Out to Put a Dent in the Multifamily Universe

#apartmentmarketing: Focus on the Needs

Remarkable social media content and great sales copy are pretty much the same – plain spoken words designed to focus on the needs of the reader, listener, or viewer. – Brian Clark

We have all been there – staring at a blank page waiting, wondering, wanting something brilliant to pop into our mind so we can dazzle the socks off of our constituents. And, it doesn’t come. Or, it comes in faster than you can get your fingers to move so once complete it seems all over the board and useful to no one. Worst of all we are not patient for things that come anon as it’s a yesterday economy…

Simple is better

Sometimes a little simple is a lot better. Robert Fulghum summed it up best in his book; All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK

#Apartmentmarketing: Attention Economy

Instead of one-way interruption, Web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the precise moment that a buyer needs it. – David

Where's the disconnect?

Meerman Scott

Seth Godin quipped that engagement is hitting people with the right message at the right time so as to have them take action [engage]. I think we have to take that word engage and thus precise moment further. To truly engage, at least in my head, you have to be enchanted, you have to be moved, you have to yearn for more so much so that you have no choice but to act on your desires. It the deepest throes of emotion. Words like love, anger and the many nuances of each come to mind. It’s not just a like, unlike, +1 or the such. It’s deeper.

Mr. Apartment Manager Man; “I am done.”

It’s not unlike the gentleman I met with last Friday evening. He, unfortunately, was moving out of our Central West End Community. Reason? In his words, “I am done.”

You see about three weeks ago, the entire roof of his five story building blew off and landed in the parking lot beside and the street in front. Thank the one that governs it all that no one was hurt as it could have been really bad.

In response to the situation; our team entered every apartment in the building and place plastic over beds, electronics and the such. Most were thankful. Not the gentleman I met on Friday. His beef? We did not leave him a note to let him know we had been in his apartment.


Somewhere in the wake of the roof being pulled off the building by straight lined winds; his attention got engaged. The premise aside; he was moved by an aggressive deep seated emotion. He engaged with some ill language and barbed personal remarks for the onsite team and the rest of our Mills management team. He got so engaged that he ended up leaving the property.

The Point

I think we are headed toward true engagement – we are not there yet. We use the word but in it’s loosest of senses. We are in the early innings of a very long ball game that is frankly destined for infinite extra innings. Think in terms of singularity. Think in terms of love, hate and other extremes. That’s engagement. For now we are just courting. Or, at best out on a blind date and liking our mate because our friends suggested we should. Now it’s up to us and the million other people out there participating with brands to fall in love or fall in hate.

What do you think?



Photo tip to: Online Ninja Blog

#Apartmentmarketing: Blog for Juice

No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog. – Chris Brogan

Blog About Everything Unrelated

United Blogs of Benetton is one of my very favorite blogs. It was one of my early inspirations when I started writing a multifamily industry related one back in 2005. The thing that struck me most about the blog is that it had absolutely nothing to do with their core business of fashion. In fact, I remember reading a post they wrote back around that time that suggested their reason for doing so.

I can’t find the post so I am doing my best to recall here. The gist was that they thought that the real value of blogging was to give the people that read it the essence of what they valued as an organization. In other words, they wanted to translate the values of their organization by way of compelling and worldly content.

Our First Company Related Blog

When we started our first company blog in 05′ we did just that. But in lieu of a forward facing, community gathering effort; we brought out the personality of EQRs Portland Portfolio. We called the blog: Portland Rocks Newsletter and the content consisted of stories about our teams. Be it work related or a personal experience we allowed just about everything.

Everything that is except for content about EQR or any specifically related to our apartment communities. Our chief aim back then was to invite people into relationship. Whether they bought from us or not was not the point of the blog. If they did, we considered it icing on the cake.

And, fathom this for a minute. It had nothing to do with SEO or SEM back then. Whoa!

It’s All About the Juice

Fast forward to today – everyone has a blog and everyone is jockeying for the first page of Google search. And, we all do it for Google Juice. We wrap it in 800 count Egyptian cotton [Read: adding value or enhancing experience].

All that being said, I agree 100% with Chris B.

AI: Start a blog today – if you have not already!


#Apartmentmarketing: Share

People share, read and generally engage more with any type of content when it’s surfaced through friends & people they know and trust! – Malorie Lucich – Facebook Spokesperson

Know and Trust

When it comes to using social media to market apartments, I think we are still in the early miles of a endless endurance pace across the deserts of Africa. Some in the business have caught the fact that business is transacted by great story tellers. And, it is incumbent upon us, on the selling end, to give exceptional reasons for our buying constituents to echo the very stories we tell them when we sell our goods and services.

Park Clayton Apartments

Park Clayton rests just about a mile from Washington University in Saint Louis. The apartment community is but 104 units and boasts zero meaningful amenities outside of location. Even that has it’s challenges as it relates to getting to the university. It sits on the opposite side of a major freeway that disects its way to downtown Saint Louis. Yet we have Likers and we have occupancy.

Our Mills Branded Park Clayton Specific Facebook site boasts just over 300 likes. They are made up of current residents, former residents, industry professionals from in and out of Saint Louis and employees of Mills. Within in the diverse mix of people is a group that hails from the Far East and they love Park Clayton. They love the Luaus, they love the open houses to show off our upgraded units, they love the annual St. Patrick’s Parade that makes its way down the street in front of the building and they love Reb’s dump joke Friday. And they love to share.

Share to Rent

About a year ago Teresa, the Property Manager, used Facebook to give away some goodies and the response was over the top. One resident shared with over 100 of his friends in order to stand out in his quest to receive the prize. He shared the story with his friends in the Far East and they shared back. And, they shared back in a big way. You see, this young man had friends who were in wait to come to the states. More specifically in wait to attend Washington University in Saint Louis. And, you better believe they leased at Park Clayton. All because we told some stories that people could share.

#Apartmentmarketing: Waiting

“If you wait until there is another case study in your industry, you will be to late.” Seth Godin

Girl in wait

What to do?

It goes against the old axiom, ‘good things come to those who wait.’ Anymore you get cooked in the squat if you wait too long. With the advent of the Internet came an accelerating pace of change. Moore’s Law even exists, to some extent, in the world of property management. We are seeing newer, bigger, better and flashier ways of attracting new people and keeping relationship with them over a long bit of time. It’s nuts out there.

Oh, and we have a blog…

Multifamily: Second Mover’s Advantage

At Mills Properties, we like to think that we are exercising the second mover advantage. While we did have our company [internal] blog in place nearly three years ago now; we were a bit delayed in getting our forward facing blog out to pasture. It did put us behind the eight ball and in the same respect, it allowed us to make observation of several other industry movers and shakers. That time and those observations gave us the ability to design a strategy that has yielded some very good results for us.

At just six months in we have achieved the following with our blog:

Mills Blog












It’s been the result of some hard work and dedication on the part of many people, first and foremost. Beyond that I would suggest that it’s been the result of setting back and making some observations, learning from others experiments and applying as much as we could.

Today’s call to action – wait. Sometimes, it is okay to wait, watch, learn, strategize, act and fail fast. We did!

What have you gained by waiting?


Multifamily #trust30: Future Text

Day 27 of the #trust30 challenge. Getting close to the end; I think I will miss the daily exercise a bit…

Speak what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Imagine your future self, ie, you 10 years from now. If he/she were to send you a tweet or text message, 1) what would it say and 2) how would that transform your life or change something you’re doing, thinking, believing or saying today?

(Author: Tia Singh)

Multifamily Tomorrow

My tweet would be;

Listen attentively. You will be all the better for it.

That would give cause for me to listen more and speak less. Take more action and give less lip service.

Your listening attentively contributor,


Multifamily #trust30: Right and Wrong

It’s day 22 of the #trust30 challenge – we are coming down the stretch now.

Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

…What are your false comparisons? What are your false expectations? What are your false investments in a story? List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary.

(Author: Patti Digh)

Danger in MultifamilyMultifamily Right and Wrong

There was a time not so long ago that I go so wrapped up in social media and the highs it gave me that I lost track of being ordinary. Be it comments on my blog posts or twitter conversations with people on the local or national scene in the property management business or the occasional back and forth with a best selling author, it was all very addicting. Addicting to the ego and contradicting to the ordinary.

It cost me in a big way personally about five years ago. I got so caught up in that I ignored the most important people in my life. Not so good. I read a book back then titled: The Heart of Man by Eric Fromm. In it, he described the ego in the way of every man being a wolf. Innate in all of us is this wonderful gift termed free will. It’s right on when handled right and likewise when handled wrong. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the ecstasies of work, life or otherwise because the wolf is always at play. He’s looking for the moment to strike at the true heart. The wolf loves clever and every other wild endeavor. He abhors ordinary.

My prompt – stay true to who you are. And, by all means necessary [put down the phone, the email, the text, the facebook, the twitter, the iPad] to ensure you are true to the ones you love and the ones that love you. Ordinary is extraordinary when you think about it. Try it on for size sometime.

Pretty good prompt for a Friday –

Your see you down the stretch contributor,


Multifamily #trust30: Courage

Day 20 in the #trust30 challenge –

Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Who is one person that you’ve been dying to connect with, but just haven’t had the courage to reach out to? First, reflect on why you want to get in touch with them. Then, reach out and set up a meeting.

(Author: David Spinks)

Multifamily NAA – In the spirit of #NAAeduconf

The year was 1996 and the NAA conference was being hosted in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Hilton just off the strip. I was fresh into the multifamily industry and right out of residential sales. And, I was excited. It was that kind of excitement where you wanted to read everything, try everything, meet everybody and learn all that one could about the industry and what made it tick.

I’ve told this story a couple times outside of this blog and it seems appropriate to memorialize it in light of today’s prompt. Lisa Trosien was an industry hero of mine and I just so happened to run into her in the hotel gift shop. I recall standing in the aisle looking for something I did not need just waiting for the moment to say – “hey, I think you are great.” At that time, I was star struck as I had a great deal of admiration for what she was doing for the industry. And, I felt like a clumsy child trying to navigate a new found task.

It took awhile but I worked up the courage to talk to her. My icebreaker? Michael Jordan [Also, a person I would love to meet]. Lisa was picking off every magazine that had Michael Jordan on the cover. I started by asking if she was a Michael fan, she replied that her husband was a huge fan. I shot back with some remarks about how great I thought her afternoon session was and she took the time to prod me on what I was going to take back and apply. And, that was that. I had conquered the courage dragon and she made it worth the work up.

People are people and they want to connect

Fast forward a to the year of social media – I recall asking Lisa a question on her blog and three minutes later my phone rang. And, it was Lisa. Ha! I was speechless.

The fact is that everyone in the world wants to connect. And, more times that not with just a bit of wherewithal and mild assertiveness; you can talk to anyone. And, they will talk back.

Your encouraging you to reach out to your hero contributor,




Multifamily #Trust30: Tiger by the Tail

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For today, trying asking yourself often, especially before you make a choice, “What do I know about this?”

(Author: Jen Louden)

It’s an attention economy and there are a plethora of messages competing for your interest every second of the day. Not only that marketers are getting more creative and more clever as it relates to sucking you in. Marry in some ADD or ADHD and you have the ingredients for never having to think for yourself again.

Multifamily Think

Anyone who has worked for or with me in the multifamily space knows that I expect you to think for yourself when it comes to running your business. Early in my career someone said, “I am handing you keys to a multi-million dollar business, I expect that you know how to tie your shoes.” Made a ton of sense to me then and it still does to this day.

Anymore whether it be a hiring agent or me personally, you better believe the homework will been done. That is to suggest the background has been explored, the questions have been asked and the references have been checked. And, while I don’t use FB or LinkedIn as a part of the hiring process, I do look you up.

The over-riding point here is that I expect to think for myself and I expect those that come to work for me to think for themselves. And, asking yourself what you know is just half the battle. The even more important part is believing the answer. Even on the tough stuff. I expect to fail fast. I expect people to fail fast. I expect to learn fast. And, I expect people to learn fast. 

What I don’t expect is to light fires – if I have to do that then it’s time to move on.

Your always looking to catch a tiger by the tail contributor,



Multifamily #Trust30: One Sentence

Day 17 to the #Trust30 challenge –

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

(Author: Liz Danzico)

Multifamily Sentence

Fail forward fast, learn, grow and press for excellence in all that you do.

Your taking it from the gut today contributor,