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Category archive: Marketing Campaign

Crafting Remarkable Experiences

At the end of every year, social media feeds become inundated with people’s top memories from the past 365 days. These memories are often highlights from the most memorable experiences that vary from life-changing events like a wedding to a small concert with their best friend.

Our industry has the unique ability to become an integral part of a person’s yearly story. Think about it, we are providing people’s homes where they spend between 46% of their daily lives. Remarkable experiences happen every day in our residents’ homes but rarely are apartment management companies the catalysts of these experiences. Sure, we may provide good customer service, keep grounds clean, and fix maintenance requests quickly but these things won’t make a year-end social media highlight reel.

So, why should you care about your community being featured on somebody’s Instagram Best Nine? Why does it matter if you create some epic experience when you already provide a great apartment home? Because these remarkable experiences will lead to a stronger more loveable brand, your community will stand for much more than a simple shelter, and ultimately you’ll sign more new leases and renewals.

When a resident is deciding on whether they will renew or not they will assess your community based on what psychologists call the “peak-end rule”. The peak-end rule states that a person will “judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e., its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.” The peak could be a good experience like a fantastic resident event or a poor experience like a flood. By crafting remarkable experiences throughout the year you have a better shot at creating a fantastic peak moment and thus a renewal.

Remarkable experiences can also help you attract new leases. When a prospect is thinking about where to live next they will only recall three to seven options. Creating remarkable experiences while marketing to prospects will help your community carve out a spot in the prospects consideration set. Not only will remarkable experiences help you stay top of mind but they’ll also help strengthen your brand story and provide an offering your competitors can’t match. You may not have the ability to alter price,layout, or location, but you do have the ability to create remarkable experiences at your community

OK, so you’re ready to craft some epic experiences. Where do you start? Remarkable experiences should take place in as many touch points as possible including customer service, lease signings, and resident events. Having said this, events are probably the easiest place to start. When thinking through the events that you hold for residents and prospects follow the simple MISS rule. By integrating each part of MISS you’re sure to be on your way to crafting a remarkable experience.

MEMORABLE

In order for an experience to become remarkable it must be memorable. There isn’t a single formula to crafting a memorable experience but implementing one or more of the tactics below will help lead to one.

  • Manufacture something that is 100% unique. Unique experiences are more memorable because they easily stand above the noise. For example, your community could hold a Zombie Laser Tag tournament. This is a unique event that likely no one has experienced and thus makes it more memorable than an average event.
  • Elevate a normal experience. Elevating a standard experience to the next level can which makes it more memorable. For example, most people have been bowling before but have never gone human-sized cosmic bowling. Combining some human-sized inflatable orbs, giant bowling pins, black lights, and some glow tape/paint creates an epic and memorable event. Check out some inspiration below.
  • Surprise your audience. Surprises are unexpected and thus become more memorable. For example, many apartment communities hold casino nights with various casino type games. If you hold this type of event surprise attendees by telling them the person at the end of the night with the most chips wins a free weekend in Las Vegas AND they leave that night! This event instantly becomes more memorable because of this surprise.

INTERACTIVE

A great experience is interactive. Many events apartment communities hold are very passive. Breakfast on the go, movie nights, Waffle Wednesday, and National Ice Cream Day are all very passive in nature. Residents come down, grab a bite, maybe chat with another resident for a minute and then are gone. These events don’t encourage or require attendees to become part of the event itself. Interactive events make better experiences because the attendee is engulfed in the experience instead of a wall fly.

A great example of an interactive experience is Paint Dodgeball. Find a grassy area (or other area that won’t be permanently affected by paint), dip dodgeballs in paint, and play dodgeball in white clothing. Elevate the experience with some black lights and glow paint! This event requires people to become part of the action and thus is much more memorable than a more passive event.

SENSORY

Develop experiences that involve as many senses as possible. Experiences that are sensory rich become more interesting because of these stimuli. The elements that play into each sense also play a big part in the overall execution of the event. For example, on-site concerts often only focus on sound. Of course, sound is extremely important but implementing sight, touch, taste, and smell can turn a run-of-the-mill concert into a much better experience. Think of all of the concerts that now include color powder cannons, light shows, themed food, and beach balls floating in the crowd.

Just as the music industry has embraced all five senses so should we. Think about the pool parties most apartment communities hold. Think through how elements of the event can affect the senses. A hot local DJ or band can provide a pleasant listening experience. A frozen slushie machine in a custom branded flavor can amplify the tastes at the event. The smell of BBQ wafts through the air. Misting stations fulfill the touch sense by keeping attendees cool. Oh, and if you move the entire party to a lake or river and float everything you have an unexpected visual.

STORY

Last but not least, the experience you develop should tell a story about your brand. Holding an event that doesn’t tie into your brand’s core offering or story won’t help amplify what your community stands for. Instead, it injects brand confusion and doesn’t help separate you from your competitors. For example, if your community’s brand story is to offer a luxury VIP lifestyle it doesn’t make sense to offer free doughnuts for a Breakfast on the Go event. Doughnuts in no way tie into either a luxury or VIP lifestyle. Instead t, is community should offer an invite/RSVP only brunch on the rooftop featuring a cooking class from a hot local chef, champagne, and someone playing guitar. This event adds a chapter to their brand story further illustrating the brand’s purpose.

While it may seem difficult to shake away from the lifeless experiences our industry typically offers,  it is imperative we do so. We have a unique opportunity to craft remarkable experiences that meld into our core offering, their home. In 2018 I challenge each team to think strategically about the experiences they offer their residents and prospects. Experiences that are so good that at the end of 2018 your residents and prospects are posting an experience from your community in their Instagram best nine. Start by creating remarkable event experiences. I promise putting in the time to these experience will create real value at your community. If you have any questions or examples of remarkable experiences you’ve created please comment below or send me an email!

Cheers to a remarkable 2018!

Encourage User-Generated Content With A Hashtag Printer

The single most beneficial thing you can do for your community on social media is to get others to post about your community. Sure, posting photos of last night’s event or advertising your latest special on your community’s social channels is important, but it is not nearly as valuable as user-generated content. When a user posts a photo of your community, raves about an event, or simply shows their home in the background they are exposing their followers to your brand. By encouraging user-generated content you’ll expand your social reach way beyond your current fan base. If that wasn’t enough consumers are much more likely to make a purchase if a friend posts something positive about a brand on social media.

So how do you encourage more user-generated content? There are many many ways but a fun and easy one is through a Hashtag printer. Simply program the printer to print our a photo anytime someone uses a certain hashtag. For example, if you have a pool party and tell guests to use #BlissPoolParty the printer would automatically print out a photo of their post on social media using this hashtag. You can even design the background to match your branding!

Below is a list of the equipment you’ll need to create this Hashtag Printer come true!

Printer

Extra Ink

Extra Photo Paper

Computer Software

How To Call All Of Your Leads In 60 Seconds

Did you know there is an easy way you can call all of your leads in about 60 seconds? Just hire the Jimmy John’s radio voice and he’ll call everyone in under 60 seconds! Actually, there is an even easier way. It’s called “scheduled calls” and it’s a little-known feature in Entrata.

Scheduled calls allows you to pre-record an audio recording and automatically send it via a telephone call to any filtered group in Entrata. RentCafe has caught up and has recently introduced a similar feature. This allows you to send one call quickly to any lead or resident. This is a great feature for things like:

  1. Singing happy birthday to your residents on their birthdays.
  2. Quickly calling all of your prospects about a super limited time special.
  3. Calling all residents about an emergency.
  4. Inviting residents or prospects to an event.

While this is a very cool feature that lets you get in touch with a lot of people quickly it should not be overused. Nothing can take away the personal feel of a one on one phone call.

Ready to use “scheduled calls”? Talk to your PSM and they’ll get you the right resources!

Make A Custom Snapchat Filter For Your Next Event For $5

When looking at social media marketing the best thing we can ever do is to get residents and prospects to post positive things about us on social media. Many times we focus too much on what we are posting on our business accounts and not enough on how to get others to post about us. A post of a resident enjoying an excellent event at our community is 10 times more powerful than us posting that same event. Why? Multiple reasons.

First, a resident has friends following their social channels that are likely in our target demographic but aren’t following our business social accounts. This distributes information (even if it is a small amount) about our community to a set of eyes we can’t reach on our accounts.

Second, people generally care a lot more about what their friends post than what our business posts.

Third, and most importantly, consumers are 92% more likely to trust their peers over advertising. So they are more likely to believe that your community is a great place to live by seeing their friends’ social media posts than our social media channels saying “we’re the best place to live”.

So how do you get residents and prospects to post about your community? While there are a lot of ways but one of the easiest and most relevant ways is using geo-location Snapchat filters! Create a Snapchat filter for your next event and you’re likely to see a bunch of uses on arguably the most important social medium. Not a graphic designer? That’s OK! Pepper Filters lets you create well designed and cool Snapchat filters for only $5! Every event budget can afford that!

Remember, your event needs to be a fantastic experience as well or you won’t have attendees or people wanting to document your event!

Need help uploading your super cool Pepper Filter? Ask your PSM and they can get you the resources to get your filter live! Just remember, the filter process can take a few days!

When Residents Eat Together They Renew Together

At Cardinal Group we call our apartment buildings “communities” for a reason. We strive to create an environment where neighbors not only know each other but spend time together. The entire reason we hold resident events is to bring residents together and create a true community vibe. By creating this community atmosphere residents are happier because they feel connected. This happiness ultimately translates to referrals and renewals making everyone’s jobs easier.

I challenge you when you think about your next MMP and what events to hold to think about how you can get residents interacting. If you do a monthly or weekly breakfast on the go I urge you to change that in favor of the idea below. Breakfast on the go (and other events like it) don’t bring residents together like our res life budgets should. I’d also urge you to try and create unique experiences during your events. Free pizza in the lobby, breakfast on the go, once a month trash valet, cookie decorating, etc. do not provide a unique experience. A blacklight pool party, concert, dining al fresco, beerlympics, and other similar events provide unique experiences that add more value to the overall event.

So how can you take what you saw in this video and create a great resident event? Well, it’s relatively simple and inexpensive.

  1. Setup tables in hallways, elevator lobbies on each floor, or other easily accessible common area. Hallways and elevator lobbies are likely your best bet as you’re more likely to get neighbors that are nearby to attend.
  2. Place table cloths on top of tables. Top table with a small flower arrangement, battery powered candles, and other small table decorations.
  3. Set out tables a few days ahead of the event and place a flyer that describes the event and a sign-up sheet for a potluck.
  4. On the day of the dinner in your hallway or elevator lobby bring by wine, bread, or a main dish for each table to enjoy during their potluck.
  5. Finally, add in a few table cards for ice breakers to help lead attendees into having conversations.

The first few times holding this event may start off slow. However, if you hold this event monthly, bi-weekly, or event weekly you’ll likely start to see attendance increase and have an event that becomes a staple at your community.

10 Ways To Amp Up Your Housing Fair – Snapchat Filter Competition

This is the first in a series of posts on how you can help amp up your housing fair marketing.

Housing fairs are often a large line item on the marketing budget each year. You probably stock up on a few thousand dollars of promo items and give away a few hundred dollars away in gift cards. While getting leads by giving away gift cards isn’t inherently bad there may be a more creative, more memorable, and better brand building way to do it. The idea below not only captures leads but extends the value past the one-day event where only 1-5% of the student population shows up. Oh and you’ve probably never seen something like it before.

So what is this magical idea? The answer is a user generated Snapchat filter competition. Housing fair attendees would use colored pencils, markers, and crayons to design their own Snapchat filter on a piece of paper. Below the area they would create their design they would enter in their guest card info. Once they are finished the community would hang the filters up in their booth as displays of art to attract other people. Once the housing fair is over the team would scan all of the designs and upload them to Facebook where a week long contest would be held to have people vote for their favorite filter via likes and shares. The top 3 filter designs will be submitted to Snapchat to run for one to five days on campus. The filter with the most uses during that time period would win a gift card and Snapchat Spectacles.

This concept has several advantages over the typical promo giveaways and gift ard prizes seen at most housing fair tables:

  1. It allows more time for the prospect to interact with your team and brand. Instead of grabbing free promo stuff and leaving they will stick around at your booth for a few minutes allowing your team to get to know them and talk more about the community.
  2. It still collects lead info but in a much more interactive and memorable manner.
  3. This concept has the possibility to reach more than just the 1-5% of students that go to the housing fair. Through the Facebook voting contest and then the three live filters it has the potential to reach a much wider audience.

Ready to ditch the expensive, outdated, and poor return on investment things known as promo items? Contact your PSM to help you pull off this idea!

10 Ways To Amp Up Your Housing Fair – The Price Is Right Punch A Bunch

This is the second in a series of posts on how you can help amp up your housing fair marketing.

Check out the other posts on how to amp up your housing fair below:

Snapchat Filter Competition
One of the most important things to do at a housing fair is to stand out. A cooler water bottle or Tshirt isn’t the way to do that. Every single community is going to have a branded tablecloth, promo items, candy, and flyers. Some communities think they can stand out with balloons or maybe a pull-up banner. Look at the photo of the housing fair below. Every table looks the same.

Image result for student housing fair

 

If you can standout from this you are more likely to get people to stop by your table. Ditch the branded table cloth, promo items, candy, and pull-up banners. Do something that doesn’t even resemble a housing fair table. Even better, something that doesn’t even look like you are trying to sell them an apartment. One idea is to hold a game show! And what better game show than the greatest of all-time, The Price Is Right.

One of the more popular Price Is Right games is “Punch A Bunch” where contestants get to punch through a hole for a chance to win cash. Check out an example here. You can replicate this game to not only standout but also create a fun interactive experience. Here is how you can pull it off.

  1. Ditch the table, table cloth, promo items, candy, and everything else that looks like it belongs at a housing fair.
  2. Have Fifty3 design you a booth backdrop that  works with your brand and the Price is Right concept. This will help you literally set the stage.
  3. Purchase a giant connect four game as the Punch A Bunch frame. You can find one for sale here. Then on the backside of the connect four game tape colored tissue paper over all of the holes. After the tissue paper is affixed tape paper bags containing prizes over the paper tissued holes. This blog will help show you how. Prizes are up to you and your budget. Some holes may have no prizes, some small prizes like $5 gift cards, and a few might have big prizes like a $100 gift card.
  4. Choose a team member to be the host (think Drew Carrey/Bob Barker) and a few to be the Price Is Right Girls/Guys. Dress the part! The host should wear a suit and get a fake microphone. The Price Is Right girls can wear cocktail dresses and Price Is Right guys can wear a shirt and tie. The host should be very energetic and pull people from the crowd.

Okay, so you have your booth all setup. It looks like a game show studio. Now it’s time for the action. The team should start to yell things like “You’re the next contestant on the Price Is Right! Come on down!” This should draw attention and get participants. Once people begin to gather around have the Price Is Right girls/guys take a guest card on the Entrata Site Table app. Once they submit a guest card they get a chance to punch a hole. They may be a winner or they may not but now is your chance to drive them to the leasing office for a tour. Explain that you have another Punch A Bunch game setup at the leasing office where every single person is a winner. Plus, if they sign a lease during their tour they can punch 10 holes!

Considering the cost of the average promotional item order this housing fair campaign should come in well under budget. Below is a quick breakdown of costs you can expect.

  • Booth backdrop (8′ x 10′) – $185
  • Giant Connect Four (including shipping) – $220 – BONUS you can use this as a giant Connect Four game in your amenity space after the housing fair!
  • Tissue Paper – $10
  • Prizes – This is very flexible. You could give away a $50 gift card or a trip to Hawaii. We would suggest doing around 50 smaller $5 prizes, four $25 prizes, and one $250 prize. $600 total.
  • TOTAL = $1,015

Ready to get this going for your housing fair? Talk to your PSM!

 

How To Become A Top 100 Rated Apartment Community

Your online reputation is a huge factor when prospects compare you against the competition. A recent JTurner Research study shows that 78% of renters utilize ratings and reviews in their apartment search. This means you could have a fantastic website, great marketing, a perfect CWoL tour, and still lose a lease because of your online reputation. In order to figure out how to increase your community’s online reputation we talked with Elise Barber who has helped Denizen become the #1 ranked community at Cardinal Group, top 5 ranked communities in Denver, and top 100 ranked communities in the nation.

Question: What is Denizen’s secret for keeping residents so happy?
Answer: The answer to this is very complex. There is no silver bullet to making residents happy. Ultimately, their feelings toward our community is the sum of every single interaction they have with our community. These interactions include things we have control over such as handling issues appropriately, keeping the grounds clean, and resident events as well as things we don’t have control over such as traffic, mail delivery, and interactions with other residents. If the sum of their interactions is overwhelmingly positive then they will have a positive view of our community. We think about how we can turn each interaction into a positive point. By doing so we believe the sum of all of our residents’ interactions end up in the positive.

Question: What are some of the things you do to create positive impressions with your community?Answer: There are tons of different things, I’m so passionate about this, I could go on forever. I’ll keep in short to a few of my favorites. One simple yet powerful thing we do is getting residents to interact with each other. We do this in several ways such as creating a Facebook Group that differs from a typical page in that it allows residents to interact with each other instead of just the business. We have residents ask if anyone wants to go hiking on the weekend, residents have started weekly poker games, others have started a residents only book club, things for sale, etc. An apartment community is much more of a “community” when residents get to know each other and become friends. This Facebook group has helped tremendously with that.

Another favorite way to create a positive impression is genuinely caring about our residents. We had a resident that was extremely sick and we wanted to help her. Her mother was flying in to take care of her but couldn’t get to Denver for 48 hours. Before she arrived we went out and bought some food, medicine, movies, and other comfort items. The resident and her mother were unbelievably grateful for our support. The key here is that we didn’t do it for Denizen we did it for her.

Question: If you could give your peers one tip on keeping residents happy what would it be?
Answer: Woof. That’s a tough one. I would say treat your residents as your friends. This is probably a bit controversial and some people say you need to maintain a professional boundary but I think removing that boundary leads to deeper relationships and ultimately happier residents. Our entire team gets to know residents on a personal level, just as we do with our own friends. We know about our residents’ triumphs, the issues going on in their life, and even the mundane day to day.

Getting to know our residents on a more personal level means that when we have to give them tough answers they are received with a much more positive reaction.

Again, we just try and treat them all as we would treat friends or people we care for on a personal level. By doing so we actually forge and create those personal relationships. This has produced some extremely powerful brand advocates.

Question: People are quick to post their negative experience online but a lot less to share their positive experience.  How have you been able to get so many residents to post positive reviews online?
Answer: Well it all sort of starts with the relationship building mentality. Once we solidify those relationships with residents it becomes quite easy, we just ask them to review us. It sounds too simple to work but it does. Because we talk to our residents every day we know who loves us and who doesn’t (yes not everyone loves us). During our conversation we just tell them that it would help us out if they reviewed us online. Because we help them out on a daily basis they are willing to do the same for us. Often times we will send out emails as well giving them quick links to our review sites.

Question: You mentioned sending out an email to residents asking them to review you. What sort of program do you use for this?
Answer: We don’t want these emails to come off as a marketing function or spammy so we don’t use any software. We just use our Google emails to send personalized emails. By doing this we feel that the residents don’t think we are just using them but rather just asking for their support. We also add links in the emails to our review sites so they can quickly and easily find them.

Question: What sort of response rate do you get from these emails?
Answer: We see about 60-70% of residents leaving reviews after we send them a personalized email. The key is we only send this email out to people we know love living here. By targeting these emails to only those we know love living at our community and that we have a good relationship with we know the probability of getting a 5-star review is much higher than if we just sent it to every resident.