A common mistake in apartment marketing is assuming that your community is meant for everyone. Rather than placing yourself in a potential resident's shoes, you produce copy and collateral that's more about what makes you great. Apartment seekers aren't just looking for an apartment that's great, luxurious, quiet, modern (or any other marketing cliché you can throw out there). Instead, they're looking for a new home that fits both their lifestyle and solves their problems.
This is where buyer personas can help you tailor a marketing message that targets those who are most likely to rent from you. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional, generalized representation of your customers that account for their demographics, goals, motivators, and challenges.
Buyer personas aren't designed for you to choose who gets to live in your community (that's violating Fair Housing Laws). Their intention is to help you figure out who wants to live in your community because of their interests, desires, and needs. Then you'll be able to shape your marketing messaging around those who fit your buyer persona(s).
Knowing your apartment community's buyer persona(s) will also improve your leasing and selling process. You'll have a better understanding of the hot-button issues your potential residents face, as well as their possible turn-offs.
In this blog, we'll offer guidance on how to identify your community's buyer personas, and show you how they affect your marketing efforts.
Ask yourself these seven questions when building your apartment community's buyer persona(s):
1. What is your community's value proposition?
If there's any time where it is okay to determine what makes your community great, it's now. Potential residents have a lot of different communities to choose from, so how does yours stand out? Is it location? Or amenities offered? You can't develop a marketing message without being able to define what's appealing about your community.
2. Who is buying what you're selling?
Before you can identify your community's buyer personas, take an assessment of your current residents' data to see who's actually renting from you. In order to develop accurate personas, it's important to take into consideration the average age or income-level of your current residents to know which demographic your target audience comes from.
3. What is this person's daily routine?
Brainstorm what an average day is like for your persona. This is where you're truly required to put yourself in a potential resident's shoes. This is how you can begin to take a glimpse into their desires, needs, fears, problems, and more.
4. What problems does your community solve?
You've determined what makes your community stand out. You have an idea of which demographic you're appealing to. You've imagined what your potential resident's daily life looks like. By this point, you know what issues potential residents have and how your community fixes them. Your marketing message is now beginning to take shape.
5. What does this person want his or her apartment experience to be?
This is where it's important to focus more on your persona's lifestyle rather than solving their problems. Whatever amenities your community offers (pet-friendly community, pool, gym, rooftop lounge, clubhouse, etc), they have to be a part of your marketing message.
6. What are this person's turn offs?
This isn't meant to be a negative exercise; it actually helps you write better marketing material. If your community attracts an older demographic, then you probably don't want to tailor your copy around the nightlife near your community. Same as if you had a younger demographic, it's probably not best to mention that your community is quiet and peaceful.
7. Where are your potential residents shopping for apartments?
You can create the best marketing message possible for your apartment community, but it means nothing if no one sees it. That's why it's important to know how your targeted audience is finding you. Analyze where you're getting the most traffic, whether that be Google or your website, and place your message appropriately.
Once you've determined your community's buyer personas, you can begin to adjust the message in your copywriting, advertisements, and overall marketing message to attract those individuals.
Let's use an imaginary scenario to further illustrate how this works:
The Flats at Salt Creek is a high-rise apartment building located in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska near the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus. It's amenities include a gym on the main floor, elevators, private parking lot, and a rooftop lounge with scenic views of both the football stadium and main street. It is a pet-free residence with one and two-bedroom floorplans, and each unit comes with built-in laundry and standard kitchen appliances. The property manager did an inventory of its current residents and discovered their average age was 26, and their marital status was single.
The marketing team determined that the community's buyer persona was an active, young professional that enjoys a thriving nightlife. Here's how they utilized that information to develop the community's 'elevator pitch' on the website:
"Welcome to The Flats at Salt Creek, where work and play collide. Rising atop downtown Lincoln, Nebraska,
near the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus and State Capitol building, The Flats offer a
sociable living experience at a premier location. You'll be just steps away from the
thriving nightlife, restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques of the historic Haymarket and Railyard Districts,
as well as major employers such as Hudl, Olsson, Q2, and Nelnet. Enjoy an unparalleled
view of Memorial Stadium and Pinnacle Bank Arena from the private
rooftop lounge—the perfect place to enjoy a cold beverage on game days.
Or get your sweat on with our fully-equipped community gym on the main floor.
The Flats at Salt Creek is a pet-free community that offers
beautifully designed 1 and 2-bedroom floorplans. Each unit is accessible by elevator,
and comes with both standard kitchen and laundry appliances."
The example above accomplishes three things:
- It targets the demographic that's actually renting from The Flats at Salt Creek.
- There are several relevant keywords within the copy (locations, businesses, amenities, no pets allowed) that will play a major role in the apartment community's digital advertising strategies.
- Finally, the copy solves problems. If an apartment seeker desires a pet-free community, it's answered in the marketing message. Same goes for a seeker who needs a shorter commute to their downtown job.
Ask yourself the seven important questions above when identifying your community’s buyer persona(s). They will help you figure out who wants to live in your community, as well as what their interests, desires, and needs are. Then you'll be able to develop a marketing message that targets the right audience, leading to a more successful leasing and selling process.