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CMO Insights with Susan Bloomfield, CMO,  Stream Realty Partners



In the evolving landscape of commercial real estate, marketing has emerged as a vital force, shaping perceptions, forging connections, and driving growth. At the forefront of this transformation is Susan Bloomfield, Chief Marketing Officer at Stream Realty Partners, a professional whose passion for storytelling and innovation has propelled the brand's growth.


With over 25 years of experience spanning marketing, research, and sales, Susan's journey is a testament to the power of aligning passion with purpose through leadership, learning, and connection. As Stream Realty Partners continues to expand its footprint, boasting more than 350 million square feet of office, industrial, retail, and healthcare assignments, Susan's vision and strategic approach have become pivotal in shaping the company's growth trajectory.


In this insightful conversation, we delve into Susan's perspectives on the future of commercial real estate marketing, exploring the intersection of technology, human experiences, and the larger purpose that underpins every action in this dynamic field.


What are some of the biggest differences in marketing needs and strategy between serving B2B clients vs more consumer-facing residential real estate?


Bloomfield: Commercial real estate is really B2B2C. But when looking at B2B clients in commercial real estate versus consumer-facing residential real estate, they differ significantly due to the nature of the clients’ business objectives, decision-making processes, and the types of transactions involved.

  • Target audience includes business owners, investors, developers, corporate decision-makers, and leasing managers.

  • Relationships are often long-term with an emphasis on trust, reliability, and professional reputation and based on ongoing contracts and services and follow either the investor or occupier cycle.

  • Decisions are made based on financial returns, commercial viability, and business objectives and multiple stakeholders are usually involved in the decision-making process.

  • Longer sales cycles due to the complexity of transactions, legal considerations, and the scale of investment from an investor or occupier perspective.

  • On the investor side, requires a deep understanding of market trends, investment analysis, and the economic environment.

  • On the occupier side, requires a deep understanding of operational requirements impacted by the local ecosystem: available labor, employee segments and preferences, available housing, retail and entertainment, accessibility, commutes and/or public transit, culture and community, etc.

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems and personal interactions are key for maintaining relationships and recurring business.

  • As far as content, marketing technologies, distribution and/or amplification, B2B has followed the B2C world and is now leveraging multiple mediums such as AR/VR, a focus on story-telling and people-related content, gamification, social selling and influencer marketing.



In an industry where relationships are critical, how do you leverage technology and digital platforms or AI to enhance client connections rather than replace them?


Bloomfield: It's a common sentiment among marketing professionals that juggling proactive sales funnel management with demonstrating ROI is a challenging task.

Traditionally, marketing efforts can get bogged down in manual, time-consuming processes. However, the landscape is evolving swiftly with the adoption of technology that enhances automation and efficiency, allowing teams to redirect their focus to the most vital elements: people and culture, even amidst concerns about investments and profitability.


We're integrating AI into our CRM system to preemptively discern client needs and automate initial outreach, which creates bandwidth for personalized, one-on-one interactions with key clients and prospects. Additionally, AI is being utilized in conjunction with business and location intelligence platforms, granting us more refined predictive insights into market behaviors.


Our digital strategy also includes interactive websites, landing pages, and digital presentations, which serve as platforms for sparking and sustaining dialogue through carefully curated and diverse content. We’ve long embraced AR/VR technologies to offer immersive experiences of spaces and places that are in the conceptual phase or require virtual visitation for informed decision-making. These advancements are pivotal in propelling our marketing strategies forward, placing a higher value on personal connections while navigating the demands of the business landscape.


How has the virtual shift during COVID impacted marketing strategies in commercial real estate long-term? What permanent adaptations has it catalyzed?


Bloomfield: One area of permanence was the daily infusion of technologies that allowed people to remain connected in more traditional industries, like commercial real estate. The inability to move around allowed us to fast-track the adoption of technologies that were previously deployed but not embraced.

  • Virtual meetings are a daily occurrence, wherein prior to COVID, they are were not preferred and often discouraged in favor of scheduling in person meetings, particularly for pitches or presentations.

  • Elevated and evolved use of virtual technologies to create experiences typically realized through physical site visits in the marketing of properties and spaces leveraging AR/VR tours, drone footage, site and space layout simulations, etc.

  • Marketing greater and more creative work environment experiences to encourage more people back into the office through emotive or humor influencer marketing.

  • 1:1 personalization outreach, targeted through AI to reach a person’s various social platforms via social storytelling series.

  • Greater reliance and usage of CRM and marketing automation platforms to stay connected and informed across geographies; and,

  • Use of VBI, i.e. market, location or labor dashboards, within a digital interactive presentation to tell a different story about a place or space.



Where do emerging areas like influencer partnerships, Metaverse activations (if any) and experiential marketing fit into short and long-term strategic plans for Stream?


Bloomfield: We are actively engaging with influencers to diversify the narrative about our brand, offering a wide range of viewpoints on our team, our integrated services, and the diverse properties and communities we serve. The essence of commercial real estate extends beyond the physical buildings; it is a vibrant network where individuals and their unique interests converge with a shared intent.

Our partnerships with influencers are strategic; they help us forge meaningful connections by highlighting aspects of real estate that resonate with people on a personal level. Whether it’s a shared enthusiasm for specialized workspaces, the charm of a particular city or neighborhood, or a common love for aspects such as local cuisine, entertainment, architecture, or music, these collaborations aim to bridge the gap between our properties and the dynamic cultures they encompass.


Through these alliances, we not only showcase the distinctive features of our properties but also celebrate the communities and lifestyles they embody. This approach enables us to transform the perception of commercial real estate from mere spaces to places of purpose and passion.


Amongst many technologies that are part of our strategic growth initiatives like Blockchain, the Metaverse is on our radar as it relates to creating twin experiences between the physical and virtual world. Many commercial real estate firms are recognizing the metaverse as a growing component of their industry that can provide unique experiences to customers and potentially drive value.


As technology evolves, the potential for new services and revenue streams within the metaverse is likely to expand and will drive our interest—likely becoming standard practice in the years to come. That being said, both AR/VR experiences for commercial developments or redevelopments that are just concepts have been evolving and in heavy use for over a decade at this point.



How is your marketing strategy adapting amidst economic uncertainty, rising rates and downturn indicators in the commercial real estate market specifically? What initiatives aim to counter sales obstacles or changing client/tenant needs in a potential downturn?


Bloomfield: In even the most favorable markets, challenges can arise. Economic downturns can serve as a period of reassessment, opening doors to new opportunities. Our marketing approach is centered around a people-first philosophy that unfolds in three layers.

Firstly, we focus on talent. By recognizing and elevating the unique contributions of our team, we aim to attract and retain industry leaders. This empowerment of high-caliber professionals ensures that our clients remain ahead, regardless of market fluctuations.


Secondly, our approach is about our platform. We spotlight our team members and the innovative solutions they provide. By doing so, we demonstrate to our current and potential clients our proficiency in navigating complex markets.


Lastly, from the client’s viewpoint, we share stories that resonate. Whether it be a narrative about an investment, an asset, or strategic location planning, we highlight their dedication and achievements. Celebrating successes, preemptively addressing potential hurdles, and offering strategies through compelling storytelling, we engage our audience and invite them to learn more about multiple, unique perspectives.


Any last thoughts on marketing strategy heading into the year or tip/tricks/ advice for current or aspiring CMOs in the commercial space?


Bloomfield:

  • Fully understand the business, the behaviors of the customer, the behaviors of the market and quickly connect the dots.

  • Build a team that wants to create impact and lead them with courage.

  • Be both analytical and creative, strategic and tactical.

  • Be deeply invested in the success of your team, executive, and internal and external clients.

  • Be relentlessly curious about the future and stay abreast of technology (not just martech)—While you keep an eye on the future, create wins along the way that lead to the growth of a company and all of its stakeholders. It goes a long way for the longer-term and harder to accomplish strategic initiatives.

  • Seek to understand the motivations of others which always leads you to the ultimate “why".


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