Marketing drives sales; it’s as simple as that. And as a company that specializes in apartment lease-ups, we know that when marketing is done consistently and correctly it will increase traffic and therefore increase leases. But that shouldn’t be news to you. What should be news to you is that you’re probably doing it wrong.

In the apartment industry we see a lot of the “let’s throw it out there and see what sticks” mentality. No one is really sitting down to think their marketing plan through. This can result in a waste of money and a leasing and marketing team that feels defeated and unmotivated when they don’t see results.

This can all be avoided by target marketing and market segmentation. Target marketing refers to who will be using your product. Sit down and decide what group, or groups, of people are going to be attracted to your community. If you’re running a student property or senior property this part will be easy for you. If you’re a conventional property, your answer will more than likely be anyone and everyone.  Now that we know who we’re targeting let’s get marketing, right?! Wrong.

The most crucial part of a marketing plan is market segmentation. Market segmentation refers to taking the target market you identified and breaking it up into different groups, or segments, and approaching them each in different ways. When you think about it, it makes sense. You wouldn’t advertise a car to a baby boomer the same way you would advertise it to a 20-year-old so why would it be different with apartments? We need to discard the ‘what works for one works for all’ way of thinking.

Types of market segments:

                1) Baby boomers: Although they’re becoming more comfortable with social media and navigating the internet, they certainly aren’t as comfortable as their younger counterparts. Keep your ILS sites because they will in fact attract baby boomers, but you can’t depend solely on them to drive traffic. Implement a guerilla marketing campaign using flyers to target places baby boomers frequent: isolate restaurants, shopping centers, doctor’s offices, etc. The natural progression is that they’ll see your flyer, do some research online and contact you through one of your ILS listings.

                2) Generation X: With a general age range of about 33-48, this group is busy. They’ve got careers and families and apartment hunting may not be their first priority because they simply don’t have time. So if they aren’t coming to you, you need to go to them. Implement a direct mail campaign and send literature to their homes. Also, beef up your preferred employer program and reach Generation X at work. Make sure you visit these companies in person– and bring more than just flyers. Gift baskets, pizza, candy, etc. can go a long way in making sure your community is remembered.

                3) 20-somethings, also known as Gen. Y: You’ve got to get creative here. This group is inundated with ad campaigns daily so you need to make sure you’re standing out– and social media is a fantastic tool to utilize. LeaseStar Social (formerly known as RentMineOnline) lets residents advertise your community to their friends using various social networks.  It’s essentially the same as the referral program you may currently have in place, but you have the potential to reach hundreds of people. Another out of the box idea for Generation Y was The Irvine Company’s use of Instagram and Twitter to promote one of their communities. They cleverly hosted three sisters (with a combined following in the tens of thousands) for one week and had them tweet their experiences. It created a huge buzz for the property and you can read more about blogger Jonathan Saar’s thoughts on the project here:

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