How Video Storytelling Enhances Multifamily Merchandising

Leasing teams are moving from in-person tour guides to content producers with dramatic results.

Andrew Hudson, training and development specialist, American Landmark Apartments and Kristi Fickert, vice president of enterprise growth, Realync. Photo by Diana Mosher

Multifamily operators are using video to create engaging experiences for both prospects and residents. But not everyone is on board—leasing teams aren’t trained videographers and it can be hard to find time to strategize, create and implement video in an already packed schedule.

At Apartamentalize, the National Apartment Association (NAA)’s annual conference in San Diego, Kristi Fickert, vice president of enterprise growth at Realync and Andrew Hudson, training and development specialist, American Landmark Apartments shared their tips for success. Their session “Advanced Merchandising for Multifamily Housing: Selling With Video Storytelling,” showed how on-site teams can move beyond the role of in-person tour guides to become content producers.

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“I thought it would be really fun to have an up-and-coming multifamily rising star join us on stage at NAA,” said Fickert. “Andrew is an NAA 20 in Their Twenties alum. That’s pretty special—and he’s here because he’s been using video for the last several years. Video is how he got his apartment communities out in the market. And, he got a new job because of his video storytelling skills.”

Leases start with relationships

Hudson has won so many leads and he was named Agent of the Year because he knows how to get his face out there. It’s really hard to let someone down once you’ve met them. Hudson noted, “I promise I am not conceited, but you need to have your face everywhere. Leases start with relationships. A lot of you saw my picture before you even saw me here today. What we want to do with our prospects is start that relationship, get our face out there so we are their best friends before we even meet them.”

Also, today’s renters are more distracted than ever. According to a recent Zillow survey, they typically only tour two apartments before they choose to rent. You only have a small opportunity to make that short list, when they are deciding who to come out to visit. They are touring less, but they are researching more and you have to make a great impression. “Do you find that your prospects know more about your competition than your leasing teams do? We have to be (visible) everywhere,” said Fickert.

Video solves pain points

People retain video messaging better than written communications. There are many aspects of the prospect experience that can be conveyed through video storytelling. Image courtesy of Apartmentalize

According to Fickert, a big objection to video is that it takes too much time and teams are already tasked with a lot of things to do. But, video actually solves some pain points not only for renters but also for property teams. When you’re using video, virtual tours take less time than in person tours and they are also convenient for the renter.

“We are seeing that nearly 60 percent of renters are preferring to rent sight unseen,” said Fickert. “Our offices are open, but some people don’t want to come out to tour—they just don’t need to anymore. It’s like online grocery ordering. We haven’t stopped doing that even though the pandemic is over; it’s just so convenient.”

Also, gas prices are high right, so people are going to be very careful about where they drive to and whether they choose to visit your community. You can use video to pre meet with them to save them time and they really appreciate that thoughtfulness. Video helps provide renters with options. “You want to remove friction in the process. You don’t want to create extra steps and video can help,” said Fickert.

The stats tell the story

Hudson has been using video storytelling to set himself and his apartment communities apart from the competition. He expresses the point of view “this is how we’re different.” Hudson recalled being on site and doing a video tour for a prospect who had said he loved having a seat in the shower. “So when I was taking the video I zoomed in on that shower a couple of times. That really got the prospect laughing and it set me apart from the competition.”

In fact, according to Hudson, you can double your lead to lease conversion ratio when you add video to your communications with prospects. Send a text and video link to a tour of the apartment or possibly some other points of interest such as highlights of the neighborhood. Video storytelling can help apartment operators achieve a 50 percent reduction in customer acquisition cost while also reducing the time that it takes to acquire those customers. “The typical apartment tour runs around 45 minutes, while the average video tour is just 17 minutes,” said Hudson.

You can also use video on the resident side as part of the renewal meeting process. “You have to keep residents engaged and really create some exceptional value,” said Fickert. Also, if you’re tired of residents and prospects asking your team the same questions over and over again, remember that people retain information that is taught to them on a video 95 percent more than if it’s written.

“If there is something you are going to email, instead of typing it out I encourage you to do video,” said Fickert. “If you have a long document of processes, turn it into a video that you send to people. They are going to retain the information more easily and you will differentiate your team.” Using videos in prospect follow up also improves the conversion ratio. Fickert creates her own gifs—for example celebrating a birthday with a virtual high five—and people always respond when they see this in their inbox.

How to implement video

Incorporating video into follow up can help convert leads to leases. Image courtesy of Apartmentalize

There are many video tools out there in the market: Zoom, FaceTime, Tiktok and Instagram reels are popular. Fickert and Hudson suggest getting your team using the same tool and methodology consistently. These are their additional tips:

  • Incorporate regular video training into your modules
  • Assign your team specific, concise content to produce
  • Have a system for managing and sharing content that protects the data and the organization
  • Use video to communicate with your team (walk the talk)
  • Start with internal video production
  • Create a gif
  • Create a follow up video
  • Create an intro video that can be linked to your business card
  • Give renters the option to tour virtually and make that option as easy as possible for them.

The most important tip of all, is setting a start date. If your team isn’t already using video storytelling, it’s time to jump in and begin enjoying the benefits of this creative tool.

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