AIM Special Report: How to Better Align Marketing and Operations

Experts shared their secrets on how to get different teams to collaborate.

AIM conference image 2024
The Apartment Innovation and Marketing conference was held in Huntington Beach, Calif. Image by Jordana Rothberg

Sometimes, marketing and operations teams can feel like they’re working on entirely different planes. But for the good of the company, as well as the peace of mind of team members, these groups can have a greater impact by working together.

During a panel on the last day of the Apartment Innovation and Marketing conference, experts shared their tips on how they bridged these two teams within their own companies and the differences it made.

Identifying a disconnect

Anne Baum, marketing director, Towne Properties, told attendees that the first step in bringing marketing and operations together is acknowledging that there is a disconnect. Before working with operations, Baum did some research on where the marketing and operations budgets were being used.

For Towne Properties, operating expenses being spent on resident retention on turnovers needed to increase as a percentage. While the company had an already high occupation rate, budgets needed to shift and teams needed to work together. In an effort to market ahead as opposed to a reactive state, Baum decided to bridge the marketing and operations gap.

Christopher Johnson, director of marketing, AG Living, had a different scenario on his hands. He was building the marketing program from scratch and wanted to build trust across the company as well as drive leads and leasing.

Measuring teamwork through KPIs

To build a relationship between marketing and operations, Baum and Johnson explained that there needs to be a shared goal and a way to speak with one another.

“The goal was to have open conversations,” Johnson said. “You do that by speaking the same language.”

The solution? To create a key performance metrics dashboard.

To speak the same language, several KPIs can be measured. Panelists highlighted the following:

  • Net operating income: the KPI that umbrellas all departments to see how much money the company is making
  • Average days vacant: a more operational KPI to measure how long units are staying vacant and turning over
  • Trend percentage: the percentage of occupied units in the future, usually in 30, 60 and 90 day measurements
  • Average follow up: the frequency and quality of follow up communications with potential prospects
  • Online reputation: how many reviews there are and what residents are rating their community
  • Return on advertising spend: the measurement to see how much money marketing dollars are bringing in

For marketers looking to align with operations, these KPIs offer a common ground for the two teams to connect on. When working together, people from these departments can directly impact each of the KPIs and ultimately make a positive impact on the bottom line of any multifamily company.

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