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Catering to Your Demographic

Catering to Your Demographic
Who are you targeting? Probably the most common question in the rental and housing industry today, but also the most necessary thought to ponder in order to fully understand why your property is succeeding or struggling. This very topic was discussed at the CFAA Rental Housing Conference at a Marketing Roundtable session. Knowing who your client base is, targeting them, and then ensuring that you cater to your property’s demographic is key to establishing a successful community. Of course, we all know that core demographics exist, whether they be students, elderly, families, young professionals etc., but how we choose to attract them makes all the difference. Rolling out the same tactic across the board may not always be the best idea, even though it may be the most time efficient, most automated or easiest for the team. For example, putting everything online and creating digital platforms may be great for students, however, chances are, you would be much less likely to reach your elderly market. Students may want to text, but a family may want an in-person interaction. Remaining open and responsive to the needs of your tenants and prospects is key. The reality is that prospects are not ready to buy and are looking for condo style living in an apartment. Knowing what your prospect is looking for or what matters most to them is essential to keeping them happy in the long run. Know the differences between your buildings, what they offer, and the demographic that makes up that s......
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Artificial intelligence and multifamily . . . are we in?

Artificial intelligence and multifamily . . . are we in?
It’s no secret that the multifamily space has been slow to adopt new technology. We were among the last to adopt revenue management software, for example, or to recognize the charging freight train of reputation management and social media. We resisted. We felt the pain. We finally embraced. We reaped the benefits. The good news? As the industry has become both more competitive and an increasingly attractive investment, we are also seeing less resistance to change than we’ve seen in years. As a result, the technology options are overwhelming for operators – requiring more focus and assets devoted to the business of culling through what to deploy. And now, technology utilizing artificial intelligence is knocking on our doors. Will we continue to wait, or will we take advantage? The National Apartment Association recently published an article on the subject in UNITS magazine, which you can read here. The general perspective of the article is that real estate is an industry that can benefit from AI, but these technologies are still early and multifamily isn’t behind the curve. Hurrah! So, what is AI? In one of its simplest forms, think Alexa from Amazon. She can answer your questions, search for you and even order your favorite products. Alexa is constantly adding skills and “learning” your preferences. She’s certainly not aspiring to be “human,” as some AI platforms are, but she’s a pretty good speech bot and very easy to use. If you don’t use Alexa and are curious, here’s a complete list of all the commands to ......
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CX (Customer Experience) and Data take the stage at the 2017 AIM Conference

CX (Customer Experience) and Data take the stage at the 2017 AIM Conference
"Appeal to a customers' reason and they're yours for a day. Appeal to a customers' emotions and they're yours for a lifetime." (Lippincott's Happiness Halo)This was one of the first things spoke at this years AIM conference, and the sentiment would resonate throughout the 3 days I was there. Emotions reign supreme with customers. Providing a memorable experience that creates a lasting impression was talked about in sessions about Data, Artificial Intelligence, Marketing Rehabs, and Renter and Leaser focus groups. Not to mention the vendor booths that had such experiences like headshots, 3d tours, and personal 3d models. Swag and sales pitches were replaced by couches and conversation, booths were replaced by white leather couches. AIM had a completely different feel, and I loved it. Data and Technology Within the sessions it was clear that the customer experience is the core of everything we do. But I have to ask, why didn't we know this?   Data. Data is the answer to why we didn't know. We didn't have the mounds of feedback, reviews, or automation to know. In a session about Artificial Intelligence they had us watch 2 videos. 1 was created by humans, one was created entirely by AI. I couldn't tell the difference!  What does this mean for us? We had better start adapting. We have the software to track our leads and count the numbers, but what are we doing with it? All that data can be used to track the trends of our customers like their hobbies, spending......
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Visual Search: A Picture Could be Worth a Thousand Leases

In a recent RentPath study, 40 percent of prospective renters named “stress” as their chief emotion during their apartment hunt, while 63 percent reported negative emotions related to the process. That might be because multifamily marketers have been focused on organic ranking and paid search efforts rather than the online shopping experience.  The majority of prospective renters generally find apartment communities online through organic search results that point to an internet listing service (ILS) and not communities’ websites. And most of the time when renters land on an ILS, they have to click into numerous listings to view specific amenity images and scroll extensively to get the information they need. This leads to a higher bounce rate (the number of visitors who only look at one page and leave) and lower conversion ratios because prospects get tired of clicking (or tapping) hundreds of times to compare their options. Improving the user experience with a visual search Prospective renters want to shop for an apartment online the same way they shop for items at a physical store—visually. They want to: Compare images of apartment features side by side with a single tap rather than comparing lists of features.  Compare favorites by room-type photo and/or amenity photo. View dozens of images of properties on a single mobile page and see favorites directly alongside search results. Utilize tab navigation to dig into details of a visual listing on their mobile devices rather than scrolling. Tap to view a listing rather than clicking into several listings numerou......
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How to Think Different- recap from AIM keynote speaker

A super-fantabulous 7 minute recap of the Futurist key-note speaker from AIM 2017.  Rohit Bhargara, trend creator extraordinaire gave us not only a glimpse into future trends, but showed us how to curate them.  Well-known for maxims such as “Big Ideas Don’t Work” and “Most Trend Predictions Fail”, Bhargara teaches a framework for discovering and testing trend creation and putting the insights to work in a profitable way.  Sharing 8 of the Top Trends, attendees were on the edge of our seats, and we were not disappointed.  Better yet, we left motivated on how to think differently about ideas and current trends. Industry Leaders, we are in a believability crisis.  See through the noise; find the ideas that have meaning.  Teach yourself to spot ideas and make them trends.  Accelerate the ideas.    The TOP 8 trends for the next year.  Here is how they produced the trends: a.       Gather- save interesting ideas b.       Aggregate the data c.       Name the trend d.       Elevate e.       Prove TOP 8 TRENDS: Virtual Empathy- people want to understand the process.  They want to feel, touch, see everything- during all milestones.  This makes them feel connected.  Bring them into the story. Use VR, AR, and Mixed Reality to take people behind the scenes- Video is a big tool for this.  Fierce Femininity- YEAH! Take a stand and make a statement where you can.  Women are strong, hardworking, inspiring and fierce.  No longer seen as pretty girls. Passive Loyalty- these days, people choose convenience unless they are heavily r......
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Portfolio Leasing: 11 Ways to Create Prospect-Centric Apartment Marketing

Portfolio Leasing: 11 Ways to Create Prospect-Centric Apartment Marketing

Are you a Starbucks fan? Do you make frequent Target runs? Do you have other favorite local or national brands you regularly seek out? I’m guessing the answer is yes.

Now, imagine that every Starbucks and Target location had a different name on the door.

Instead of Starbucks, what if your neighborhood location was named Buckhead Java Reserve or Espresso House at The Woodlands, both with tiny “Proudly managed by Starbucks Coffee” decals on the front door?

Instead of Target, what if your local store was called Shoppers Pointe of Arlington, with “A unique shopping experience by Target Brands, Inc.” at the bottom of their emails and weekly circulars?

Do you think you’d trust these brands as much as you trust Starbucks or Target now? If you went to a different location on the other side of town or in a new city, do you think you’d have the same brand association (whatever association that may be)?

My guess is probably not.

You trust these brands because, regardless of where you are, you pretty much already know what kind of experience to expect before you even walk in the door. Sure, you might prefer the local coffeehouse, but you have a go-to Starbucks order in mind if you’re running errands across town or running through an airport.

That consistency in experience helps to build trust. Trust builds confidence. Confidence increases the likelihood that you’ll come back and become a repeat customer.

Yet when we look at how apartment communities are marketed, we often see the exact opposite approach.

Every community is marketed with its own unique name, vibe, and character. Each property gets its own logo, brand identity, and story. There’s often little or no connection to the property owner or management company and the other local apartment buildings/communities that those companies offer.

This serves to make a highly fragmented market only that much more so. It makes shopping for an apartment a painfully difficult experience for the customer, and it increases apartment marketers’ reliance on third-party marketplaces (Craigslist and ILS sites like Apartments.com and Zillow), aggregators, and locators to get in front of new renter prospects.

Let's Market The Way Customers Shop

In short, the way we market apartments often directly opposes how customers are used to shopping. This simultaneously reduces the reach of each apartment community’s “brand value” and increases the amount each community needs to spend on advertising to stand out in the marketplace.

Rather than (or maybe in addition to) trying to build a unique brand for each asset, it’s time that apartment marketers invest in their brands beyond the individual properties. Think about how you can be recognized at the neighborhood or regional level, and look at ways to reach more people well before they ever fully understand which properties are yours.

We call this approach Portfolio Leasing. It's not at all a new idea. But with the digital tools you have available to you today, there are whole new ways to put the customer first in your marketing. Here's why we think it's a perfect fit for multifamily.

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5 Tips for Effective Multifamily Email Marketing

Typing On Laptop.jpgThe possibilities with email marketing have come a long way.  Greater functionality and the plethora of automated email marketing platforms represent an apartment marketer’s fantasyland.  However, just because more is possible, doesn’t mean multifamily operators are using email marketing more effectively. Research we conducted a couple years ago (that we are in the process of currently updating) shows that very few operators are effectively using emails as a marketing tactic. In fact, surprisingly few use it at all, so “Tip #0” is that you should have an organized email re-marketing campaign. Tip #1: Be Sure You Have A Strong, Actionable Subject Line You should spend almost as much time creating a strong subject line as you do creating the content for your email.  Your subject line is the most important aspect of your email.  If it’s not strong, then the email is less likely to get opened; and of course, if the email isn’t opened then nothing else matters. There are four components to a strong headline: It’s action oriented It’s concise It’s clear It aligns with the content Tip #2: Tell a Story Too many multifamily emails sound like a boring MLS listing, filled with lists of attributes and amenities.  The problem is that your competitors have lists, too, so you’re not standing out at all. Besides, lists are boring. Stories are so much more interesting. And they don’t have to be a lot of words. Pictures tell stories, sometimes much better than words. The point is to create the mental picture of your prospect movi......
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Join the Revolution: The Case For Multi-Touch Attribution of Prospect Leads

Renters use on average three or more sources for information during their search. While most multifamily marketers are aware of this, they continue to use a simplistic lead attribution model that assumes renters are making decisions based on a single source of information.   Marketers may be using this model because it’s easy or because they believe that in the end it doesn’t appear to matter if you assign a lead to the first source or the last source—the results are the same. The problem isn’t necessarily that single source attribution is inaccurate, it’s that this model is incomplete.   Making decisions based on incomplete information can result in poor investment choices or missed revenue opportunities. That’s why many industries outside of multifamily have implemented multi-touch attribution models. According to the AdRoll Performance Marketing Report, “75 percent of marketers find attribution critical or very important to marketing success and nearly 60 percent reported that they plan to take the definitive step of changing their attribution model in 2017.”   The move to multi-touch attribution has empowered marketers to show, in quantifiable and indisputable terms, their impact on revenue. This has flipped the marketing paradigm. In tech-savvy companies, marketing is now viewed as a revenue producer rather than a cost center.   Not only can this kind of closed-loop revenue reporting give marketing leaders a seat at the executive table, it also offers increased visibility into what influences pipeline and revenue creation.   Optimized marketing spend. Multi-touch attribution delivers transparency into which channels and pr......
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2017 AIM Conference - California Dreaming!

I have been in Multifamily for 13 (Gasp!) years now starting as a leasing agent, and working through many positions along the way. I am currently a proud Senior Property Manager for Artcraft Management in Virginia. Anyone who knows me will tell you, I LOVE Multifamily and I LOVE what we do and I LOVE to learn.    I'm so excited to be headed out to California in May to attend the AIM (Apartment Internet Marketing) conference to learn about ways to do all of the above. I have been dreaming about this conference for years now!   In an industry where we are more and more dominated by everything internet based, we need to find ways to adapt, ways choose the right methods, and ways to integrate and roll out new and changing software.    In looking at the agenda, I'm sure I'm going to leave with more than my brain can comprehend in 3 days. But let me tell you, I'm going to try.   Digital Storytelling, Artificial Intelligence in Apartment Marketing, Persuasive Communication, and Becoming a Data Obsessed Marketer will fill day 1.    Digital Storytelling? There has to be new ways to use the sites and social media outlets we already utilize to really tell, or work our community story and I'm sure this session will lead me to understand how.   A Renter Focus Group, The Evolution of CRM, a Yelp Data session, and Nurturing a Strong Sales Culture are on the docket for day 2.    I am especially excited to......
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This Apartment Features a Bathroom For Your Convenience

a1sx2_Thumbnail1_Model-Home-Sign-IMG_4614.JPGWhen my family gets together for a weekend, we often tour model homes to see what builders are doing with new construction.  One of the model homes this past trip used cards throughout the house that featured amenities and highlight the benefits of living at that house.  I absolutely love that idea, and we have seen it applied in model apartments, as well.  But with any idea, bad execution can make a good concept a joke!  Let's dig into these cards and see how these mistakes can, and do, happen in apartment communities. To give some context, these cards were found in a model home close to 4,000 square feet in size.  Let's dissect this first one:  It's important that all marketing is contextual.  In other words, marketing that works for a Class C property may never work for a Class A property.  So if we are talking about a 4,000 square foot house, having a large master closet (in this market) is an absolute given.  Highlighting features that all other comparable properties have makes absolutely no sense, and frankly, just highlights the lack of interesting features in your own property.  This is the same as apartment communities boasting that they have a resort-style pool or a fitness center when every one of their comps does, as well. Second, I would imagine that this marketing is really susceptible to insulting someone.  On this I could be wrong, as I'm not a woman, but it just seems so - is sexist the......
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