Patrick Morin, Billy Pettit, Holli Beckman and Gianna Negretti on the Lease-Up and New Development panel at AIM 2015.

Patrick Morin, Billy Pettit, Holli Beckman and Gianna Negretti on the Lease-Up and New Development panel at AIM 2015.

It’s the fire drill. The need to get it done yesterday. The hurry up and wait. And the hands down cause of gray hair among apartment marketers.

It’s the lease up. But with some creativity, an honest desire to add real value to the neighborhood and a “localiscious” perspective, the lease-up can be transformed into the success story you one day share on stage. That’s exactly what the apartment marketers on the Lease-Up & New Development Marketing panel did at the 2015 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference.

“For us, it’s about building relationships, starting from the ground up and earning the opportunity to promote our new developments by partnering with local people to tell our story,” said Billy Pettit, senior vice president of Pillar Properties, who coined the term ‘localiscious.’ “That’s the backbone of all our marketing activities.”

That desire to provide a localiscious flavor to marketing activities led Pillar to leverage the Seattle Seahawks to market a new development – Stadium Place. The community, which overlooks Century Link Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, raised a truck with the team’s logo on it high above the stadium during a Monday Night Football game. Pillar Properties also implemented a 12th-man flag raise on game days in honor of Seahawks fans, who are known as the 12th man. And they provided access to a local TV station to broadcast from the community.

Local grass roots tactics like these can give new developments the edge they need to lease-up, even against strong competition, without having to resort to concessions, says Holli Beckman, vice president of marketing and leasing operations for WC Smith. Beckman faced that challenge with a new development in a Washington, D.C. neighborhood, where several other apartment communities were being leased up at the same time.

“Everyone was offering concessions, but that’s something our company never did and our owners weren’t interested in doing,” Beckman said. “We had to take a step back and think about what our customers really wanted. In D.C. we’re really overworked, and we love our pets, but we have no time to take care of them. One of the first things I suggested was that we needed to get our own bulldog to live at the community that would be the community dog.”

While the idea wasn’t well received at first, executives eventually conceded. The result – the bulldog made her way onto national television, the apartment community leased up in 10 months and WC Smith never offered a concession.

The key is to be in the right mindset. “It’s about doing what your competitors can’t, or don ’t or won’t,” said Beckman.

Taking it a step further, Beckman’s marketing team partners with local retailers and businesses during new lease-ups, indirectly encouraging them to promote the community by promoting them.

“We made a big effort to promote the other companies,” Beckman said. “Give, give, give and when you need it, it will come back.”

When it does, the headaches, fire drills and gray hair of the lease-up will have been worth it.

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