Nontraditional Commercial Investments -

Nontraditional Commercial Investments

Growth in nontraditional commercial real estate investments has drawn some courageous entrepreneurs who are beginning to reap rewards. Agricultural properties have shown consistent and positive financial returns, billboards offer low start costs, and data centers have shown that demand for their services continues to grow. With innovative investment opportunities, the time has never been better to diversify.

Agricultural Land

Farms and other agriculturally designated properties have been steadily appreciating in value, creating a new opportunity for investors. The three most common options when investing in agricultural land are investing in real estate investment trusts (known as REITs), directly farming the land, and leasing out the land for farming operations.

REITs are companies that own and operate income-producing real estate. REITs offer the least labor-intensive option for investing in agricultural land, since you will have little to no interaction with the land itself. As an investor, your financial contribution could be part of a larger pool of funds that has been used to purchase, maintain, and improve a portfolio of agricultural properties.

Purchasing the property to farm on your own is the most labor-intensive option, but you will have the most control over the day-to-day farming operations and the overall return on your investment. Calculate whether you have the know-how and ability to tackle the complexities of the farming lifestyle.

Hiring local expertise to work your land is less laborious but requires that investors find willing farmers to lease and maintain the workable area. Investors interested in leasing out their land have less control over the day-to-day operations and risk assuming responsibility for remediation of poor environmental practices of the lessee, factors which would negatively impact the overall return on investment.


We’ve all seen billboards as we travel. These offer an entry-level investment, as the capital outlay is often significantly less than that of other real estate investment vehicles. Billboard locations usually involve a land lease where the signage will be placed and a small capital investment to install a frame. Investors can either lease out the advertising space themselves, hire a company to lease out the space, or sell the space for a profit.

Data Centers

As we become more reliant on technology, data center growth continues. Data centers require a building with a series of networked computing equipment, infrastructure to support the network systems, and parking space for employees. The networked technology can support cloud-based computing, off-site data storage, or information distribution. Investors have the option to lease or buy a property, and they must also consider the large capital outlay for the infrastructure to support the operation of the computing equipment.

For optimal operation, the specialized computing equipment requires three-phase electrical systems, alternative power sources or the option to transfer to generators, and adequate climate and humidity control. If you are considering an existing property, a retrofit of these systems will likely be required. Significant research during your site selection process may be necessary to ensure that your data center can offer reliable service.

If you’re considering a nontraditional investment, let us help you determine the best options for your portfolio.


Top Marketing Strategies for Start-Ups

Effective marketing efforts are born from clear strategies that target specific marketing objectives.

A start-up needs to make people aware of the company and its products and services and should focus on tactics that provide broad visibility. If yours is a B2C company with offerings aimed at local consumers, place ads in local directories or newspapers. If it’s a B2B company, a direct marketing campaign targeted to businesses that match your ideal customer profile is a sound use of marketing dollars.

As the business grows, the focus can shift to attracting new customers. Include a reply coupon in your ads to capture prospects’ contact info. Follow up via an email or a text directing prospects to your website or store for special offers or discounts.

Meanwhile, incent existing customers with customer loyalty initiatives. Offer discounts based on increased levels of spending and reward people for spreading the word about your brand. Customer advocacy and referral programs encourage current clients to send new customers your way with discounts, free services, upgrades, or special access to new products.

When it comes to online marketing, consider both organic and paid strategies. Organic marketing leads viewers to your shop, site, or brand through online content. You can drive their journey by posting engaging videos, blogs, tutorials, and social media content.

Paid marketing pushes ads and content to a specific target audience and typically is more upfront in its sales focus. Paid online marketing includes tactics such as banner ads, social media ads, and pay-per-click campaigns.

Don’t be afraid to try new tactics if they are based on tried industry trends. Use the technology available to make it work for your business. Invest a little, and you could see big returns.


Where Will Technology Take Us Next?

Products like smartphones and voice-command speakers used to be the stuff of Jetsons-esque fantasies. Then they became reality and altered our world dramatically. So, what’s next? Here’s a roundup of the emerging technologies with the greatest potential to change our lives.

Drones: These aren’t just for taking Instagram-worthy aerial shots. Drones offer plenty of yet-to-be-fully realized potential. They’re being explored as tools for farm crop assessment, law enforcement, and disaster relief.

Blockchain: This technology is much more than cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. By facilitating the distribution of digital information without copying, blockchain can power all kinds of activities, from providing financial solutions to unbanked people to auditing supply chains around the world.

Artificial intelligence: Computers with human smarts get a lot of flak for the scary side of their potential. But there’s plenty of good stuff too, like an A.I.-powered system that analyzes a baby’s cry to instantly diagnose birth asphyxia, a top cause of infant mortality.

Driverless vehicles: Autonomous vehicles are already here. When they become widely available, they could help those who are underserved by public transportation, reduce the space needed for parking, and improve road safety.

CRISPR: Named after CRISPR DNA sequences (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), this DNA-altering technology can be used to precisely edit genetic information. While it received bad press after a Chinese scientist announced he had used it to create genetically edited babies, the tech has incredible potential for everything from healthcare to agriculture.

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