I recently did a marketing/PR new business pitch for a Phoenix apartment builder that launched a fabulous new apartment complex, but was having trouble getting tenants to join their community. At 90-days from launch, they only had 17 tenants – less than a 5% occupancy rate – and wanted help driving traffic.
The first thing that I did was get familiar with them: their advertising, their website, their property, their marketing materials, etc. The problem became clear very quickly.
The dreaded ”me, too” disease
All of their marketing communications looked exactly like 95% of their competitors – a common malady in real estate. It failed to set their community apart and just wasn’t compelling. They had not defined who they were trying to reach, much less what their key differentiators were that would draw the right target audience to them.
It was well-designed, attractive, and well-written – but the strategy behind the creative needed attention.
As an example – flip through the most recent issue of For Rent magazine. It is free pub at grocery stores and such, and showcases apartments for rent. It doesn’t matter which issue…
What do you see?
Hundreds of ads that have a pool photo, an outside shot, and a bullet list of features like “high speed internet,” “on-site laundry,” “clubhouse with BBQ grills” and “private patios.” Hello? Are there any apartments that DON”T have those things? Sure wouldn’t make me come take a look…
If you cover up all of the ad logos in a publication, and your ad looks exactly like every other one, then YOU NEED TO REPOSITION YOUR PRODUCT. It is much cheaper than wasted advertising.
Reposition Your Brand
Anyway, trying to please everyone by dumping a laundry list of bullets on every feature seems to be a contageous marketing disease that most companies do. From a messaging standpoint – since this blog is all about making yourself different and standing out from the crowd – it is not an effective ploy.
Sizzle, not steak
For this particular apartment complex, they offer some unusual amenities.
It has a full-size exercise room for yoga, tai chi or a Pilates class. It has a private massage room with built-in iPod jacks and luxury spa products for purchase. The exercise equipment is nicer than the chi chi clubs you pay an arm and a leg to join. To add frosting to the cake, the floorplans and other amenities have a lot more in common with condos than apartments. Nice, very nice.
What would I do?
Market to women and develop a lifestyle that marries the ammenities to the target audience.
- Bring in local instructors to offer classes for tenants and non-tenants held at the clubhouse.
- Give away an iPod fully loaded with music in random drawings for those who bring friends to activities or suggest new ones that are popular.
- Sponsor the local 10-k run and invite training classes to be held in the clubhouse.
- Create localized online chat rooms related to the classes, weight loss, getting fit, or other relevent topics and promote the property on the site.
- Hang a banner on the building that says “Come ohmm with us – live here, get free yoga classes. “
- Find relevant clubs or assocations and invite them to meet in the clubhouse conference room.
It’s all about building a community of people with like interests, and provide activities, amenities and profit centers that fulfill those interests. Now THAT is messaging that will work.
Engage them, don’t sell them.
My five cents worth? Do a little market recon to see what your competition is up to, figure out who your market is, figure out what they want – and change your messaging accordingly. Badaboom badabing. It reasonates.