For years many in the apartment industry have referred to Outreach Marketing as a four letter word, and although we budget for outreach and say we do it, can anyone say they have had direct benefits from their communities outreach efforts? When I ask my clients and colleagues what their true feelings are on conducting outreach in nearly any industry the facial expressions says it all; fear, disgust and downright boredom. So what’s the point? Why are we spending time and money on flyers to the local diners, nail salons and banks? The truth is there is no point, if this is your game plan on Outreach Marketing then the chances that you will actually see a return on investment is slim to none.
It is imperative to take the time to understand where your prospective residents are coming from and what there wants and needs are. What works for one property may not be as effective at another so identifying the trends is one the most important aspects. So how do you identify your target market and their wants, needs and lifestyles? The answer is there are several ways to obtain this information and I recommend that you diversify your efforts continually.
One way is your management software; in our industry we pay big bucks for fancy software but don’t utilize this software to its fullest potential. Sort your information by employers, past addresses etc. and look for trends. More common than not you may be able to tap into a hidden market of prospective residents migrating to your area for various reasons. For example I worked with two properties in South West Florida and I noticed a trend of prospective residents as well as current and past residents moving from various locations in New York City. This information allowed me to dig deep and utilize appropriate advertising venues to target this niche market.
The next is coming up with a promotional item that with one shot will promote your business in the best light as well as be a memorable enough piece for people to want to first pick up and then to keep. My favorite is food. Rarely have I found anyone that will reject food, and it is typically very cost effective for most budgets and using a cute play on words like “we chip in” are effective and to the point.
The next step is to create a well thought out outreach plan. This is a little harder than finding the niche markets, because now you are putting the ideas down and planning how you are going to put the plan in motion. Before this step you are just looking at a great ideas, but writing the plan is how you are making the idea a reality as far as your budget and man power are concerned.
Last is putting your plan in motion. Many times I will find that Marketing Gurus will come up with fabulous well thought out ideas and game plans and then they just sit on the shelves without finding the time to put the plan in action. Setting the time aside and committing to it is the single most important aspect to making outreach successful. I suggest preparing the evening before and then completing outreach before you step foot in the office. Almost always the minute you step foot into your office you will find yourself consumed. Pick a day each week and commit to that being your day to be out of the office, soon you will find it a part of your normal routine.