All apartment communities use various means to attract new renters. Many forms of advertising have minimal costs in dollars, (i.e. online ads, signs, banners, word of mouth referrals, etc.). Yet the time and money it takes to create and design some of these ads AND make sure they are well placed to capture attention, is worth tracking the results!
Having a reliable method of documenting all online, phone and walk-in traffic is critical to determining the effectiveness of each form of advertising. Here is a valid owner concern:
QUESTION: Our communities used to get a ton of drive-by traffic and resident referrals. However, over the past few years, I’ve noticed more and more traffic is being logged as “internet” or “online ad,” with no further explanation. When I question the on-site staff, they tell me they are just noting the ad source from the emails for call they get when prospective residents say they found them “on the internet” or “online.” They aren’t directly asking people how they found out about their building anymore. This makes me wonder if prospective renters really learned about the community “on the internet” of if they just used an online resource to obtain more information after they saw the building driving by or heard about it from a friend.
ANSWER: You have some very valid concerns about what has happened to your other forms of advertising. Did these other sources just stop producing traffic or are these sources not being “uncovered” by your leasing staff? It will take more effort and some careful qualifying to determine the “primary” advertising source, which is the way each prospect initially learns about your community., (i.e. resident/merchant referral, signs/banners, flyer, etc.).
The only way you find out how is to directly ask them! For example: I noticed you referred to our website in your email. Is that how you first heard about us? Or “I see you checked the box “drive by” as the way you found us, but I couldn’t help but notice you pulled up our monthly special on your phone from our craigslist ad. Did you learn about us first from driving by and then looked for us online?”
Using multiple sources of advertising in today’s competitive market isn’t just a good idea, it’s a necessity. Prospective renters must be given the opportunity to see your community advertised in print, on the internet and through the use of signs/banners, etc. However, it’s important to note which marketing source initially sparked their interest and motivated them to make contact.
You will need ALL the facts in order to make informed decisions about your future advertising needs. Of course, some of the money you save from budgeting advertising dollars wisely could be spent on an incentive to reward those employees who are committed to carefully qualifying ALL their prospective renters.
Joyce (Kirby) Bica is the former owner of Shoptalk Service Evaluations. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Reprinted with permission.