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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Getting Resident Referrals: Watch Out For Overselling!

My poor apartment community...  It often gets the blunt response of my blogs because it's just so available and easy.  I really don't mean to pick on it, as I can tell it is definitely making strides, but I just can't ignore what they place on my door or email me. 


Yesterday, I received an email from my community hoping for resident referrals.  The concept is great, as resident referrals can be a great source of leads.  However, after reading this email, I almost came away less impressed with my community than I was before reading it!  For your reading pleasure:

Love where you live?

Yes! The time has come, to let your friends and loved ones know about the best kept secret in town. XYZ Community... where enchantments await you. You indulge yourself in unique floorplans, elegant landscaping and fine amenities daily. Show off your dream home by reffering a friend or family member. Let them know to tell us your name and apartment number, after the first month here you will receive $250!! on us. How does that sound?

Pick up that phone and send them our way. XYZ Community... where we customize prices to fit your needs.

 A funny thing happens when a review, compliment, or anything else subjective comes out too positive:  Unless the object truly is better than sliced bread, the audience tends to actually devalue the opinion to the point of actually taking the other side of the argument.  So let's take that concept to the email above.  According to the community, I am living among "enchantments", it is my "dream home", and I should constantly feel like I'm indulging myself by living here.  Wait, did my apartment suddenly move to Versailles? 


When I read that, instead of nodding along in agreement, the claims are so over the top that I end up arguing against it!  This apartment is definitely NOT my dream home.  And even though I've lived here for almost two years, I have yet to find these supposed "enchantments", and I really don't feel like I'm indulging myself. 


And if I am suddenly thrust into the role of arguing against my community, how am I supposed to turn around and refer it to my friends and family?  So while I think the concept is sound, the community should focus on the actual benefits it provides, not some lavish, ridiculous language that ends up doing more harm than good.


A few miscellaneous notes about the resident referral letter:

  1. Be careful about wording.  I'm considering renewing my lease, and here I've just gotten an email that says, "where we customize prices to fit your needs."  That sets very high expectations regarding my ability to haggle with them on my renewal price.  Plus, it opens the community up to Fair Housing complications if a protected class comes back and says that the community didn't customize prices for them.
  2. No simple way to pass along community information to their "target audience".  Let's say that I was going to refer my community to my friends and family, the only way they suggest to do that is by picking up the phone.  But I received this via email, so to pass it along, I shouldn't have to change mediums.  Since I clearly check email, create a solution where I can email my network easily to showcase the benefits of living at my community.  Or tie in other digital options like social media, since it is in the same vein.  So when you are asking the reader to take action on something, make it incredibly easy for them to do so!
  3. If you are going to email your entire community, you might want to spell check first...  
Rate this blog entry:
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Brent: I LOVE it that you have the customer point of view first hand. As an industry, we always THINK we are thinking like a customer, but we so easily forget what our customers REALLY want!

I do find it humorous that they are sending this letter to you so soon after your renewal upset!

  Daisy Nguyen
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Brent, I really enjoy your inside scoop examples. I reffer MFI to people all the time, but I don't make it out to be the next facebook or God's gift to the Internet. People want real. Why do marketers forget that?

  Mark Juleen
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks Daisy! I don't think they have any clue that I was not too pleased with my renewal (they never did call me). Plus, they have no idea who I am when it comes to MFI - I tried to share the site with them a while back but they couldn't have seemed less interested. So ironically, this site is known throughout the industry but not by my own apartment staff.

Mark, first of all, you crack me up, although I wonder how many people will get your joke... But you are saying MFI isn't going to be the next Facebook? I thought for sure we were next in line...

  Brent Williams
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Here is a thought... If you can't spell it you can't get it...
BTW if you use Firefox there is a great spell check add on and it will spell across anything you type in a blog...

  Frederic Guitton
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Love it! We agree, there is nothing more wrong than reading a lavish ad on a property to only be disappointed by the 'real thing' once you get there! I was a renter and remember thinking the exact same thing! "Where is this place and I should move there too!"


  Frankwell Consulting
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Fred - I find it especially funny that the whole point of the email was to get referrals, and that is the word they misspelled...

Aprille - Thanks for the RT! I think the community was in outside marketing mode, where you can probably be a little more out there with the wording because the prospect doesn't know any better. But with resident communications, it just sounds silly.

  Brent Williams
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The best part is that you don't even need to know how to spell! You just have to know that Microsoft word can!;D
There are the things we know, the things we don't know and we get in trouble with the things we don't know that we don't know!
They should have known that they may not know how to spell. Just classic!

  Frederic Guitton

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