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08 Nov 2012

Content Marketing Ideas for Apartment Communities

Content Marketing Ideas for Apartment Communities

Today I am keynoting the MultiFamilyPro brainstorming and marketing event in Las Vegas. My topic is content marketing, or more specifically, Accelerating Your Brand With Search, Social & Content Marketing. In preparing my presentation, I gathered several people in our office who had rented an apartment in the last two years so I could do a little content idea generation with them. This is a tactic we highly recommend and do often with our clients.

Often times coming up with content marketing ideas is a real challenge for businesses. What we recommend is a brainstorming session with your staff to discover what kinds of questions they get asked on a frequent basis by clients or prospects. In this case, since we are not the actual apartment community, we improvised by asking the team the kinds of searches they conducted when searching for a new apartment community.

The end result was a four-page document (1400+ words) with endless ideas for the multifamily or apartment market. It will probably take me longer to write and edit this blog post than it took to come up with all these ideas. I am going to share many of them in this post so that you can get a feel for what is possible if you take the time to ask the right people for some ideas. Even though this is focused on apartment community marketing, the content generation concept can be applied to almost any business.

Here are some of the ideas from that session. I will not use anyone’s real names, but all the quotes and comments are real.

Person #1

What can you walk to in 5 minutes from your apartment?

  • Content ideas (she cut right to the chase):
    • Utilities, information on transferring, specific apartments that have certain cable providers – lots of people want Dish but some apartments can’t accommodate it so maybe information about satellite options
    • Area restaurants and entertainment
    • Location of area hospitals, airports (distance), library, hiking/recreation, bus stops, recycling nearby (this is very very hard to find from personal experience)
    • Organization tips, moving tips, moving resources, moving checklist
    • Tips to help you choose the right roommate
    • Landlord Tenant Act – know your rights
    • Pre-move in checklist, Post-move out checklist
    • Free resources for packing supplies
    • Pro and Cons of renting homes vs. apartments in your area

Person #2

  • I’ve searched for “rentals” i.e. apartments/houses/condos/townhomes. I typically just go with Craigslist, and break it down by the region and price I am searching. I would search for things like “Tatum furnished phoenix” or “light rail” or “downtown Phoenix wood floor.” Things like that.
  • If I found a multi-unit property I liked, the first thing I would do is look for reviews in the search. Apartment reviews are tough because you will often find people who have a vendetta against the apartment complex over silly reasons, but with common sense you could come to the proper conclusions (having the complex owner/manager reply to the complaints was helpful). Some things I would search for would be “(Apartment name) bug problems review,” “(apartment name) bad a/c,” “(Apartment name) great management,” “(Apartment name) terrible management.”

Person #3

  • I just moved Downtown in January after a long search. I knew what I wanted – to live in a walking area, close to the lightrail, easy access to restaurants, events, etc., and to be a part of a community rather than just being in suburb where I would need to drive every day. So I searched for things like:
    • Phoenix lightrail apartments
    • Studios in central Phoenix
    • Downtown Phoenix community
    • Walking community central Phoenix
  • I think I also looked for artist housing or something similar since I do a lot of creative work. Mainly, I was more interested in the lifestyle surrounding the place I wanted to find, so any features like that were the things that sold me on my current place. Granted, the actual building I’m in now is great too but it was more about what was around the building I live in and how easy it is to get to.
  • I mainly looked for the things surrounding the place I wanted to be in – what could I walk to in 5 minutes, what restaurants were nearby, how could I connect with fellow residents, what type of people lived there, etc.!

Person #4

Apartment Rental Searches

  • I noticed that square footage didn’t really tell me anything about the place. You can get a rough idea of the size, but it really comes down to how oddly the apartment is laid out. Any site that wouldn’t show me a floor plan on the website was immediately taken out of the running (keywords “floor plan” or “layout” and “2 bedroom” were often combined).
  • In the end, my searches looked something like “North Phoenix 2 bedroom $8 backyard patio kitchen clean pets” (Google fills in the $8- – with whatever dollar amount, since it’s just looking for the beginning. Pets would often help me know if they had a pet policy on site.)

Person #5

Here are a few of my suggestions on content:

  • Anything on making an apartment feel like home, decorating on a budget, how to screen roommates/what to look for in a roommate
  • Also any local entertainment options – weekly schedule of nearby events, dining offers, shopping sales
  • Maybe a renter’s question of the week – “I work 9-5, do I need to be home for a maintenance call?”, “I may be relocating for my job, how can I find a sublet for my apartment?”

For searches in the past, I filtered results based on the amenities and area:  Chicago River North Loft Rental or North Phoenix Rental with Mountain Views.

­­­­­­It’s About the Experience

If you read all the above, what conclusions did you come to? Notice how many of the comments and thoughts were about the area and the experience?  How close to restaurants, mass transportation, good schools, etc. is the housing? Very little of the feedback and research was about price. Granted, price is always a factor, but that is after you have narrowed down your search.

Search Search Search!

Notice that no one mentioned Twitter, Facebook or any other social network. The vast, and I mean vast majority of research is done via search engines. You might ask your social network about a specific place, but unless you have thousands in your social circles, it is unlikely you will get much feedback.

So as apartment marketers (and marketers in almost any industry), there are some valuable nuggets in the words above. Create valuable, community based content and attract people to your website. That’s how you win in today’s online world.