New on #Aptchat: Multifamily Managers Share Sources of Marketing Inspiration
There’s a tendency in multifamily marketing to just “do what we’ve always done.” For this reason, multifamily managers in the first online roundtable conversation of 2017 at Apartment Chat discussed hot marketing concepts and campaigns that might be borrowed from other businesses. The upshot: begin paying attention to marketing campaigns that really impress you, and figure out how to adapt them to your own marketing. If there was an overall theme to this discussion, it was the trend towards video-based campaigns with a personal touch, built around “real people.”
Here’s how the Q&A session went:
What are some of your favorite companies you regularly look to for marketing inspiration?
The conversation here revolved around engagement and reality. Not surprisingly, in the age of reality TV and social media, the campaigns getting the most attention are those that are (ostensibly at least) built around real people using products and services: brand champions. Pulling this off involves not just putting a message out, but actually enticing consumers to engage with the brand through social media, local activities and personal, responsive email.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping multifamily communities from doing the same things these smart companies are doing.
The first brought up was Starbucks: “They always do a good job from a brand standpoint and I love how they include their customers,” said the first respondent. Another manager chimed in: “Arby’s builds community by having a finger on the pulse of current culture. Their campaigns are simple, stunning and accessible.”
Can you share an example of something these companies have done that stood out to you?
The participants mentioned some of their favorite campaigns by name. You’re encouraged to Google and check them out – and see if they inspire some thinking of your own as to how you might adapt some of these great concepts to the marketing of your communities. Remember what Picasso said: “When there’s anything to steal, I steal.”
Here are the examples that came up: the Topo Athletics Brand Ambassador Program; Procter and Gamble’s Olympic ads (“focus on people, not products”); Orange Theory (“they REALLY create a sense of community which creates GREAT word of mouth marketing”); BMW (“sends personalized offers via promo code based on recent purchases or maintenance service”); and a final participant mentioned finding inspiration in restaurant menus!
Have you noticed any overarching trends and/or themes across marketing from other industries? If so, what stands out?
A manager from Flagstaff said: “There’s a move toward genuine encounters with “real” people. Storytelling is a major focus.” This gets back to the “reality” theme that has come into its own with reality TV. It begs the question: why aren’t apartment marketers creating more campaigns around “real people” who live in their communities or work at cool retail establishments in the neighborhood? And, around onsite staff who are (to quote one manager) “real, genuine and care about people.” Events and parties at the community represent yet another opportunity.
One manager mentioned Canopy by Hilton’s highlighting of local restaurants and other businesses – a great approach for multifamily, since the choice of an apartment is as much about the neighborhood as it is about the property itself.
These days, with the ease of making videos and the insatiable desire for video content, there’s nothing stopping you from getting really creative – and it works to personalize apartment marketing in a way no number of property photos will ever accomplish. One participant says she in interested in how other businesses are even going a step beyond recorded video, successfully using live video streaming to increase engagement.
What kind of trends have you noticed as far as the marketing channels where other companies are focusing their efforts?
“Dedicated engagement” popped up first as a response: encouraging customers to “please email,” and answering them with a personal response – though there was a quick rejoinder that too often, the response is way too slow, or is a boilerplate “sorry to hear that.” On social media, real personal responses to questions and concerns can be seen by all, communicating the fact that the company is made up of real, caring people instead of being a faceless corporate entity.
To further enhance the personal approach, many businesses are ratcheting up their community activities, particularly in their neighborhoods. One manager mentioned a “fitness crawl” in cooperation with other neighborhood businesses. Again, it’s not just about the property – the choice of an apartment means the choice of a neighborhood and its retail businesses.
A final trend mentioned is live chat on websites, to answer customers’ objections before they leave the site, increasing sales. This is of course perfectly adaptable to multifamily; even though leasing agents are rarely available to engage in live chat with prospects, an apartment leasing call center service is set up to handle it.
What are some ways apartment marketers can leverage these trends we’re seeing elsewhere? Can you share what you’ve done?
The dialogue here focused on creating a sense of community – between residents, and in the neighborhood. This was seen as critical not only in making residents more attached to where they live, but making the property more attractive to prospects as well. Between word of mouth, marketing and social media, news of an apartment community that’s a “lifestyle” rather than just a building gets around.
What’s your current favorite campaign, or the one marketing idea that you most want to steal and apply to your community?
Live video using such platforms as Facebook Live and Insta was the big winner here – whether it’s a live property tour or residents gushing over why they love to live where they do. One manager said she repurposed these videos for Facebook ads, so they did double duty.
That wraps up the first 2017 edition of the Apartment Chat marketing roundtable for property managers. We’ll continue to keep you posted about new sessions as they happen!