9 Keys to Shopping Centre Marketing

Retail investment property and particularly shopping centres are all about the customer. When the tenancy mix and shopping centre marketing is designed around the customer, you get better sales and happier tenants. This leads to a well performing retail property that helps the landlord’s investment portfolio.

Landlords and Property Managers for retail property should think about generating sales before they think about generating rent. When this is done, you get the right priority in property performance and happier tenants. In the end result the property will be a better performer all-round for all concerned.

There are a variety of ways to reach the customer for your retail property. Importantly you should be reaching them every week in many ways so that retail business strengthens. The most effective advertising campaigns for retail shopping centres are launched through multimedia channels, using print, internet, TV and radio broadcast. Send out clear messages and creative copy around the shopping seasons.

Some ideas for media use include:

Premium advert positions in newspapers, such as the comics, food section, TV guide and stock pages. These newspapers must be relevant to your customer.
Overhead mall signage or roadway signage promoting the property. You must change this signage frequently with seasonal impact and sales changes.
Create a website for the property and load up all the tenant profiles and tenant mix. Include a contact capture for online newsletter emails to interested customers. Include a feedback form and the contact details for the property manager.
Shopping bag ‘stuffers and flyers’ from existing sales are a great idea. By giving special offers and vouchers you can always drive back that existing customer for more business later on or across different tenants.
Counter cards and food court cards to give discounts from repeat business. Extend the stay for the shopper by offering a discount on a ‘cup of coffee’.
Large billboards at the corners of major roads in the area should be well selected and frequently updated. The billboards should also be well illuminated for night time impact.
Door foot traffic monitors and counters on all entrance points to the property will help you know just which way people like to enter the property and on what days.
Direct-mail and database marketing in the local and regional demographic is an essential strategy. Your tenants should be able to help create this database by getting the customers to ‘signup’ for future special offers and events.
Radio and television marketing targeting specific segments of shopper on different days of the week is critical to your trade. Recognise the different patterns of shopping that occurs between, young newlyweds, young families, young mums, pensioners and retirees, and empty nesters. They all like to shop differently and at different times.
To help this analysis it is helpful to do some customer surveys over an extended period. When you ask the good questions, you will get the best understanding of the shopper’s needs and choices. The tenancy mix can then be shaped for the future.

The media promotional packages that you buy should be determined by the nature of your promotion and the behaviours of the market that you’re targeting. For example, spring or summer sales promotions may yield stronger results if they’re advertised over radio, since radio listenership increases after winter. Career or job related merchandise may best be sold through commuter billboards or professional publications. Whatever your message you use to promote the property, the means through which you communicate it should always complement your objectives of better sales and a well performing property.

To determine the most effective marketing and advertising channels used, always test and track the response to the media used. Track the response by days of the week, category of retailer, and times of the day. The more ways you can analyse the data, the better the questions you can ask of the marketing that you have undertaken. This helps you make the best promotional adjustments for the future.

You can also track results through direct customer surveys (by asking the shopper, “How did you hear of our promotion?”). You can use ad tracking codes on direct-response mechanisms (a small reference number printed in the corner of the ad) or by making different offers on different media (get a free beach ball with this print ad; mention this radio commercial and receive a free beach umbrella). Remember, it’s not enough to know that 50% of your advertising is working, it’s more important to know which half it is! Repeat the things that work and toss those that do not.

When you market the retail property well, you have a recipe for a great tenant mix and investment success for the landlord. It is that successful tenant mix that brings the customer back.

John Highman is an expert in investment real estate strategy and performance. He is a keynote speaker and coach that helps property investors, and real estate agents globally to improve their commercial real estate property opportunities and targets.

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