In Or Out

Are they In or are they Out?

in or out
I wrote a post on my regular blog, recently about fashion trends for 2013. We used it to create a game for our podcast called In or Out (kind of playing off the old game show Street Smarts). Basically, we drove around to a couple of different places in St. Louis asking people to give us their opinions on whether certain fashion trends are ‘In’ or ‘Out’ in 2013 as compared to what we read on fashion websites.

It got me thinking about marketing trends and how there are differing opinions on what’s ‘in’ or ‘out’. Some trends are split straight down the middle while others are about 99% obsolete but still used (or worn) by some for lack of knowledge, money or just stuck in their ways.

I know my opinions aren’t the same as everyone, not even everyone within my company, so I’d like to play the In or Out game, this time to get opinions from people, and not just other management companies in St. Louis but people in the multi-family and marketing industries across the U.S., on what marketing trends you believe are ‘in’ and ‘out’.

I’ll start:


  • Engagement through Facebook
  • Promoting Ratings & Reviews on your own website
  • Getting involved with local community events/organizations (ex. blood drives, chambers, non-profits)


  • Car/door flyering
  • ILS print advertising
  • Faxing/e-mailing hot sheets or coupons to local businesses

I’d love to hear opinions of others on marketing trends that are In Or Out?

You can check out the RealLifeSTL Podcast here.

#apartmentmarketing: Enchantment

When you enchant People, your goal is not to make money from them or to get the to do what you want, but to fill them with great delight. – Guy Kawasaki

 I read somewhere that if you are blogging or doing social media without the intent of selling more stuff, you are a hobbyist. I call bunk on that thought. 

I’ve been blogging for nearly seven years now. And, I can tell you I don’t do it to sell more things. Moreover, I can tell you I don’t do it for a hobby. The work ethic alone in terms of keeping it up makes it much more than a hobby. I do it to be enchanted, to be enlightened, to be better at what I do.

That is not to suggest that there are some diary writers out there that are cataloging their life for no other purpose but to just do it.

I look at it like this – blogging has been a gateway to some very amazing relationships, educational opportunities and otherwise. For me, it’s value comes not in the way of consulting gigs, widget sales or other offerings but rather in the relationships I get to partake in. Now one could argue that all that leads to sales. Maybe so. But it’s not the premise for every blog and neither is every blog a hobby. Even some of the corporate types.

I would even go out on a limb to say that those who don’t set the premise as a sales oriented one but rather one of – exposure to some cool people I can learn from – end up selling more stuff.


#Apartmentmarketing: The Niche

Multifamily SegmentationIncreasingly, the mass marketing is turning into a mass of niches. – Chris Anderson

Question: Do we need to hire, train and promote subject matter experts in order to reach the ever segmenting audience?

Pic: Courtesy of Everything Technology Blogging

Apartment Marketing: The Key

…most important words in real estate are not location, location…


It’s that simple

Every message must provide value. And, the most important key might not be what you think.

In my head, the three most important words in real estate are not location, location, location but rather people, people, people. You can have the most amazing asset fetching top p/s/f rates and lose it in an instant if people lose the sense that they are part of something bigger than self. If they lose site of the human nature of business. If they lose desire, hope and willingness to serve. People are a message. Dare I say that people are THE message!

Or, could it be deeper and/or more fundamental?

Apartment Marketing: Friendslist

Could a platform like friendlist make For Rent’s likely crazy expensive quasi-distribution point irrelevant? Likely not but I secretly hope so…

Friendslist might be something to keep an eye on. Especially in light of the shrewd move by in creating an exclusive, carve their client marketing partners right out of an avenue of advertising platform, relationship on FBs Marketplace.  Could a platform like friendlist make the likely crazy expensive quasi-distribution point irrelevant? Likely not but I secretly hope so…

Friendslist offers a cleaner interface to start, but that’s nothing new. What it does is connect buyers and sellers, or people who are looking for jobs and people who are hiring, through the people they know. Yes, Oodle does this to some extent on Facebook Marketplace, but Friendslist takes a slightly different approach.

No offense FR. But, please know whether it was you, AF, AG or any other provider, I would feel the same. The move gave me every cause to expedite the reallocation of near $550,000 of FR specific marketing spend over the last 18 months. Not a complete departure but a semi-massive one.  Stay tuned…

QR Codes in Apartment Magazines


The jury is still out in my mind as it relates to the use of QR codes. I wrote about them three or four years ago and at the time I thought they were cool but today I have a very different opinion. Back then there was no real mass use commercial or otherwise and in the same respect there was a neat kind of novelty about them. It was cool that I could make my own but really confusing in that that I had no way to read it after I made it. That was before that proliferation of smart phones and the apps that make them so powerful. For now I classify QR codes under the “just because you can, does not mean you should” category.

Waste of Time

For example, I am reading The NOW Revolution by Bear and Naslund and it is full of QR codes. I give them high points for novelty. I give them high points in quantity. And, if it mattered, I give them high points in placement as it relates to aesthetics. They really packed a ton of information into 200 pages or less. But, I would never, in a million years, take the time to pull out my phone, take a picture and wait for the page to load. It’s too much work. Don’t make me pay [in the way of my time and in my money] twice for information.

Think Twice

As a result of The Now Revolution, I will never buy another book without flipping through it more thoroughly. If I see QR codes; I see that money more well spent in my bank account.

QR codes in Apartment Magazines

QR codes are pasted all over the pages of ForRent Magazine and others like it. I wonder, outside or AEs presenting a WOW moment, if people actually use them in a meaningful way. I hear the echos of “value add” but I think “what a waste of space.” Tell me what the value is and reduce my bill accordingly and keep the crazy things off my page.

The Making of an Apartment Company Mascot

We are always looking for new and creative ways to start conversation at Mills and we think our latest adventure is sure to be a hit. While we understand this will not resonate with everyone; we are certain there is a niche that will appreciate it and be moved by it. Some people just love to have fun!

Millsy Becomes a Real Boy

Our newly appointed Marketing Director & Communication Strategist, Melissa Preusser (we have an interview lined up – stay tuned to learn more about her) borrowed from the world of athletic mascots to come up with Millsy! Millsy is our Apartment Company Mascot. Millsy will accompany our media teams to any and all company and community functions, festivals, sporting events, partnership gathering and networking events. His chief aim? Give people a reason to talk about Mills. And, what better event could there be for his coming to life party than the annual St. Louis Mardi Gras Parade. Millsy becomes a real boy on Saturday March 5th 2011. We will be sharing a lot of the highlights and pics in future posts.

For now, I thought it would be fun to share some pics of Millsy in the early stages of coming to life…

Using Facebook to Rent More Apartments

A ton has been written on the topic of Facebook as it relates to renting apartments and I don’t intend to belabor the point.

Rather, I am curious to hear from our readers; What is/are your biggest struggle with it? What are your biggest successes? What would you tell someone who is thinking about starting a like page?

I appreciate any discussion we get going here – even the brief ones.

Apartment Marketing: PSE

Rule number one: People. Spread. Emotion. Rule number two: If there is no spread, see rule number one!

You likely know from your own experiences both on and off line that Emotion Sells! Excitement Sells! Cool Sells! Gossip Sells! Optimism Sells! Humor Sells! Anger Sells! iPhone 4 Sells! Well – more appropriate to this post concerning the iPhone 4 – Being Part of the Cool Kid Tribe Sells! Wit Sells! Deep thoughts by Jack Handy Sells! Heart Felt Sells! To Big to Fail Sells! And B.S. Sells – in spades! Point? It’s the stuff that hits the hardest and softest parts of that thing called heart – soul – spirit and mind! So get out your Kleenex or pick up that axe in need of a good grind – as we have absolutely nothing to tell you that you don’t already know –

Scott Stratten from the very popular UnMarketing Blog cut the idea of sharing down to its core recently –

UnMarketing » Blog Archive » Word of Mouth Has Changed, Sort Of

Look at what gets shared on Facebook, or retweeted on Twitter. Funny stuff, brilliant knowledge-filled posts, sad things, stuff that angers you.

Repeat after me: People. Spread. Emotion.

Apartment Facebook Like Page: Rules for Share

It’s kind of like Steve Leonard’s rule for customer service : Rule number one: The customer is always right. Rule number two: If the customer is wrong, see rule number one! I am adopting Scott’s mantra as it relates to sharing content on your Apartment Facebook Like Page or your Apartment Twitter Status updates: And, to distill it into a set of rules [I hate rules but for the sake of keeping] Rule number one: People. Spread. Emotion. Rule number two: If there is no spread, see rule number one!

Apartment Marketers: Afraid to Blog?

Blogging: This is something you make time for at the expense of other things.

Below is a link to a story that resonated with me relative to a conversation that was broached on Mike Whaling’s: Apartment Marketing Gone Digital’s last episode. I believe it was Eric Brown that made the point about the lack of conversation about blogs as it relates to apartment marketing at NAAs 2010 convention.

Apartment Blogging: Fear

I agree to some extent with Eric that there is a dearth of examples with apartment blogging in the Apartment Space as I think the offerings are growing everyday. For example – Mills Properties – is on the verge of launching seven regional blogs in addition to revamping the Mills employee-centric blog. In addition, JC Hart, Trillium, Paragon, Village Green and PCMG have ventured down the path of blogging and from my perspective are doing a good job of it. I applaud the fact that these firms have taken the endeavor on as an in-house marketing function.

With that, I feel it necessary to make the point that I am not an advocate of ILSs that offer blogging as a part of their advertising package. And, time should be of no excuse. I would rather hear the fear stuff like; I am afraid of what others might think of my choice of topic, my grammar, my spelling or what if I can’t think of anything to write about. Not that those things are not important but – time as an excuse – save it. This is something you make time for at the expense of other things.

Apartment Non-Blogging

To the topic at hand – the following post was offered up on the Conversation Agent Blog a couple weeks ago. In it Valeria Moltoni suggests alternatives to blogging that could and are effective in building your digital footprint. If you are not into creating original and or mashed up blog content – this read is for you. The premise is that participation is an equally compelling form of content creation. She offers some real practical applications using LinkedIn, Twitter and others. So – if you just can’t bring yourself to do it and you elect not to farm it out to a third party, try this method.

Enjoy and let us know your thoughts in the comments below –

Conversation Agent: Blogging at Work if You Don’t Have a Blog

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. Participation is content because it is what will activate your content in the context of the conversation. Remember when you worried about nobody coming to your blog? It’s the same with content in other places – you’ve got to interact to activate it.