Multi-Family Marketing – Part I

Carter Welcomes Kristi Fickert to Our New Guest Blog Column

What I love most about marketing and the multi-family/property management industry is that it’s always changing. Today’s customers are as savvy as ever; some in the multi-family industry see this as an obstacle to overcome, but I see it as an opportunity.

Now more than ever, the more information we can provide future renters, the better. It’s called “infolust” – the idea that consumers have become addicted to information and knowledge – and if we don’t acknowledge this in our marketing efforts, the customer will move on. They desire as much relevant information about the things they’re interested in, and they want the information NOW.

We’ve never before had the ability or tools to connect with our customers in so many ways. We can chat online via our websites, share photos and events to our network of fans on Facebook, build relationships through Twitter and even allow our prospective renters to check real-time availability and rent an apartment online. If you can capitalize on these resources, the rentals are in your favor.

Village Green’s leasing offices were one of the first to utilize iPads and handheld video cameras to create a more interactive rental experience for the customer. This increased interaction allows our team to build genuine relationships with our clients – which directly impacts rents and occupancies.

Instead of reacting to the ebb and flow of today’s markets, we’re capitalizing on it and it’s working. At Village Green, we’ve turned traditional marketing ideologies upside down and, in addition to the above trends, have instead focused our energies on a hospitality-centered approach to apartment marketing.

Long gone are the days of spending tens of thousands of dollars on print advertising (that a consumer may or may not read). The relationships we build along the way, with businesses, customers, community leaders and investors, are what truly sustain our business. We have shifted our focus from paid, third party advertising (via both print and internet), to creating brand awareness simply by being social and making it easy for our customers, and others in our target market, to connect with us. Our people are our best marketers.

This approach to marketing is reducing our cost per rental significantly and our customers are happier; in fact, Village Green was ranked No. 1 in customer service by CEL & Associates for the fourth year in a row. Yes, we still need branded collateral packages and a pretty website. But by focusing on relationships and adding value to our communities through additional services, amenities and benefits, the need for “traditional” advertising has fallen by the wayside.

For the past 11 years, Kristi has served as the Senior Regional Sales and Marketing Director for Village Green, where she oversees the sales, marketing, training, recruitment and corporate and community relations for 28 apartment communities in multiple states across the U.S. Kristi is Village Green’s “people person” – she loves spending time getting to know residents, business partners and owners. More often than not, you can find her “out and about” in the community – attending Chamber of Commerce functions, socializing at networking events or hosting corporate presentations for various organizations around the city.

Village Green is one of the nation’s largest privately held leasing and property managers of luxury apartment communities and currently manages leasing for more than 40,000 multi-family units across the U.S. They were recently ranked 28th on National Multi-Housing Council’s “2013 Top 50 Apartment Management Companies”. Village Green is currently working as property managers for two of Carter’s project in Ohio: Current at The Banks and Highpoint on Columbus Commons.

Check back next week for Part II of Kristi’s guest blog post!

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