Ten years ago, if you asked any run-of-the-mill ranch brokerage how they went about ranch marketing, their answer would be fairly simple: place a few print advertisements in farm and ranch magazines, have the property listed on a very basic company website, possibly install a sign, and then wait around for a buyer to emerge. Unfortunately, despite unprecedented advances in technology over the past decade, many ranch brokers’ marketing strategies have remained unbelievably stagnant.
At Mirr Ranch Group, we work hard to expand our marketing capabilities along with evolving technology, so as to provide our clients with the best possible service and effective exposure for their ranches. This is the first in a series of posts about the evolving “tools of the trade” that Mirr Ranch Group uses to effectively market ranches to a large pool of highly qualified and spohisticated buyers. Today’s post covers mapping, but over the coming weeks we’ll discuss a number of important marketing tools, including website functionality and analytics, strategic partnerships, digital photography, and video production.
Despite the emergence of a wide variety of electronic mapping applications, I still routinely receive maps from brokers that have been hand-drawn with a magic marker on blurry USGS topographical maps from the 1970s. This baffles me, because a high-quality map is the single most important tool for communicating the most vital information for any piece of land.
At Mirr Ranch Group, we have invested heavily in our electronic mapping capabilities in order to effectively convey the complexities of each of our ranch listings. We use a combination mapping applications in order to effectively communicate all of the details regarding a ranch’s location, topography, property lines, adjoining or nearby public lands, access, conservation easements, neighboring properties, and a host of other issues. Below is a brief summary of a few of the tools we frequently use:
ArcGIS – This is the one of the most comprehensive mapping applications on the market today and is used by municipalities, surveyors, researchers, and other professionals who require a deep level of functionality. ArcGIS allows the user a full spectrum of functions, including basic mapping, the ability to accurately measure property lines and acreage, and the option of toggling between a number of base maps. In some cases, ArcGIS can be linked in with county assessor property records in order to fully understand neighboring properties, land values, and other pertinent information. Maps can be highly customized which is useful on large and sometimes complicated ranch properties. Even though ArcGIS is expensive and has a steep learning curve, we have found it to be an invaluable tool for effectively communicating the details of complex ranch properties. Here is how we used ArcGIS to map the enormously complex JE Canyon Ranch to delineate both public lands and the ranch’s conservation easement:
Google Earth Pro: This paid subscription version of Google Earth allows users to not only map out property boundaries, but also to view the property in three dimensions. Potential buyers can explore a property virtually – zoom in and out and change their viewing angle in order to fully understand the topography. Google Earth Pro also allows the user to roughly measure distances and areas, which is ideal for understanding issues such as amount of river frontage, usable acreage, or length of highway frontage. Google Earth Pro maps can be easily emailed or downloaded from our website as kmz files, which allows for easy sharing with potential buyers. Although it’s not as detailed and precise as ArcGIS, it’s ability to view in 3D makes Google Earth Pro a mandatory tool. Here is how we use Google Earth Pro to showcase the dramatic 13,000+ foot mountains that surround Red Hill Ranch:
Google and Bing Maps: These most basic mapping applications do a great job of pinpointing ranch locations showing basic property lines. Users can switch between roadmaps and satellite imagery which gives a quick overview of access points, major highways, and landmarks. These maps can be embedded into websites to allow potential buyers to easily zoom in and out to get a basic understanding the ranch’s general location and property lines. While the functionality of Google and Bing maps is fairly limited, they can be great tools when used appropriately. Here is an example of how we used Google Maps to quickly show the basic location of all of our current ranch listings throughout the West (click the image to be taken to an interactive map):