"70th St, by campus. 2 bdrms, brick walls, built-ins, BR, LR, kit & bath. $250."
This, of course, was how apartment marketers used to advertise their units and available amenities in the classifieds section of newspapers. They were forced to abbreviate words and keep their descriptions as short as possible because the price of the ads depended on their size.
Confusing, huh? We can get a brief understanding of location, and know this rental has 2 bedrooms. But why should we care about brick walls? What are built-ins? Is 'LR' short for living room or laundry room? What exactly is in the 'kit'?
Now, thankfully, apartment marketers have shifted away from 'all the print you can fit'. The digital landscape gives you the opportunity to be more descriptive about your community's offerings, allowing potential residents to have a clearer understanding about what living there is like. Are you taking advantage of this?
In this blog, we'll discuss 3 smarter ways to market your amenities using your website.
1. Take an inventory of your offerings and list each of them on your website.
Okay, let's start off with the basics.
You might be thinking, 'Well, yeah, I know all that my apartment community has to offer'. You may also already have them all listed on your community website, which is an absolute must.
But when was the last time you reviewed your list, and is there anything possible missing from it that could be added? Secondly, when was the last time you walked your property and checked on whether or not your amenities are in good shape?
So before doing anything else, a smart approach is to take both a mental and physical inventory of your community's amenities.
You should try to get your list of amenities to be as complete as possible on your website. Renters today want convenience. That means all of the basics (laundry, dishwasher, air conditioning, heat, garages, etc.), if available at your community, must be listed.
But don't also be afraid to get specific when reviewing your list. Have you mentioned you have in-unit Wi-Fi, or securely locked doors? And don't forget about those ceiling fans. (Seriously, those little things matter.)
Keep in mind that while some may be enticed that your units have a washer and dryer, others may be just as excited about having wood floors for their pets. Your amenities are not one size fits all, so make sure your list is as descriptive and complete as possible when posting it on your website.
The other aspect of marketing your amenities is making sure you're not selling a false set of goods. You can tout your community's pool all you want, but on the day a prospect comes and visits your community and the area around the pool is dirty and the water's green, what message does that send to him or her?
That's why when inventorying your list, you should take a walk of your property. Check your units, and communicate with your maintenance staff to make sure each of your amenities are worth the marketing you're providing them.
2. Know what amenities attract your target audience.
Marketing your amenities is tricky in that while you do need to make sure all of your offerings are discoverable online, you also have to remember that what your community offers isn't for everyone. How do you find a healthy balance between these two lines of thinking?
The answer comes in getting a better understanding of who is actually renting your units, their lifestyle, desires, and needs. This is called your buyer persona, a general representation of your community's ideal customer.
You can ask yourself these 7 questions to help define your community's buyer persona. Once you've gained that knowledge of who your target audience is, you can begin to leverage that as you formulate a marketing message about what living in your community is like.
One idea is to send a survey to current residents, and ask them to either rate and explain which amenities they appreciate the most. Perhaps you can incentivize them by putting all responders into a drawing for a prize or rent special. This could help you get a better understanding of what amenities have the most pull with your customers.
For example, if you're a luxury community, it's fair to say many of your renters weren't choosing you because your kitchens have the full appliance suite. They're probably most attracted in the lifestyle your community offers—resort-style pools, gyms, balconies with a view, etc.
Likewise for Class B or C properties, where affordability and availability have more influence, you may learn that simply having a standard amenity, like a full kitchen suite, is huge for your ideal customer because it fulfills one of their essential needs.
It's smarter to hone in on those amenities that resonate most with your buyer persona in your messaging or branding first, and then allowing your ideal customers to learn more about what else you have to offer with a complete list elsewhere online.
3. Let potential residents visualize their living experience.
This goes without saying, but unlike the old days of abbreviated newspaper advertisements, apartment hunters today require a chance to see what their living experience would be like in your community. Thus, you must provide a visual element of your amenities, and your website is an extremely valuable asset for you to do that.
RentVision's professional media team captures beautiful photos and videos of apartment communities, their units, and available amenities. Our industry-first walkthrough video tours can feature both your varying floorplans and amenities, giving searchers the ability to see their future home without needing to drive anywhere.
Visual elements are intended to let searchers decide whether or not your community is right for them. They also reserve the right to form their own opinion on your offerings. When you list them on your website, it's best to avoid using adjectives such as 'cozy kitchen' or 'large bedrooms', when a potential resident may not come to that same conclusion when seeing those amenities for themselves.
And in that same light, a walkthrough video tour or photo can't provide a searcher everything they need to know about you and your amenities. A video doesn't display that your community has free garbage pick-up or online bill pay. Thus, you should still have a complete list of your offerings along with visuals.
A smarter way to think about marketing your amenities is to make sure you understand how they affect a potential resident's search process. You need to provide them with both a list that's as complete and accurate as possible, as well as a visual element of these amenities, so they have all the relevant information they need to form a decision. You also need to understand that you have a specific audience, and should leverage the amenities that resonate most with them in your marketing and branding.