As the director of marketing for Matrix Residential, Dana Pate is an expert in how to convey the unique experience offered by an apartment community to prospects. Her expertise will be a vital part of AIM’s “Selling the Sizzle: Effectively Communicating a Lifestyle Experience” session, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 4.
In this Q&A, Pate discusses the challenges of communicating a community’s unique lifestyle proposition, examines the ever-changing marketing landscape and outlines what she hopes attendees will take away from the “Selling the Sizzle” session.
What are the lifestyle amenities and services that are currently most in demand by Matrix Residential residents?
Pate: The lifestyle services and amenities we choose to offer at any of our communities correspond to the demographic. At Matrix Residential, we start with the immediate neighborhood – what conveniences are already established in the local market, and how can we piggyback engagement from the outside in?
Partnering with local restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues allows us to cross-market and share an audience without over-stimulating prospects with dozens of mixed marketing messages.
Inside our community, we dig into who our resident really is. Are they pet-owners? Then a dog walker, designated play area and wash station would make sense. Do they work from home? Think through your common areas to optimize meeting space, create micro-offices in dead space and ensure your Internet connection is top-notch with fiber direct to their homes.
Some necessities that we’ve seen regardless of demographic include package lockers, car service and food delivery.
The title of your session is “Selling the Sizzle – Effectively Communicating a Lifestyle Experience.” What are some of the challenges of communicating the experience — in terms of amenities, service options, etc. — that your communities offer?
Pate: When communicating the lifestyle of your community, there needs to be a balance of “tried-and-true” and “next-level-wow” strategy.
I always look to other industries for inspiration – hospitality, restaurants, travel. Their use of hyper-local, grassroots marketing allow us to push outside our comfort zone without depleting our budget on an effort that may not give us the ROI we need.
Technology especially can be both a loyal friend and a backstabbing ex. You trust that it’s going to do what it says it’s going to do, but it isn’t always so easy! Our mission as multifamily marketers is to create, position and sell the story of our residents – who they are, what they like, how they choose to live their lives. But everyone’s story is different. The challenge – and success – is finding common ground and then delivering amenities and services based on those unifying details.
Are there some long-established marketing strategies and tactics that you feel are just, for whatever reason, no longer effective in communicating the unique experiences offered by a particular community? On the flip side, what new strategies and tactics do you see emerging in the coming years?
Pate: When I think “traditional media,” I immediately go to print. This long-established marketing tactic has lost traction among most marketers – and suppliers – in the last decade, but it’s still a common go-to. In the next 10 years, I predict some digital resources to follow suit.
It’s not enough to post a Craigslist ad, list yourself on an ILS or send a generic e-blast. A single initiative is not a strategy. Apartment-specific resources are already starting to take a backseat to search marketing with our most effective cost per lead and lease analysis pointing toward SEO/SEM, PPC, display and geofencing today.
Prospects look for single-source information regardless of need. Think about ApartmentRatings.com – this was the only base for managing our online reputation just a few years ago, but now we prioritize Google and Yelp, sources that cater to customers across industries.
What do you want attendees of your session to walk away with?
Pate: We would like our audience to walk away with immediate lifestyle marketing strategies they can implement today, and a long-term understanding of what the next-generation renter will demand tomorrow.