We all have our existing market. The demographic (age, income level, etc) that exists, currently lives at, and already (by means of word of mouth) visits our communities. But, we always are searching for the extended market, the next step up from those who are already here and walking in the door. This is how to do just that.
If your current market is working, but could just use that little extra oomph to take you to the next level, then your job is quite simple. Don't fight it, thrive with it. Base your brand around it. If your current market is young business professionals, give your community that vibe. Then go after the extended market that would work in. In this instance your extended market would be longer standing residents, as these would generally have an average lease turn of 3 years, after which they would mostly be leaving for home ownership or job transfer. Be sure to keep them until that happens. Your extended market is the niche that clicks with your existing crowd. This crowd will most likely end up being 40-50, recently single, business professionals. The great news is, the marketing campaign to follow will still apply.
If your current market isn't working, and you need a change of scene, then change your scene first, and work one your extended market second. This generally applies to new community purchases, looking to sink their teeth into a C+ or B community, turn it into an A, increase rental income, and ensure an excellent investment a few years later. When your scene (community, interiors, etc), has begun its transformation, start the serious groundwork for the extended market campaign.
For both scenarios you need to know WHO your ideal renter is. How much do they make? This is the fastest, easiest way to find out how to find them, figure out where they would live, and get your name in their head. For instance, if your ideal new renter (your extended market) makes $40,000 per year, then what companies in your city have a starting salary near that? How close are they to your community? If it is within 25 miles, these companies just got added to your new "Preferred Employer" Listing. and guess what else? They need to know about that! This is exciting news! This entitles their employees to special stuff (this is your decision, generally a waived Admin fee, or percentage off rent, or special deals for short term leases if their company works with contracted employees a lot). A lot of the time large firms also have a scout that they use through their company, or another (like CORT), so make sure that these people know as well. Call, stop by, have your leasing staff take gift bags filled with goodies, and marketing materials with your communities name printed on it. Hospitals (and their medical networks) will always fall into this category, so never forget them, and the great thing is that since they are so large, you can continuously send your Leasing Staff out to market to them (personalized hand sanitizers, individual snacks, etc). The thing to remind them is that they are not showing up to sell anything. They are there to "give goodies for the employees as a thank you for the business they bring" and leave, unless asked questions. Now, the great news is that these same companies will cater to your extended market in the first scenario as well. Don't forget to add your new "Preferred Employer" listing to your sleek, stylish, and polished website!
Now that you know how they work, how do they live? What is their lifestyle? Do they work out? Market to the gym. Take baskets to the locker rooms with towels, bottled water (with your community logo), etc. Where to do they go out? Market to their night life. Get coasters made (super cheap) and take them to the best bars/clubs. Where do they eat? Do they tan? These are all questions that you need to know about them in order to find them and capture them. Additionally, you need this information to ensure that your community can meet their needs and expectations as well, so your brain may already be there, just not focusing in the same way. Another way that you can exchange information is by telling the business (restaurants for example) that you would love to put their information in your move in folder, as your residents love coming to this establishment, and that is why you are there. And as a thank you, here's your goodie bag (with strategically place community information in it!). (These are not original marketing ideas, you may heard of them before, and you may some of your own, these are just ones that I have enjoyed)
Ensure that your marketing materials are based around your extended market if you are looking to change your existing market TO your extended market. Your brochures, they matter. Your floor plans, matter. Essentially, every single printed piece of material that you hand to the customer, need to be representative of what you want the customer to be, and what you in turn, what you want them to KNOW that your company and community are as well.
It all comes down to this: Find out who that ideal resident is, what the details of their life consists of, and then find ways into it so that your brand is incorporated into it.