It’s All Been Done Before! Vintage to Vogue Marketing Ideas


There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” – Mark Twain

Have you ever had a flash of genius? The kind where you, out of nowhere, get the greatest leasing or marketing idea EVER?  You mull it over,  develop it out a bit, and then eagerly tell your manager… only to hear, “Yeah…that’s been done before.”

This interchange happened to me frequently when I was onsite as a young leasing professional, and I can tell you that every time it was revealed to me that I was not, in fact, brilliant beyond belief, I got a little bit depressed. One day, though, I actually had a real flash of brilliance that stopped my sadness – It’s ALL been done before.

All of it. Every idea. Every. Single. One.

That day was a turning point for me because I realized that it wasn’t about the idea – it was about the spin, flair, flavor, whatever you want to call it, that *I* could bring to the idea! Who cares if it’s been done before?  If it hasn’t been done before by you, then you have the opportunity to make it unique and to make that idea really  shine.

Case In Point
Sure, the “we just popped in” note with a bag of popcorn for maintenance calls has been around for a while – probably since at least the advent of microwave popcorn. If you think the idea is played out, so to speak, then start by looking at the essence of what it’s trying to accomplish. First, it’s a note to let the resident know we were in their apartment that day.  Second, it has contact information on it so that if their service request wasn’t handled properly, they might be more likely to let us know, and allow us to ensure that the problem gets a remedy.  Third, we want them to know we see them as more than just a rent check and don’t see the service call as a burden. Finally, we want to leave them with something a little warm and fuzzy when they think of us.

Once you look at the goals of a marketing movement, then you can start to think of different ways to tweak it to your needs and style.  For instance, if you are a super pet-friendly building and you’ve trained your leasing consultants to ask for names of pets when taking service requests (which you always should!), your techs can leave dog or cat treats and a note that says, “It was our treat to serve you and Fox today.  If he sniffs out anything we missed, just let us know!”  You’ve just updated the same process with your own signature flair, one that is specific to the likes of your demographic.  It seems common sense to say so, but when you tailor your marketing and service messages to those who are going to be receiving them, they tend to be far more effective.

You can update almost any idea, from any era, just by examining the purpose of the idea and what incarnation of it your residents would respond best to.  Remember, as Andre Lorde said, “There are no new ideas.  There are only new ways of making them felt.”