We Are Examining Costs, Asking More Questions and Renegotiating Pricing with Vendors

The Bozzuto Group recently hired Jamie Gorski (pictured) as senior vice president of corporate marketing, where she will run the marketing department and provide strategic marketing direction for each of Bozzuto’s six integrated companies. Gorski previously worked as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for KETTLER and as vice president of marketing for Archstone-Smith and for Charles E. Smith Residential. Gorski has won numerous marketing awards, including 30 Pillars of the Industry Awards from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).She talks to MHN Online News Editor Anuradha Kher about how marketing can be useful in surviving a recession, attracting new renters, and her plans for the Bozzuto Group. MHN: Why is marketing important in this economic climate? Gorski: Marketing is crucial to a company’s success now more than ever. We are all dealing with not only the fact that consumers and clients are examining every dollar they spend, but also that they increasingly have more and more options to choose from. This means that companies must rely on sound, effective marketing strategies to both set them apart from the pack and to create long-term brand loyalty, in order to benefit from the economic upswing when it happens. As always, but especially in this economy, every resident and every client is as important as the next. In recessionary times, companies tend to require costs cut across the board, which often means that they aren’t able to adequately support their brands. In order to operate successfully under cost constraints, smart marketers will selectively choose where to cut costs rather than across the board, and will increase their effectiveness by examining their consumers’ changing attitudes and behaviors, and adjusting their strategies and messages accordingly. MHN: What do you plan to do/change about the marketing strategies that already exist at Bozzuto? Gorski: Fortunately, the Bozzuto brand is tremendously strong and the company has a fantastic, well-earned reputation. Thus, my goal is really to just enhance the Bozzuto brand and elevate the branding efforts to a level that matches the performance of the company. I would like to cultivate more partnerships with well-known brands, leveraging the cross-promotional power that comes with combining two strong names. We will also continue to work on maximizing our effectiveness, increasing our innovation, shifting and fine-tuning our online marketing efforts and improving our team’s ability to work effectively across our six integrated companies. Additionally, just as our construction, homes and development companies are continually looking for ways to operate more ecologically aware and to provide more environmentally friendly products, I will challenge my team to identify new ways to “green” our marketing and to promote the green lifestyle that so many of our communities offer. Many studies have shown that despite the economy, consumers will still “buy green.”MHN: What marketing advice would you give small multifamily companies trying to survive in this economy? Gorski: Right now, everyone should be focusing on value. We are examining our costs, asking more questions and renegotiating pricing with vendors in order to ensure that we get the most from every dollar we spend. I also think that this is a great time to re-examine public relations efforts – compared to traditional advertising, the PR function is so low cost, so credible, so effective, and often, so underutilized. And this goes two ways – given the recent tightening experienced by so many newsrooms, the media is increasingly dependent on useful public relations efforts. MHN: How can effective corporate marketing help in attracting new renters to a property and increasing occupancy?   Gorski: The fundamental goal of marketing is to build and maintain a brand that gains new customers and keeps existing ones. When marketing efforts successfully create brand awareness and excellent customer service creates true brand loyalty, the actual brand can be as valuable as the product itself. For the multifamily industry, this means plenty of traffic, occupied communities, happy residents and satisfied clients.MHN: What is the biggest hurdle in communicating your message? Gorski: The biggest hurdle is successfully conveying it online and constantly reevaluating it in regard to changing customer needs and preferences. Another obstacle we all encounter is the continual process of creating, implementing and adhering to brand standards in this ever-changing marketplace, while at the same time encouraging flexibility and creativity. And of course, we’re all dealing with smaller budgets. These constraints are requiring us to be more creative in finding alternative, cheaper marketing and advertising initiatives. Although budgets may shrink, the need for—and expectations of—marketing do not!