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To succeed as a CEO, developing a sound marketing plan is pivotal

by on June 2, 2020 in Business, Latest News, Lead Article, News you can use, Startups

To succeed as a CEO, developing a sound marketing plan is pivotal

By Jonathan Wasserstrum, Founder / CEO, SquareFoot

I started my business, SquareFoot, a new kind of commercial real estate company, in 2011, during better economic times. Over nearly a decade, we went from a few friends with an idea and turned it into a 70-person organization.

In the early days, we suspected we were on to something, as it was a challenge for smaller businesses to find, negotiate for, and secure office space. But we had hardly a clue about how to identify and recruit those people to come to us for their office needs.

I wondered then about and continue to believe that many well-intentioned startups with opportunity in front of them never got off the ground because they simply couldn’t get in front of the right people their business was founded to serve.

The Path Forward

I solved this puzzle the way that I go about everything – I turned to Google.

My background was in finance and real estate, not digital marketing. As I read about SEO and marketing basics, I realized this was the right path forward for us.

I figured that if I was going to reach founders and entrepreneurs like me, I’d have to meet them where they are – online. I assigned my team to build a website with SEO in mind from the beginning, knowing that we’d have to be there – literally – for people searching for office space.

If they would just come to us, I was confident that we could represent them well. At the same time, I was growing the brokerage side of my company. I was investing in my own education and learning about how modern businesses do their work to showcase their offerings and past results on their websites well before they even initiate contact with a client.

That might sound obvious by today’s standards, but back then, this was all very novel, especially in the field of commercial real estate.

Companies Are Struggling From The Impact Of Covid-19

I’ve been thinking back to those early months a lot of late, as we grapple with the economic impact of Covid-19.

Our company has struggled, like many others, in the wake of this pandemic, because, at the current moment, nobody is seated in office spaces.

In March, when Covid first hit the U.S., many companies put their searches on hold, waiting to see how well their companies could weather the storm. We were able to close some late-stage deals, but hardly anyone was walking through the front door looking for assistance to inhabit new offices.

Yet, by mid-April, we saw things change. Inquiries through our website began to tick up again, and even if those deals might be more challenging and complicated to pull off in the ensuing months, we were grateful for so many beliefs that offices are here to stay. This being a necessary component of their long-term planning.

Disrupting The Normal

It was reminiscent of those early times for our company because we were again disrupting the normal way of operating.

For traditional real estate companies, it requires an intense and unwavering commitment to surveying neighborhoods and buildings in person to surface some high-quality leads.

For us, the same methods and strategies were in place for success during an ‘at home’ period that were built and optimized so long ago: Whenever you’re ready, visit our website, comb through our listings, and we can help you on the other end.

I didn’t build my company how I did because of the possibility of a pandemic; however, I was pleased to see that when people’s attention was starting to get back to running (and growing) their businesses.

They had the wherewithal to come to check us out online and to begin contacting us in much the same way we have always relied on for the early stages of the process. This is likely true for all digital-first companies that depend on inbound marketing to harness people’s curiosity and to nurse the DIY searchers among us.

In my field, I was delighted to discover that we are offering that service at a time when meeting up in person is temporarily not an option.

Seeing Things Change

So while I can’t say this season has been what we had hoped for, we already see signs of a turnaround.

That’s why I’ve assigned my team to stick with what got us here and to continue to push forward with amplifying our digital presence in announced growth areas in the U.S., beginning with big cities such as Houston, Washington,D.C., and Los Angeles

We didn’t choose them at random. These are cities where we’ve seen interest come in online.

We’re following the trends we see with search traffic, and we’re matching them with our real estate knowledge. If in the coming years, we see opportunity prop up to go international, we will approach it similarly, making sure to stick with what the people are telling us with their clicks.

You don’t have to be trained as a coder or a product manager to perform data-driven marketing. It’s that recognition that got me through those first few months.

And it’s that wisdom and experience that continues to power me and the decisions I make with my executives and employees.

For the more intricate aspects of what we look to implement, I hire experts to fill those gaps within the organization.

I always make sure to push team members – both veteran and new hires – to think about what the data is telling us. People might sometimes turn to me for guidance, yet, as the CEO, I make sure to let them know that I don’t have all of the answers.

What I do have is a willingness to construct my own beliefs around what others say is best for them. I listen to what they, individually, are seeking, and I study the aggregate data to uncover what is changing in the industry at large.

By Jonathan Wasserstrum, Founder / CEO, SquareFoot

To grow this business the way I wish to in the next decade, I’ll continue via digital marketing efforts to drive people to me, rather than the other way around.

I look forward to hearing what they have to say.

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