Marketing is an integral part of successfully leasing a commercial property. Professional marketing materials are a positive reflection of the project, ownership and its representatives.

Here at AQUILA, we take great pride in our marketing materials. We believe that great marketing makes an important first impression on a potential tenant, so it’s worth investing some money in.

But how much should you budget to spend on marketing? And which marketing costs will be covered by the brokerage firm leasing the property on your behalf?

This article will help you understand:

  • Which marketing materials you can expect to be provided by your property leasing firm free of cost
  • What to splurge on and what to save on – where to get the most bang for your buck
  • Estimated pricing for “extra” marketing initiatives such as professional photography, drone footage and custom property branding.

(Note that this article discusses the marketing tactics and average pricing in the Austin, Texas area. Prices may vary depending on the market.)

 

Property Marketing Provided by Reputable Commercial Real Estate Firms

To start off, let’s dive into property marketing that is usually provided by commercial real estate firms at no additional cost to the landlord.

When you are working with a professional, reputable commercial real estate brokerage, a standard marketing package should be included in the listing agreement.

A standard property marketing package should include, at least:

  • A property flyer or brochure highlighting availability, location, property highlights and surrounding amenities; the flyer is typically designed within the leasing firms standard flyer template
  • Standard leasing signs or banners (sometimes the cost of signage is paid for by the landlord, depending on what is negotiated in the listing agreement)
  • A property page on the leasing firm’s website with availabilities, floorplans, flyer, photo gallery and more
  • Adding and maintaining the property on industry listing sites, such as CoStar and Xceligent
  • An email marketing campaign highlighting building availabilities and features

Companies like AQUILA that have more resources often include additional services, such as:

  • Inclusion of the property on a monthly inventory report, which is emailed to the brokerage community and includes available space and current rates
  • Press releases to keep the property top of mind within the community
Reputable commercial real estate firms will offer property owners basic marketing collateral free of charge

Reputable commercial real estate firms will offer property owners basic marketing collateral free of charge

 

All forms of media, flyers, HTML graphics, advertisements and website listings should consistently project the positioning of the building and serve to heighten project awareness.

 

 

Ready to start marketing your property like a pro?

Download the Property Marketing Checklist to keep your project on track and see what you may have missed.

Download Your Property Marketing Checklist Now 
 

Property Marketing Costs That a Landlord May Incur

Some projects may warrant or require additional marketing, which will require a larger marketing budget from the landlord.

Although these initiatives usually come out of the landlord’s pocket, most property leasing firms have experience with these projects and can easily coordinate the logistics for you.

Marketing expenses that are not generally included in a standard package may include:

  • Professional photography
  • Additional signage or banners
  • Drone photos and/or videos
  • Architectural renderings
  • Printed marketing boards
  • Direct mail pieces
  • Custom project branding
    • Custom logo and style guides
    • Custom print collateral, like special brochures or folders
    • Custom property websites
  • Advertising (Facebook, Costar, etc.)

See below for more details and different cost ranges for each of these initiatives.

Professional Photography

Professional photography is an invaluable asset to marketing a property. Good photos make a vital first impression and can be implemented across all marketing materials for your property.

At AQUILA, we highly recommend hiring a professional photographer for your project. In many cases, if you’re only going to invest in one marketing initiative, this is the one to pursue.

Before and after photo of Hartland Plaza

Before and after photo of Hartland Plaza. “After” photo by Scott Mason Photography

Pricing

The standard price for photos depends on the market you are in, the amount of photos you need for your property, and the photographer you are working with. In Austin, photos can cost anywhere between $60 and $200 per photo.

Some properties may only need a handful of photos (exterior, lobby, common areas), while other properties may require more if there are big blocks of available space or many amenities to be photographed.

Pricing structures can vary by photographer too. Some photographers may charge a session fee plus a per photo price, while others will charge one flat fee for a set amount of photos.

As with most things, it’s never a bad idea to get multiple bids.

Photo Rights

Also, remember to always ask about rights to the photos and who can use them. As a best practice, make sure to get rights for ownership and the brokerage company to use in any format.

Learn more about the benefits of professional photography and how to select the right photographer, check out our article 4 Benefits of Professional Photography for Commercial Real Estate.

 

Additional or Specialty Signs or Banners

Signage is crucial in marketing; it aids in the visibility and awareness of an available space or property.

The size of a sign varies depending on the property type. For example, an office building may have a 4’x8’ standard sign in front of the building, while a retail property may have both a standard sign in front of the shopping center as well as a banner over the space for lease. A land listing located off a highway may require a bigger sign for better visibility.

AQUILA’s sign vendor, Art Office Signs, is quick, reliable and has great customer service. The pricing below is based on their average prices. It’s important to note that sign pricing is different in different markets, so what you may pay for a sign in Austin may be more or less than what you pay in other markets.

Wooden Property Signs

In commercial real estate, a standard wooden leasing sign is 4’x8’ and can be either single-faced or v-shaped. A v-shaped sign may be more beneficial if the sign is on a busy road where people can see the sign from both directions.

Standard sign sizes are:

  • 4’x4’
  • 4’x8’
  • 6’x9’
  • 8’x12’
  • 8’x18’
Single-faced 4’x8’ sign vs. v-shaped 4’x8’ sign

Single-faced 4’x8’ sign vs. v-shaped 4’x8’ sign

As you can probably guess, the bigger the sign, the more expensive it will be. Single-faced signs start in the $200-$300 range (double that for a v-shaped sign) and can get up into the thousands for larger signs (ex. an 8’x12’ or 8’x18’ size).

Riders (Call Outs)

Some property signs may benefit from the use of a rider. A rider is a call out which sits atop the sign and can easily be switched out without replacing the entire sign; these are typically about a foot tall.

This may be a good option if you need to include information that may frequently change. Instead of having to reface an entire sign, you can just swap out the rider for the updated information, such as available suites or total available square footage. Riders cost less than $100 for a 4’x8’ sign.

4x8 v-shaped sign with a rider

A 4×8 v-shaped sign with a rider

Property Banners

Most retail properties will have both a wooden sign as well as a banner over the specific suite(s) that is available.

Banners can cost between $200 and $600 depending on the size. If a banner installation is higher than 15 feet from the ground, it will require use of a lift to install, which can cost an additional $300.

Standard banner sizes are:

  • 4’x8’
  • 4’x12’
  • 4’x20’
A 4’x20’ banner

A 4’x20’ banner

 

Sign and Banner Removals

Sign and banner removals typically cost around $100, however oversized signs (larger than 4’x8’) may cost more.

Sign and Banner Maintenance

Sometimes, unfortunately, these signs get vandalized or damaged. To send the sign team to clean the sign or banner will cost you money each time.

Additionally, all signs (even those with UV coating) will fade and yellow over time. You should budget to update your signs every three to five years.

 

Drone Video/Photography

Over the past couple of years, drone photography and videography has become much more affordable and accessible. It is a new and unique way to capture imagery of your property and the surrounding area.

With companies like Austin-based Hangar, the process is turnkey, fast and relatively affordable.

Hangar Drone Aerial

Example of a 360 drone photo with callouts

 

Pricing and Examples of Hangar Technology for Commercial Buildings

Drone photography pricing can range depending on the level.

A standard 360 photo can range from $300-$500 depending on the number of callouts, while an enhanced 360 photo can range from $500-$700.

An aerial video can cost anywhere from $800-$1,200 and a video that incorporates a building rendering or multiple renderings starts at $2,500 and can get as expensive as tens of thousands depending on how detailed it is.

 

Architectural Renderings

Renderings are a vital marketing tool for any proposed, redeveloped or remodeled building. They allow potential tenants or investors to truly visualize the space before it is actually built-out.

Exterior rendering of 801 Barton Springs

Exterior rendering of 801 Barton Springs by Runa Workshop

Typical Cost Per Rendering

If an architect is already working on the full scope of a medium to large project, fairly simple renderings (basic color and textures) can be produced relatively easily and should be included as part of the design firm’s basic service during the schematic and design development phases.

Otherwise, renderings are generally paid at an hourly rate, based on how long it takes to produce the image. The longer it takes to produce (i.e. how detailed the rendering is) and the higher quality the rendering is, the more it will cost.

Rendering pricing also depends on the size of the space or building and if it is a ground-up rendering (new building) or a remodel of an existing building.

Single, high-resolution, photo-quality renderings can run over $2,000 each, while a low resolution sketch rendering can be closer to the mid-$1000s.

Pricing here mainly depends on how detailed the you want the rendering to be. Meaning, is it just the exterior of the building or the interior as well? How realistic do you want it to appear? How detailed is the space? It may cost more if the architect adds life to the image, such as people, plants, cars, adjacent structures for context, etc.

Interior lobby rendering of 801 Barton Springs

Interior lobby rendering of 801 Barton Springs by Runa Workshop

 

What is the standard number of renderings needed for a projects?

All projects are different and may require a different number of renderings.

You’ll typically see about two or three exterior renderings for a larger project, and a number of interior renderings depending on what is needed. It usually depends on the budget and complexity of the design. For a high-end space, more renderings are helpful to clearly illustrate all design aspects and allow potential tenants to visualize the space.

Are there any price breaks for more renderings?

You can often expect to receive a discount for requesting multiple renderings at once.

For instance, when requesting more than four renderings on a project, you would likely save between 10% and 15%. If you simply need a variety of renderings of the same space (different views of the lobby, for example) you could save up to 30% (but this all depends on the architect).

 

Printed Collateral

Although we are in the digital age, sometimes having something physical in front of you, such as marketing boards and postcards/direct mail, is necessary.

Marketing Boards

Marketing boards are typically ordered on an as-needed basis. Typically printed on foam core, these boards can be produced to highlight a property’s location, amenities, renderings, floorplans and more.

These are good to have on display at the property during a prospect tour. They are also useful for the brokers to have on hand during a meeting, pitch or tradeshow.

The standard size of printed foam boards is 24”x36” (2’x3’) and can cost between $30 – $100 each, depending on bleed, coverage and color.

At AQUILA, we typically print our boards through Burk’s Digital Imaging, as they are convenient, efficient and reliable.

Board mockup for 1901 Capital Parkway

Board mockup for 1901 Capital Parkway

Postcards/Direct Mail

Direct mail can be an effective way to garner attention in the commercial real estate industry.

With a targeted list and a well-designed piece, you can get your property in the hands of a broker that may just bring you your perfect tenant.

One way to achieve this is through a postcard mailer. A standard postcard size is usually 3”x5” or 4”x6”, but we recommend considering an oversized postcard (6”x11”) and a heavy paper stock in order to stand out in a pile of mail.

Oversized postcard created for 1901 Capital Parkway

Oversized postcard created for 1901 Capital Parkway

 

The pricing of a postcard mailer depends on a number of factors:

  • The size of the postcard: An oversized postcard will cost more, both to print and to mail, than a standard postcard.
  • The type of paper you use: A thicker, nicer paper will cost more than a thinner, cheaper paper. It’s up to you to weigh the value of standing out with heavier stock and luxurious paper against the premium price that comes with.
  • How many you print: In printing, there are always economies of scale; the more you print, the lower the cost per postcard. Determine where the price breaks are and budget accordingly.
  • Postage: Cost of postage will depend on the size of the postcard and the number of postcards that you decide to send. Current pricing for postage is $0.34/piece for a standard postcard and $0.49/piece for an oversized postcard.

 

Custom Project Branding

If you’d like to set your property apart from the pack, consider treating your property as an individual “brand”.

Rather than designing the property marketing materials in the standard templates, your leasing firm can help you coordinate with a design firm to establish a brand for your property, including a logo and brand standards.

Custom Logo and Branding

A logo is an important identifier for any brand and something people constantly see and associate with your property.

Colors, fonts and styles will have to be chosen as well to create a cohesive look throughout all of your property marketing materials.

You will want to ensure these convey the right feelings and give the audience a sense of what your property stands for. A downtown office project targeting tech titans will have a far different brand identity than a suburban project targeting traditional tenants, such as law firms and financial institutions, for example.

With a reputable branding firm, a custom branding project starts at $2,500. This number can vary depending on a variety of factors such as:

  • The number of options you would like to be presented with
  • The number of revisions required before a decision is reached
  • The amount of time dedicated to your project
  • The speed with which you need the process to proceed
  • The experience and quality of the design firm

Some firms may be quicker and cheaper, but not the quality may not be as high. It’s a good idea to explore your options and get bids and samples from a variety of design firms before choosing one.

Custom brand guidelines for 801 Barton Springs

Custom brand guidelines for 801 Barton Springs by Swoon the Studio

Custom Brochures and Folders

With custom branding comes custom brochures and, if desired, custom folders. A custom brochure can help a property stand out from other properties and help achieve the feel and tone you want to set for that property. A folder is a nice touch to tie together the entire package.

Pricing to design a custom brochure and folder depends the same factors as above, which include:

  • The number of options you would like to be presented with
  • The number of revisions required before a decision is reached
  • The amount of time dedicated to your project
  • The speed with which you need the process to proceed
  • The experience and quality of the design firm
Custom folders for 801 Barton Springs

Custom folders for 801 Barton Springs

Custom brochure for Preserve at 620

Custom brochure for Preserve at 620

 

Custom Website

Most tenant rep brokers, tenants and investors start their search online, so it is important to have a strong online presence.

If you’d like your property to have it’s own online presence, beyond the property listing page on your leasing firms website, you may want to consider having a custom website created.

Examples of custom websites that AQUILA has coordinated for our clients include 801 Barton Springs and 7700 Parmer.

The 7700 Parmer website

The 7700 Parmer website, designed by Spacecraft

However, these custom websites comes at a pretty penny.

Custom websites require a domain name and hosting as well as the cost to outsource the design, development and integration of the site. This can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000.

Several costs you need to take into account when creating a website includes a domain name, hosting, design and development and any updates or maintenance that may occur throughout the life of the site. Below I will go into more detail on each one of these and roughly how much you can expect to pay for each.

Domain Name

The domain name is the address specific to your website that allows people to find you online.

If the domain you want is not taken by someone else, it usually costs between $10-$15 a year for you to own the address.

However, if the address you want is already taken, you will have to buy it from the current owner. Depending on the popularity of the domain, it could cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.

Hosting

Websites require storage space to run, so you have to find a company that will “host” your website.

That company will provide the storage for your website so that people can use your site and so you can upload things to your site.

Pricing usually depends on how much storage you require and how many domain names you plan to host. Websites like GoDaddy charge about $8 for a basic plan with limited storage and $17 or more for unlimited storage.

Design/Development

Unless you are an expert at coding and website design, you will likely need to pay someone to do it for you.

A good website designer will be able to build a website to meet your needs and give you the tools to update it when needed.

If all you need is a simple website, a do-it-yourself solution like wix.com could be all you need, which costs about $15/month; this includes the hosting and all the tools you need to build your site.

If you are wanting a highly customized website, you are going to need to hire someone to do it; this can cost in the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the scope of the project, the experience of the design firm, the timeline and the number of revisions.

Something to keep in mind during the design process is that the website needs to be easy to navigate and optimized for all devices including desktop, mobile and tablet. (Nowadays, almost all design firms take this into consideration.)

Updates/Maintenance

At some point down the road, your website is likely going to need some changes. That means hiring someone to go into the coding for your website and rewrite or add lines of code.

Generally, you can choose to pay an hourly rate or a monthly rate. For most companies that do this sort of maintenance, an hourly rate is around $100, while a monthly rate could drop it closer to an average of $50/hour. If you know you will be needing regular updates every month, a monthly plan would be your best bet.

The marketing team at a leasing firm can usually handle content changes, like adding or removing availabilities, at no extra charge.

 

Advertising

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are a cost-effective, easy way to advertise your property. They can be highly targeted, easy to create and effective!

You can choose how long you want the ad to run, how much you want to pay for that time period, and exactly who you want to target. The broader the audience, the more people you will reach. However, the more specific the audience, the higher the chance you may reach the right person.

Facebook ad for 1901 Capital Parkway

Facebook ad for 1901 Capital Parkway

CoStar Ads

Some properties may benefit from launching an ad on CoStar, the primary property listing site. These can range from $175 – $899 per month, depending on exposure and placement.

Diamond Listing Ad $899/month Top exposure and placement above all other tiers
Platinum Listing Ad $399/month Placement above gold, premium and standard tiers
Gold Listing Ad $175/month Placement above premium and standard tiers

 

Tenant and Broker Engagement/Promotional Events

Another way to bring attention to your property is through promotional events and tenant/broker engagement.

 

Ready to plan your next property marketing event?

Download this Event Planning Checklist to get the edge when planning your next marketing event.

Download Your Event Planning Checklist Now

Dinners and Lunches

Marketing expenses that are typically reimbursed by the landlord can also include prospective tenant entertainment, such as taking them out to lunch, dinner or coffee.

Not only is entertaining tenants important, but focusing on the tenant rep brokers who represent these companies is important as well. Taking a tenant rep broker to the property can help give them the knowledge they need to pitch that property to a tenant they may be working with. While brokers talk on the phone or via email often, having that face-to-face interaction helps cultivate the relationship between the landlord rep broker and the tenant rep broker. Would you rather do a deal with a stranger or with someone you know and trust?

Groundbreaking Ceremonies/Topping Out Celebrations

Groundbreaking events or topping out celebrations are often held when a new property construction commences or maximum height is achieved. They are a great way to show the real estate community, the press, and everyone else involved that the property is making progress and to keep the project front of mind.

Chad Barrett, Bethany Perez, Joe Llamas and Bart Matheney at 801 Barton Springs Groundbreaking | Property Marketing Events

Chad Barrett, Bethany Perez, Joe Llamas and Bart Matheney at the 801 Barton Springs Groundbreaking

Broker Events

There are also broker events that landlords will host and pay for when they want to bring more attention to a proposed or under-construction building to help with pre-leasing.

Events may also be held for existing buildings, especially when:

  1. A large block of space comes on to the market
  2. A property has recently been renovated
  3. A property is far away
  4. A property doesn’t have a “stellar” reputation

Hosting an event helps better inform the brokers on the property (or if hosted at the property, to actually see the space) and get them excited about it, so that they can better market the property to prospective tenants.

Cost of Broker and Tenant Events

Cost of these events vary based on many factors including:

  • Scale of event
  • Location of event
  • Number of attendees
  • Food
    • Appetizers vs. buffet vs. seated
    • Dessert
  • Drinks
    • Will alcohol be served?
      • Open bar or limited drink tickets?
      • Note: If alcohol is served, most companies will require hiring a TABC-certified bartender for liability reasons.
  • Event signage
  • Event decor
  • Event promotion
    • Printed invitation
    • Digital invitation
  • Tents/tables/chairs
  • Photographer
  • Giveaways/door prizes
  • Party favors

 

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that marketing costs can drastically vary depending on what you are looking for and what your property needs.

Working with a reputable company like AQUILA, who has strong vendor relationships and a creative in-house marketing team, can ensure that you get these items at competitive rates. Reputable firms will also be well connected with third party providers like drone companies, architects and professional photographers and can help get you the best bang for your buck.

Whatever the case, AQUILA is here to help make your property look it’s best, get it in front of the right people, and most importantly, fill it up with happy tenants.

Download our Property Marketing Checklist to keep you on track with your next property marketing and leasing project.

Download our free property marketing checklist
Related Blog Posts:


Kathleen Brennan

Kathleen Brennan

Kathleen is AQUILA’s resident creative. She has a keen eye for design and excels at keeping AQUILA looking professional and polished.

Recent posts from Kathleen


Sign Up for News

Stay on top of what’s happening in the Austin real estate market. You can also manage your subscription preferences.