Lynette Grinter is the Vice President of Marketing at Truss, the largest online marketplace for commercial real estate.
Read on for a transcript of her presentation from our April 16, 2019 Here’s How Startup Marketing Conference, where she explains how she leveraged social media to bring a B2B brand to life.
I'm with Truss. We're the largest leasing marketplace in commercial real estate. What that means is you can actually search for office space on our website and transact with the help of our brokers.
To give you a little bit of background on commercial real estate, we're the only platform to provide price transparency to small and medium-sized businesses.
We're the only ones that are showing you pricing on 100 percent of our listings. Think about that. You can shop online for shoes. You can shop online for a vacation, a car, a home, but not for office space. So, that's really incredible. That is one of the reasons why I joined Truss.
We're definitely disrupting the space. It's really fun to be a part of explaining that to the world and helping out small businesses as they're growing outside of their spaces.
Another stat about us is that Truss brokers save our clients an average of 19 percent on their leases. As you go through the commercial leasing process when you're finding office space or coworking space – retail or industrial – our brokers will help you negotiate. At the end of the day what that means is that in the last two years, we’ve saved our clients 19 percent.
So we're really proud of that and we're rolling that out. That stat out across all of our marketing.
But I really wanted to bring that kind of skillset online to commercial real estate at Truss. And really, what I find for digital marketing is that you're really bringing the art and science of marketing together.
It's no longer that you don't really know how your marketing is doing. You actually can see the impact of your marketing and what's resonating with your consumers. And that's why I'm here today to talk about our marketplace.
Just to set the stage, I'm going to tell you about how we use social media to bring our B2B brand to life. Early in 2018, this is just over a year ago, I had just joined and I was tasked with growing the number of leads to the sales team.
This is what our website looked like at that point. We were talking about Vera – she's our AI chat bot – and we weren't really showing any listings. There wasn't a lot here to help consumers at first glance understand what we're doing.
We had all these virtual tours where we'd go in and shoot the spaces, but we weren't actually showing any of those. At that point, we were really focusing on referrals with our brokers and doing Google AdWords.
Anyone who's done Google AdWords campaigns can understand they're very expensive and that's exactly what we see in the commercial real estate space.
That was kind of the challenge: how can we bring this to life through other marketing channels?
1. Started with the Brand Strategy
I really started with a brand strategy. I was tasked with driving leads. "Why am I starting with the brand?"
If you take nothing else away from today, it's that on your brand strategy you really need to get inside the mind of your consumer so that you can develop creative that resonates with them.
Not only that, really just the whole process of leasing real estate online. You really want to have that creative insight into what your consumer is going through.
2. Researched Customer Pain Points
And so for me, at a start-up, it resonated with me and what I really understand is a lot of small business owners were finding they don't have time to look for office space or coworking space. They are busy running their businesses.
3. Developed Brand Message
This is also start-up life. We had to get something out the door quickly. We didn't have a lot of time or budget to do a big focus group or study.
I worked with our founders and our subject matter experts to understand what the customer pain points were. That helped us develop the brand message.
One thing that we noticed, as I mentioned, they're busy running their businesses. In fact, Christmas Day was actually busier than a typical Friday.
4. Developed Creative
One thing that went into our brand strategy is we wanted to give everyone all of the levers that they could pull to lease with confidence. So “lease with confidence” has really ended up being our brand tagline.
People are able to see the listings online. They're able to see the prices. Working with a broker and helping them negotiate really gives them all of that confidence. But beyond that, you want to be really specific, so it's not enough to say that we have office space.
We really want to focus in on, "This is Chicago." We're showing you a really compelling video. This is a virtual tour of some loft office space in Chicago; it's very recognizable.
We want to talk about the number of spaces we have available and then specifically our differentiator, that you can compare spaces and prices on our marketplace. That is what I find resonates very well in digital marketing.
Beyond that, then you're really looking into, "How can I look at these other channels and bring this creative to life?" This is where I really recommend staying on top of all the changes in the evolution of digital marketing.
There's all kinds of new ways to target people online.
5. Explored Behavioral Targeting
What's cool about creative online is that you can test and learn. One thing that we learned is that we tested the fact that we're the largest coworking marketplace against the fact that you can compare prices to coworking and office space on our website.
6. Launched New Ads
As I mentioned, I started in January. We launched our creative on social media in March, and we took off in April.
What also happened is we were able to bring that cost per acquisition down because we were launching in less expensive channels.
7. Tested Message and Refined
What I really learned here is that you can get really refined targeting on social media. You can target through behavior and that really always trumps demos.
If you're targeting specific small business owners, that's great, but if you could target that behavior of their searching for office space or co-working space online, that's always going to perform much better.
Social media is very authentic, so you want to build an authentic brand as well. You want your creative to be a little bit different on social media than it would be on email or a different platform because of that.
What was interesting for me, coming from more well-known brands, is that disrupting the space is complicated.
It's a lot more complicated to explain what you're offering, so you have to message test. And you have a longer sales cycle to do that and explain what it is you're offering at each point in the process.
That's really resonated with our customers and helped our marketing strategy to put more small businesses in their favorite spaces.
Note: Edited for length and clarity.