Apartment Marketing Tips from Shark Week

Image of Great White Shark breaching the water


Photo © Discovery Networks. Film: Air Jaws Apocalypse.

Just when you thought it was safe to watch television again after the ultra campy (and ultra crappy) SyFy movie “Sharknado” took a bite out of American pop culture last month, along comes Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week.

Believe it or not, there are many apartment marketing lessons we can learn from the behavior of sharks. I don’t mean to imply that apartment marketers are mindless hunters on a continuous search for their next meal. In fact, sharks are anything but mindless killers regardless of sensationalistic headlines.

I will say that apartment marketing is complicated. There are new developments, changes and innovations almost daily that make it hard to stay relevant to potential customers fishing for a new apartment home.

However, we can study shark facts and behavior to develop winning online and apartment marketing strategies that can help you successfully catch and land the biggest fish in the sea: apartment leads.

Go the Distance to Locate Qualified Leads

Like any good hunter, sharks go where the food is and will travel great distances to find their prey. To capture more leads, you need to find out where your prey—I mean prospects—hangs out. More often than not, you’ll find large schools of fish swimming on their mobile devices. Your apartment website needs to go the distance to provide potential renters the information that they want, when they want it—especially when they’re on the go.

According to a Google study, 67% of mobile users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service. On the flip side, 61% of users said that if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they’d quickly move on to another site.

Don’t Let Bad Publicity Ruin Your Online Reputation

Image of oceanic whitetip shark swims in the waters off the Bahamas. Photograph: Brian J Skerry/Getty Images/National Geographic

Bad rap: more Americans were killed by collapsing sinkholes (16) than sharks (11) between 1990 and 2006

Bad publicity around a few shark species has doomed sharks in general to the misconception that they are vicious man-eaters. The same thing can happen to your apartment community if you’re not monitoring your online reputation.

Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising with 70 percent of global consumers surveyed online indicating they trust this platform, an increase of 15 percent in four years. A reputation management strategy will help guide your leasing teams and not only increase awareness, but manage responses to your residents and prospects. An open dialogue, with a controlled message, will build your brand reputation, ultimately leading to resident retention.

Be on the Move and Available 24/7—or Drown

Sharks need to keep water moving over their gills to receive necessary oxygen. While not all sharks need to move constantly in order to breathe and keep from drowning, your apartment community needs to be available to handle prospect inquiries 24/7 to avoid drowning in lost leads.

A 2010 SatisFacts Research study revealed that calls coming into a multifamily property during normal office hours only have a 54% chance of being answered by on-site staff, and that doesn’t include calls that come in when your leasing office is closed. According to the Kellogg School of Management, 30 percent of leads occur after hours.

Timely response to leads is critical to a successful sales and lead management process and apartment communities than respond quickly to inquiries are more likely to increase closing ratios than those that don’t.

For sharks, it’s literally a sink or swim existence. Don’t the same happen with your apartment marketing.

Problem Solving Captures more Prey (and Prospects)

Sharks are smart creatures. Depending on their form and function of their body they hunt in different ocean levels to utilize their strengths and abilities. By doing that, they pretty much don’t leave a chance for their prey to escape.

Apartment marketers are smart creatures, too. We realize that content marketing strategy has to go beyond the basics such as amenities, floor plans, and pictures of sparking swimming pools. Today’s renter expects content that includes different levels of utility.

As Ann Handley, Chief Content Offices of MarketingProfs, put it during her keynote presentation at the RealWorld 2013 user conference, “Content marketing means you consistently create and share information that is packed with utility, seeded with inspiration, and honestly empathetic to attract customers to you.”

In other words, create marketing your customers will thank you for and your belly should stay full of tasty residents.

Image of Hammerhead Shark from Cocos Island, Costa Rica by petersbar, on Flickr

Image of Hammerhead Shark from Cocos Island, Costa Rica by petersbar, on Flickr


Be Transparent and Genuine about Apartment Website Content

One thing you can say about sharks is you know exactly what you’re getting with them: They swim and they hunt. And your prospects, and residents for that matter, expect the same from you in your marketing: be genuine and don’t try to pull a fast one on them.

The Discovery Channel created a veritable sharknado of controversy when it kicked off Shark Week with a documentary called Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives, which claimed to provide evidence that 60-foot sharks could still be alive. However, the “documentary” was a fake and nearly the entire Internet went into a feeding frenzy of protest. Despite record ratings for the show, the stunt may have backfired as many viewers who would have continued watching for the rest of the week might now be boycotting.

Make sure your apartment marketing campaigns show your properties in a positive and genuine light. The last thing you want to do is lose credibility in the eyes of prospects or worse, your residents.

Apartment Marketing and Sharks: Awesome and a Little Scary

Apartment marketing and sharks have more in common than you might think. At the core, both are awesome and a little scary. But having the right tools and content in place for each aspect of your apartment marketing strategy can help you beat your competition and get to your leasing goals faster than a Great White Shark attacking a seal.

Image of Shark Week from Discovery Channel

(No seals were harmed during the writing of this article)



Contributor, Property Management Insider

author photo two

Michael Cunningham is Content Marketing Manager at ProofHQ, and the former Managing Editor of PropertyManagementInsider.com. He worked as a social media manager for RealPage, Inc., a provider of on-demand software solutions that integrate and streamline single-family and a wide variety of multifamily rental property management business functions. He is responsible for promoting the company through various media channels, including editorial, print and online advertising, and social media. Michael received his education at Indiana University where he majored in English.

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