A Love Story

Multifamily TV

With all the efforts by the public to avoid advertising and sales from DVRs, no call lists and spam blockers; how should we approach leasing an apartment and positioning our product in this new era? We need to switch our focus from “all about me” to celebrating LIFE at our communities with word of mouth (WOM) marketing, and start talking about what people LOVE about their life. Take the emphasis off the commercial details about the floor plan and have a testimonial from a resident sharing what they love about living there. We have to get away from data and numbers like “2-bedroom, 2-bath, 879 square feet…” and start sharing word of mouth testimonies about how people enjoy privacy, space, life, love, entertaining friends and quiet evenings at home in this well-thought-out space. It’s all about the “story” of life … not the commercial description of the product!

In their book, The Cluetrain Manifesto, authors Rick Levine, Christopher Locke and Doc Searls identify important market observations needed to change our perspective on product positioning. We have to understand that the Internet has broken down mass marketing into individual conversations. Companies need to create intimate relationships through meaningful language. The more commercial you sound the less the public will listen. Unless you use an authentic human voice, your message simply becomes a part of all the noise that no one wants to hear. If you are old enough to remember when “Amazon” was just a river, you may need to update your product positioning strategy in order to be “heard” by the NOW generation.

How can you speak in an authentic voice and engage your residents to share Word of Mouth recommendations? Use the philosophy taught by the Word of Mouth Association – “Don’t tell … Do ask.” Don’t tell people about your product in commercial language; but ask your residents to share their experience from an honest human perspective.

Begin to develop your WOM strategy by setting your intention on writing a love story about life at your property. Interviewing your last 10 residents who rented and find out why they chose your property. What do they LOVE about your area? What is their favorite nearby restaurant? What businesses do they frequent the most? Where do they like to spend their free time? This becomes the WOM content from which you will build your “authentic voice”.  Have your team develop a list of “Reasons Why People LOVE Living Here,” generated from resident interviews. I call it the Love List! This list should share not just your pool, floor plan, amenities, great service, online rental payment and other things provided by the company – share the reasons that go beyond you!

Redefine your WOM marketing by sharing “what you get as a resident of our community” according to the entire experience of the life they will enjoy. Engage your resident’s to use digital video or still camera to capture the essence of life around your community.  Search Google neighborhood area information to obtain lists and locations that you may be unfamiliar with. Begin in Google maps with your address and then search area retail, restaurants, park and recreation and more.

The complete WOM “Life” experience of your resident may include sports centers, activities, bowling, movies, theaters, swimming, golf courses, driving range, goofy golf, recreation centers, parks, jogging trails, play grounds, lakes, water sports, water parks, amusement parks, training centers, recreation lessons – dive center, museums, antique stores, boutiques, shopping malls, coffee shops, ice cream shops, churches, hooka bars, tubing hills, climbing walls, skate parks, tennis courts, racquetball, basketball courts, dirt bike trails, bike trails, dog parks, game rooms, spas, dance clubs, sports bars, sporting arenas and more!  FIND EVERYTHING! Take a drive down every street, go into every store, find every secret your area holds and share it. Capture it in still life pictures and video!

IDEA: We recently created a cool “I LOVE this” graphic that can be printed on 8.5″ x 11″ glossy cardstock paper in full color. Cut out the heart for your residents and have them take it and a camera or flip video to record them selves grinning big, holding the sign with their favorite cup of coffee! The sign is like a built-in talking cloud and the message with a few words is powerful. Ask them to take a picture with the sign on their favorite trail with their dog, playing at their favorite park or reading a book in their secret place. Use the photos and videos to enhance your WOM marketing.  Place this special group of photos to into a Shutterfly “LOVE Story” book and show your future residents a powerful visual of everything they will LOVE about living in your community with the shinning faces of your happy residents smiling back at them!!! When you have this, you have harnessed the power of the authentic voice of the consumer in word of mouth marketing! To answer the question “How do I sell in an anti-advertising age?” Resident testimonials and word of mouth marketing! No need to bore people pointing out the obvious facts, just share “a love story” about life and all the reasons people love living there. Without conventional selling, you just might increase your persuasive power and leasing success!

Build a LOVE List with all the reasons why your residents love their home …

Then write the perfect Love Story!

Don’t Miss Toni’s Shows on MproTV

Multifamily TVToni Blake is an international speaker, author and comedienne. Having invested more than 28 years of her life in multifamily housing, she tours over 50 cities each year inspiring thousands of industry professionals. As an author, Toni’s expertise has been published in over 36 trade magazines across the country. She was selected by the National Apartment Association as one of the industry’s “Marketing Gurus” and is recognized for her research and innovative concepts in customer service, sales, and marketing. Toni was honored at the very first Multifamily PRO “People’s Choice Awards” winning awards for Educational Excellence, Imagination and Innovation. Utilizing her multi-lingual talents, Toni was a featured speaker at the 2006 ISTA Conference in Kassel Germany, presenting IN GERMAN to an audience of over 260 German multifamily professionals. She is the president of TotallyToni.com and lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and two stepdaughters.

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