Out to Put a Dent in the Multifamily Universe

#apartmentmarketing: Enchantment

When you enchant People, your goal is not to make money from them or to get the to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight. – Guy Kawasaki

 I read somewhere that if you are blogging or doing social media without the intent of selling more stuff, you are a hobbyist. I call bunk on that thought. 

I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years now. And, I can tell you I don’t do it to sell more things. Moreover, I can tell you I don’t do it for a hobby. The work ethic alone in terms of keeping it up makes it much more than a hobby. I do it to be enchanted, to be enlightened, to be better at what I do.

That is not to suggest that there are some diary writers out there that are cataloging their life for no other purpose but to just do it.

I look at it like this – blogging has been a gateway to some very amazing relationships, educational opportunities and otherwise. For me, it’s value comes not in the way of consulting gigs, widget sales or other offerings but rather in the relationships I get to partake in. Now one could argue that all that leads to sales. Maybe so. But it’s not the premise for every blog and neither is every blog a hobby. Even some of the corporate types.

I would even go out on a limb to say that those who don’t set the premise as a sales oriented one but rather one of – exposure to some cool people I can learn from – end up selling more stuff.

Thoughts?

Power of the Written Word

Wallet

I heard a story not so long ago about the power of a thank you card. Seems she had set out to find a new wallet for her husband; a gift to mark their fist anniversary as a married couple. With a little thought she picked Coach as her place to make a purchase.

Get Personal

The sales associate she happened across was more than eager to assist. He went about learning the exact nature of her purchase and took the time to match up the perfect wallet for the occasion. He picked off that the wallet was her gift for their first year of marriage. In doing so he also picked off a deep emotional moment that two people shared.

Take Action

By getting personal; he yield some insights for meaningful action. People are emotional. As such people are moved by emotion. If our actions are emotional in nature; suffice it to say that those emotions will be reciprocated back to us in like kind. In the case of the Coach associate; his action has yielded him a customer for life.

Gain Loyalty

How, you ask? He wrote a very kind; very personal note of congrats to the young lady. He included some very kind words regarding the wallet and the years of use he would garnish out of it. Loyalty for the price of a pen, some paper and a few minutes of time. Hand written and mailed the same day of the purchase. Sound familiar?

The young lady in this story told me she would never consider shopping at another retailer for leather related products. Not a novel concept in the apartment industry but one that I wholeheartedly believe is lost in the struggles of time, attention and willingness to extend oneself under the premise of fostering meaningful connection.

Whether you are B2B or B2C; the power of the written word is rarely for not. Take some time today and pen a few cards to people you have interacted with this week. And, come back and share some stories about what happened as a result.


The Making of an Apartment Company Mascot

Millsy

We are always looking for new and creative ways to start conversation at Mills and we think our latest adventure is sure to be a hit. While we understand this will not resonate with everyone; we are certain there is a niche that will appreciate it and be moved by it. Some people just love to have fun!

Millsy Becomes a Real Boy

Our newly appointed Marketing Director & Communication Strategist, Melissa Preusser (we have an interview lined up – stay tuned to learn more about her) borrowed from the world of athletic mascots to come up with Millsy! Millsy is our Apartment Company Mascot. Millsy will accompany our media teams to any and all company and community functions, festivals, sporting events, partnership gathering and networking events. His chief aim? Give people a reason to talk about Mills. And, what better event could there be for his coming to life party than the annual St. Louis Mardi Gras Parade. Millsy becomes a real boy on Saturday March 5th 2011. We will be sharing a lot of the highlights and pics in future posts.

For now, I thought it would be fun to share some pics of Millsy in the early stages of coming to life…

Apartment Marketers – Stop the C[r]ap

I ran across Stop the Cap this evening while reading some blog post and Google alerts. At the risk of causing discord with the fine people over at Mid-America – I have to ask, is it really worth it? I recognize the value in exclusive marketing relationships and revenue shares and advocate them myself but this one seems very anti-resident. In jest, I kind of wish I had a few Mid-America communities in my various sub-markets, I could use a few occupancy points.

Maybe the story has it all wrong and if so my apologies for drawing a spotlight to it. However, if it is valid the following excerpt really sums up the downside:

Mid-America earns a significant kickback bonus from Comcast for mandating cable service on all of its renters.  That upsets many renters who choose not to have cable service, or subscribe to a satellite provider like DirecTV or DISH.  The $40 fee doesn’t go away if you don’t want the service.  Earlier in July, Stop the Cap! covered Mid-America’s mandatory cable service introduction in other parts of Tennessee and Texas.

My question comes in the context of an era of social media – did anyone consider the potential for bad buzz?

What does the community think? Good idea? Bad idea? Other points?

Be gentle -

Apartment Marketing: PSE

Apartment Facebook

You likely know from your own experiences both on and off line that Emotion Sells! Excitement Sells! Cool Sells! Gossip Sells! Optimism Sells! Humor Sells! Anger Sells! iPhone 4 Sells! Well – more appropriate to this post concerning the iPhone 4 – Being Part of the Cool Kid Tribe Sells! Wit Sells! Deep thoughts by Jack Handy Sells! Heart Felt Sells! To Big to Fail Sells! And B.S. Sells – in spades! Point? It’s the stuff that hits the hardest and softest parts of that thing called heart – soul – spirit and mind! So get out your Kleenex or pick up that axe in need of a good grind – as we have absolutely nothing to tell you that you don’t already know –

Scott Stratten from the very popular UnMarketing Blog cut the idea of sharing down to its core recently –

UnMarketing » Blog Archive » Word of Mouth Has Changed, Sort Of

Look at what gets shared on Facebook, or retweeted on Twitter. Funny stuff, brilliant knowledge-filled posts, sad things, stuff that angers you.

Repeat after me: People. Spread. Emotion.

Apartment Facebook Like Page: Rules for Share

It’s kind of like Steve Leonard’s rule for customer service : Rule number one: The customer is always right. Rule number two: If the customer is wrong, see rule number one! I am adopting Scott’s mantra as it relates to sharing content on your Apartment Facebook Like Page or your Apartment Twitter Status updates: And, to distill it into a set of rules [I hate rules but for the sake of keeping] Rule number one: People. Spread. Emotion. Rule number two: If there is no spread, see rule number one!

Apartment Marketing: @earlybird a New Way to Use Twitter

Apartment Marketing @earlybird

Have you ever wondered what the most appropriate way to use Twitter to market your companies Apartment Living Experience is? Now I’m not to suggesting that any one way is better than another but I do think there are some ways that garnish more attention. My only piece of advice is avoid using old school push marketing tactics.

It looks like @earlybird is positioning itself as a socially acceptable way to broadcast your current promotion. Brian Solis puts it this way in On Twitter, The Early Bird Gets the Worm

If you can imaging the possibilities for @EarlyBird, it goes beyond just one-off deals and specials through a generic account [push marketing], it can be themed into opt-in channels for almost any area of interest, food, music, entertainment, events, etc. [relevancy] emphasis mine.

As it relates to apartment marketing, I can see the value in an opt-in channel for apartments as a good thing –

What do you think?

Apartment Marketing: How to Use Facebook Like Pages to Lease Apartments

Using Facebook to Lease more Apartments

I love emails like the one below -but before we go there:

Over the past few weeks we have started to quietly roll out some of our Facebook Like Pages as we gear up for the Get Social with Mills Initiative . One of the issues we’ve run into with this slow roll out is anxious PMs and MSs like Teresa and Mike at Park Clayton Apartments. They were ready to run – so, we let them go and in just over two weeks they took the like numbers from 7 to North of 225.

How to grow Your Apartment Facebook Like Page numbers

How did they do it? To make a long story short Mike brought an orphaned stuffed yellow duck to the leasing office for Teresa to see and each time they tried to put the duck away – residents asked to have it back as a mascot. With that T and M – [I often use the first letter of peoples names - with that T is for Teresa and M is for Mike] decided to have a – Name the Duck – contest . In conjunction with that contest they decided to give away a few fun prizes for the resident who yielded the biggest number of Likes to our page in a weeks time.

The Apartment Like Page Results

T and M put on North of 200 Likes inside of two weeks time. Not only that – they yielded something much more important in my opinion – check out the page and I think you will quickly discern what I mean. That point brings me to the email below –

How to use Facebook Like Pages to Rent Apartments

I will let the email speak for itself –

Have a compelling weekend – M

—–Original Message—–
From: Park Clayton <parkclayton@millsproperties.net>
Sent: Thursday, June 03, 2010 12:55 PM
To: ‘Mike Brewer’ <MBrewer@millsproperties.net>; ‘Tracy Seubert’ <TSeubert@millsproperties.net>
Subject: Great news!

Hey guys,

I have some awesome news about our facebook fans. One of my residents came down to tell me that his friends in Taiwan are watching us on facebook and they think it’s great that we do resident events and have contests. He says they told him they want to move here when they get to town just because of what they see online!

Also, he brought down his laptop and we spoke with a couple of his friends in Taiwan who want to move here in August. The program they use to chat/talk internationally is called, “skype.”

Teresa Richardson

Property Manager

Park Clayton Apartments

photo credit: blog.hubspot.com

Apartment Reviews – This Wall was Not Made for Conversation

Kudos wall

See this wall -it’s the Mills Properties Kudos Wall in our central office in Clayton, MO. Only one problem, it’s calendar year 2010  and I can’t converse with the people that took the time to write out their thoughts and mail them to our office.

I am certain that many of you can imagine the missed opportunity. My hope is that there are not others out there that have walls like this one in their offices. My plea to you if you do is to get digital fast –

We will be doing as much as we kick of the Get Social with Mills Initiative. Keying off what others have done in the industry, we feel it will be a necessary and fruitful piece of our on-line branding presence going forward.

Would love to hear your thoughts -

Apartment Search On: Google Commercial

I read about this a couple of weeks ago and just found the time to check it out. It might be a colossal waste of time or a uber-cool thing to share on one of your social networks.

If you recall the Google commercial that ran during the Super Bowl you will have a really good sense for what this is. Google has created a way for you to mimic their Search On commercial. It’s really ingenious if you ask me. And, simple to do.

Here is a link to the site where you can build your own. And, here is the one I built for Mills Properties:

Apartment Internet Marketing – Education

Reasons for Friending or Following Companies Through Social Media According to US Consumers, December 2009 (% of respondents)-1

This is the second part of a five part series based on a recent emarketer survey. In part one we discussed the concept of Exclusivity. Today we discuss: Education as it relates to Apartment Internet Marketing.

I have included the chart here again for reference:

Reasons for Friending or Following Companies Through Social Media According to US Consumers, December 2009 (% of respondents)

What is Education?

Education, according to Princeton.edu is defined as; a gradual process of acquiring knowledge. From the time of birth we are taking in information, processing it, making decisions and acting. All the while we are layering information on top of information, taking in the new and purging the old to make new assumptions about the future to come. In any case, we are subject to the people and the environment we choose to hang around and participate in. There is a Dave Matthew’s song called: The Space Between. In that song Dave belts: “the space between – the tears we cry – is the laughter keeps us coming back for more – the space between – the wicked lies we tell – and hope to keep safe from the pain” I would contend that space between is called – choice. And, that choice is the byproduct of a catalyst and the result is action – all couched in education or better said, knowledge.

Value Exchange

Education would lead us to understand that the single most important catalyst in today’s business environment is garnishing a individuals attention. With no equivocation – it is the most important determinant of business success. When asking someone to give you their attention, you are asking them to give you their most precious possession – time. Ask for that attention in the way of a negative event caused by you and or your organization and expect a less than positive consequence. Ask for that attention in the way of a positive event and expect – nothing. In the Internet age this is the price of admission. In the context of apartment marketing ideas, ask for that attention in the way of educating apartment patrons and you plant the seeds necessary for true engagement.

Consumer Expectation

There is yet another thing that human beings have in common – the need for insight. Insight is often a vibrant, happy and emotionally loaded space in any person’s life. At some level we are all after it – we all want to be in-the-know. The emotion and desire is hard-wired into our system. That is to suggest that consumer’s want – innately. It’s imbued on their hearts and minds. When we apply that fact we can quickly see the overarching need to embed listening, understanding, interaction and feedback into our concept. It all adds up to meaning for the apartment patron. It all adds up to the willingness to give us their attention. As an example – people spend an average of 25 minutes per session on Facebook – why? The need for insight is being met.

Offer it and They Will Come

We see examples of this all over the internet today but my favorite is Wine Library TV – dial into the 3:50 min section of this video – it is the point. You get people to this and you are on your way to what I will end this series with.

Have a over the top and compelling end to your week – we will be back in a couple days with another installment to this series.