Over the years, I’ve always felt that industry marketers have always been on the lookout for the shiny new penny. They lift rocks, scrape off the moss, roll it around in their hand, stare at it and hope it’s the next thing that will bring the new residents in. If you think I’m just being curmudgeonly by saying these things, think about the new concepts that have been discussed over the years:
Should you go all in on the ILS’s?
What about SEO?
Are there any more acronyms we can make up?
How do you utilize email drip campaigns?
Is posting to Social Media the answer?
Will I rent more apartments by using Facebook?
What about reviews? Do they matter?
Will Mr. Craiglist change his service again? Can we stop using it and survive?
Should I use a posting tool?
How can I get my agents to answer the phone?
… and on and on and on. The fact is these are merely more tools in the marketing tool belt. Some are way more useful than others, while some have very little usefulness at all.
The conversations in this space over the years have been amazing, educational and fun but there’s a sad truth to face.
I tweeted the other day to everyone, just on that off chance that people were around – maybe to say hi or discuss their shiny new penny.
Hello Twitter peeps. What’s new?
— BSitko (@BSitko) October 8, 2014
This post isn’t about my...
I am a huge fan of video for marketing apartments, with one of my favorite companies being ShowMyProperty.tv, and now, there is another tool that you all will definitely want to check out! The system is called Hyperlapse, developed by Microsoft, and will be an amazing way to create time lapse videos of the areas around your communities, or possibly even within your communities. This video explains the process, and I hope you can see the possibilities of creating videos for apartment communities:
I had actually had this blog waiting in the wings for a week or two because Hyperlapse wasn't available to the masses. But now, Instagram has created a new app that allows you to create your own Hyperlapse video! Here is an example:
What do you think of this as a tool for marketing an apartment community?...
Did you know that 7 out of 10 prospective renters use online ratings and reviews in their search for a new apartment? That’s according to a new survey from the ApartmentGuide.com titled “Highly Recommended: The Influence and Impact of Online Ratings and Reviews on Apartment Searchers.” Do you need another reason? We thought not. So, let’s jump right into the “how” of monitoring your online property brand.
Think SEO. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the name of the game and that is how anyone is going to find ratings and reviews in the first place. So, make yourself a spreadsheet and then start Googling your property using variations of the name and location. This includes using the full name (e.g., Pinnacle Point Apartments), scrambled versions of the full name (e.g., Pinnacle Point, Point Pinnacle, Apartment Point), and city or locale (e.g., Bellaire, Fort Worth Apartments). Make a URL note of every link leading to a page or review of your property.
Consider SEO and communities. Next, you’ll want to search the “finder sites.” These are the resources that list and rank properties within communities. Apartment Finder is one such site. A simple way to do this is to Google “apartment finder.” You’ll immediately face about 13.1 million results (don’t worry – focusing on Page 1 is sufficient for this exercise). Again, you’ll make a URL note of the links leading to a page or review of your property within each of those sites.
Getting real. If, for some reason, you...
Every day there’s another article or study about mobile use increasing or some fabulous new technology that makes our personal or business lives easier. Some property management companies say 30-40% of their online traffic comes from mobile devices already (not surprising when you consider that millennials make up a large part of the multifamily market).
But we can’t forget this point: It’s not just the technology that matters; it’s the experience (and people) behind it.
Knock, Knock...Who’s There?
Let’s assume you have a mobile-friendly site or app. That’s just the first step. About 73% of mobile users contacted someone to view an apartment based on their online mobile search. What happens next can build loyalty—or frustration—and that online experience can color how the consumer thinks she’ll be treated as a resident, especially if she’s a millennial.
For example, if I can easily ask questions and get a response, I’m more likely to remember a company as helpful, attentive and trustworthy. On the other hand, clunky online processes and slow responses are frustrating and can leave an impression of unfriendliness or unprofessionalism.
The problem is, as always, time. We have precious little of that in this industry, yet some properties have figured out how to be there for the always-on consumer...without time-traveling (so far as I know).
Marry Virtual Backup to Your Mobile Tech
Some properties offer mobile text or live chat as ways for prospects/residents to get real-time help from the leasing or management teams, right from their websites or property...
Last week, I shared an NAA Education Conference-inspired blog about not seeing our prospects as commodities, realizing that some prospects are inherently better than others, such as those who stay at our community longer, pay rent on time, and treat their neighbors with respect. In a perfect scenario, we would take the "pick of the litter", snagging the absolute best prospects first, and leaving the less-than-ideal prospects for our comps, all while strictly adhering to Fair Housing laws. The challenge, of course, is to find this information and act on it, by either targeting certain demographics or increasing acceptance criteria to weed out negative prospects. But the benefit is enormous by finding residents who stay longer, pay rent online, and have the potential to truly fall in love with your community!
There are countless ways to improve your mix of residents. In the preparation of this blog, I was able to identify six targeting/screening options, but you will surely find more as you dig deeper.
NOTE: By attempting to do any targeting as I mention below, it is extremely important to understand Fair Housing laws. I am not advocating targeting by (or against) any protected class - these suggestions are to encourage targeting for other factors, such as if someone is fitness oriented or a dog lover. But also be careful to not discriminate unintentionally. For example, would targeting hockey fans be a problem considering 92% of fans are white? Consider those implications before implementing.
1) Overall demographic targeting. This is...
It’s not a typo. This is not a blog about Smartphones.
Nearly a third of consumers believe that businesses are now paying less attention to providing good customer service. (Echo 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer)
Many years ago, I was told by someone much wiser than myself that the real sale doesn’t begin until after the sale. I was a rookie leasing consultant and pretty naïve at the time, but I listened. Years later, I understood exactly what she meant.Sell and Service cannot be separated because you can’t have one without the other. What many leasing consultants fail to realize is that closing a sale is the first step to increasing sales, not the last. Providing good after-sales service shows customers you want to build a long-term relationship, earn their loyalty, and keep their business—this is Sellservice.
the act of providing your customer with intentional attention and positive experiences throughout the relationship, so that when it comes to leasing, renewing, or referring a friend, they feel guilty about choosing anyone but you.
Joe Gandolfo’s success story epitomizes Sellservice. He is a legend in the life insurance industry. Joe is the only life insurance agent in the world to sell in excess of $1 billion in a single year. At the start of his career, he made a vow to himself that he would ALWAYS follow up on every one of his clients every year no matter how big or small their investment. He continued to provide exceptional...
Summer is such a great time for apartment properties. The color has come back, lawns are green and lush, and most of us can probably agree that our properties just look better and are more marketable in the warmer weather.
Photos are everything to property marketing. It’s our chance to get creative, to show a property in the very best light, and for sure the thing we lose prospects over if the quality isn’t good. But what if you were to learn that pictures alone don’t cut it with prospective tenants?
I happen to love apartment community pools, and with newer properties, they often do a great job at "wowing" any person who comes to take a look. At least, that is what would happen if their pool was the only one in that market. But as we all know, many of our comps have beautiful pools too! So if everybody has an attractive pool, how does that change the impact on the prospect?
The pool, as it turns out, has a direct link to our online marketing. People are visual creatures, as Instagram and Pinterest can attest, so the first thing they will often look at is the picture of the community. So now we have a choice - what picture do we use for our communities? Well, an extremely large percentage choose the picture of their "sparkling pool". This means that individually, a community can look attractive showcasing one of their most attractive elements, but when lumped together with several other properties, you get the effect seen on the right. They are all attractive pools, and even though they are not exactly the same, they haven't differentiated themselves at all!
Considering how many people start their search for an apartment online, it is probably the most important element to your marketing. And yet, the solution for many communities is to do the same exact thing as all their competitors. Maybe I'm crazy, but that seems absolutely insane to me.
I recently came across this post, "My friend took a photo...
Since the beginning of the year, organic reach for Facebook business pages has plummeted, as industry professionals have recently pointed out. But despite an estimated 6% unpaid reach¹, some multifamily management companies are still knocking it out of the park when it comes to quality audience engagement. Here are a few of our industry’s top performers for some added inspiration:
1) J.C. Hart – In case you missed it, the Indianapolis-based management company J.C. Hart was represented by its Director of Marketing during this year’s Apartment Internet Marketing (AIM) Conference in Huntington Beach. Self-proclaimed “Apartment Nerd” Mark Juleen shared his team’s approach to Facebook engagement and leveraging social media overall for lead gen.
With about 6,500 fans for their corporate page, it’s not uncommon for them to get 30 to 50+ comments or shares on their contest posts—most often in connection with $10 coffee card giveaways. What I like most about their contests is that they clearly communicate methodology and notification for the drawings, which provides an added transparency that encourages fans to continue participating.
2) Z Islander - Specifically at the site-level, off-campus student housing community Z Islander (Asset Campus) boasts about 1,800 fans and looks pretty fancy with the new redesigned Facebook business pages, which are slowly but surely coming live since early March². Although there’s room for improvement with their reviews and user posts… Judging simply by the number of Likes for their community events posts (and this album from their crawfish boil), I feel like Z Islander is THE place to party. Other college-related shareables (think study woes...