Marketing 101 for Multifamily Companies

Adrienne Albert (pictured) is the founder and CEO of The Marketing Directors Inc. Albert was most recently inducted as a Legend of Residential Marketing by the National Sales and Marketing Council of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The Marketing Directors, Inc., has conducted over $60 billion in residential sales including single-family homes and high-density multi-use developments.  She is a member of the Real Estate Board of New York, Urban Land Institute, Institute of Residential Marketing, and she sits on the Board of Governors of the Associated Builders and Owners of Greater New York (ABO). She talks to Online News Editor Anuradha Kher about why marketing is crucial in a downturn; she also offers marketing tips to multifamily developers. MHN: Why is Marketing important in a downturn? Albert: It is more important in a downturn than at any other time! In a downturn, buyers want to know they are not the “Nth” fool. They want to be sure they are getting real value for their dollars. In order to explain that value, you need marketing. In order to make them aware of the differences and distinguish your product, marketing must take charge and work with the other development disciplines to move your product into the spotlight. Sales must make the transaction happen, but without marketing bringing quality clients to those salespeople, the team is not at peak efficiency. In a bull market, buyers find you. In a downturn, sourcing those buyers takes skill and experience. Additionally, many developers do not have the funds to blanket the market for product awareness, so the efficiencies of marketing can and should become paramount, as every dollar is even more precious in a downturn. MHN: How can a small company keep its marketing live in this tough economy? Albert: Refresh the unique selling proposition to see if it still resonates with your buyers. What is it that only you can say that no one else can say about their projects? Recast this thought to be relevant to the economic situation your buyers are facing.Refresh your visuals without losing consistency. Keep the good parts of what you were doing while making it seem as if something new is happening.Get a call to action in every communication. Tell people what you want them to do.Rotate visuals for a different “look”.Be realistic in what you are claiming so that you do not sound too good to be true. Buyers are wary today.Make sure you can deliver what you promise. If you state a date, make sure you can live up to it.MHN: What are the new marketing trends in the multifamily sector? What’s working today?Albert: Online marketing is stronger than ever before. Invest in Search Engine Optimization for today’s market and tomorrow’s. Make your website easy to navigate and fast to load.Print ads are starting to have traction again in many markets. Stay fresh, stay strong, have a clear message with a call to action.Guerilla efforts are not productive today. Do not waste time or money. Concentrate your funds in more conventional resources.Personalized prospecting is the most effective. Salespeople should be prospecting daily and responsible for the results of their efforts.Incentives are effective today. Be careful if you have offered incentives in the past so that your current incentives seem new and fresh. Giving away a car may not get the results you seek. MHN: What is the biggest mistake a property owner can make while marketing his property?Albert: In a word, not marking to market fast enough is the single biggest mistake. It is better to mark to market, get velocity, and then bring prices up than it is to sit there dropping prices little by little, bleeding to death. MHN: Can you provide some marketing tips for multifamily developers?Every prospect is gold. Work them all.Those who can afford awareness promotion in this market will stand out against those who are just barely keeping their heads above water.Always deal from a position of strength. With marketing issues, always appear strong and successful. If you panic and appear desperate, you might get a flurry of activity, but it will not be long-lasting and the project will then start to have a new lower value than if you held reasonably firm.Signage! Pay attention to your signage.Everything must be perfect. Every model must be spotless. Every light bulb must work. Every shrub must be green. The grass must be green and mowed. The entrance must be clean and welcoming. The photography must be of good quality. Everything must be absolutely perfect in these times. You must show value in every detail to today’s buyer!