Archive for the 'Creative Apartment Marketing' Category

SURVIVING CRAIGSLIST’S APARTMENT AD CHANGES

By now you’ve heard about the Craigslist changes and how the site no longer allows HTML code in the description box (leaving you with an error message “IMG, FONT, DIV, TABLE tags are no longer supported”). This significantly affects property management marketing and the way communities can post housing ads on its site, and the new policy sent the apartment marketing industry into a scramble.

What matters now? The best, first image you upload to grab attention in the thumbnail and gallery views. But here’s the crazy thing — perform a quick search in your area and you’ll notice about 50% of housing ads have no image, not even the very important first photo. Their only hope for a click is a few keywords in a short headline. We telephoned a sampling of communities and asked why they’re missing images and found they don’t know how a housing ad displays on Craigslist.org, most likely from using a third-party listing service to create ads.

Beyond Wine & Cheese Marketing quickly launched a solution for members and their apartment advertising by creating dozens of Craigslist Image formats featuring leasing themes — they’re eye catching and work within the revised requirements. Our new Craigslist Images are JPEG files sized to fit perfectly as the featured image to grab attention of prospective renters.

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Above: Our new Craigslist ad to promote pet-friendly communities

Craigslist also changed their policy on links – clickable external links are not allowed. You can and should still post the URL of your website in your text and encourage users to copy and paste it into a browser to explore more info on your site. But here’s the thing: Can you add two links? Many communities have a link to an HTML ad and then further challenge a prospect to click a second time to reach their leasing website. Will they do it? It remains to be seen.

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Above: Our new Craigslist ad to promote communities with locations near major employers, transportation corridors and landmarks

 LESSONS LEARNED:

1)   Your marketing strategy should not solely depend on Craigslist. As we’ve seen, the site can and does change its policies – and you have no control over that, so you will always be scrambling to conform to their rules. Craigslist is great because it’s free and has a huge viewership, but you are pitted in the same place side by side with your competitors, which is great if you have what it takes to outshine them. Not so great if you don’t. If you want to learn about other ways to handle your apartment marketing, call or email us and we’d love to share what we know about:

  1. Using your own website
  2. Keeping up with the masses on Facebook, social media, blog
  3. Sending blast emails
  4. Partnering with local businesses
  5. Targeting companies near your community with a large number of employees

2)   PHOTOS are more important than ever in your Craigslist posts (and otherwise). If your property photos are not great, you need to WOW readers with an image that draws them in, which is why Beyond Wine & Cheese offers professionally designed eye-catching ads (saved as a JPEG) for members to upload as their “first” image to be featured.

  1. A property’s photos are huge in snagging potential renters, so if you do not have high quality images of your community, you should spend the effort to make this happen.
  2. Not many readers will get through a big chunk of plain text about a property, but if you capture them with outstanding photos first, then they’re more likely to dig deeper into your paragraph of words to find out more. Photos really help to illustrate the personality of a community. Text “tells” – photos “show.”

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Above: Our new Craigslist ad to appeal to renters about moving

Have questions, want to learn more, or need a CUSTOM Craigslist ad featuring your brand colors and photos?

Beyond Wine & Cheese Marketing

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MAKE SOME NOISE

White noise: uniform, steady, drone

Make some noise: To attract attention. To do something noticeable.

We follow the Multi-housing News blog where senior editor Jessica Fiur recently commented on the dangers of apartment marketing becoming the kind of white noise that renters overlook and tune out when community managers post repetitive content in their ads. We couldn’t agree more. Are you using the same text in your ads? The same property photos? The same designs? You need to mix it up since repetitive content blends into the background like white noise, but fresh content knows how to make some noise.

Recently on Craigslist, we saw the word “beautiful” used 8 times in several apartment ad subject lines to try and capture renters’ attention. The ones that stood out among the “beautiful” white noise used less common descriptors: delightful, adorable, unique.

Beautiful 3 Bedroom Townhome with Attached Nursery $1999/3br

Beautiful Apartment Close to shopping $885/2br

Beautiful views, 1 bedroom apartment in heart of Tacoma

Beautiful 2 Bedroom 2.5 bath in Puyallup

Beautiful 1 Bedroom October move-in W/D $954/1br

Again, to stand out among the stale ads on Craigslist, MIX IT UP.  If your apartment community has 12 worthy amenities, create 4 different ads focusing on 3 different amenities at a time to post on Craigslist, interchanging them throughout the weeks to gauge each one’s success.

Speaking of using campaigns to showcase your amenities:

a.  Beyond Wine & Cheese’s library of ready-to-go apartment marketing campaigns make it easy for you to grab several different ads and quickly customize with your information.

b.  We have themes about washer & dryers, covered parking, swimming pools, storage and a variety of amenities. Examples are illustrated below.

c.  Our software allows you to quickly and easily paste a professionally designed ad that you’ve customized with your details on Craigslist and measure its “hits” and “clicks.”

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And our last suggestion to stand out (in a good way) on Craigslist – proofread for typos so that when you look back at your apartment marketing, you don’t have any regrets like a poorly spelled tattoo. Live a life of no regrets!

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Fried Chicken Relieves Anxiety

vintage kfc woman eat chix

Recently we saw food researcher and writer Michael Pollan speak in support of his new book Cooked. A smart man with great insight into how our food system works, Pollan knows about marketing, having written and published four books. One of the things he said that stood out: “Marketing is relieving anxiety.” The example he used was the anxiety created when in the 1960s women left the home and joined the workforce, yet they were still expected to deal with the kids, house cleaning and cooking. The marketers behind Kentucky Fried Chicken recognized the anxiety and tension this created within families and jumped in with their advertising to convey, “Hey, we’ll take care of that for you, don’t waste your precious time in the kitchen, let us cook you a family size bucket of fried chicken instead.” Watch this vintage KFC commercial where the fast food chain tries to relieve a family’s anxiety over who’s going to make dinner.

Here’s another video with the same theme — a scattered mom with a lot to do picks up a bucket of chicken to the catchy jingle of “Why Cook?”

I’m a sucker for vintage videos, and I can get caught up on youtube for far too long. If you’re the same, check out these other old school videos below and let us know what you think — are these examples of good promotion or marketing gone awry?

mc hammer

Uh oh, it’s Hammer time! How many of you lived through the late 80s doing the MC Hammer dance with those funky flowing pants? Here MC Hammer is featured in a KFC commercial, but they didn’t take enough advantage of his wacky dance moves. After all, BET ranked him the #7 best dancer in the world. You can’t touch this!

After watching many KFC commercials, I can say that most of them included singing and dancing as if they were musicals, which was probably a sign of the times, such as this one from the 1970s. Do you remember this catchy jingle?

Oh, bless his heart, Colonel Sanders botched this commercial voiceover again and again — I’d say this might fall into the category of marketing gone really awry.

wheres the beef

To end our commentary on commercials, the fast food chain that beat them all with the best marketing is the Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the Beef?” I know you remember this one!

NEED PROFESSIONAL MARKETING FOR YOUR MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING?
If you’re an apartment community manager who needs to market to your residents, we’ve already done the work for you. Beyond Wine & Cheese has hundreds of marketing campaigns catered to your industry on numerous topics in a variety of formats (posters, door hangers, e-flyers, postcards). Call us at 888-472-8898 or email us at hello@beyondwineandcheese.com and we can tell you more about becoming a member and get you set up to log in to our exclusive website so that you can start taking advantage of completed marketing campaigns today.

Do Sparkling Pools Make High Quality Content?

DO SPARKLING POOLS MAKE HIGH QUALITY CONTENT?

This week the Apartment Internet Marketing (AIM) conference takes place in Huntington Beach, California, not a bad place to go to learn new ideas. We love the overall theme of the event: The Art of Creativity. How many of you are attending? What do you hope to learn? Let us live vicariously through you and tell us about your experiences when you get a chance.

We are big advocates of the ideas and presentation topics at the conference such as writing quality content. In our last blog, we talked about people who use “romance copy” to trick or seduce residents, so to continue that conversation, let’s talk about the other side of that – providing honest, quality content.

Keith Brown/RealPage, the official social media sponsor of the AIM conference, talks about using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) content so that what you post online is picked up by Google searches. Of all the vast information out there in the Internet universe, Google focuses on providing the highest quality search results, which gives those people with the best content more visibility. So the lesson is: the better content you provide, the more people will see it and perhaps act on it. In the apartment industry, this means catching the attention of potential residents and keeping the attention of existing ones by offering them quality content that showcases your community and activities.

Brown has 3 SEO rules below for providing great content, which we’ve merged with our own and other ideas:

Rule 1: Well-Written Text – This means not only providing grammatically correct text without typos, but also connecting emotionally with your residents. Have a unique voice and be accessible, allowing for human connection. Tell your audience what kind of value you can provide to their lives and how you can fulfill their rental needs. Describe your apartment complex in such a way that makes potential residents feel like it’s a place they want to be, avoiding using clichés or over-used adjectives such as “sparkling” pool. For example, the below picture of the pool is not sparkling as advertised, and the photo isn’t a great one to try and sell it as such.

bwac sparkling pool

Rule 2: Beautiful High Resolution Photography – Words alone can’t accurately describe a place, but the addition of great images will attract attention and residents. Words tell, images show. You need to show and tell if you want people to be talking about and sharing your content with others. A resident can better picture herself living in your apartment community if the photos are eye catching and clear with great composition, and it’s these images that will move her to come see the space in person. As Brown states, “data shows that listings with high-quality photos are contacted eight times more often than listings without them.”

Rule 3: Engaging and Professional Videos – We have all seen those videos that are less than stellar. The camera is wobbly and all over the place, making it hard to watch, or the audio is too low or scratchy, making it hard to listen, and some are just downright boring. Not all of us can create a fantastic video that goes viral, but we can implement simple things to make our videos engaging: steady camera work, good sound, and interesting and useful information. A good example of a great video with all of these components is “Getting to Know Ava,” which is one of 33 entries from apartment professionals who submitted videos for judging in the AIM Conference’s “best community marketing video” contest.

Watch all of the videos here and let us know which ones are your favorites.

Do you have any of your own apartment marketing videos to share? We’d love to see them.

A reminder to close with – if you are having trouble providing content with well-written text and eye-catching images, don’t forget to check out Beyond Wine & Cheese’s vast online library of marketing ideas already completed for your use. We’re here to help, so let’s talk and work together on attracting and keeping residents.

Raise Your Glass In A Toast

Today we celebrate eight years in business. Beyond Wine & Cheese Marketing is truly one of those ideas that started on the back of a napkin (a cocktail napkin, by the way) that grew into a small, boot-strapped company with heart. Although our milestones have been many, we celebrate original customers who have grown with us and remain partners in our success today.

As we toast our 4/04/2004 birthday, we renew our vows to the mission of Beyond Wine & Cheese Marketing:

We believe in clouds. Rainy days in Seattle and software that’s stored in the sky. We believe marketing works when it’s beyond expectations and too clever to be forgotten. No dinosaurs roam here. Cute is not cute and sophistication is savvy. We believe in professional, not free. Consistent is repeatable, easy. Branding is a state of mind rather than standard fonts and pantone colors. We believe work should be fun. Martinis need an olive. And every office is better with a dog, or two. Technology is King and anything less than instant is too long. Jeans inspire creative thought and an easy chair is more comfortable than a desk. We believe laughter and banter is more important than titles on business cards. We believe every day is a chance to explore the edges. Never play in the middle. And your coffee is only as good as your beans. Beyond Wine & Cheese Marketing. We make apartment marketing that doesn’t suck.

Witness The World’s Most Bedazzled Toilet

This summer I’m embarking on a project to remodel my bathroom. Although functional, there is a 1970’s vibe that leaves me feeling less than proud to show off this space. I’m fairly certain the drab aesthetics contribute to my dread of climbing out of bed every morning to start the daily shower routine.

The bath project starts with one goal: Fit an antique claw-foot tub within the 8′ x 8′ square room. I want the unexpected “Wow!” when someone slides open the pocket door and finds a stunning white porcelain beauty. Let’s face it, there are only so many things you can do with a sink, toilet and tub. And, unless it’s gilded in gold, the proverbial throne is not a stunning architectural structure. Sure, I want to feel like a princess while soaking in my new tub but eventual resale value is the real motivation for bedazzling the bathroom. After all, what else is there in this room that can produce an enticing real-estate photo that sets your bathroom above the standard, luring prospects to make a purchase or sign a lease?

Swarovski Toilet

You put crystals where?

Have you noticed how many apartment bathrooms show up in brochures and get a featured spot in Craigslist online ads? At Beyond Wine & Cheese Marketing, we’ve never seen a photo of a bathroom that elicits a “Wow!” while flipping through housing for rent ads.  Actually, most apartment bathroom photos make us wonder why the standard oak cabinet and a colorful shower curtain are the best features you want to show a prospect. Yep, that’s a toilet. If it’s not bedazzled or gilded in gold is it your best foot forward in a photo gallery?

Show us your gilded toilet at No More Homemade Flyers.

On to the Next One

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: resident retention is one of the most important aspects of apartment marketing.  But some of the retention ideas I’ve seen floating around out there suck need some fine tuning.  For example:

  • Attach renewal letters to a balloon.

Followed closely by…

  • Attach renewal letters to a Mylar balloon.

WHAT???  I can attach a renewal letter to a non-Mylar OR a Mylar balloon?!  And if your mind isn’t already blown, wait ‘til you find out that either kind of balloon can be attached to the doorknob in case the resident isn’t home.  If that doesn’t work for you:

  • Attach renewal letters to a 100 Calorie Pack with a clever phrase about residents “desserting” you.

Oh, come on people!  I know that there’s an obesity epidemic in America, but you couldn’t spring for some Ho Hos or Little Debbies?  I’m a woman – I read into things, and I would get a very different message from the 100 Calorie Pack than you are intending.  Moving on:

  • Party: A theme party; example – a murder mystery dinner – have the papers ready for them to sign.

You could even take it a step further and just make those who don’t sign the papers the victims of your murder “mystery”.  Done.  It’s all about the hard sell.  But if you’re concerned that blood stains will scare away new prospects, try a more lighthearted approach:

  • Attach renewal letters to a Whoopee Cushion and incorporate the expression “Whoopee!!”.

Your 8 year old male residents (or maybe those with the maturity of an 8 year old), will be sure to renew their leases on the spot.  Huh?  You don’t have 8 year olds renting apartments?  Well that’s strange…

  • Inflatable Monkeys: Attach a sticker or card that says ‘Don’t monkey around! We want you to stay!’

Just what I need.  More crap lying around my apartment.  How about offering me an extra closet for storage?  But if you combined this idea with a Mylar balloon (cannot be non-Mylar)…

Consider. It. Renewed.

Or there’s always the option of not having a crap apartment with crap customer service that turns residents off.  But that doesn’t include a fun trip to the dollar store, now does it?

Is a monkey trying to get you to renew your lease?  Share with us at blog@beyondwineandcheese.com!


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