‘On the Ground’ with Eric Brown: Is Your Apartment Marketing Working?

Instead of always talking to prospects, we have to help prospects talk to each other.

Without getting into the print debate, the ILS debate or whatever else we all like to debate, let’s start with the leading question, is your apartment marketing working? And before you race to defend your position, is it working like it used to?

We live in a world where customers and prospects actively resist marketing. So it is imperative to stop marketing at people. The idea is to create an environment where consumers will market to each other. You don’t win with faster service requests or better leasing consultants. You win with better marketing, because marketing is spreading ideas. Instead of always talking to prospects, we have to help prospects talk to each other.

Word of mouth marketing may well be the oldest form of marketing around, and the least utilized. The digital world propels word-of-mouth marketing like no other. We can all talk about our apartment features, how great our apartment maintenance staff is and why that new prospect should lease from us. Those things are not enough to break from the pack of apartment commodity.

The key is to get other people to talk about your apartment community. People believe people; they don’t believe marketers. One way of doing that is to participate in the various social media playgrounds, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Know that your blog is the highest leverage and Facebook is the lowest leverage. So if you resources are restricted, start with a blog, not Facebook.

Talk about things your prospects have an interest in. Don’t talk about your apartment community or apartment features, as no one really cares and that is the function of your website. How happy is someone who just learned about the new sushi restaurant after just moving to the neighborhood? Once discovered, they are taking about the great experience they had there. Then, they are talking about who turned them on to the discovery: you.

Building your own branded media takes time. However, by building a solid digital platform, your apartment marketing will deliver better results.

Eric Brown’s background is rooted in the rental and real estate industries. He founded metro Detroit’s Urbane Apartments in 2003, after serving as senior vice president for Village Green Companies, a Midwest apartment developer. He also established The Urbane Way, a social media marketing and PR laboratory, where innovative marketing ideas are tested.