While the phrase “build it and he will come” proved true in Field of Dreams, property managers are not always so fortunate. A myriad of factors – the time of year, your property’s location, trends in folks moving to/from your region – might determine how difficult it is for you to fill vacancies. And as the pandemic subsides, and along with it the eviction moratorium, you might have to fill more vacancies than usual.
Marketing your property amidst all of your other property management responsibilities might seem daunting, but it does not have to be all-consuming, nor does it have to break the bank. Here at Rhino, we’ve gathered an overview of tactics to help you increase your occupancy rate and stay relevant to renters.
Marketing is a broad concept, and can be accomplished across a variety of digital and in-person platforms. To create a comprehensive marketing plan for your property, start by writing down a list of all of the platforms you presently use or intend to use in the near future.
These could include:
Advertising (digital, social media, TV, radio, print)
Referrals/word of mouth.
Once you identify all of your potential platforms, consider who is your typical renter, and how they would like to find out about your property. For example, college students will likely prefer that you have a digital presence, on social media or at the very least a website, but might not see your advertisement in a local newspaper.
All told, create a calendar or a to-do list for each platform, planning tactics that you think will best serve you when seeking new renters. And prioritize them, based on your capacity. A marketing plan does not have to be executed all at once, and some tasks might take longer. Also, as you plan, consider which tasks you can do in-house, and which you might need to outsource, based on your capabilities and availability.
One of the very first things prospective renters will do is google an apartment community online, so it is essential to provide them with the tools they need in order to learn about what your property has to offer. An accessible and helpful website will navigate the renter through their journey in learning more about your property.
When a renter arrives on your site, they'll want to figure out what the property looks like. Provide a variety of detailed photos and virtual tour videos.
Make sure your property management business contact information is continually visible in a place like the header/footer, or if there is at the very least a clearly defined “Contact Us” section. Keep this information up to date!
And make sure that your property management website is easy to access, designed to be mobile friendly, with clear and concise language and a fast loading time. The longer potential tenants have to wait for your website to load, the less likely they are to stay.
Keep your potential renters intrigued by finding ways to stand out – include a page with all amenities available to your renters, such as accepting Rhino and offering security deposit free listings, your pet policies, on-site extra curricular opportunities, features such as rec rooms or pools, and more.
While potential renters will first want to learn about your properties, they might also want to learn more about you and your staff. Add staff bios, your company’s core values, and any testimonials from past renters about their experiences interacting with you.
To cover any questions not already answered throughout your website, or avoid common questions you get from potential renters, consider including an FAQ.
Be sure to include multiple places on your site for potential renters to easily add their email addresses to your mailing list, or reach out via phone or email.
Include links to your listings on apartment discovery sites, such as apartments.com and Zillow. You want your current renters to be able to share with friends and family who might be searching for a new home.
Include social media icons on your site to bring viewers directly to your social media pages
That’s a lot to manage, but it’s easier when you create consistent content. Creating content with your target audience will help keep your engagement and new connections growing.
By creating consistent content, you can always give your renter something new to look at, while at the same time subtly reminding potential renters that your property should be one to consider. It also means that a potential renter will continuously recognize your brand at all times during their apartment search.
Properties who embrace visual content gain higher returns such as followers, likes, shares on social media, and more in-person visits which translate into more leases. By taking a wide variety of both pictures and videos of potential living quarters, renters can envision their lives while renting. Help renters visualize the benefits of your property with content that includes:
Videos, including renter testimonials, virtual apartment tours, and infographics explaining payment and insurance processes.
Quotes from Trustpilot or other review sites to add throughout your web pages.
High-quality pictures of your property and location to include on Google and social media.
Virtual tour videos, accompanied by audio from property managers, give people a deeper perspective than pictures and listing the amenities available, such as parking options, pool access, and a washer and dryer in-unit.
Creating and updating email mailing lists and setting up email communication is a powerful method to attract new renters, but also maintain positive relationships with your current renters. Here are the different types of emails you can send to market your property effectively:
Some renters might enjoy being a part of a community and getting to know their neighbors, so a newsletter spotlighting interviews or features of fellow renters could help keep your current renters engaged and give you content that can be reused on other digital platforms. If a potential renter sees that your current renters are friendly, this will ensure them that they are moving to a positive environment.
Email tends to be a more formal form of communication, so sending out vacancy listings to a newsletter of potential renters might prove as effective as social media. A good example of an email newsletter for property managers is Listings Project. If your potential renters can’t find an opportunity amongst your vacancies at a certain time, their interest might benefit you down the line, if they stay subscribed to your newsletter.
Send targeted emails requesting testimonials from current or previous renters. This will help tip the scales in your favor from the onset and give you a positive place to build from, as they will project reliability and happiness to potential renters.
Most potential renters will have social media accounts and engaging on that level will encourage a relationship with your brand. It’s important to have a presence on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter as well as LinkedIn with timely posts aimed at your target audience. Some specific strategies include:
Paying a real estate influencer to host a virtual walkthrough of your property. While potentially costly, working with an influencer means that your property has the potential to be viewed by over 83K Instagram followers.
Reuse photos and videos of your properties from listings for easy and relevant content.
Take advantage of your property’s festivity! Feature visuals of your current renters’ holiday decorations to give potential renters a sense of your property’s culture.
Create events on social media and Invite potential renters to communal engagement activities, such as any community happy hours or block parties. Not only will this help potential renters get excited about your property, but it will provide your current renters the ability to vet their potential neighbors.
Connect with other local businesses on social media to indirectly expand your reach, and to show your potential renters nearby attractions.
In addition to crafting a strong property management marketing plan, paid online advertising can attract potential customers that may never have found you otherwise.
Google ads can be a cost-effective way to expand your presence via search engines to capture renters search interest.
If you manage a property in a tight-knit community, investing in a few advertisements in local media might prove surprisingly effective. Meet your potential renters where they are looking for you.
Renters aren’t just paying attention to the information you put out into the world. Many potential renters will also look at how you share that information, and what they glean into your property management company’s culture. As a landlord, it’s important to be friendly, easily reachable, and engaging.
How you interact with renters is growing increasingly important, and you can shake hands and acquaint yourself within your community both in-person and online.
As online reviews become more prevalent, potential renters are more likely to factor them into their apartment search, so it’s important to make sure your property is listed on multiple websites. Trustpilot and Propertymanagement.com are great websites for potential renters to read reviews of your property.
Much like any local business, it’s essential to stay apprised of negative reviews and their impact on your reach as well as to elevate the positive reviews. Positive reviews can be lifted from the above websites, or even Yelp, and can be recycled as social media and website content.
Set up a time each week to go through online review sites and be sure to reach out to any current renters to make sure their concerns are met to address negative reviews.
Once you have engaged with potential renters through reviews, be sure to regularly check-in to remind them of what your property has to offer in order to keep them interested. Any promotions or changes to your business or property should also be relayed to potential renters, which should create a sense of open communication - an important factor for renters deciding on a property and landlord.
Community involvement acts on several levels as an awesome way to promote your business. Working within your community promotes visibility for your locations and reassures potential renters that your company actively works within the community in which it’s based. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth or putting in the work to establish yourself within the community. Some ways to pound the pavement include:
Hosting and/or attending neighborhood block parties
Volunteering to clean up your local parks
Partnering with local businesses – happy hours, sponsored by a local pub
Establishing a presence on a town council or committee
Amenities can help your property stand out to potential renters, and they don’t have to break the bank. As advances continue with smart home technology, and priorities shift across generations, there are new and inventive ways to offer additional, unique features that make your property competitively appealing to new residents.
In order to strategically implement or enhance your amenities, first identify your existing amenities. Are there any that can be improved? And what resources are you not fully utilizing? For example – if you own a two-unit apartment building, both units have hook-ups for a washer and dryer, moving your communal washer and dryer from the basement to one of your units, and purchasing another washer and dryer, second-hand, for the other unit, could prove to be an ultimately profitable investment.
Once you know what amenities you currently have or can improve upon, research and consider new offerings. This is where you might need to stretch your creativity – and we’re here to help! Use Rhino’s blog on how technology can be used to reinvent amenities, and our white paper on the most in-demand amenities for millennials and Gen Z renters, as jumping off points for inspiration.
As you research new possible amenities, ask yourself whether each idea is worth the cost of implementation, and how attractive you think it will be to new renters. Another example – a community game night might be a cost-effective feature to implement, but if your residents are predominantly doctors at a nearby hospital, with demanding and widely differing schedules, then a game night might not be an attractive new amenity.
All told, a new amenity like an electronic keypad lock can cost under $50, and be as enticing to a potential resident as constructing an in-ground pool for $30,000. And amenities can be completely free – Rhino is an exciting amenity for property owners and managers to offer to their renters in lieu of a traditional security deposit.
Any of the marketing strategies above will be a great starting point for accelerated engagement with potential customers and renters for your properties. Consistent and quality content will establish a brand identity that will last and pull in members from the community that may never have been aware of your properties’ possibilities. But sometimes it’s just as worthwhile to pound the pavement and connect with folks offline, as a friendly face can help market your property management services just as much as a featured online testimonial.