Does Your Residential Marketing Plan Set You Apart?

February 1, 2017
by Mac Mischke

The demand for creative residential marketing ideas for apartments is higher than ever in this saturated market. After all, the seven year luxury apartment boom may finally be ending. U.S. apartment rental rates have increased 26% since 2010, however, rents only grew by 3.8% in 2016 compared to 5.6% growth in 2015. Furthermore, the Commerce Department has released figures that suggest fewer newly-constructed apartments being rented out this year than last year. In short, rent prices have stopped skyrocketing and new developments are slowing down.

Differentiation is more important than ever in a saturated market. In Threshold’s many years of experience in residential marketing, however, we’ve learned that differentiation is an easily misunderstood concept. Differentiation is not just a unique amenity or industry-first service offering. Differentiation is answering the question, “Why would your ideal resident choose your property over the property down the street?”

Some communities try to differentiate by offering services like bike repair, tanning beds, and even dog washing areas. While the overall service and amenity offering is important at any apartment community, it’s unlikely than any one amenity will convince someone to choose your property over the competition.

Differentiation is as much about identifying your target audience as it is about having a unique marketing message. Here at Threshold, we work with many different residential industry clients and as a result, we end up creating marketing collateral for many different audiences.

When crafting a marketing strategy for senior living communities, we must consider both the potential resident and their child who is often the final decision maker. The same holds true for student housing, though the audiences are obviously vastly different. It’s vitally important in that industry to create messaging that speaks to Generation Z students, but to not do so in such a manner that we alienate the parents who are actually paying the student’s rent.

Multifamily housing presents a different challenge altogether. In that case, the potential resident is also the decision maker, but that person could be anywhere between 22 and 70 years old. Marketing to millennials is just as important as marketing to empty-nesters, and we often have to accomplish both using the same messaging, design and marketing collateral. Advancements in apartment digital marketing tools have helped target specific audiences, but market research and understanding the client’s property is still just as important.

Differentiation doesn’t happen just because your property has the biggest pool in the market or the lowest rent. Differentiation happens when your property is properly positioned—through strategic messaging and design — to fill a gap in the market. Threshold has positioned over 3,300 properties during our combined 242 years of residential experience. Here are a few examples of positioning the client’s property as filling a gap in the market:

  • The no-frills, affordable apartment that still offers a hint of luxury.
  • The place to gather for a diverse community of young professionals
  • The rustic living space in an urban environment
  • The senior living community that helps residents maintain an active lifestyle
  • The student housing community closest to campus
  • The student housing community that doesn’t feel like student housing

As you can see, positioning can be as simple as a location or as complex as a lifestyle promise. Of course, each of these positioning statements requires many hours of research and competitive analysis. In the end, by identifying the target audience and comparing the client’s property to the competition, we’re able to find the differentiation opportunity. It then becomes a matter of crafting the messaging, digital campaigns and residential marketing collateral that best speaks to the primary differences between your property the one down the road.