This week's blog is from RentVision Business Advisor Andrew Stoner.
There are a lot of apartment marketing companies out there and there are also many different strategies that emphasize different goals or priorities. In this week’s blog, we want to explain three key differentiators that make RentVision a unique and valuable marketing partner for multifamily communities.
Dynamic and Targeted Traffic
One common thread that exists across most major companies is that their marketing approaches are static—they assume a set-it-and-forget-it mentality. Marketers hear things like, “Well you have to advertise using this site because it’s one of the biggest!” So, they sign up and it’s live for 12 months, running on the same pricing package.
Unfortunately, this marketing method doesn’t work well in the multifamily industry, despite its popularity. Why does it fail? Because occupancy is constantly changing. There are always people moving in and moving out at every community. Why should our marketing remain so static if occupancy is constantly changing?
It’s already been proven that sources like Google and Facebook can provide marketers with a much more dynamic strategy and allow them to see a greater ROI on their marketing spend. You have to be very intentional with your strategy and ensure that you’re closely monitoring your campaigns and analytics data, which can be time consuming. But in the long run the work will absolutely be worth it because of how it allows you to tailor your marketing to the particular needs you have during any given day or week.
There is another factor to consider as well. When you use dynamic marketing channels like Google and Facebook Ads, you should be using those ads to drive traffic to your community website. This is a significant difference from more traditional static forms of marketing often built around online listing services. Why is it different? Advertising on Google and Facebook takes shoppers directly to what they are looking for—an individual apartment community—rather than sending them to a long list of possible communities that they then must sort through on their own. Think of it this way: When you’re at a large hardware store and ask an employee for help, which kind of assistance is more valuable?
- The employee walks you right to the item you need and helps you choose between the various options.
- The employee points in a general direction and tells you the thing you need is “over there.”
Obviously, the first option is the most helpful and that is what you’re doing for shoppers when you dynamically target the right people through sources that help you drive traffic to your own website.
Floorplan-Specific Visual Content
Let’s say you’re shopping online for a new car. You have two nearby dealerships you’re considering. You visit Dealership A’s website and they are advertising something to the effect of: “Tons of great options to fit every need and budget!” Then they have a few pictures of their lot with cars on it as well as a picture of their service department and body shop. Maybe they even have a picture of one of their technicians working on a car. The only problem is they do not have any pictures of the specific vehicles they have available.
Dealership B’s website also has a couple general photos of their facility just like the first one does. But they also have a page where you can actually see a list of their available inventory. And you can even click on a specific vehicle and find quality pictures of that specific vehicle, a history report, specifications, etc.
Which dealership are you more likely to call? You’re calling the second dealership, right? But there’s another way to look at this: Which dealership is going to receive the phone call with the warmest lead? If Dealership A even gets a call, it will likely sound something like, “Hi, do you have any Toyota Camry’s?” While Dealership B will get something closer to, “Hi, I saw you have the white 2014 Toyota Camry you have with 42,000 miles. Is it available for a test drive today?”
It’s not exactly a revolutionary idea to give your prospects clarity and specificity in your offering but, especially in our industry, it’s a very effective and uncommon differentiator. When we show a picture of the clubhouse and pool alongside a picture of a random kitchen, living room, and bathroom, what information have we actually given apartment shoppers? We’ve told them that we have units that have kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms, and that our community has a pool. This does very little to help you stand out from the competition.
By building websites that offer floorplan-specific pages with floorplan-specific visual content (photos, walkthrough video tours, etc.), you differentiate yourself from the vast majority of your competitors simply by giving your prospects what they were looking for in the first place: floorplan-specific information and an idea of where they will actually live. The more specific you can be with your offering, the further qualified your lead is when they call. Or you could even disqualify someone that’s not a good fit for your offering. Either way it’s a positive outcome.
This eliminates the cold leasing call, “Hey, do you have any two bedrooms available?” and turns it into a much warmer lead, “Hi, I saw the walkthrough video tour of your Aspen 2 bedroom floorplan on your website. Can we swing by today for an appointment to see it in person?”
It’s not rocket science but, amazingly, it’s still uncommon in our industry. Differentiate your community with quality floorplan-specific pages and visual content on your website.
A Systematized Approach
Think of the last time a new fast food chain opened up in your area. If it’s anything like the recent launches we’ve had here in Lincoln, Nebraska, you can’t help but notice how quickly they seem to go up. How do they do it? That’s easy. The company has obviously launched new restaurants before and has broken into new markets before. They have an efficient plan in place that they are duplicating from their previous experience. It almost seems like the process goes from, “Oh there’s something new that must be going in there” to the next time you drive by there’s a building, a sign, and a line at the drive thru.
It raises the question: With how detailed our plans are for the development of new communities or renovations of existing communities, shouldn’t we also have a detailed marketing plan in place for not only the lease-up, but for the ongoing need in the future?
When your company is about to acquire a new property (or maybe a brand new property is about to enter it’s lease-up phase) what marketing “levers” do you have to pull to ensure everything needed is in place? How many phone calls do you need to make to get everyone in motion? What about when your community isn’t brand new, but you just got several notices and something is going to need to happen to fill the soon-to-be vacant units? Do you have a systematized plan in place for all of these situations?
We’ve found that many apartment communities rely on a long list of vendors to do all of this necessary work. One vendor is supposedly building your website, a handful of vendors are doing traffic generation, someone is doing some sort of tracking/analytics, and someone else is handling the photography.
This way of working is quite inefficient and creates many organizational headaches for the property manager and marketing team. RentVision clients, however, do not have to worry about this because our team has created an effective marketing system that helps communities of all types effectively market themselves.
Take the guessing and trial and error out of the equation when it’s “go” time, whether that’s with a brand new community, or with one that’s just about to have occupancy issues. You can do this by formulating a specific vacancy plan and systematizing your approach with a short list of key vendors that have proven results and who you can trust. Connect with one of our advisors if you’d want to hear more on how we help our partners to do this every day.