Why Apartment Marketers Need to Listen to Resident Chatter

In the second part of MHN's two-part series, Kate Good looks at musts for the 2012 multifamily marketing plan.

In Part 2 of MHN’s exclusive series with Multifamily Marketing Expert Kate Good, we explore the musts for the 2012 marketing plan. Click here to read Part 1 “Plan the Marketing… Then Work the Plan.

By Diana Mosher, Editorial Director

Do your apartment communities have a targeted marketing theme for 2012? Once you create that message, you’ll want to push it across all your marketing channels and obtain widespread buy-in. “Marketing plans that don’t succeed are typically ones that don’t think ‘big picture’ by taking into account the other departments that will be required to implement the plan. For example, if your theme revolves around customer service (“we will not rest until we’ve done our best”), it will impact corporate policy and even human resources,” says multifamily marketing consultant Kate Good, who recently shared a number of tips during a webcast “Essential Elements of a Successful Marketing Plan” produced by Multifamily Insiders and sponsored by VaultWare.

“Don’t stack everything at the beginning of the year,” says Good. “Spread actions over the 12 months. Do a Gant chart so you can see where your holes are, and make sure you have staffing where you need it. Once you have an approved plan in place, stick to it—and delegate. Get all team members on board.”

Social media is a must

If your 2012 marketing plan doesn’t include social media, your business is going to get left behind, according to Good. “So many of our residents spend more time reading blogs, on social media sites, and using search engines than they do on their email.”

“We will need to budget for the mobile movement in 2012,” she adds. The speed of mobile adoption growth is far outpacing that of prior technologies. Using mobile to access data and to make transactions is nearing the tipping point. Mobile will soon be the primary digital means that consumers use to interact with brands, friends, retailers and other businesses. “Even if you have a mobile website, budget to upgrade it in 2012. About 4.5 billion people already own a mobile phone. As your residents continue to pull away from computers, you’ll need the money to make the updates.”

Tune in to the conversation

What are residents saying and where are they saying it? Don’t just join the conversation—go beyond by providing a place where you can host the dialogue. Your property’s Facebook and Twitter should be striving to engage residents in conversation rather than just pushing information out to them.

And, in fact, your marketing plan can benefit from the resident chatter on Facebook or Twitter. Is it related to pets? It might make sense to implement a campaign that’s tied to a charity such as The Humane Society. Charitable marketing is gaining in popularity for a variety of reasons including its appeal to the Gen Y demographic.

You can also learn about their hobbies and how they spend their down time. Many properties are partnering with local businesses to promote activities and sporting contests. You may want to rewrite leases to obtain permission to use photographs of residents for marketing purposes.

Good also urges property managers to be creative in their website photo gallery selections. “Why post the usual ten pictures of the clubhouse and just two of actual apartments?” she asks. “For 2012, please (!) put some money in the budget to get great photography showing the pictures that people care about and will want to see. You want to have a solid gallery of images that tell the story of what it will be like to live at your apartment community. This is so important.”

Good also suggests having the property management team post on your apartment community’s professional Facebook page. Include a weekly wrap-up about how many service requests the team has handled in the past week. “Boy, doesn’t that give your property some great PR,” says Good. “Two years ago we were talking about outsourcing this [function], but I really love to get the team involved in social media.”

You’ll also need to address reputation management in your 2012 plan. Who is monitoring what’s being said about your apartment community? “I spend a lot of time on this, especially in those communities where we have some things to turn around.” Reputation management starts with getting a notification whenever your apartment community is mentioned on the Internet. “Make sure you know what’s being said—reputation is everything right now,” says Good.

Other marketing channels

Think about the products and brands that you support. How are they engaging with you? What kind of content gets your attention and what tag lines? Are you more attracted to marketing campaigns that rely on humor or those that appeal to your empathy? Were you intrigued by something that came in the mail?

“We don’t get that much in the mailbox anymore, so sometimes a direct marketing campaign can be a smart idea,” says Good. “It stands out because that mailbox is emptier and emptier.”

Also think about what your favorite TV stations are doing. And should you be more actively sending press releases to media outlets? “With each marketing channel you identify, you want to say: this is what we’re going to do with this channel, and this is why it makes sense to do it,” explains Good. “Especially since we’re frequently working with tight budgets, it’s very important to show how one channel supports another and they’re all working together.”

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