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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.

Supplier Insights: For Long Term Sales Success, A Focus On the Future Is Just As Important As a Focus On the “Now”

Large organizations have a great habit of remaining as market leaders because they do one thing very well:  They dual market both to today’s decision makers AND to the decision makers of tomorrow.  This means they have set up their success metrics to properly analyze how they are doing with those target prospects in today’s world, but then at the same time plan ways to build a base of loyal followers in the future.

Everybody has a plan to reach decision makers, so I’m not going to cover that aspect right now.  Instead, I’m going to talk about nurturing relationships with future leaders.  One of the best examples of creating early loyalty and brand awareness comes from the computing world.  Apple and Microsoft have battled for years to get their computers and programs into schools - Back in the day, you could get the entire Microsoft Office suite for something like $15 if you were in school.  Was that just because they wanted to support students?  Of course not!  They realized that once someone was indoctrinated into their ecosystem, they were much more likely to stay with it.

When thinking about creating a strategy to reach future leaders, three things are key:

  1. Everybody remembers their first!  When someone is a new leasing consultant at a property, every brand they see will be vastly more potent in making an impact, as those are the first they will see in their  career.  Their property management mind is a blank slate, and those first brands they interact with (and vice versa) will be the ones that they take with them their entire career.
  2. It helps with the “search” that matters most.   Everybody talks about Internet search as being the first way to search, but in reality, it is probably second or third.  The first?  Someone’s own brain.  When someone finally gets to a position where they are calling the shots and are looking for service providers, the very first resource they will use is their own memory.   Companies that have abandoned a brand-enhancement strategy to a wider audience to only focus on today’s decision makers will find that their brand stops being “top of mind” when tomorrow’s leaders come into decision making roles.
  3. It may not be trackable!   Companies are becoming increasingly sophisticated in tracking their marketing, which is absolutely fantastic.  However, it is not infallible, as there are still some marketing techniques that can’t be easily tracked, if at all.  In this case, how does one track success when that success builds up over years rather than weeks or months?  While some companies have moved aggressively to track every form of marketing (and drop those they can’t track), I foresee there being a swing back the other way when they realize that they might have inadvertently sabotaged long term strategies because they didn’t fit into very strict tracking requirements.

Property management has a very consistent career path, where a leasing consultant rises to assistant, then to property manager, then to regional manager or marketing and training.  Granted, not all leasing consultants will rise to the top, but we do know with a fairly high amount of certainty that most of the future regional managers, vice presidents, and “C-Suite” executives will come from today’s leasing consultants, APMs, and property managers.  In other words, we know where the future decision makers come from – they are already working in the multifamily industry!  As suppliers, we just need to remember to build those bridges now so we can leverage them for years to come.

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