Posts Tagged 'Apartment Marketing'

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

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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Attention Kmart Shoppers: I Just Shipped My Pants!

By now you’ve probably seen the controversial Kmart commercial showcasing their shipping services. The company injected humorous wordplay into the ad whereby actors performing as Kmart shoppers say they shipped items in such a manner that it actually sounds like they did the unthinkable:
Standing in the store, a customer says, “I just shipped my pants!”
Another claims, “I just shipped my drawers.”
“I just shipped my nightie.”
And my favorite, “I just shipped my bed!”

The commercial went viral, getting 17 million hits on Youtube, which is every marketing team’s dream. But it also got bombarded with a lot of criticism due to its crass nature. Watch the “Shipped My Pants” commercial on Youtube and decide for yourself.

Really? I can ship my pants, right here, right now?

Really? I can ship my pants, right here, right now?

I’m not a Kmart shopper and have never noticed their marketing besides past obvious catchy slogans like “blue light special,” but the shipping commercial is one where I’ll stop, watch, laugh and remember and talk about it to others instead of fast forwarding through it on my DVR. It doesn’t make me want to shop there any more than I did before, but it has everyone talking about it, which is half the battle. And a good laugh never hurt anybody.

Kmart followed up the shipping campaign with a similar one: Big Gas Savings. Say that phrase fast over and over and it sounds like something else:
A woman in the ad says, “Sounds like you could use some big gas savings”
“Thirty cents a gallon, that’s a big gas discount,” says another.
A kid proclaims, “Dad, look at that big gas truck!”

Watch the big gas video here.

Kmart says, “Creativity is important in Kmart’s advertising to engage our members and share new information on promotions and initiatives. We believe that humor is a natural part of the strategy.”

What do you think – brilliant advertising or clean up on aisle 9 with marketing gone awry? What are some ways that community managers can include creativity and humor in apartment marketing? Can you think of any apartment advertising that was so funny you had to share or that it was so bold it crossed the line? Let us know in our comments section below.

Fa La La La La Apartment Romance

How many of us in the apartment industry have been victims of Romance Copy? Either we’ve slung it out there to seduce residents to rent with us or we’ve been the ones who have fallen for it. I know I can’t resist the word cottage when I’m looking for a place to live, and I conjure up all kinds of cute things in my mind, a cozy farmhouse near a lake, for example, but then I get to the site and realize their use of the word cottage really means a plain, tiny space. Creative, seductive words lure residents to imagine their lives nestled amongst the trees adjacent to a babbling brook. However, apartment marketing such as this doesn’t set us up for success, but only increases a resident’s disappointment when she arrives to find her high expectations of lounging by a sparkling pool replaced with the reality of a pool filled with murky water and debris.

On the other hand, if your apartment community really is fit for a Queen and residents will be tempted by secret closet space and find their paradise at their new place, then go ahead and spruce up your copy with flowery words. The article “Romance 101: How to Use Feminine Words That Sell” has tips to help you with resident temptation.

In the world of good apartment marketing, we use not only words, but also amenity photos to paint a picture of a place to call home. As the article “Real Estate Agents And The Art Of Seductive Home Staging” demonstrates, we get caught up in sexy imagery such as placing candles and wine near the bathtub or a big colorful bowl of fresh juicy fruit when in reality the residents who will dwell there snack on bologna sandwiches and Doritos.

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Another way we use staging to lure residents is by placing certain coveted objects in our photos. According to Curbed, the trend now is the strategically placed guitar. As a music lover, I would totally fall for that, especially if it were a banjo.

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What strategically placed items in photos would you fall for or have you used as marketing strategy in your apartment community pictures? If you know of any other language or imagery tricks to trick residents, let Beyond Wine & Cheese Marketing know in our comments section here or on our facebook page.

Spring Out Of Hibernation

This week marked the first day of spring, the Vernal Equinox, derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night,” where daylight equals that of night. We the soggy people of Seattle welcome this time of year with longer light-filled days and more sunshine. I spent my first days of spring walking the dog, taking photos of daffodils that have sprouted all around, watching a sunset, eating homemade vegetable soup and listening to bluegrass at a local tavern. But more than all the fun springtime stuff, this time of year is also the time of plans and projects, and my list is long: deep clean and declutter the whole house, yard work, take more walks, etc.  Speaking of plans and projects, what marketing plans do you have for your apartment community to attract or retain residents? It’s a lovely time of year to tackle both, while also helping residents reach their springtime goals, which are likely to be similar to mine. Below we have some ideas to help you and them get started on such projects.

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people, and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

 

Alright, Hemingway, don’t be grumpy, it’s springtime, after all. But speaking of people and happiness, what is your apartment community staff doing to help make residents happy? If you’re due for some activity in this area, now is the time to spring out of hibernation and engage your community.

Now is the time when spring cleaning urges arise with the need to purge. While residents are likely taking this transition time into the next season to get their apartments in order and purge the stuff that no longer serves them, help make it easier for them by holding an apartment-wide tag sale. Invite everyone out to a common place to gather with their things for a good old fashion yard sale. Who doesn’t like to get rid of their junk and perhaps find that one-of-a-kind treasure from a fellow neighbor? This gives residents time to bond with each other and with you. Whatever doesn’t sell, make your residents happy by scheduling a Salvation Army truck to pick up the rest for donation or have your staff box it up for a trip to Goodwill. If such a tag sale sounds like a springtime activity that will help you retain residents, we have done the marketing for you and have a campaign with all you need, from posters and door hangers to postcards and e-flyers: The Ultimate Tag Sale

What Attracted You And Kept You There?

Do you remember your first apartment? As a young student, I was super excited about my first apartment in Athens, Georgia, while attending the University of Georgia. Sure, anything was an upgrade from my existing living situation at Creswell dorms where we survived 90-degree weather without air conditioning and the boys a floor above us peeing on the tin roof outside our window. But more than that, I loved my first apartment for appealing to the student in me, who I was at the time. Are you appealing to the variety of your residents, young students and seniors and families alike?

Do Your Residents Live, Laugh, Love?

Do Your Residents Live, Laugh, Love?

As with most students, money was tight, so I shared my first college home with four other girls at Riverbend Apartments. You know, the kind of situation where you’re fighting over the bathroom, who is being too loud at night, and who ate each other’s leftovers in the fridge. Even with sharing rent with so many others, I held two jobs, sold textbooks for drinking money and ate ramen noodles daily. Thus, what I appreciated about Riverbend Apartments were the rental discounts they offered on occasion, as well as the amenities and location that allowed for a quick getaway from squabbling roommates.

First, location was key. The apartments were close to campus so that I could walk to classes daily, which really helped me make that early morning 7:55am class on time after a night of partying. Speaking of which, the apartments were stumbling distance to bars and music venues, so no drinking and driving here. And going to enjoy music in such a music town like Athens, Georgia was a requirement for a proper college education that is still serving me well as an adult now who’s active in the live music Seattle scene. The apartments were also adjacent to all kinds of restaurants, which saved me from eating cheap boxes of mac & cheese every night and made it easier for the food delivery guys during our late-night study sessions.

In the hot Georgia summers, having an apartment pool was one of life’s best pleasures. Back then, ignorant of the sins of sunshine, we’d oil up and lay out all day long on the weekends. But these days, having an amenity like a pool is great for everyone. It’s a nice way to cool off, get exercise and relax, for singles and seniors and families alike.

Although the apartments didn’t have a workout room, they did us one even better – it was located walking distance to a real bona fide gym with discount/free memberships for residents, so I got my aerobics groove on daily.

So thank you, Riverbend Apartments, for providing me with a great first home where I could live, laugh and love my way through college.

What kind of incentives are you offering for students, seniors, families, and singles? Are you appealing to all of your residents offering something for everyone? Let us know what you’re doing by sending us an email to blog@beyondwineandcheese.com.

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.


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