I was recently given the privelege to co-moderate a brainstorming session on the topic of marketing. The session was held for members of the apartment management industry at various stages in their careers, from leasing agents who have been in the industry for 2 months to property managers with 10 years of experience. My topic was old school marketing. Old school referring to anything not social media. More specifically, tools such as resident retention, outreach marketing, Craigslist, etc. The idea was to get creative juices flowing, discuss what’s working, what’s not working and maybe learn a few things to take back to the rest of the team.
I was surprised by the lack of marketing knowledge…and for that matter, the lack of creativity. I heard the same 3 “best practices” from a majority of the groups: Generic signs and balloons for drive by traffic, generic Craiglist ads and monetary resident referral incentives. I heard questions like: “What do you say when you’re marketing to a business?” and “It’s ok to send thank you cards and gift baskets to businesses who refer someone to you?” Leasing agents and PMs who had no knowledge of free additional ILS marketing template tools like VFlyer and Postlets, who had never thought past posting a flyer with a resident referral rent credit in terms of using residents as a marketing tool, and those are just building blocks. It’s as if they were told that marketing is something only a rocket scientist can figure out.
First let me say I’m not exactly saying the 3 best practice items listed above are crap, I’m simply saying that they shouldn’t be IT. Also, I’m in love with social media and believe it’s an insanely valuable tool, however 1. It was not my topic to discuss and 2. I also think that personal touch and those face to face human interactions through outreach marketing and resident appreciation events are valuable, and combining the 2 forms is fabulous! (Read Urbane Media’s QR Codes blog). But I’m not sure I believe you can be effective with social media if you don’t even know the basics of effective old school marketing tools. And if no one is teaching or motivating their team on the basics of marketing, then I doubt that there is any social media marketing in place anyway.
So I guess what I’d like to learn from this eye opening experience is: Am I way off base in believing that some old school marketing techniques are still a valuable tool in the industry? Is someone teaching your staff about marketing? Do you believe that one can effectively use social media tools without ever having learned/practiced old school marketing strategies?
Title courtesy of Melissa DeCicco
Photo credit bloggingoutloud