The acre is the basic measure of real estate area in the United States and there are 640 of them in a square mile. Then, next smaller unit is the square foot, and there are 43,560 of them in an acre. Property leases and sales are measured in square feet and even the area of signs on buildings and roadside signs are measured in square feet of. However, in the 21st century, the age of the internet, the age of miniaturization, smart phones are changing everything around us. Let’s think about those six square inches of real estate that make up your smart phone’s screen.
Recently, I was working with a client in a service business who has been located on a major collector street for about 15 years, however, her business is nearly 90 years old, having been started by her grandfather. She is interested in buying some land and building a new building, so that is where I come in. We are looking at one location that is not on a major street, but near one, and located next to a business that would be a major source of new clients for her. I asked how much of her business came to her through drive-by traffic. She thought a moment and said she would research it. Her best estimate is about 50% of folks found her business by seeing her sign and about 50% through referral and word of mouth. But remarkably, about 80% of her new clients checked out her business on Google and Facebook, reading the reviews, before calling her. So, her presence on those few square inches of smart phone, or computer screen or laptop were the most valuable square inches of advertising she could have. In fact, more important than the 60 square foot sign over her front door.
We experience this at IRC as our position on Google makes a big difference in how many phone calls we get for commercial real estate services. We still get a lot of calls from drive-bys of our iconic roadside signs, however, internet / email / database marketing is hugely important to us.
Every business gets its best leads from referrals and introductions, especially in San Antonio. Personal recommendations from trusted friends are hugely important when choosing someone to work with you, like a CPA, attorney, painter or realtor. Recently, my wife and I passed a painter contractor’s truck and I suggested she take down the number, since good painters are hard to find. She commented that we would never use someone that wasn’t referred by someone we knew, and she is so right.
Now to some extent Facebook and Google are taking over that role of trusted resource because you can go online and research what experience others have had with that business or individual. But we all know the joke, “they don’t allow you to put anything on the internet that isn’t true!” So while that square inch of phone screen may be moving into the “trusted friend” role for referrals, we are all wary of those comments, aren’t we? Nevertheless, when it comes to advertising, that square inch of phone screen can be more important than many square feet of roadside signage. And perhaps a square inch of phone screen may also lead you to relocate to space that is less expensive per square foot because that 6 square inches of screen will help your customers find your less visible and less expensive square feet of lease space. Something to consider!