A Personal Touch

Apartment marketing has been taken to a whole new level in the changed environment of the past several months.
Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman
Editorial Director Suzann D. Silverman

Apartment marketing has been taken to a whole new level in the changed environment of the past several months. With in-person aspects of the process diminished, the emphasis has necessarily shifted to greater dependence than ever on technology. And the options are really evolving, to great benefit for the properties and the teams that manage them. But leasing still requires a human touch.

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Take, for example, the outreach effort. It’s become easier to more specifically target social media and email campaigns to locate the best prospects. But without human follow-up, even with all the subject-line testing and data measurement in the world, you’re dependent on the prospective resident to decide if you stand out from all the other emails they’re receiving—which have also no doubt undergone plenty of similar testing.

Nor are depictions of beautiful amenities a competitive advantage. While they’re important to have, sparkling pools and spacious bike rooms are pretty widely included these days, and they won’t be enough to get you to the finish line.
“What’s equally important is customer service,” RKW Residential President Marcie Williams told reporter Holly Dutton for this month’s feature story. “Personal touches can be differentiators.”

So while targeted emails are effective, a follow-up call or even a direct follow-up email or messaged response to a social media “like” will personalize the process and differentiate your property. And while self-guided tours provide the flexibility and privacy that Millennials have said they value—while at the same time freeing the staff to focus on other tasks (or to stay home in the evening rather than heading back to the property for an after-hours tour)—outreach to find out how the prospective resident liked the community can reinforce whatever particularly appealed to them, allow them to ask for more information and establish a rapport. All-electronic processes, such as those incorporating video tours, make it even more important to establish a connection.

Of course, an in-person meeting really sets up a personal association, but during these months of reduced on-site presence to ensure social distancing, a phone call may be more appreciated anyway, communicating sensitivity to concerns about viral transmission. It also saves the potential resident the trouble of going to the management office.

As further technological advancements offer new refinements to outreach, targeting or other stops on the road to lease-up, providing a personal touch is sure to make a difference.