How Lincoln Property Company Showcases the Resident Experience
Share Your Story campaign elicits resident reviews without really asking
Lincoln Property Co.’s latest marketing campaign is proof that people love to tell stories.
In an effort to generate positive feedback at its conventional apartment communities, Lincoln asked its residents to tell it like is it is in the Share Your Story contest. What the company mostly got were heartwarming tales from happy residents and plenty of great marketing material. In addition, some properties got some well-deserved bragging rights and employees a pat on the back.
“We wanted to do something that would focus on our culture while keeping true to our brand,” said Sheri Killingsworth, Vice President, Marketing & Communications at Lincoln. “The stories were mostly about different things that impacted the lives of our residents. The objective was really about spotlighting employees and showing how much they care for their residents.”
The Share Your Story campaign, which ran from Aug. 24 to Sept. 23, also helped the company that owns 475 properties and manages about 170,000 units improve its online image, something that excites and elicits fear at the same time for some property management companies.
Garnering feel-good feedback without asking for a review
In the past, many reviews on Lincoln’s company pages weren’t always glowing, and when there was positive feedback it usually landed on the property’s social media pages. Lincoln worked with its digital marketing partner, LeaseLabs, to generate stories that could be shared with employees, residents and prospects.
The obvious goal was to receive stories painting the company in a great light, but Lincoln wanted to see how residents viewed their quality of life through testimonials without making a blatant pitch for online reviews.
“We walked a fine line between asking for reviews and asking for stories,” Killingsworth said. “We wanted to solicit real stories and not just star ratings.”
The campaign was featured on the company’s website, plus promotional posts on Facebook increased reach. Also, flyers and an email campaign were used to solicit stories.
Once the stories began trickling in, they were sorted into groups and reviewed by the marketing and learning teams. While the positive stories obviously got the most attention, negative stories weren’t just brushed aside.
“The majority (of feedback) was positive,” Killingsworth said. “We received some negative feedback but we welcomed that as well. It was an opportunity for us to address situations and concerns that residents openly and honestly expressed.”
Residents praise staff that goes the extra mile
The winning story, which earned a $500 Amazon gift card and an Amazon Echo, was among several about how Lincoln staff went the extra mile with residents. Such was the case with the property manager and assistant property manager at The Lincoln at Fair Oaks, a luxury apartment community in Fairfax, Va., in metro Washington, D.C.
A couple and their 6-year-old daughter and six-week-old baby girl suddenly had to move from Florida to Fairfax the week before Thanksgiving last year. With 48 hours of notice, the family enlisted help from friends to find apartments ready for move-in.
The Lincoln at Fair Oaks had just the apartment, and staff worked with the family on their 18-hour journey in a rental van and car to Fairfax to set up the lease. “By the time we got there, I had already made several tearful calls to the Lincoln folks, explaining that our pay stubs were somewhere in the moving truck and we HAD to move in in three days,” wrote the family. “They were so, SO kind and patient with me on the phone (I’m sure I sounded like a crazy person) …”
When the family arrived to choose an apartment, the property manager and assistant manager had the documents in place, and even helped with the electronic lease process.
“I can’t tell you how easy they made the most stressful time in our lives for us, and we will be forever grateful,” the letter said.
Another letter recounted how the staff at Residences at Slatersville Mill in Slatersville Mill, R.I., helped a resident who was immobilized after a serious operation to move into a new loft apartment. Before the resident left Nebraska, property manager Nicole Anastasi sent pictures of the stairs and railing so the physical therapist could help teach the resident how to move up and down the loft.
“This was a very stressful time,” the resident wrote. “Nicole was always on the other end assuring me that my loft was waiting for me, giving me the peace of mind I needed so I could concentrate on my recovery.”
Also, at Flats at Taylor Place in Nashville, Tenn., a resident praised the staff for going the extra mile when he was locked out of the apartment in one instance and lost his driver’s license before having to fly out of town in another. “I could live anywhere, but I choose to live where I do and wouldn’t change it. No matter where you live, things happen. It’s an amazing luxury to know that whatever it is that comes up, LPC will take care of it.”
Tales are valuable measuring stick online and internally
Killingsworth said a benefit of the campaign was that the company could share the stories internally to recognize leaders, show great examples and boost moral for communities. Lincoln now uses the reviews on their website, SEO campaigns and in marketing materials.
Since the campaign, Lincoln’s social media pages have boomed. The Facebook page has gone from a 3.0 star average with 144 reviews to 4.4 star and 475 reviews. Google Plus’ star average zoomed to 4.4 from 2.5, and reviews surged almost 10 times to 301.
While there were some special prizes given to the communities that got the most reviews and to the property with the winning story, Killingsworth said some pretty important bragging rights have been established. Highlands North and South each got 16 reviews and are now charged with setting the bar.
“They definitely have something to brag about,” she said.