Marketing in the Time of COVID-19: Advice From 3 Multifamily Marketing Experts
Over the last 8 months, the focus of marketing departments nationwide has shifted entirely.
New questions such as, “How should we advertise our strict safety measures?” and “How are we going to keep up the lead flow without in-person tours?” have been discussed an endless number of times.
Join us on our journey as we interview four expert multifamily marketing professionals and discuss their reactions to the new marketing landscape.
Our experts share lots of helpful advice, including:
– What tools have helped them most
– What they would do differently if they could go back in time
– How they’ve prepared for this transition overall
Tara Smith from The Sterling Group
First we spoke with Tara Smith from The Sterling Group on how this new landscape has affected her marketing initiatives.
According to Tara, implementing a “hands-off virtual leasing experience with self-guided tours” was always on the company’s radar and part of their long-term plan. COVID-19 simply helped The Sterling Group get virtual tours live faster than they would have otherwise, as the urgency to make this change grew tenfold.
She mentioned, “I think one of the things that worked out well for us was our quick action and adaptability. As soon as we knew that things were going to change and we were going to be on lockdown, we acted quickly and got things approved and rolled out in record time. So I think that’s one of the things that really helped us out, was just our quickness to jump into action.”
At Generation Marketing, our most successful clients are those that adapt quickly and aren’t afraid to make a change. We love to see companies that aren’t afraid to go full speed ahead.
When asked which of the changes The Sterling Group has made has been the most impactful, Tara replied, “Communication. I think being accessible and available and responsive to prospects, whether it’s through SMS text on our website, or being able to answer right away and say, ‘Hey, we do have a self-guided tour option.’ I think it’s just making sure that our communication is on point in terms of how we’re responding to prospects and residents.”
According to Tara, “You have to meet prospects where they’re at, or you’re going to get left behind.”
We couldn’t agree more!
Shane Gillman from Gates Hudson
Shane Gillman, VP of Marketing at Gates Hudson elaborated on Tara’s observations and provided an interesting perspective on how Gates Hudson has managed to support inundated staff.
Covid has presented unique challenges for properties looking to hit their leasing goals in a new landscape, Shane mentioned that “Implementing contact centers has had a huge impact on our success”.
A contact center is a centralized department where phone calls from leads and current residents are routed. Outsourcing calls to a contact center may seem like an easy fix to one of multifamily’s oldest problems; however, Shane elaborates on why it’s not that simple.
“Evaluating a contact center is very complex. The key is having them define expectations, many companies will sit back, let you speak, and agree with you. You need to dig deeper and ask them, what are your best practices? What is the benchmark to success? What should your numbers look like?”
Shane shared that “With this simple approach, it really adds transparency. Make sure the contact center you are partnering with has the same goals and visions for your property.”
Being specific with your expectations is the foundation of a successful partnership. Don’t assume that they have the same goals as you do, Shane added that “many call centers work toward the goal of keeping a prospect on the phone for over 5 minutes. But are they addressing questions correctly as an extension of our staff?”.
After our conversation with Shane, we concluded that a contact center partner is only as good as the information and expectations you provide them with. With so many tools and technology available, having a consistent customer experience between real world and online interactions is more important than ever.
Finally, we interviewed Laurie Frias, Southwest Director of Marketing at Lincoln Property Company.
Laurie stated that the key to staying prepared in an ever changing landscape is to “stay updated on all new policies and ensure that information is relayed on a regional level. Communication has been key during this pandemic and is one of the reasons we’ve been so successful during COVID-19”.
Having top-tier communication has become increasingly difficult during this time. Challenges such as only performing emergency maintenance and more residents working from home make communication even more important to ensure everyone feels heard.
Laurie added “we’ve focused on new technology to allow prospects to tour directly from their laptops or mobile devices. As we’re slowly opening back up, we’re now focusing on self-guided tours to give prospects more options than simply touring with an agent.”
We love this approach, there are so many tools you can use to broaden your bandwidth. Virtual tours mean you can engage more prospects at the same time, freeing up your on-site teams schedules.
Laurie mentioned “we’ve worked a lot on resident satisfaction and retention virtual events such as cooking classes, balcony workouts, live concerts from residents balconies, and more.
We’re changing our strategy on a weekly basis depending on the status of COVID-19, which has required a lot of teamwork. I’m proud of what we accomplished so far”.
Being flexible in your approach is definitely an underlying success factor among all 4 of our wonderful contributors.
There isn’t one thing that will allow you to adapt overnight, but being customer-focused and willing to change will result in a great experience for both residents and management.