For many, the world of commercial real estate spurs thoughts of a stuffy old boys' network that's inaccessible to the average person. Royal LePage Commercial is changing that.
"When we came in here, we decided that we didn't want to buy into that," said Damon Conrad, National Director of Royal LePage Commercial. "We wanted to change the narrative so there could be a stronger bond with our communities, with our agents, and within the industry itself."
About a year ago, Royal LePage Commercial -- the largest and fastest-growing commercial real estate brand in Canada -- decided to change up their digital media strategy, with the goal of offering a transparent look into the commercial real estate world (served up with a fun personality and healthy dose of humour) in a way that other major commercial brokerages hadn't in the past.
"A lot of people find the commercial real estate industry intimidating, and we don't want to appear that way whatsoever," Conrad said. "That's why we don't take ourselves too seriously -- we have fun."
The brand certainly puts its money where its mouth is, and for evidence of that, you need look no further than the playful commercials uploaded to their growing YouTube channel. The most recent features a hockey showdown between Royal LePage Commercial agents and a team of outdated commercial agents represented by inflatable dinosaurs, which they handily send to "an early extinction" with help from a recognizable goalie -- Royal LePage President and CEO Phil Soper.
"It was a conscious decision to start putting our agents out there, putting our network out there, creating fun, playful commercials," Conrad said. "With that, our CEO is included in two of these commercials, being able to show himself, and show our industry that we're reachable and we don't want to appear intimidating."
The commercials are just one part of a three-pronged digital media strategy. The push to crack open the industry to REALTORS® and the public alike continued with the launch of Conrad's Corner, a commercial real estate podcast that premiered last June. Conrad says they wanted to show the world of commercial real estate in a way that’s easy to digest, and can be done while commuting, at the gym, or walking the dog.
Episodes feature insightful conversations between Conrad and other industry leaders, from Soper to CoStar's Chief Economist and Head of Market Analytics, Carl Gomez.
"These are the type of key people in the industry that we wanted to meet with, and provide value to our listeners and followers," Conrad said.
The final prong of the brand's new digital media strategy comes in the form of agent spotlight videos -- short videos, one minute in length, wherein Royal LePage Commercial agents share industry insights and answer common questions, like "What are the risks of investing in commercial real estate?" or "What are CAP rates?"
"A lot of it can be commercial real estate for beginners, those who might be embarrassed to ask somebody in person. [But] we're transparent and open, and happy to answer any of these fundamental real estate questions for you," Conrad said.
Conrad notes that while the agent spotlight videos are not highly produced – being largely recorded over Zoom or by an agent on their phone camera – they’re highly valuable. He believes these videos add to the accessibility of information and in turn, the Royal LePage Commercial brand at large.
"Among most other competitors in the corporate, international commercial real estate world, you won't see this at all," Conrad said. "Typically, they are very formal and scripted at the other brokerages: ‘such and such brokerage are presenting such and such listing.’ [Conversely], we'll promote REALTOR® John Chung, who will be standing at the property and saying on video, 'Hey, it's John Chung from Saskatoon, and I want to tell everybody about this listing that's coming on the market’.”
Conrad describes Royal LePage Commercial's approach as more interactive, and more friendly.
"That is something that we're trying to encourage all our agents to do going forward, to be more approachable, and differentiate themselves from a nameless, faceless corporate entity."
The approach borrows from what has been seen for many years in residential real estate -- individual agents building their own personal brand and identity, which typically hasn't been the case on the commercial side.
"To take a hockey term, we feature the name on the back of the jersey as much as the name on the front," Conrad said. "Yes, we value our network and the iconic brand and the nature of what comes with Royal LePage Commercial, and we also value our professionals as individuals."
Royal LePage Commercial has grown their network of agents rapidly over the past two years, now adding dozens of new REALTORS® each month, with an ultimate goal of reaching 1,000 agents within the next three years. A strategic plan to grow the network nationally, and to dominate in Canada's secondary and tertiary markets, has allowed the company – and in turn, its agents – to thrive, opening up new offices from Atlantic Canada all the way to British Columbia.
Conrad hopes their new digital media approach will continue to resonate with and attract agents by showing them that the company is open, collaborative, and doesn't work in silos. By sharing their content across a variety of platforms -- Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn,YouTube, and most recently TikTok -- they also hope to target a younger demographic, bringing in agents who might be newer to the business.
"Wherever there's Canadian business, we want to have a Royal LePage Commercial agent," Conrad said. "In order to do that, we want to make sure that we display our agents as much as possible to the public at large."
Cover image: Screenshot from commercial by Royal LePage CommercialThis article was produced in partnership with STOREYS Custom Studio.