In light of the supreme importance of your apartment complex brand, you’ll want to enlist the help of top professionals to help develop and maintain it. But how can you find the best apartment marketing company for you?
Why Branding is Essential for Your Apartment Complex
If you are in the process of launching your first multifamily residential business or considering a rebrand for either a longstanding property or recently acquired apartment property, you are likely asking, “What is the best apartment marketing company to brand my development?”
Furthermore, if you aren’t questioning your current branding efforts, you probably should be. Most residential development marketers realize how important it is to promote the outstanding features and conveniences of their apartment complexes and specific apartment units. However, even seasoned professionals in the multifamily residential field often underestimate the incredible value of brand optimization.
An overwhelming amount of statistical research confirms the superlative importance of company branding across a wide range of industries and markets. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute 77 percent of marketing leaders identify branding as critical to growth. On the consumer side, Small Biz Genius reports that 89 percent of shoppers remain loyal to brands that share their values. Furthermore, 64 percent of people surveyed by the Harvard Business Review cite shared values as their main reason for establishing a consumer relationship with one or more specific brands.
In the highly competitive multifamily residential real estate market, branding is particularly important for businesses that want to differentiate themselves from their closest competitors. After determining the outstanding features and amenities that make your property unique and the exact audience demographic that you wish to target, a good apartment marketing agency can develop and/or build upon a brand image that rises to the occasion to meets your particular wants and needs.
Tips for Choosing the Ideal Apartment Branding Agency
But how can you find a marketing company that has what it takes to spearhead branding operations for your multifamily residential business? The masterminds at Ad Age Magazine have come up with a couple of general guidelines to start you off in the right direction:
Establish clear goals and expectations – Before you can find an agency to deliver a specific result, you must first clearly define exactly what that result should be. After you have established your specific objectives, you can source and examine the options that are most likely to meet them. You might search out that edgy marketing startup to make your provocative marketplace splash or gravitate toward that industry stalwart to foster an image that is both stable and trustworthy.
Narrow your search – Anyone attempting to sort through thousands of potential advertising agencies will quickly become overwhelmed and lose all sense of perspective. In fact, even choosing between a dozen or so agency options can become quickly problematic. To combat this problem, Ad Age says that even “your initial ‘long” list should be relatively short and focused.” Real estate professionals can turn to their affiliated industry associations or a qualified search consultant to source only the most effective potential candidates.
Forbes Magazine reached out to a variety of marketing leaders to get further tips for choosing the right marketing agency for specific branding purposes. Some of the results were quite inspired.
The HOTH’s Marc Hardgrove, for example, recommends a close examination of each candidate’s in-house branding and advertising efforts. After all, any agency that cannot brand itself is likely to have difficulty branding your apartment complex.
In its 2018 article, Forbes also quoted Danielle Wiley of the Sway Group, who cited a compatible business philosophy as the top reason to choose a specific marketing agency. If your multifamily residential company, like most successful enterprises, fosters business approaches that are collaborative, practical, and forward-thinking, you would be wise to embrace an advertising agency that has similar values.
Reach Out to Bigeye Today
If you’re looking for an exceptional branding company for developments in the multifamily residential sector, Bigeye offers a range of personalized services to help you build a unique brand from scratch, execute an efficient rebranding, or refine your existing brand to connect with a whole new audience. Contact us today – a skilled and knowledgeable marketing professional is standing by to answer any questions that you might have.
In the highly competitive residential real estate sector set your high rise apartment marketing apart by stressing the unique value, benefits, and features of your available units.
High Rise vs. Low Rise Apartments
Before discussing elements of effective marketing strategy for high rise apartments, it is essential to determine what, exactly, a high rise apartment is. As explained by
RENTCafé senior creative writer Nadia Balint, the definition of a high rise varies significantly from country to country and from business sector to business sector.
In the United States, the National Fire Protection Association officially classifies any building over 6 stories as a high rise. For real estate marketing purposes, however, a high rise building should generally include a few more floors. The leading commercial real estate market research and data provider Yardi Matrix, for example, limits apartment community high rises to those that have at least 10 residential floors.
Marketing Tips Specific to the High Rise Apartment Sector
Low rise apartments and high rise apartments each have their own pros and cons. While many of these pro and cons are obvious to any prospective renter, others may not be so immediately evident,
As a marketer of high rise apartments, you are doing yourself a great disservice if you aren’t stressing the specific advantages that your units have to offer.
In many cases, you can even succeed in changing a negative into a positive through the power of an effective marketing campaign. For example, to combat the perceived hassle of living so far above ground level, you can stress the convenience, speed, reliably, and/or overall number of elevators on the premises.
Here are a few other features and elements that you may want to emphasize when marketing high rise apartments:
Because land development professionals aren’t exactly clambering to construct skyscrapers buildings in rural or small town locations, high rise apartment buildings typically appeal to prospective renters who value a bustling, metropolitan lifestyle.
It’s the oldest cliché in the real estate business, but, like many clichés, it holds true: location is everything. If a prospective renter values working, shopping, and enjoying the nightlife of the big city, the prospect of living in the heart of these various activities will be welcomed as not only extremely convenient but pleasantly exhilarating.
Of course, no one is going to fail to stress an amazing panoramic cityscape in their apartment marketing materials. A great view might be the single greatest feature of a high rise apartment unit.
However, every unit in your high rise complex needn’t offer a full perspective of the New York City skyline in order to draw in prospective renters. Consider the value of promoting an apartment free of overwhelming visual obstructions and full of beautiful natural light.
A preponderance of high rise apartment complexes employ doormen and/or a security staff to ensure that tenants and their belongings are protected and safe. Many high rise apartment complexes also offer a concierge and/or other service professionals to make daily life a little bit safer and easier.
In addition to increasing security and convenience, on-site apartment building workers can brighten your day with a friendly “hello” and generally contribute to a warm community environment.
Flexible Leasing Options / Vacancies
Renters in search of a month-to-month lease or other flexible rental agreements are significantly more likely to find one in a high rise. Plus, due to the sheer number of units that a large high rise building contains, apartment hunters are more likely to find a desirable vacancy in the high rise sector.
Overall apartment options are also quite wide in the high rise sector. Prospective renters who require a furnished apartment, for example, can commonly find one in a high rise apartment complex.
Easy Utilities / Maintenance
If you’ve ever had to wait for a cable provider to start or disconnect service, you know just how time consuming and frustrating this can be. Because the vast majority of residential high rise complexes are already wired for services such as cable, phone, and Internet, renters typically don’t have to wait for the entertainment and connectivity that they rely upon.
High rise apartment buildings also widely support on-site property management offices that provide prompt access to maintenance services. This means that high rise tenants typically won’t have to live with malfunctioning or damaged apartment infrastructure for long.
To Learn More
Bigeye is an innovative high rise apartment marketing firm that leverages every possible advantage in the campaigns under our management. To get in-depth marketing advice for your high rise apartment business, contact a skilled and knowledgeable Bigeye representative today.
An apartment complex rebrand is certainly nothing to be taken lightly. If you choose to do it, make sure that you do it right by choosing a rebrand apartment marketing company that adheres to these guidelines.
The Benefits of a Well Timed and Executed Rebrand
No matter how much time and energy you put into the creation of your initial multifamily residential brand, there will inevitably come a time when it no longer delivers the desired results. As times, audiences, and marketplaces continue to evolve and change, brands must generally keep pace or place themselves at risk being left behind.
As reported on the digital publication of Entrepreneur Magazine, successful organizations generally tend to retool their brand and corporate identities once every 7 to 12 years. Although rebranding is a risky venture that requires abandoning all of the brand equity that you have previously accumulated, the value of an effective rebrand simply cannot be underestimated.
Entrepreneur highlights McDonald’s, Apple, Pepsi, Shell, and Twix, as just a few examples of brands that have benefited greatly from one or more comprehensive overhauls. But, of course, your company’s chances of a successful rebrand has everything to do with your reasons for beginning the rebranding process in the first place.
Key Occasions for a Rebrand
In addition to simply falling out of step with the times, companies may want to consider a rebrand during periods of transition or to improve their general position in the marketplace. Here are just a few situations that may require a multifamily residential business to rebrand apartments.
Capital Improvements – A remodel of your apartment complex may necessitate a similar remodel of your apartment complex brand.
New Ownership – Anyone who acquires a new apartment property will want to consider rebranding that property in order to bring it in line with your core values and image as well as any other properties that you already own.
Damage Control – If the online reviews and/or general public reputation of your apartment complex are poor, you may be able to start anew with an effective company rebrand.
Elements to Consider When Rebranding
One you have decided to rebrand, you shouldn’t shy away from dramatic change or opt for lukewarm half measures. Here are just a few tips that can separate a smooth and effective rebrand from one that ends in disaster:
Tailor Your Rebrand to Your Target Audience – Conduct in-depth research to gain accurate information about local demographics and typical rental behavior in the vicinity of your apartment complex. A rebrand can also provide an ideal opportunity to expand or shift your existing audience base.
Capitalize on the Distinct Personality of Your Apartment Complex –This tip is particularly useful to drive rebranding efforts for recently renovated properties. Because a company brand should always reflect the unique value prospects that that company presents, your apartment brand should encapsulate the ways in which your complex goes above and beyond in areas such as amenities, staff, special events, and surrounding environment.
Communicate Your Brand Change – To give your apartment rebrand every chance of achieving success, it is absolutely vital to work in partnership with company stakeholders and ensure that all service partners fully understand both the changes that you have made and the reasons that you have made them. Furthermore, you must adequately promote your new brand, driving your new image home for both existing and future customers.
Take Rapid and Full Possession of Your New Brand – Embrace your new brand and begin to build a better reputation as soon as possible. Develop a comprehensive and detailed marketing plan that includes both onsite and offsite campaigns. Immediately alter existing advertising efforts to reflect your rebranding efforts. For example, if you have a new name, logo, slogan, and/or jingle, its time to use them. Make sure that all promotional materials, from commercial spots in the digital or conventional media to business cards and company email signatures, reflect the key branding changes that you have made.
To Learn More
For more information about rebranding your apartment complex or effective multifamily residential brand management in general, contact a Bigeye representative today.
As a leading rebrand apartment marketing agency, we have the knowledge and skill that it takes to navigate every phase of the rebranding process with exceptional creativity and a dedication to innovation.
The best creative agencies for apartments have developed considerable expertise in the identification, analysis, and prediction of consumer activities through the drafting and use of customer journey maps.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
In much the same way that a geographic map displays specific details of a certain tract of land, a customer journey map provides a visual representation of the unique course that a customer or potential customer takes as he or she interacts with a particular company. Because they allow for clear and easy visual study, customer journey maps are a great way to examine and predict the full spectrum of consumer behavior as a constantly evolving process.
The Value of Customer Journey Maps
As it charts the evolution of a consumer’s relationship with your company, a customer journey map offers a range of unique insights into his or her wants, needs, likes, and aversions. Furthermore, by mapping out the different contact points in a customer’s relationship with your company, you can develop more efficient motivational strategies to better meet your own goals (driving online traffic, boosting rental conversions, etc.).
While your potential level of control at any given consumer contact point may vary dramatically, the customer journey map clearly shows the ways in which all consumer interactions with your company work together and exert a profound influence upon one another.
The most important and beneficial characteristic of a customer journey map is the fact that it presents information squarely from the point-of-view of the consumer. Therefore, when planning a customer journey map, it is absolutely vital to assume the consumer’s perspective and, in the words of prominent Dallas multifamily marketing professional Misty Sanford, think “from the outside in.”
In an article for the leading independent multifamily industry networking group Multifamily Insiders, Sanford gives several tips for ensuring that your customer journey map accurately reflects your customer’s experience and, thereby, delivers the maximum benefit to you. She recommends beginning by asking and answering the following questions:
What are customers doing at each stage of the journey? (What action are they performing?)
How are consumers feeling at each stage of the journey? (Are their emotions motivating them to continue, and if so, why?)
What questions do customers have during each stage of the journey? (Will these questions stop/hinder them from continuing or compel them to continue?)
What other elements might be stopping or hindering the customer journey? (These elements might range from apartment unit cost and/or availability to technical issues with your website and/or social media pages.)
The Customer Journey of the Typical Apartment Renter
Writing for Exchange (the official online publication of the Chartered Institute of Marketing), reporter Rob Coston stresses the supreme importance of the following stages, phases, or contact points of the customer journey:
Awareness – When and how the customer first becomes familiar with a particular brand.
Consideration – When and how the customer begins to weigh the value of a particular consumer option.
Purchase – In the multifamily residential sector, this typically involves the signing of a rental agreement or lease.
Retention – Following the initial purchase, companies can seek customer retention through a wide range of initiatives.
Advocacy – When and how the customer shares opinions about a particular brand and its product/services. Can be either positive or negative.
Organizations with a specific focus on apartment rental have added other key customer journey stages including “rental application,” “move-in,” and “acclimation to apartment.” Each of these stages may involve multiple points of contact with multiple representatives of the chosen apartment complex, and some may take an extended period of time to accomplish. The acclamation stage, for example, begins when all of a renter’s belongings have been moved into their new apartment unit, but may continue for a while as that renter unpacks boxes, arranges furniture, sets up/transfers utilities, and shops for needed or wanted home items.
For More Information
If you’re looking for the best creative agency for apartment developers or the best creative agency for multifamily residential property owners, contact a skilled and knowledgeable Bigeye representative today. Someone is standing by to answer any questions that you might have about customer journey mapping or other key digital or conventional marketing techniques.
You already recognize the power of Instagram to reach out to renters, but are you making the most of your Instagram multifamily marketing efforts?
In today’s marketing environment, the incredible potential of Instagram cannot be denied. In fact, according to the independent social media analytics company Hootsuite, 7.7 billion people (a full eighth of the total global population) now have Instagram accounts.
Even better, Intstagram is particularly effective at reaching key marketing demographics. Analytics data shows that 71% of Instagram users around the world are 34 years old or younger. Furthermore, Instagram use is at its highest (60%) among individuals who make more than $100,000 a year.
So how can you use Instagram in the rental property sector to maximize your multifamily marketing outreach? Well, in today’s competitive market, it’s simply not enough to create and maintain a standard company Instagram page.
If you want to tap into the full potential of Instagram, you need to educate yourself on what makes this popular social media site truly unique. Here are just a few multifamily marketing strategies that will optimize your Instagram presence.
1. Make Strategic Use of Hashtags
Although hashtags have become prevalent across the broad spectrum of social media, Instagram has built hashtags directly into the basic search functions of the site. In other words, hashtags are just as important as keywords when it comes to driving consumer traffic for marketing purposes.
By choosing your hashtags carefully, you can reach out to the Instagram users who are most likely to help you reach your lease-up goals. Precise location hashtags, for example #parkslopebrooklynapartments, can help neighborhood-conscious apartment hunters find your listings with ease.
Instagram is also uniquely positioned to help you capitalize on non-industry hashtags that are already trending. By piggybacking on extremely popular hashtags such as #tbt and #nofilter you can extend your reach into a whole new market.
2. Regram Relevant Posts from Others
Unlike its cousins Facebook and Twitter, Instagram doesn’t readily support reposting or sharing the content of other users. In fact, a preponderance of multifamily housing providers don’t even know that Instagram reposting is possible.
But with the help of third-party digital applications such as Websta and Repost, you can gain a considerable advantage over your competitors by regramming the relevant content of other Instagram users. This strategy can help you capitalize on the perceived authenticity that goes hand in hand with user-generated content (UGC).
In the realm of multifamily marketing, effective UGC might include a photograph of existing residents enjoying the apartment complex pool on a sunny day. Marketers can maximize the outreach of their UGC campaign by uniting it under a creative branded hashtag and encouraging residents to use this hashtag when posting content that relates to their living environment/lifestyle.
3. Use the Instagram Stories Feature
Introduced in 2016 to compete with a similar feature on Snapchat, Instagram Stories is an exceptional way to present time-sensitive content. Briefly described, Instagram Stories allows marketers to gather a number of images and video clips into a single piece of multifaceted content that will delete automatically after 24 hours.
Like the reposting of Instagram content, the use of the Instagram Stories feature is woefully underused by multifamily marketers, providing another great opportunity for you to get a significant jump on the competition. The Instagram Stories format offers an exceptional way to frame in-depth and timely information.
Consider using it to tell the story of ongoing structural renovations or present the highlights of an open house or a special event for residents. To promote your organization itself and its exceptional team members, you can use Instagram Stories to post a “behind the scenes” peek at the daily activities of a top property manager, leasing agent, or administrative executive.
4. Change Your Bio Link to Direct Traffic
While other leading social media sites allow users to post unlimited clickable links, Instagram restricts users to a single clickable link within the biography section of their profile. This may work great when it comes to keeping visitors on Instagram for longer periods of time, but it makes marketing on the site exceptionally difficult.
Wise marketers, however, can get around this clickable link conundrum by frequently changing their Instagram bio link to lead visitors to the most important promotions of the day. This strategy can really set you apart from competitors who have adopted a “set it and forget it” bio link approach that simply sends visitors to a generic homepage, landing page, or “about us” page.
Multifamily marketers can post pictures of vacant apartments on their main Instagram page after changing their bio link to an official website URL dedicated to that particular apartment. If you choose to pursue this strategy, just be sure to include a statement such as “click the link in our bio to learn more” next to the pictures that you post.
5. Pay Close Attention to the Brands Your Followers Follow
To create marketing content that will truly resonate with your audience, you need to tailor it after the content that they already love. To discover the other brands and organizations that your Instagram followers follow, begin by selecting one of your followers and clicking on the “following” count of that follower. From there, you can sort through the different accounts that he or she follows concentrating solely on brands and organizations.
Contact Bigeye to learn more
Bigeye is taking digital marketing into the future with innovative social media strategies that have proven to drive conversions. If you’re ready to push your multifamily marketing efforts forward, contact us.
In this week’s episode of In Clear Focus, Bigeye account manager Matt Cummings shares his observations about the importance of marketing in the multifamily, student housing, and senior living development and management industry. Matt discusses hot topics in multifamily development and identifies trends that are reshaping the industry.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS: A unique perspective on the business of advertising. Produced by Bigeye. I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, VP of insights at Bigeye. For those of you who don’t know us, Bigeye is an audience-focused, creative-driven, full-service advertising agency. We’re based in Orlando, Florida, but serve clients across the United States and beyond, providing audience research, branding, creative, media and analytics services. Thank you for choosing to spend time with us today. For this episode, it’s my pleasure to be joined by Matt Cummings, Bigeye’s account manager dedicated to guiding engagements with the agency’s clients in multifamily, active adult, student living, and co-living community development and management. Matt is the newest member of the Bigeye team but was previously our client as regional marketing manager for Greystar Real Estate Partners, here in Orlando. At Greystar, Matt was responsible for business development, brand development, client relationship management, and acting as the project manager for all marketing-related efforts for regionally-managed assets. Welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS, Matt.
Matt Cummings: Thank you.
Adrian Tennant: So can you tell us something about what initially attracted you to Bigeye when you were a client?
Matt Cummings: Absolutely. Well, when I worked with Bigeye as a client in my previous role, I was always incredibly impressed with their team and the level of work that they had produced for my projects. I saw that passion and collaboration among team members and those are just two qualities that I would strive for internally with my teams. I really enjoyed my conversations with Justin and hearing of his vision for Bigeye’s expansion in the property development industry. And I always felt that I had to be right there with him to assist and make it happen. But aside from that, I’m also honored just to work with such a creative and fresh group of professionals. The team here is definitely full of talent and I just can’t wait to learn from everyone as we take this journey together.
Adrian Tennant: That’s great. Well, now you’ve been on the Bigeye team for a little while, what’s been the most surprising thing about working on the agency side as opposed to being the client?
Matt Cummings: Well, I can tell you that I have a newfound appreciation for agencies and the level of detail and work that goes into every project and decision making, the amount of collaboration that I’ve been a part of has been refreshing. And just being able to listen to different perspectives and also weigh in on decisions has been really exciting for me. I guess I just never really fully understood or appreciated the work that goes on behind the scenes when I was a client. But being here it truly opens my eyes to what we do here.
Adrian Tennant: So what does your role as account manager at Bigeye look like? Describe a day in the life, if you will.
Matt Cummings: Well, my role is pretty unique here. It does allow for increased ability to focus on bringing in new business and introducing my multifamily and student living colleagues to an agency that speaks their language. But I also get to work on our active projects that are in progress and just shadow the different teams within the agency to understand what they do to help me get the deliverables that we’re working towards for our clients. I can honestly say that I haven’t had a routine day just yet. But a constant has been starting my day with our full team production meeting, which is really fun to see everyone and hear what they’re working on and then immediately filling up my coffee mug to get my day started.
Adrian Tennant: So what do you think are some of the most common challenges facing clients in the multifamily development and management space right now?
Matt Cummings: Well with marketing, I would say that developers and management companies have different expectations and requests when working with agencies like Bigeye but there is a bit of an overlap. So usually with developers, they tend to work on their projects years in advance and they have a wealth of knowledge of their communities long before they even come to fruition. But finding a true creative partner to help bring this information to a brand identity and then tell the story of the community is a challenge simply because there aren’t a lot of agencies in my experience that understand what this type of work truly is. And with management companies, they’re just looking for someone who understands how to take a brand identity, make it tangible, and usually cost-effective so that they can effectively lease up their communities. And usually, it’s as quick as possible. But for both groups, there is a layer of thinking outside of the box that everyone strives for. Since the rental industry tends to be highly competitive with many options for prospects to choose from, they just want to know how to differentiate their product and honestly just be the most profitable in the process.
Adrian Tennant: How do you think a multifamily marketing agency such as Bigeye can be of most help?
Matt Cummings: While the fact that Bigeye already has an extensive portfolio of property-related projects and experience working with management companies and developers in the past – that allows for more of a productive collaboration from the get-go. As a client, it’s certainly made my job easier when we were able to skip the educational part of the apartment industry for each project and just move right into deliverables and discovery. They just got it. And, I think with my addition to the team and the experience that I bring, I can help our current and new clients get it even more.
Adrian Tennant: That’s great. So how does your approach to marketing student housing developments differ from apartment marketing?
Matt Cummings: Well, with student housing it’s a bit of a different trick. Usually, they’re focused on events. I’m really focused on what we can do with the university, what we can do with a college, honestly tying in that school spirit to show that we’re one of them, or at least we try to be. And focusing on the organizations they are part of, and it’s really just being relatable. I think with newer renters and college, universities, and off-campus housing, they don’t want to be sold to. So you have to truly just help them understand what type of lifestyle you’re selling to them, without it coming across as selling.
Adrian Tennant: You said reflecting the college spirit. Are we talking branding that reflects the sports teams and colors and all of that?
Matt Cummings: All the above. Yeah. We have to show them that we’re a part of every team that they have, whether it’s football or chess.
Adrian Tennant: Nice – nice one. How do you approach marketing for a senior living community?
Matt Cummings: That one, it’s a bit trickier. It’s a lot of similar approaches, but just different execution. We’re not going to focus on school spirit here, but we are going to focus on their care and showing that we’re not here to just lease them an apartment but here to show them what the lifestyle would be living here and that we’re here to take care of them. I’m really just selling the convenience of living in an apartment community and all that we offer them. Typically with active adults, they tend to previously have owned homes and they’re looking to downsize or maybe save some money and just find somewhere that is convenient, comfortable and it gives them an opportunity to live their life now. A lot of times, we see that they’re retired, so they just want to be able to relax and enjoy everything that they have to offer. But they also look for a lot of guidance. They want to understand what the process is for renting from an apartment community. Typically they haven’t had to do it before or they haven’t had to do it for a long time. So the lifespan of someone renting an apartment community in active adult is typically a lot longer than someone in multifamily. So it’s just showing that we’re there to help them, we’re there to show you what the lifestyle would be and that we’re going to take care of them when they move in.
Adrian Tennant: Right. So what kind of assets are we talking about, to communicate that message?
Matt Cummings: A very easy-to-use website. Very convenient office hours. So finding the time to come to the office and explain everything in person with them. And marketing materials do help with that. We do find that they like to have paper in front of them and like to make notes. So being able to provide them with those, those assets to do so. And a lot of resident event inspired collateral. So showing them that we do have, you know, a night where they can come and meet their neighbors or something, some sort of craft activity, anything holiday-inspired. They do love that, so just developing materials that speak to that.
Adrian Tennant: The way you described it, it’s not sounding so different from the student housing! I like that. Alright. So tell me a little bit about your process for assessing the marketing requirements for a new property development. And for the sake of this conversation, let’s talk about apartments.
Matt Cummings: Well, every development, they have a similar structure. But typically what I would want to know is the story behind the decision of how they even decided to develop there, why they decided to develop the asset they are and just what their short and long-term goals are. Every developer has a different strategy for their investment or the community they’re building, so it’s really important to know that from the get-go. But typically they’ve already done extensive research, so being able to discuss their findings and understand audience and marketing opportunities is usually very beneficial. From there, everything else just comes into play. We’d like to understand who the management company is and develop a strong rapport with them to ensure that we’re not only providing them with everything they need, but helping them execute on those deliverables, and make sure that their team has everything they need to effectively lease the community up.
Adrian Tennant: Okay. How do you keep up with trends in multifamily marketing?
Matt Cummings: Well, everyone says that the multifamily industry is essentially one giant family. And I’m here to tell you it’s true and that’s the best way to keep up. Honestly, I just, I keep in touch with all the friends I’ve made, all the colleagues, the mentors that I’ve had since I’ve started in this industry and just understanding what they’re doing, what they’re working on, what they’re hearing is the hottest trend. There’s always a story to share and there’s always a topic to talk about, but I would say if you put us in a room together, we can probably go on for hours and hours. And from there you just learn. But aside from that, I do try to stay active with our local apartment association. So here in Orlando, it’s the AAGO, the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando. I do try to attend any industry-related conferences across the country just to hear from different experts, leadership executives in this space and what they’re working on. And then I usually do try to meet with the local reps. There’s local account reps with ILSs, just to hear what they’re seeing for rent growth, occupancy shifts, new development pipelines, and it’s really crazy what information you can get from those reports and understand what type of marketing strategies you need for communities, knowing what the market looks like.
Adrian Tennant: Now a little bit of industry jargon just crept into that explanation. Help me understand, Matt – an I-L-S?
Matt Cummings: Internet Listing Service. So basically, when a prospect is looking for an apartment or when someone’s looking for an apartment, they start their search usually on Google and that will lead them to usually paid advertisements, websites, and apartment locators. So, think of like apartments.com or apartmentguide.com, Zillow. Those are some common ILS’s that prospects would look to, to find information. It basically just streamlines all the apartments that are in their query or in their search results and it gives them options to choose from. And it basically helps them just develop a short list that they can go and work off of when they’re touring properties. When you know there’s 50 to 100 properties per market. So usually the account reps that work for those ILS’s, have a lot of really good information and good data that we can look at and understand and just develop good conversation from.
Adrian Tennant: That’s interesting. So, they are a source of information, potentially referrals for you. Do you see any differences generationally in the ways that people navigate the search process online? Are there any differences or do we all pretty much use the internet in the same way at this point?
Matt Cummings: No, I think there’s definitely a strong differential between how people use the internet and what they prefer. A lot of folks that are maybe in an older generation, they will prefer to call or set up an appointment and have more of an in person meeting to understand what you’re providing them, go through all their questions they have and see things in person. We find that a lot of newer renters don’t like that. It’s actually the complete opposite. So there are folks out there that are trying to find the easiest ways for a prospect to tour their property without even talking to somebody. So really it comes down to what you think your audience will look like or what the audience will be. And then tailoring every decision making around that. So it could be a more enhanced website or 3D tours on your website or just having more Q&A information for folks that typically would have more questions when they’re searching for an apartment and just tailoring it to make it as easy as possible for them.
Adrian Tennant: That’s so interesting. Research we’ve done into Generation Z and their habits regarding banking, we found that the majority of Gen Z actually don’t want to have a phone call with anybody; they’re much more interested in using a chat or a chat bot, to get their questions answered. So it seems like it’s the same in your world.
Matt Cummings: Oh yeah, for sure. I mean a lot of websites now, especially in student living, have chat features integrated with their website so they can ask all the questions they want. Typically it’s either a very responsive bot feature or it’s someone on the other side that’s actually answering the questions. Texting is really big as well. Being able to text the property to set up an appointment or just text the property and ask them what their availability is for one-bedroom is a huge feature as well. Actually, it’s interesting because a lot of questions typically get asked through social media as well. They know there’s a website, but they want to hear from individuals or from people on-site what their questions are and they want to be able to have that conversation through Facebook, Instagram, whatever they use.
Adrian Tennant: And I’m guessing a lot of this interaction takes place outside of regular office hours.
Matt Cummings: Oh yeah. Nine, 10 o’clock at night. They’re getting messages on Facebook and they expect a response pretty quickly.
Adrian Tennant: Okay – always on call. Alright, so you mentioned attending conferences, conventions, keeping up to date with the latest trends. What’s like a super hot topic in the world of apartment marketing right now?
Matt Cummings: Well, I would say that all multifamily related topics are hot and I’m sure a lot of people would agree with that as well. But joking aside, I would say biggest focus topics within the industry are centered around the discovery journey for prospects, so going from their search journey all the way up until the day they move in, understanding what folks look for, how to make that as easy as possible and just focusing on the user experience. Another big topic is anything tech-inspired. Again, focusing on that, that journey, but also tech-inspired features and amenities in the apartments, at the community -anything they can use while living there to make it more interactive, more of an interactive experience for living there. And then finally I would say identifying resident preferences, but then taking it a step further, leveraging that information to ensure that each of our communities has a high retention rate. A big focus is not only getting residents to decide they want to live in an apartment community but keeping them there, engaging them and making them feel like this is a home they want for a long period of time rather than thinking of it as a short-term rental option. That’s always been a hot topic for any management company, I think.
Adrian Tennant: So what companies in the industry do you most admire, and why?
Matt Cummings: Well, you’d be surprised with how many companies actually work in the multifamily student industries. There are a lot, but, I do find all of them to be incredibly beneficial for all of the different resources they provide. And I would say a management company also finds it vital that they use their company options as well. But there’s a few that I’ve really enjoyed working with in the past. Engrain is a hot company out there right now. They’re actually based in Denver. They develop a lot of interactive sitemap tools for the website and for the online leasing and in-office displays. I’ve worked with them in the past, on the management side, and they’ve always been incredibly beneficial to work with and they’re always looking for how they can take their services and, and go one step beyond and working with managing companies to develop that partnership. So I really enjoy working with them. And then honestly I’d like to mention Benson Integrated Marketing. They have been really an incredible partner for a lot of the signage side of marketing- print needs, promo items. They’re pretty popular in the multifamily space and student living space. So, they know what they’re doing and they really truly focused on multifamily, so that helps them build better conversations with the multifamily management folks. And they also just, I think get it.
Adrian Tennant: So there’s something else I want to explore: this was new to me, the idea of co-living spaces. Is this like co-working spaces?
Matt Cummings: It’s a little different. Think of adult student dorms where oftentimes the spaces might be a little smaller. They are a little bit less expensive and then you’re sharing some common space. So there could be larger living rooms that everyone kind of gathers in or does work in, shared kitchen sometimes. And oftentimes they’ll be fully-furnished so that all they have to do is get their keys and move in. So that’s really, really cool. It’s a new concept. I think it’s still pretty new to a lot of markets, but it’s coming and it’s a great option for more urban cities that are just losing real estate. They have to go vertical or figure out a new way to use the space. And, co-living apartments is definitely a way of the future, I think.
Adrian Tennant: Right. You heard it here first.
Matt Cummings: Yeah, that’s right – here at Bigeye!
Adrian Tennant: Marvelous. So let’s change gears a bit. Tell us about your background, Matt. How did you get to where you are today?
Matt Cummings: Well I started as an unpaid marketing intern as a college student. I had to go through the process of finding an apartment for myself and I was touring student living communities and I thought, “Man, this is a pretty cool job. Like they get to sit here and tour students and make friends and hopefully they get a discount on rent too.” So that’s kind of where I started my journey. I actually went to USF in Tampa. So, “Go Bulls,” for anyone that’s listening. But then from there I just, I found a real interest in it, I graduated from USF with my marketing degree and I worked my way up as a leasing manager. I was a property manager for a very short time, realized that I wasn’t a big fan of that. And then I eventually grew and started traveling with different companies, more of a regional marketing sales trainer type of role. And then landed at Greystar and multifamily, working on a lot of new developments, business proposals for marketing, marketing strategies, budgets. And here I am today, eight years later.
Adrian Tennant: As you know, at Bigeye, we have a great internship program. We’re actually joined by a couple of interns in the studio today. So, thinking about them, what advice would you like to give to our interns if they are interested in a career in agency account management?
Matt Cummings: I would say if you’re focused on what I’m focused on and that’s multifamily and student living, just working in the apartment industry, I guess, or any business really, this kind of works both ways is thinking like an owner. That was advice that was given to me, well into my career of working in the apartment industry. And it really changes your perception of how you make decisions. It’s really easy just to give away the farm or to make things as affordable as possible. But when you start to understand that from a business perspective and understand how that can affect your bottom line or your decision making or the brand of whatever you’re trying to sell or what you’re trying to lease, it certainly makes your brain think a different way. Um, so that’d be my first advice. Honestly, just getting involved in any type of project management, uh, related jobs that you can get in is really helpful. This is a very, very busy agency to work in or I guess an industry to work in. So being able to effectively communicate, being able to effectively keep organized all of your projects. Um, and then just asking a lot of questions even though it may not pertain to you, ask why, ask how, and, understand what makes things work. I think that’s, that’s definitely very helpful to understand.
Adrian Tennant: Now you mentioned that we are a very busy agency – yes, we are! What is one common myth about working in advertising – now that you’ve been here for a while – that you think needs to be debunked?
Matt Cummings: Well I would say before I worked at Bigeye or before I worked in the apartment industry, whenever I would hear the words, “advertising agency,” I would automatically think of one of those classified ads you’d see in a newspaper or think of a billboard. Those are true, but it goes way beyond that. And it’s funny because when people ask me now, “What do you do?” or “What does Bigeye do”, it’s like, well, how much time do you have? Because our capabilities deck is just incredible. It’s hard to really focus on everything that we provide and just call it an advertising agency, creative agency, whatever you want to call it. But I would say that beyond what everyone thinks or beyond any myth that might be out there, we work as true partners. And I think from day one, we’re already acting as, kind of an investment into your brand or to your company or whatever it is you’re trying to work on. And that we go beyond, I think hopefully we go beyond any expectations they have.
Adrian Tennant: Now, are you a listener to podcasts or music?
Matt Cummings: I’m definitely more of a music listener. It calms me. I have a very active brain – there’s always something going on up there. So music helps me focus for sure. In the morning, during work, and the evening before I go to bed, I’m always listening to something.
Adrian Tennant: Okay. What’s on your playlist?
Matt Cummings: Right now it’s a lot of Dave Matthews band. I really like Lizzo as well. It gets me ready in the morning. And every so often I’ll listen to Ellie Goulding just to calm me down.
Adrian Tennant: Great. Okay. So I saved the best question to last: what does having a CLEAR FOCUS mean to you?
Matt Cummings: Well, that is a great question. For me personally, I have a clear focus when I understand goals and objectives from the get-go. Like at Bigeye, I would like to think of myself as audience-focused. So I really enjoy having a common goal to work towards and then having the ability to refer to it throughout the progress of a project just to keep everything and everyone aligned. I think when you refer back to that goal and you refer back to why we’re here in the first place, it makes it a lot easier to get through a project and it makes it, it keeps everyone in the same flow I would say. So if they see it and I see it, then to me that’s having a clear focus.
Adrian Tennant: Great answer, Matt. It’s been a real pleasure. Thank you. Thank you to our guest, Matt Cummings, account manager at Bigeye. You’ve been listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, a unique perspective on the business advertising, produced by Bigeye. If you have questions about the content of today’s show, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll also find a transcript of today’s show on our website at bigeyeagency.com. I’m Adrian Tennant. Thank you for listening. Until next time, goodbye.