Our industry has become heavily focused on digital marketing and social media to bring in traffic. It’s definitely become a high-tech world out there, not only in apartment management but in all other parts of the business world as well. However, there is an argument to be made that humans still crave high touch interactions. Our residents certainly expect it. Our marketing plans should also include a particular high touch technique that’s proven to be effective in generating traffic and keeping your brand in front of the customer. It’s an old-fashioned strategy called outreach marketing.
What is outreach marketing? It is a technique that helps you promote your property by networking with others who can become a source of referrals and word-of-mouth promotion. Developing relationships through face-to-face meetings with influencers and decision makers in your submarket can get the word out about your apartment community and reinforce your brand in the marketplace.
As you begin a new year and develop your marketing plan, don’t forget to allocate time to do outreach. Brainstorm with your team about the message that you want to leave behind and the memory hook you want to create during your face-to-face meetings. You should have a well-crafted, clear, concise elevator speech that succinctly explains why your property is the ideal place to call home.
Some thoughts about what might be relevant:
- Are you close to specific employment centers? HR people often direct new hires to housing that is close to where they will be working.
- Are you close to a school or university? Teachers and students don’t like long commutes.
- Are there recreational facilities nearby that would be attractive to your demographic? Make sure you point those out.
- Are you on a public transportation route? What about easy access to a major highway? Both are important as people calculate travel times to and from key destinations.
- Are you located in an area with great restaurants, retail establishment, and other forms of entertainment? Many prospects find this important.
- Are you in a quiet setting far away from traffic and noise? This too can be a major source of attraction to a particular renter.
Once you have fine-tuned your elevator speech, prepare for your outreach efforts by:
- Creating a regular schedule for conducting outreach.
- Identifying who on your team is best suited to conduct outreach on behalf of your community.
- Making a list of businesses you want to target for your outreach marketing.
- Organizing the materials that you want to leave behind with the people with whom you will be interacting.
Here’s a list of 15 outreach efforts you can implement right away:
- Join the local Chamber of Commerce and attend their events. Remember to bring plenty of business cards with you and ask if you can leave brochures or flyers on a display table. Many Chambers also have Business After Hours events where members can network and exchange information about their services and products.
- Partner with the local Humane Society. Donate supplies collected from residents and leave behind flyers about your property, highlighting that it is pet-friendly.
- Identify a local charity with which you can partner. Get residents involved in helping with the charity. What a great way to show the community in where your property is located, that you care about your neighbors, and those less fortunate!
- Meet the human resource directors of the local employers. Drop off gift baskets or coffee mugs wth your property information.
- Ask to sponsor a breakfast or lunch for the teachers at your local high school or elementary school. Many schools permit you to leave snacks in the teachers’ lounge along with promotional material about your apartment community.
- Bring pizza or snacks to your local fire station or police substation. Our law enforcement professionals and firefighters interact with lots of people. They also need a place to live.
- Sponsor a local children’s sports team –either through a city league or a school. This will provide great visibility for your property and make you popular with parents.
- Participate in local festivals and parades. There are any number of ethnic and cultural festivals that occur throughout the year in most cities where you can reach out to lots of people. What a great way to show that your apartment community is inclusive and values diversity.
- Reach out to local hospitals and medical facilities. Medical personnel work late shifts that leave little time to actually look for an apartment. Work with HR directors at hospitals to set up special late hours so that employees can visit your apartment community after hours to view models.
- Ask local businesses to you allow you to leave displays in their stores or restaurants in exchange for including their promotional materials in your resident move-in packets.
- Leave flyers and cookies at child care centers. Create bright colored flyers that feature your property’s amenities through the eyes of a child.
- Visit veterinarian offices and provide them with flyers that reinforce that your community is pet-friendly. Pet owners often struggle with finding a home where they can live with their four-legged furry family member.
- Participate in local job fairs. While you’re looking for new employees you can simultaneously tell people about the awesome apartment community where you work.
- Talk with job placement specialists in your area and ask them to refer their clients to your apartment community. People that are new to an area often rely on others to suggest the best places to live.
- Make sure that your apartment community is included on all community housing lists that may be in place in your area. This is especially important if your property is located near a military base.
Outreach marketing should remain a critical component of your overall marketing plan. It needs to be done consistently to reap the rewards of your efforts. It may take between 60 and 90 days before you begin to see results from your outreach, so it’s important to stick with the plan and not interrupt your schedule. Keep an outreach log to monitor your activities and stay on track. High touch face-to-face interactions with people in your neighborhood and potential residents will set you apart and give you a competitive advantage. And don’t forget to have fun as you talk to people about your terrific apartment community and how much it has to offer.