Classic apartment marketing is becoming just that. What once was considered as being the four cornerstones of sales pitches – the 4Ps of product, price, place and promotion – are being transformed by those digital devices that consumers hold dear to their hearts, and hands in a new way.
Smartphones and tablets continue to define the apartment search experience and shift marketing strategies that are now focusing on choice, convenience, cross-devices and creative story-telling. Dial it in as the 4Cs of multifamily.
“(Mobile devices) have really been a conduit to this change,” LeaseLabs President Steven Ozbun said. “They’ve disrupted this industry that surrounds us.”
The commotion has resulted in a marketing mega trend that is changing the way companies of all sizes are pitching their brands.
Consumers often using multiple devices to search for products. A search for an apartment may start over a cup of coffee on a smartphone and span over one or two more devices before a purchase or commitment is made.
“It’s a fragmented user experience,” Ozbun says. “I’m looking for apt on my smartphone, I hop on my tablet and look for an apartment, then go to my tablet to look at an apartment I just saw on my smartphone. Then I go to laptop to fill out a form because I’m comfortable there.”
Along the way, prospects get very transparent information about competitor pricing and amenities that may sway them in a different direction even if they feel bound by a certain brand. The brand has to be re-enforced and stay fresh by providing multiple options, all of which need to be equally viewable across all devices.
To stay a step ahead, communities must pledge options and an invigorating search experience through multiple devices that address specific prospect needs. The way into the prospect’s palm is through people-based marketing, intricate customer journeys and bottom-line analytics.
“There has been a change in consumer expectations, and the way we can get in front of consumers today has changed, thanks to mobile devices primarily,” said Ozbun, who along with Senior Vice President, Business Development, Brock MacLean recently kicked off a webcast series focusing on multifamily marketing.
Here is a sneak preview of the new 4Cs of apartment marketing, according to Ozbun and MacLean.
Choice of product, and not so much product in itself, is the first cornerstone of the 4Cs. Ozbun cites how Coca-Cola is a good example of how a company that’s already a house-hold name is re-enforcing its brand through multiple flavors. Today’s consumers are not so much concerned about just having a Coke but a specific kind of soft drink tailored to their needs, MacLean says. The company recently introduced a line of specific flavors, which generated $22 million in sales during the first quarter on shelves).
“It’s about giving options to people who are already committed to that brand but want a choice in flavor,” he said.
It’s no longer about price but convenience when prospects are looking for an apartment, Ozbun said. Mobile devices have empowered consumers with fast information, causing their shopping expectations to heighten. Instant gratification and instant satisfaction are the operative words.
“Consumers have this expectation now, I want something and I want it now,” he said. “I need you to deliver it in an hour to my door step and I’ll pay an extra hour. Thanks again to that smartphone.”
In classic marketing product positioning on the shelf was key. Now consumers expect to see product equally displayed on all devices because they migrate from one to the other throughout the customer journey. About 40 percent all transactions begin on one device before finishing on another, Ozbun says.
“If your product is not viewable or available on a smart phone in the same easy way it is on a desktop, you’re going to lose a huge portion of your market share there,” he said. “Especially with mobile usage surpassing desktop and laptop usage, really focusing on that mobile experience and making sure that customer journey is cohesive across all devices is more important than ever.”
4. Creative storytelling
Consumers want to be told a story so they can have some sort of emotional connection with the brand of a product or community. Many brands have mastered creative story telling aided by scrolling-page website architecture. Having all brand touchpoints connected help to tell that story more cohesively.
Ozbun noted that Harvard Business Review recently stated that 64 percent of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand. Tom Shoes and Warby Parker, two companies that are philanthropic in their marketing, are among those that stand out, he said.
Multifamily has a great opportunity to tell a compelling story because living space is a personal decision. Tell a story, be memorable, MacLean adds. Airbnb with its Bélo proposition and Biscuit’s adventure with HomeAway have succeeded in the vacation rental space with unforgettable campaigns.
“There’s a great opportunity for multifamily brands to come up with some good core values, effectively share that story so consumers feel good about renting or leasing an apartment from that brand as well.”
Reaching prospects through analytics
The path to purchase is a very twisted, fragmented journey today. Google Analytics is trying to piece that journey together through probabilistic and deterministic matching, processes that identifies consumers based on their log-in tracks across multiple devices.
Clean attribution marketing analytics offers greater understanding about how different interactions effect movement along the customer journey. For multifamily, the applications can provide operators will clean leads that are more likely to convert to leases.
“This is game game-changing,” Ozbun said. “It is a big step from where we were. Showing clean attribution modeling has been something that everybody can debate about. This is a step in the right direction to really having a clean understanding to what is driving that first contact and driving that conversion.”