Property Manager Marketing: Can You Relate?
Way back in Part I of this short series, we mentioned that part of property management marketing was the ability to create an implement marketing materials that moved customers along each of the stages laid out in Part II. For review, those stages were:
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- Face in the Crowd
And in each stage, there was something you had to earn from them to move them up to the next stage:
- Their attention
- Their trust
- Their commitment
- And finally, their support.
Each of these levels requires a marketing effort geared toward the specific element of their time and energy that you’re attempting to earn. You can create all of the trust-earning content you want, but if you don’t ever get anyone’s attention, it will be worthless — and similarly, you can have the attention and trust of thousands of people, but if you can’t get them to commit their money to you, it doesn’t help you one whit. So today, we’re talking about the specific kinds of marketing materials needed for each level of the ladder.
Earning Their Attention
People’s attention isn’t an easy thing to get in the era of 24 hour news networks, continuously-updating Facebook feeds, and 12,000 or more commercial messages delivered every day.
You have an advantage in that you don’t care about the vast majority of people out there; you only want your marketing messages to hit people that are actually in the market for property management services. So to a degree, your attention-earning messages can be put somewhere where the people looking for them will find them, and everyone else can keep playing the latest Flappy Bird clone.
Attention-earning materials need to have some consistent attributes:
- Creativity — showing someone what they expect to see will rarely get their attention. Be different, and you’ll see more success.
- Relevance — the viewer has to be able to recognize instantly that your company solves a problem that they have.
- Targeting — the material must appear in a place where the target audience is looking, or they’ll never see it in the first place.
- Ubiquity — perhaps contradictorily, the material must also appear in a wide variety of places, so as to maximize exposure.
- Share-ability — the most effective forms of attention-getting are those that will inspire a customer to share the marketing piece with friends and family.
If you can put together attention-getting material that has these basic attributes, you’ll pull lots of faces out of the crowd. The question is, can you use those materials to guide them to give you their trust as well?
Earning Their Trust
Once someone has started reading your content or otherwise observing you in action, it’s time to show them that they can trust you to do what you say you will do. That means, in short, being an expert — if not an industry leader. The marketing materials that show off your position in the market (positively) are the ones that build trust.
- Portfolios of past work, past clients, testimonials, or other evidence of good work you’ve done before they arrived on scene are excellent trust-building tools.
- Community Presence is a great way to establish yourself as an industry leader. Property managers can, for example, donate building materials to charities, work with local recycling and other ‘green’ organizations, or work with local Chambers of Commerce.
- Details on your website do a surprising amount — include your contact information, obviously, but the more you share about your business (how long you’ve been in business, how many years of combined experience your staff has, and so on), the more trustworthy you become.
At this level, what you’re creating is almost less ‘marketing material’ and more ‘reputation building’ — because in essence, what you’re asking your prospect to do is believe in your reputation. If you earn that right, you can ask them for their money.
Earning Their Commitment
A prospect who believes in your reputation has a slightly different mental process than someone who is looking for the right company — they’ve found a few ‘right’ companies, and the issue facing them now is “which of these multiple good-looking options is the best for my situation?” In order to earn their commitment (a.k.a. the initial transaction), your marketing material has to have two goals: to inform, and to motivate.
The ‘inform’ part is fairly straightforward: it’s an extension of what you’ve already been doing with your attention- and trust-earning materials. You want them to know as many (relevant) details about your business as they can, because the more they know, the greater their ability to decide how good of a match your services are to their needs.
The ‘motivate’ part is also straightforward: the moment that a prospect is most likely to become your client is right after they’ve finished learning about your business. If they move on to someone else’s marketing material after consuming yours, the chances are good that you’ll lose that business. So motivating them to contact you promptly — the classic ‘call to action’ — is a critical part of this process.
Earning Their Support
Finally, you have a client — but how do you turn them into someone who actively wants your business to succeed? At this point, you’ve mostly moved beyond marketing material — mostly. You want to take personally-relevant actions that make them happy to be your client but that are not simply more money in their pocket. More money in their pocket makes them think of your relationship as transactional; you want them to think of you as a person/business they like. That means engaging in some relationship building.
- Send them a card on days that have personal meaning, like their birthday and anniversary (not just holidays that everyone celebrates.)
- When you need to meet with them, do it over lunch (on your dime) instead of just at the office.
- Learn about the aspects of property ownership that they value, and do something to enhance those aspects of their properties (for example, if they’re the ‘green’ types, propose a plan to start a recycling program at their apartment building.)
There are lots of ways to build a relationship with a client and turn them into a fan; the biggest obstacle is that it takes a significant effort and most of us PMs are focused too much on day-to-day details and/or the bottom line. But if you start with your list of current ‘best clients’ and start putting in the effort, you’ll find that the results (in the form of referrals to more ‘best clients’ and great word-of-mouth) pay surprising dividends.