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Using Social Media to Market Apartments - GoogleJuice

googlejuice1Here comes everybody Above is the clever title to a very brilliant book written by Clay Shirky and I think it relates to a movement that is happening in the multifamily space. I have noticed more and more major players, as of late, using social media to market their apartments. And, it seems like with every passing hour I am reading a new press release, blog post, tweet or Facebook update about someone trying their hand at it. All of which I think is great news for the multifamily space; that is as long as we have the real end game in mind. The truth behind it I think it’s important to mention that the chief aim of an operator using social media is not to create value for the end user. Sounds crazy, I know but it is true. And, over the coming months as we see this flood of new users entering the space some of us have occupied for years, you will hear common phrases like; creating value for the resident or prospect, creating customer evangelist, creating value as perceived in the eyes of the consumer and joining the conversation, just to name a few. In all fairness these are very important statements and should be front and center in your approach to social media. But, they are not the goal. The truth behind it is that the more content you create, whether it be about your apartment company, specific apartment community or otherwise, the more you drive......
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Can you Digg it?, Twit this!, & ILS, yeah, we have one of those.

In doing some homework online I made a few discoveries I found innovative and intriguing.  What's most interesting is that these discoveries come from one company.  UDR (formerly United Dominion Realty Trust) has added some new features to their website.  Namely, Digg, Twitter, and NextRentals.com.  I can't confirm that NextRentals.com is a "new" feature, but it's new to me.  The URL was first registered in 2003, but in 2008 has had the most activity/updates.  First up Digg.  On the UDR website they explain, "Digg is a 3rd party program where users can mark content they find interesting and share with other Digg users. If you are not a Digg user, you will be able to see the icons to "Submit" content or you can also "Digg it" if another user has already submitted it. You can also see how many Diggs the content has received."According to Hubspot.com, for a business, there are three primary goals for using Digg: * Submitted content provides an inbound link to a deep page on your site. * Send interesting individuals to your site. * If you strike gold and make it to the front page you can get thousands of visits and generate links from other bloggers writing about your content.Now incomes Twitter.  UDR explains their twitter account allows apartment prospects to "Follow" the apartment feed according to their specifications (e.g. price changes) and UDR apartment information will then be sent every time the community webpage is updated. In addition, Twitter users can get a......
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What's your SEO score/grade?

So much is being said about optimizing websites nowadays that I thought I would share a few sites you might want to check out that grade or rate your sites for SEO (search engine optimization).  These are all free tools.

website.grader.com

www.domaintools.com

www.rankingtoday.com

www.seositecheckup.com

Enjoy your day!

Mark - The Marketing/Apartment Nerd

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Adding Blog Tags

Quick note to our bloggers: blog tags are an essential way to help categorize blogs for our readers (and search engines).  If blogs are not tagged, they tend to get lost in the shuffle, and we want your blog posts to get as much exposure as possible.  For that reason, we have started to add tags to blog posts that do not currently have them.  You can always edit these tags if you feel they were mis-tagged, but we need to make our best effort! 

 
If you would like to add your own tags but are unsure of how to do it, please watch the video below:

 [video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEI8glazlIc 533x300]

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Who Are Your Comps, Really? A New Twist.

Gabiele Preston has a great post about surveying your residents/prospects to find out who your competition is.  I'm a huge fan of surveying and encourage everyone to do so for better demographics, and to just improve your operations.After reading her title and thinking about this idea a bit more I'd like to add a new twist to the "Who are your comps, really?" idea.  While other communities can be your competition, it may be a bit short sighted to think they are your main competition.  Actually, the way I view it, they are a secondary level of competition.  With 90% of customers going online to do apartment research and search maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is if our comps are actual apartment communties or the ILS's instead?  While we hope these tools help lead customers to us, we're also bulked together with all the other communities that are considered our competition.  Maybe our main competition is making sure the customers find our websites first or find them at all.  From our corporate websites or community sites we have the opportunity to sell more value and truly show off what we have to offer.  With the ILS's all the communities get lumped together, and it's difficult to differentiate ourselves.  Especially in the case where a customer narrows their search using price as factor.  Your listing may never show up just based on prices.  Does that mean that you really aren't a community for them to consider?  I don't think so, but unfortunately your community was filtered out because of 1 factor.I'm not saying the ILS's are not helpful......
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Leasing, there is nothing basic about it, part 4 - Overcoming objections

  As you take your prospective resident on a property tour, you need to be able to overcome objections that are presented.  Here are some suggestions that will help: LISTEN: So often we leap into answering an objection before we even let the prospect finish explaining what their objection is. Listen to understand and don't jump to conclusions.ISOLATE THE OBJECTION:a. Let me get this straight, this is the only thing that makes you hesitant in selecting your new apartment home here at ABC Properties?b. Let me make sure I understand, if the apartment had a washer/dryer, it would be the perfect new apartment home for you and your family?CLARIFY OBJECTION: Be sure you understand exactly what the objection is. Feed it back to the prospect and ask them to elaborate if necessary. Make certain you know just what their concern is. You could create a second objection by not clarifying the first objection.INDICATE UNDERSTANDING:a. I understand...b. I can relate...c. Other people have said the same thing and they have..."CUSHION" THE OBJECTION: "I'm glad you asked that" or "I see what you mean" are great ways to soften your response and encourage your prospect to speak freely. It also validates your confidence in yourself and your product. ANSWER WITH ALTERNATIVES: It's our job to show the prospect an alternative to the way they see something. Most people have a tendency to see with "blinders". If you get them to remove those blinders they may see things differently and in your favor.PRESENT THE......
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ADVERTISING, A HORRIFIC WASTE OF MONEY

I set off a small firestorm the other evening when I Re-Tweeted the following tweet; "RT @KathySierra: "WONDERING HOW IT IS THAT WE CAN BE HORRIFIED BY THE FINANCIAL CRISIS YET NOT SEE MOST ADVERTISING AS A HORRIFIC WASTE OF MONEY" For those not familiar with Twitter, a RE-Tweet is just that, you re-tweet someone else's tweet. A tweet is a 140 character or less statement you type for anyone who follows you on twitter to read.  So, I didn't originate the phrase, "Wondering how it is that we can be horrified by financial crisis yet not see most advertising as a horrific waste of money" but I sure did resonate with it, and this was Pre Super Bowl.  IS YOUR ADVERTISING ADDING VALUEA point of this blog post is to just point out that there are new and different ways to market your Product Offering, and that the "Way we have always done it may not be AS effective." One of the tweeters in the firestorm went on and on telling about how irresponsible it is to Not Advertise. My point was consistently, "Is Your Advertising or Marketing Adding Value" and the bottom line is, most of the time the answer is NO, Your Marketing is NOT adding any value and Your Advertising is a Horrific Waste of Money. THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAYAs I navigate these challenging economic times in our own small business, marketing continues to both amaze and baffle me. In 2004 we ceased all traditional marketing......
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Uncertain economic times

As we all know, it is difficult to read a headline or watch the news these days without hearing negative economic news.  Between stock prices, job losses, and the shrinking economy, it is sometimes hard to find a silver lining.  Facing an uncertain economy and in many areas uncertain market conditions, we need to recognize and understand the following:1.  People are scared.  Whether it is your residents or your coworkers, everyone is facing challenging times and we all react differently when dealing with these challenges.  2.  Competition is fierce.  From job searches to apartment searches, everyone is looking for an edge over the competition.  Remember that you should always show integrity and professionalism.3.  It is unknown when things are going to improve.  You can read five different headlines and get conflicting information as to the degree of the challenges and when the recovery will occur.  The unknown is difficult to understand and endure.  4.  People need compassion.  While I understand we all have rules and regulations and guidelines for our community and our company, you need to understand that many of your residents and employees are going through very difficult times and need  understanding.  5.  You can't rely on past success.  In other words, if it worked in the past, that doesn't mean it will work now.  You need to continually reinvent your property and yourself.  You can't sit back and react - you need to be proactive.  You need to anticipate and manage the future.6.  You need to be at the top of your game.  Now is the time for you to work hard,......
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Manage...to have it all, part 1 - The budget

As the manager, one of the best tools available to you is your budget.  It provides you with the blueprint for the expectations for your property's performance in the coming year.  A budget will provide you with a guideline for the following, just to name a few:Rental increasesRenewal increasesOccupancy expectationsConcession guidelinesAdvertising programsExpense guidelinesCapital improvement planWhile I understand that a budget can be intimidating and there are many professionals out there who break into a sweat just thinking about the budget process, the more familiar you become with the budget the easier it will be to work with.  When I worked with Lane Company, I was fortunate enough to participate in a budget workshop.   During this workshop, I learned what each budget category meant, where the numbers came from, and how to create a budget.  As a result of that budget workshop, I was confident with my budget and knew that going forward the budget process was never going to be intimidating to me again.As you start your new budget year, I would suggest the following:1. Understand the chart of account category and where the number comes from. For example:Gross potential - total of all of your apartments at full market rentGain/Loss to lease - difference between market rent and lease rentReview the account categories that you are unsure of with your supervisor to better understand what they mean and where the number comes from.2. Review the budgeted income to determine the following:Is there a rental increase budgeted? If so, when and......
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Eight Simple Ways to Increase Your Online Ad Conversion

1. List prices in your online ads. Properties that list their pricing get 192% more traffic than properties that do not. You will also end up pretty much dead last in the search results.2. Put your floor plans in your online ads. Showing your floor plans can increase your traffic results by as much as 68%. And if you haven't bothered to get your floor plans digitized and colorized, there's no time like the present.3. Interior photos are one of the most requested items on internet listing service  (ILS) sites. Check to make sure you're not heavy on amenities and exteriors and neglecting your interior photos. And hey, spend some money on a good photographer too. It can make a huge difference in your photo quality.4. Make sure you are using every available feature on the ILS sites. Can you bold your ad? Do it. Do they allow unlimited photos? Then get as many on there as you can. Call your ILS reps and ask them what you can do that you aren't currently doing with your ad. They are happy to help you.5. Make sure you check ALL amenities that apply to you. Don't take it for granted that people know you have air conditiong or an outdoor pool. If people knew exactly what you had, they would probably skip the online search and just come straight to your leasing office.6. Make sure you're not using your brochure copy for your ads. These ads are all crawled by the search......
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