Sales are slow. Leasing is sluggish. You need more activity. But your cash is tight. How can you squeeze more momentum from your marketing budget?

One suggestion: Continually update your websites. Surfing the net for a place to live or space to lease is the first step for about a third of all interested parties; many use the Web as a tool to search and refine choices at some point.

Another: Don’t skimp on team motivation. Continue training. While it may seem like an easy item to reduce, reviewing the basics can benefit sales. Seminars, books, online coursework, or simple tactics such as role-playing, swapping leads, and shopping the competition can produce benefits during these hard economic times.

Managers also need to support their staff who try innovative marketing techniques that are not always successful, says Keeley Kirkendall, who has spent 25 years as a leader in the affordable housing industry. “People make the difference, so managers must motivate staff to be more innovative like a Google and less afraid to try new things like the Post Office,” says Kirkendall, chair of ULI’s Affordable Workforce Housing Council. “Marketing should be inventive and include Facebook, Twitter and other outlets. But the people doing the marketing or sales are so important that they need to feel supported. They should be motivated to be creative and try new ideas, even if those ideas do not always work.”

John Goff, senior vice president/development at Atlanta-based Cousins Properties and vice chair of ULI’s Public/Private Partnership Council, urges companies to repurpose marketing content. “Take your most compelling selling points and maximize exposure through all available mediums including a press release, a spotlight on your corporate and consumer websites, e-mail marketing, social media, onsite signage and other forms of traditional media if your budget permits,” says Goff. “Really push into the social media to get “buzz” going.”

Cross promotion across all real estate product types helps, too. “Can one product benefit from exposure to the other?” asks Goff. “If so, combine the strategy and available dollars to cross sell and reach new markets. We often cross promote our residential communities in our office leasing approaches. Same for retail and residential. Leverage the creative marketing assets multiple times. It allows you to justify higher quality content the first time, resulting in better overall results every time.”

Firms should also get to know their customers better, says Greg J, Vogel, CEO of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Land Advisors Organization, and chair of ULI’s Community Development Council. “We all think we know, but really digging in and analyzing your client base can yield some interesting observations and give you an understanding of who these people are,” says Vogel. “From that point, you can start asking what they want, where they look for information and how to best strategically promote your services or products.”

Vogel also advises:

  • Avoid the ‘like me’ trap: “Put away preconceived notions of what we like and what we think is the best way, and really focus on what matters to customers.”
  • Look for bundling opportunities: “Publications recognize that this is a challenging market, too. Working with them can yield the ‘win win’ opportunity.”
  • Ask the critical questions: “Don’t settle for ‘we’ve always done it this way’. It’s not the right reason to do something in a bad or good market.”

Jill Bensley, president of Ojai, Ca.-based JB Research Company and assistant chair of ULI’s Entertainment Development Council, adds that companies should develop a blog. “This form of marketing shows your personality, while your website showcases your professionalism,” she continues. “It keeps you front-of-mind and in constant contact with your key clients. And it gives you a chance to talk about what is important to you at the moment! For those of us over 50 (most of the ULI membership) we have a great deal of experience to share and this is a perfect medium to showcase it.”