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WHAT ARE WAYS TO REDUCE MARKETING INVESTMENTS OR INCREASE ROI? (I can't get myself to call marketing a cost because it should be a revenue center)

After many conversations revolving around multifamily management I have heard a recurring theme around the "costs" associated with marketing. The value of renewing more of the leases that expire and the possible gains of more strategic marketing investments appears to be a very important focus in the current economic environment.

Last night, while at a great presentation at the UCF School of Real Estate in Orlando, a not so pretty picture of the market was shown. The theme of the presentation was; Repositioning Real Estate, Political & Economic Trends, it was very interesting and gave a good sense of the challenges as well as opportunities. What I heard is that, while these are challenging times, it is making for better business practices, sharper companies and will result in greater performance for those that keep looking ahead.

The thought of repositioning is as much strategic as it is emotional. It is strategic in the sense that we have to do the math to warrant new investments or reallocations, and emotional in the sense that because when writing a check it really needs to be viewed as an investment. Cutting to cut can often prove to be actually detrimental in the long haul. In the course of conversations I often hear that budgets have to be managed aggressively and I believe this always should be true. Many have accumulated some legacy expenses that do warrant a hard look. So here are my questions to you:

  • When it comes to marketing, is cost really important if a ROI can be achieved that ultimately improves your business NOI?
  • By taking a hard look at marketing from an investment angle, where do you think is the best place to invest for your business?
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1. ROI is the key for me. I like to set a benchmark and measure against it.

2. If you are talking product, then i think light fixtures and hardware are less expensive investments that can make high impact. If you are talking promotions, then I think online assets like websites, blogs, etc. are the best investment because you're building an online history that doesn't disappear the next day or get thrown in the trash.

  Mark Juleen
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When looking at creating a high ROI getting people quickly into conversations about potentially moving into a specific community is very powerful. You mention online assets and it certainly makes a lot of sense based on how the internet has become such a key asset to help communities increase their marketing reach while at the same time reducing the marketing sped.
One solution we use is to simply invite web shoppers to have a conversation while they are visiting a community website. This is done with a proactive invitation (the right message at the right time!). We have seen great results with a much higher number of qualified clients connecting sooner with a managed live chat solution.
With proactive live chat on your website you are able to discover their needs and set up an appointment to visit the property instantly. Since the prospect has already shared about their needs that first visit is tailored to their needs. This takes a website from informational to conversational. A traditional website is now a very interactive marketing and communication platform. A managed live chat will convert more of the anonymous web shoppers generated by all the efforts and investment made to that end into live prospects.
Any thoughts?

  Frederic Guitton
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If managed right and available extended hours then, yes, chat can be good. I don't think it's a necessity, but it definitely helps "humanize" a website. As with anything, there needs to be strategy for the communication. I would not suggest outsourcing this type of commication unless there are set goals to achieve that don't include "selling" an apartment. That is not the platform to sell anything imo.

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

I think we are in total agreement here. What live chat does is really 2 fold;
1/ Engages a web shopper in to a live conversation about their needs. A discovery conversation; ask them about their needs with engaging and targeted questions. Live chat is a way to make a website more customer centric. With our shop with me solution you are also able to push pages to the visitor, this helps enhance the visit to your site. They will remember your community more by having had this type of experience.
2/ Slow the visitor down. With live chat we have seen the average time of visits in a site double or more across the board and chats are lasting nearly 10 minutes. By slowing the customer down you are able to show more of the community and start building a rapport with the visitor.

Like any mean of communication it has to be managed, measured and scripted at some level. It has to feel comfortable for the visitor all the while achieving key metrics.
The follow through on a chat can be very powerful. The conversation can be directed towards the needs expressed during the chat.
Imagine the web visitor experience;
- Looks online for apartment communities going from site to site (average web visit of 3-5 minutes)
- Gets to your site and engages in a conversation. Shares their time line, needs and wants, agrees to a conversation the next day after a 10 minute online conversation.
- A call is placed to him/her at the scheduled time with information relevant to his/her needs!
With the chat you have a competitive advantage because the consumer has started building a rapport with your organization and the experience itself sets you apart from other alternatives.

The live chat feature is an engagement solution. We don;t believe it should replace the on-site management team, instead give them more qualified opportunities with a great deal of information about that visitor's needs.

Web sites can't sell, people do and who best than your site management team. Live chat simply assists...

I think we are in total agreement here. What live chat does is really 2 fold;
1/ Engages a web shopper in to a live conversation about their needs. A discovery conversation; ask them about their needs with engaging and targeted questions. Live chat is a way to make a website more customer centric. With our shop with me solution you are also able to push pages to the visitor, this helps enhance the visit to your site. They will remember your community more by having had this type of experience.
2/ Slow the visitor down. With live chat we have seen the average time of visits in a site double or more across the board and chats are lasting nearly 10 minutes. By slowing the customer down you are able to show more of the community and start building a rapport with the visitor.

Like any mean of communication it has to be managed, measured and scripted at some level. It has to feel comfortable for the visitor all the while achieving key metrics.
The follow through on a chat can be very powerful. The conversation can be directed towards the needs expressed during the chat.
Imagine the web visitor experience;
- Looks online for apartment communities going from site to site (average web visit of 3-5 minutes)
- Gets to your site and engages in a conversation. Shares their time line, needs and wants, agrees to a conversation the next day after a 10 minute online conversation.
- A call is placed to him/her at the scheduled time with information relevant to his/her needs!
With the chat you have a competitive advantage because the consumer has started building a rapport with your organization and the experience itself sets you apart from other alternatives.

The live chat feature is an engagement solution. We don;t believe it should replace the on-site management team, instead give them more qualified opportunities with a great deal of information about that visitor's needs.

Web sites can't sell, people do and who best than your site management team. Live chat simply assists in creating more opportunities!

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  Frederic Guitton

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