Throughout his real estate career, Seth Pilevsky, Co-President of Philips International, has been a big proponent of on-site signage to advertise available spaces. Large informational signs combine low overhead with an ‘always on’ approach to drive interest and garner attention.
Pilevsky believes that physical signs offer a variety of benefits over digital advertising. On new construction or re-development, the signs typically feature an artist’s rendering of the proposed project, giving everyone – neighbors, potential clients, elected officials – an idea how the site will blend into its surroundings. More importantly, prospective tenants can visualize how their businesses might benefit from being a part of the planned development.
On-site signage is also important to advertise available commercial space.
“Brokers still get out and prospect available space,” Pilevsky said, “They drive or walk by a target neighborhood and look around. The sign still matters.”
On-site signs have had a strong track record for Philips International. “I still think it’s the best way to advertise retail vacancies, especially in the suburbs,” Pilevsky said, “but new marketing technologies are changing the face of the industry.”
“We’ve been on the forefront of that change. Our marketing protocol has evolved over the last few years,” Pilevsky said. Pilevsky was inspired, a few years ago, by an experience with the Matterport technology. The mapping software uses a quadcopter drone to capture a detailed, three-dimensional map of an interior space. Once processed through the system, the maps allow a client to virtually walk through the space to get an idea of the layout and flow.
In 2020, with the nation in lockdown, Pilevsky ran into a problem that a lot of his counterparts in the industry struggled with. “How the hell do you show vacant apartments during a Pandemic? People are afraid to go out.” The solution was simple. Pilevsky created virtual layouts of his vacant units using the Matterport technology and had his brokers transmit links to the virtual walkthrough via his websites or other digital marketing platforms. Interested parties could take their time exploring the space without exposing themselves to COVID-19.
“It helped us tremendously,” he said. “Our vacancies were filled by people who never even walked into the units. The technology basically allowed us to sidestep the COVID-19 lockdown.”
Philip International’s occupancy rates climbed to near capacity during the worst Pandemic in over a century.
“It’s amazing what a difference the tours made,” Pilevsky said. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we started seeing a slight drop in our vacancy rate. But, as soon as we got the tours up and running, our multifamily occupancy rates shot to the high nineties. We’ve been able to retain that high occupancy rate post-COVID.”
Matterport has become a mainstay in the Philips International handbook. Pilevsky also uses the technology to showcase Philip’s office spaces and executive office suites.
With the pandemic easing, Pilevsky remains committed to the technology but he’s not ready to forgo the old-fashioned physical sign.
“The digital platform gives you enormous reach, but a sign is a substantive thing, like real estate itself. We need both to effectively market our product.”