This article was originally posted on MultifamilyInsiders.com on September 7, 2011. It was subsequently published in ABODE Magazine and the Houston Apartment Association Magazine, and referenced in UNITS Magazine’s January 2012 issue.
Hey there, MFI family!
I’ve been thinking about marketing trends that our industry should take advantage of in 2012. Here’s my list. Please share yours!
1. Video tours – Ever consider filming a prospect tour? When you follow-up with the prospect, be sure to send the video also. You will surely give them the most memorable tour. (Be sure to get permission first!)
2. Community marketing video – I’m not talking about the kind of video that apartment advertisers put together for you. Get creative and put together your own video! It doesn’t take a huge budget to create a great video. All you need is a flipcam and iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. (Shout out to the Apple users!)
3. QR Codes – These babies are gaining popularity and you have to know how to use them effectively. Quick reference codes can be used to “unlock” move-in specials or host community contests!
4. ‘+1‘ – Fellow Insider Brent Williams wrote Will the Google +1 Button Amount to Anything? I think it’s safe to say that it’s time for you to add a +1 share button to your communities’ websites! (P.S. If you don’t already have Facebook and Twitter share buttons, you’d better get those in a hurry!)
5. Facebook Page – I’m happy to see that many apartment communities are already on Facebook. For those of you who aren’t there – what are you waiting on?! This is simply an extension of your community and if you think your residents aren’t on Facebook, you better think again. P.S. It’s FREE!
6. Twitter – Okay, okay. I realize that if you haven’t put your community on Facebook, you probably aren’t think about Twitter. But I have homework for you: Go to twitter.com, type ‘looking for apartments’ into the search box, press Enter. Come back and tell me what you see.
7. Text Customer Service – Now this is one trend that none of you can deny! Everyone, including your grandmother, is texting these days! It’s time we started communicating the same way! We have to speak our renters’ language! Think about setting up text leasing, text maintenance, text advertising and even ongoing texting for community events and/or courtesy weather updates.
8. Handwritten Thank You Notes – Yep, I realize this is the exact opposite of #7; however, this is a great way to make a lasting impression in a world where everything has gone digital. It’s definitely more personal than e-mail. You can send anyone an e-mail but it takes time and thought to send a handwritten note.
9. Community Application – Better known as an app, you should definitely look into creating one that will allow your residents to pay rent, submit service requests and contact the leasing team right through their phone.
10. Mobile Websites – I just added this one so that I could have a list of 10 items. Your website should already be mobile-optimized by now! 🙂
11. Live Chat – Internet has bred a generation of people who need that instant gratification. They want what they want, and they want it now! Prospects want their questions answered now! Satisfy their needs by adding a live chat feature to your website!
12. Managing Review Sites – Review sites are another form of social media marketing and, as you know, the results of this type of marketing can either be bad or good. Bill Szczytko (@BSitko) talks about how we can manage ApartmentRatings.com in his post ApartmentRatings.com follow up: 10 tips for managing your ratings. Going into the new year, communities should put more focus on managing reviews on these sites and actually providing responses on both positive and negative reviews. This will really make an impact on any prospect who just happens to be researching your community on a review site.
Alrighty, that’s all I can think of for today. I will update as I come up with more ideas.
Thanks in advance for sharing!