Don't Let Typos Derail Your Apartment Marketing or Resident Retention Efforts
I got an e-mail the other day with the subject line “Sing a New Lease in Your Home Town Today!” A buddy of mine and I chuckled about it. Singing a new lease? Maybe I could combine that with an audition for X Factor. I bet Simon and Paula would prefer that to another Journey cover.
Later I had a nagging thought: How much impact did that typo really have?
The short answer is “probably not much.” Some people wouldn’t catch it at all. A lot of others wouldn’t open the e-mail regardless because they weren’t in the market for a new apartment. And if someone was really interested in a new apartment, would a typo keep him away?
But could that typo be like a small brick pulled out of a large wall: not significant in itself, but the start of something? Attention to detail is the overriding factor, and for property management companies, that attention can apply to everything from the e-mail you send to how you maintain the grounds of your property.
Let’s say a prospect responds to the e-mail and visits the property. There she spots a drip of paint on the property sign. The staff put out a plate of cookies, but nothing’s left on the plate but crumbs. A light bulb has burned out in the corridor leading to the apartment she tours, a tenant is standing outside next door smoking. Do you think she’s going to sign that lease? Or sing it?
Little things add up. Some you’ll have no control over. But you can minimize writing errors.
Think about how and how often you communicate with you residents. Consider the web sites that showcase your property, information you post at your property for residents, advertising, ILS listings, etc. Those are a lot of opportunities for a simple mistake to make you hit the wrong note.
If you have access to a professional writer or editor in your company, take advantage of it! If not, these tips might just have your messages singing a new tune.
1. Use spell check, but don’t trust it.
Spell check is great for catching misspelled words. But it doesn’t know when you’re using the wrong word. It wouldn’t catch the “sing a lease” typo; it doesn’t know whether to use “there,” “their,” or “they’re”; and it wouldn’t realize you’re more likely to have a property manager than a property manger—even during the holidays.
2. Always double-check phone numbers, URLs, and e-mail addresses.
It used to make headlines when a government office or charity accidentally transposed numbers in a publication and callers found themselves talking to someone in an adult industry instead. But it happens so frequently most journalists don’t bother anymore.
Regardless of where a wrong number takes your callers, you’re losing a call. Unless I’m 100 percent sure of the number or URL, I pick up the phone or click through the link to test it before I use it.
3. Try reading from the bottom up.
This sounds goofy. But when you give something your final read through (after having read it from top to bottom), start at the last sentence and work your way backward. It obviously won’t flow, but reading that way forces your mind to consider each sentence by itself and helps you catch things you might otherwise miss.
2. Make sure every name is right.
Misspell someone’s name, and it’s the first thing she’ll notice. As Philip B. Corbett (yes, I double-checked the spelling) recently wrote in the After Deadline blog of the New York Times, “Every misspelled name leads a new group of disappointed readers to wonder: If they can’t get the name right, what else in this article should I trust?” The same is true for your properties. That mistake suggests you make other mistakes. And most of the goodwill you gain by highlighting a resident will be lost if you get her name wrong.
5. Pretend you don’t know anything.
Especially when giving instructions, play dumb.
Mentally go through driving directions as though you’re from out of town. If you’re telling readers how to access part of your site, make sure that all the links you mention are still there. And watch out for industry jargon. Just because you know what a “lease up” is doesn’t mean your residents and prospects will.
6. Get a second pair of eyes.
Always, always, always have someone else read your communication before you send it out to the public. Your coworker’s brain doesn’t work quite the same as yours does. She’ll catch things you wouldn’t and vice versa.
Have any favorite tips or typo stories of your own? Sound off in the comments section below. By the way, did you catch my typo? Let me know.