I was doing cardio last week when I noticed a striking woman with long brown hair. Now generally when people are doing cardio, hair (for both women and men) is strapped down with bandanas, caps or scrunchies. This hair was flowing. I figured she was in her early- to mid-thirties and ‘working’ that great hair.
Then she turned around.
On the flip side of this flowing dark hair was a 75-year-old face. I was startled; then I started to chuckle. I recalled an interview by Beverly Johnson, the first African-American model to appear on American Vogue (1974). She relayed a story of how, a few years earlier, a young guy on a golf course approached her from behind, “Hey, babe!” When she turned around he started to stammer, apologize and back up. At that point she asked herself why she worked so hard to stay looking so young!
Am I Who I Say I Am?
If you find that you are getting a lot of hits, calls to the site and no-shows for appointments, ask yourself, does our advertising reflect who we really are? Often our advertising paints a picture that overshoots who we actually are.
Our customers have figured this out. They are pretty cynical about our integrity! This is one of the reasons video is so popular—we haven’t figured out how to photoshop a video yet! [Update: Photographer Jacque Rosenau just informed me that she is doing it with Adobe After Effects software. However, until this becomes widely known, there will still be a perception that video is reality.] Coco Chanel said, “Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.” (It’s a fashion-theme day.)
Mixed messages are confusing. Our customers do not like to be confused. When they are confused they will just keep on moving.
Do I Know You?
We also need to make sure we know who our target market is. In everything we do, we should visualize who our reader/viewer/listener is. (If you are not sure, a great place to start is by looking at who is living in your building now. What is the average age and income? Where do they work? Where did they move from? What amenities attracted them to your community?)
I was recently having lunch with Kari Shideman of Move.com. We were discussing all the exciting technology that supports our ability to rent apartments. We landed on the subject of Facebook. Over the course of a day one apartment community had posted several interesting messages on their Facebook page (*small print: names have been changed to protect the innocent):
- Just a reminder, we will be performing snow removal clean-up at 3:00 today. Any vehicles left in the parking lot will be towed at your expense.
- Have any friends or family looking for a great new place to live? Refer them to us and get a $500 rent credit the month they move in!
- Will the person driving a black Camry parked in the Future Resident’s Parking space PLEASE move your car?! If you don’t get it out in the next 30 minutes we are towing it!
- Friendly reminder! Your rent is due by 5:00 today! Any rent not received by then should include a $50 late fee. Thank you!
- WE LOVE OUR RESIDENTS! Stop by the clubhouse this Friday night for a “Resident Appreciation potluck”.
If you see this, ask yourself, ‘Do I know you?’ Or, more clearly stated, ‘Do I know WHO this Facebook page is for? What is the purpose of our Facebook page?’ As with any other marketing source, we have to establish what function we want it to have. It should take the following into consideration:
- Facebook is all about the positive. On your personal page, you quickly delete anyone who is consistently negative. The same is true for your community page. Give every message a positive spin. Using the snow removal as an example: “Can you believe we got MORE snow?! Thanks for your patience as we have been trying to find places to push it! Our snow removal company is coming out for a clean-up this afternoon at 3:00. The city has given us permission to park on the street all day today. If you have questions, please call Kitty in the office. Thanks!”
- Facebook is a place for messages you want the entire world to read. Don’t single people out on Facebook. It is a social network. The example about the person who parks in Future Resident Parking should be handled one-on-one. This is not an event that you want your entire following to enjoy. The same is true for late payers. You know who they are. THEY know who they are. Having a talk with them one-on-one (and preferably early) is the most effective method of rent collection. The rest of your residents really don’t want to be bothered with reminders to do things that they already do.
- Facebook is eternal…okay, maybe it isn’t forever, but your posts have a long life. If you are having a bad day, are angry or suffering from a bad attitude do not post. Wait a day. If you aren’t sure, have someone else review what you have written before you put it up.
- Facebook works best when you pick a target audience that you want to consistently message. Once you start messaging; run with it. Kari Shideman adds: “If the main “fans” or “friends” on FB are your current residents and their friends, focus your message on resident retention – pool parties, neighborhood and community events, fun trivia on the area, “meet the office team”, “meet the maintenance team”, referral offers, etc. No negative comments, rules, regulations, etc – this is your opportunity to build positive rapport with your residents and to show other non-residents on your page how wonderfully you treat the people that live at your community. If your target audience is future residents – then include the community and neighborhood events, along with the benefits of living at your community.”
- Skip the Features – Give me the benefits! As in all sales, don’t give a laundry list. People want to know the benefits. For example, instead of “washer & dryer in each unit”, your post to prospects could read “Life is busy! Our residents love that they can throw in a load of laundry on the way out the door, and put it in to dry when they get back!” Or offer testimonials from current residents. In the words of Kari: Make it targeted, relevant and personally engaging.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. But if you cover these items, it will go a long way towards making Facebook a positive component of your overall marketing program. Take the time to look at your other advertising sources as well. Are you who you say you are? Is your marketing message pointed directly at your target market? Eliminating confusion will strengthen your place in the market—and improve your closing ratio.