Did you know that the brain processes visual information at a rate that’s 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to our brains is visual? That’s according to a recent Boston.com article in which the article addresses the need for marketers to up their game when it comes to online storytelling through images. Yet, when talking about the stories we’re telling about our own multifamily properties, the reasons for doing so are even more basic: tenants want to see what they’re getting and be able to see themselves in it.
Regardless of the reasoning, every property needs high quality images for websites, ads, and other marketing materials. And, no, stock images don’t count. In fact, according to a recent survey, 69% of tenants say they are annoyed to see stock images meant to represent a property.
This situation can be intimating as it poses a potential predicament to novice photographers. The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional or even know that much at all about photography to produce web-worthy images. All you need is a good camera (preferably digital), and the following tips:
Watch the clock. Bright and sunny. These are the conditions the average individual believes to be perfect for outdoor picture-taking. Unfortunately, these conditions can be just as disastrous as a rainy day. Instead, you want to try for early morning, in the first hour after the sun rises, or in the evening, in the last hour of sunshine....
Brand management is a huge thing that you likely hear about on a regular basis, in one form or another. If you’re not into marketing, then it’s also likely you feel “brand management” is a current buzz word or fad that will change with the times. The truth, however, is that it’s anything but a new concept, and has been a ‘thing’ for as long as there have been brands.
The Management Study Guide defines brand management to include “developing a promise, making that promise and maintaining it… defining the brand, positioning the brand, and delivering the brand.” In other words, the management of a brand is the act of keeping it true to its intentions. And, of course, the reason we hear so much more about it these days than even a decade ago is because the Internet makes doing so that much more of a challenge.
Just imagine a time without the web. No online review sites. No ability for consumers to get all the information they need to make informed decisions before they ever try out your product…or step foot on your property. The Internet opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to building brand recognition, but it also means having many, many more spaces and places where that brand has the potential to be tarnished. And, rental properties are no exception.
Your property is a brand just like any other product or service, and it must be managed as such. This means having a...
Last week I posted 4 episodes of the Marketing Minute. In the middle I also had a guest Marketing Minute post from my good friend Mike Whaling at 30 Lines. Topics this week included benefits of uploading video directly to Facebook, interactive music videos/apps, Small Business Saturday, and Mike’s guest post on using custom landing pages in your marketing.
1. Subscribe on YouTube if you want to watch them as I post them. 2. Please comment. Even if you don’t have something to say about one of the topics of the day, ask me about something that’s on your mind and I’ll mention you in the next episode.
Episode 14 – Benefits of Native Facebook Video
Episode 15 – Coldplay and Taylor Swift Get Interactive
Episode 16 – Share the Small Business You Supported on Saturday (or anytime)
Mike Whaling Guest Episode – 3 Reasons Your Marketing Needs Custom Landing Pages
I’m addicted to reminders. I used to write them on my hand so I wouldn’t forget errands or tasks on the drive home (yes, I was a human Post-It note), and now I set bazillions of reminders on my smartphone. Let me share one such reminder with all the management companies, property owners and leasing agents out there:
Think your community doesn’t need to worry about how to cut through the clutter to reach and influence those in the millennial generation (Gen Y)? Think it’s all hype? Think again.
The millennial generation continues to be important for the apartment industry in general, not just for student housing. Studies show that apartments are becoming a common lifestyle choice as members of this generation grow up, focus on their careers and start families (⅔ of them rent). Despite record levels of student debt and a longer road to adulthood for many, they will be your residents if they aren’t already. (And yes, retirement community, I’m talking to you too.)
Just consider the following stats, which point to the lifetime value of millennial residents:
77 million strong
75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025
$2 trillion in liquid assets; $7 trillion by end of the decade
Spending to double to $1.2 trillion by 2020 (accounting for ⅓ of all U.S. purchases)
Expected to encompass 76% of all household growth in the coming years
Perhaps most important to remember is that this generation isn’t just powerful in size; it’s powerful in influence. Almost 3 in...
If your leasing office isn't automating your application process, you may already be behind the curve. A comprehensive, end-to-end electronic application and leasing process can save a property countless administrative hours and can usually be implemented quite easily. We already know the demand for online services is high. Here are three other important reasons you should get your application process up and running online right this second.
Set a New Standard
Instituting an electronic application process can create a quality standard that is hard to compromise. When applications are conducted online, you can automate all the required processes into one smooth workflow, especially with integrations between your property management software, screening vendors, and more. A digital process ensures that required parameters are always met. Information flows from your applicants into your system and gets screened along the way with little or no data entry from the office staff. Eliminating the variable of human error means that crucial information is collected and evaluated correctly each time without fail. Your checks and balances can now be checked and balanced.
Grab them Quickly
Time is always of the essence when it comes to renting, and providing an online application will help capitalize on your prospect's urgency. Allowing renters to view images of floor plans, submit their rental application, and even sign lease documents online can mean the difference between getting a prospect interested in your property and losing that interest when things don't move fast enough. You'll see further evidence of this in many modern leasing offices, which...
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...