuring a strong social media component.  Mobile marketing strategies are also being deployed, to reach potential renters, and drive building cash flow.

Integrating B2B and B2C – Example: Chicago’s John Hancock Center

Chicago’s John Hancock Center, the city’s delegate building to the World Federation of Great Towers, is owned by Golub & Company (B2B client).  The building has two

separate public relations strategies – one B2B (for office leasing) and one B2C (attracting consumers to the 94th Floor Observatory).

The Observatory recently held a private event during which the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup – won this year by the Chicago Blackhawks – was taken to the roof of the building, the highest point the actual Cup has ever reached, in any city that has had the honor of the Cup for the year.  After its trip to the roof, the Cup was brought to a private reception at the Observatory, where a small group of “friends of the firm” – including a few potential tenants –

were invited to have a

photo opportunity with the Stanley Cup itself.

This winter, when an ice skating rink is temporarily added to the Observatory, the

partnership with the Blackhawks will continue.  As that rolls out, the B2C campaign will continue to drive visibility for the Observatory direction – and indirectly, it will support the

B2B campaign for new tenants in the property.


How are you integrating business-to-consumer marketing strategies into your traditionally business to business commercial real estate marketing?

To contact Margy Sweeney:

Phone:  312-252-7314
Twitter: @margysweeney
LinkedIn: Margy Sweeney