Commercial Real Estate

CRE Opinion: Stepping Up Your Marketing Game in the Face of Extra Supply

The multifamily industry should take a more intimate approach when dealing with its customers by creating continuous, meaningful interaction.

Peggy Daly of Monogram Residential

With over 50,000 apartment units currently under construction in North Texas, the multifamily market is heating up like Texas summer temperatures. Renters now have more choices than ever and apartment communities are having to rethink their approach to sales and marketing.

To differentiate themselves from the competition, properties continue to elevate their amenities and services, with many akin to five-star hotels. Thus, renters are becoming more savvy in how they identify and interact with apartment communities. The old method of marketing that focused on the hard sell falls flat. It’s time to change the sales and marketing conversation and take a subtler approach.

Think back to the last large party you attended. How many conversations did you have, and of those, how much do you remember about what was said? I bet it’s not many, if any at all. There’s a lot of this small talk—or noise—happening in our industry and the marketplace overall. As consumers’ attention spans continue to shrink and the amount of marketing thrown at them grows, they look at things more critically.

Now, change that setting to a more intimate gathering. You probably remember most everything, including their likes, habits, and mannerisms. This is how you should be conversing with that discerning customer. It’s what we at Monogram fondly refer to as the “cocktail party” approach.

With the immense amount of data available, we’re able to paint a detailed picture of our residents’ lifestyles: their preferences, where they go, and sometimes even their coffee order. You have all the information you need to engage in a reciprocal conversation. Yet, with all this information, I still see the industry telling audiences what to do (“Lease now! Get your first month free!”). Put on that cocktail party hat when you speak to your audiences—acknowledge their individual needs, interests, and perceptions of themselves; become useful and create a lasting emotional connection.

Modern marketing is a long game. It’s about continuous, meaningful interaction. Our community events are where we see this approach to marketing in action, incorporating aesthetic elements with a surprise and delight mentality. So, instead of ordering delivery pizza for resident events, we bring in a chef from a neighborhood staple to serve up some seasonal fare; rather than having our residents seek entertainment outside their communities, we give them an evening of live music or an intimate fashion show at one of our stunning rooftop patios. But to truly bring your brand to life, you must live it inside and out. Creating and sustaining an authentic brand boils down to talent and training. Our most successful leasing professionals come from the luxury retail or hospitality sectors. With apartment living becoming increasingly like luxury hospitality, it made sense to tap into a talent pool where white-glove service is second nature. Once hired, we take them through a rigorous orientation program, followed by periodic continuing education courses, each with a goal of helping them maintain our brand promise. We’re also rolling out an immersion program that allows our leasing professionals to gain first-hand knowledge of their residents’ lifestyles, so that each interaction is authentic and enriches and elevates their experience with Monogram. Taking this philosophy a step further, we recently implemented a brand ambassador position to help drive community engagement. This person’s sole responsibility is to scope out the places our residents are already frequenting or have yet to discover and forge partnerships with those business owners. Similar to a luxury hotel concierge or travel guide, our goal is to be the go-to resource for our residents.

This level of investment in your brand can be intimidating. Many real estate professionals hear the word marketing and instantly think of dollars down the drain. Think about your own experiences as a consumer. Most of us have at least one unwavering allegiance to a brand or product. Consider why you continue to upgrade your iPhones, pay the extra $150 per month for your Equinox membership, or shop at Whole Foods when there’s a Kroger across the street. These brands have successfully transformed their brands into a lifestyle. We in the apartment industry have a unique advantage over these companies: constant interaction with our customer. Engaging with our product doesn’t require any effort on the part of our residents—they’re already home. It’s time to approach multifamily marketing like you do when starting a friendship—create more meaningful connections.

Peggy Daly is executive vice president, property management at Monogram Residential

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