MHN Asks … About Marketing Strategies

Each month, MHN Asks features insights from leading industry executives on a significant issue. Next month’s topic: student housing.

What has been your best marketing strategy to attract various generational groups to the properties you manage?

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Tim Hermeling, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Cortland Partners

Tim Hermeling, Executive Vice President of Marketing, Cortland Partners

❝At Cortland, we take an integrated approach to our marketing strategy based on segmentation modeling. Although Millennials and Boomers are the primary drivers of U.S. rentership, we recognize that people across all stages of life look for their next home in a variety of ways. We use segmentation modeling to identify our primary renter population segments at each of our communities and research each segment’s preferences for how they shop and what they’re looking for in a living experience. Then we use that knowledge to tailor our marketing strategy, imagery and content for each community through a variety of tactics, from paid search and social media ads to ILSes and programmatic advertising.❞

Muffy Mascio, Director of Marketing, Capstone Real Estate Services Inc.

Muffy Mascio, Director of Marketing, Capstone Real Estate Services Inc.

❝First and foremost, from my perspective, marketing starts by understanding your audience and what their tendency for engagement with a brand usually leans toward. As a marketer, I am intrigued by each generation’s buying habits. The tough part is that each generational category has a distinctly different pattern and behavior, so it not like a T-shirt: … One size does not fit all. Baby Boomers and Generation Xers are more tried and true. They tend to be loyal consumers, sticking with the brands they know and trust. So marketing to this group should stay true to the solid tactical marketing approach.

Millennials and Gen Z groups have a very different lifestyle and perspective of the world than the elder generations. Also, another twist with this generational category is that there are multiple categories of Millennials. This is the group that threw a wrench in the gears for marketers’ same-old-same-old strategy. With a short attention span and the research nose of a hound dog, we have to market online and have the reputation to back up our brand’s promise. Social and digital marketing have taken a front seat, along with our online reputation.

The Gen Z group is about to disrupt the scene once again for marketers. They are going to spill out into the workforce and have some serious spending power. However, they seem to value privacy more than the Millennials do. Be authentic, quick and fun with digital campaigns, and we can hopefully grasp the attention of this audience. The silver lining to all this is that we are in the age of big data and analytics that help guide the marketing process and share insight into each generation’s buying journey.❞

Laurel Zacher, Director of Marketing, Security Properties

Laurel Zacher, Director of Marketing, Security Properties

❝We all know Google dominates in search worldwide (75.54 percent of searches in 2017, in fact) and that with 77 percent of Americans owning smartphones, “mobile first” isn’t just a saying. It’s our mandate. Getting the fundamentals right—especially a mobile strategy—is crucial to overall leasing success.

We are doing everything from currently overhauling websites (not just responsive but fully designed for the mobile experience first) to managing local business listings and optimizing our Google My Business pages. 91 percent of apartment residents are likely to use a mobile device for their next search, which makes having a solid GMB page so important. It’s likely to be the top search result on mobile, according to a RentPing study.

Since we’ve begun, traffic from mobile is increasing steadily, which means we are reaching NEW people who didn’t find us before (we see new applications from our mobile strategy up 263 percent.❞

Geoff Kahl, Vice President of Portfolio Operations, Samuels & Associates

Geoff Kahl, Vice President of Portfolio Operations, Samuels & Associates

❝The marketing of the building begins with how we design the overall feel of the building … from the efficient floor plans and finishes within the apartments to the usefulness of the amenities and ground-floor retail spaces. We tend to design to the masses in order to appeal to multiple demographics in the market.

All demographics and customers seem to prefer higher-end finishes and open floor plans with open sight lines for entertaining. However, there tends to be a difference when it comes to the amenity spaces within the buildings. Boomers, for example, seem to look for and utilize lounges and more social areas for entertaining and spending time, while the younger generations enjoy and heavily utilize collective work spaces designed around technology. Large tables with built-in USB and power outlets are very popular with the younger residents to work or play with laptops and other electronic devices, projects or to have a cup of coffee and surf social media on smartphones and tablets. A very heavy focus is placed on listening and adapting to customer feedback that we receive in order to design to the times and various demographic groups.

Word of mouth remains one of the most effective and inexpensive marketing tools. Resident events and utilization of multiple social media pages are becoming more frequent trends that assist with resident enjoyment and socialization. This contributes to the word-of-mouth marketing to potential new residents as well as the increased retention rates of current residents. To maximize our ability to generate positive feedback across generations, we consider programing our amenities and our building design.

We take a multi-platform approach to marketing our properties, paying equal attention to digital marketing and traditional print. We also know that maintaining a positive perception and reputation on the review sites like Yelp is important, so we are constantly investing in the quality of our customer service experience.❞

You’ll find more on this topic in the April 2018 issue of MHN.