12 Apartment Marketing Ideas That Won’t Break Your Budget!

January 25, 2010 in Apartment Management Ideas, Apartment Marketing Ideas, Brainstorming Sessions

A Locator Luncheon that’s In the BAG!
By Julie Marie Irvin, Keystone Resources (www.keystone-resources.com)

For your next locator luncheon put a new spin on your invitation!

1.    Purchase jumbo lunch bags from the grocery store.
2.    Measure your paper with the bag and adjust your margins accordingly.
3.    Design your invitation using creative software or Microsoft Word.
4.    Print and cut your invitation.
5.    Place the invitation in the brown bag and fold over the top.
6.    Seal the fold with a label (you can create custom labels to help convey the theme of your luncheon).
7.    Place postage on the bag.
8.    Have a great lunch!

Hand deliver half of the invitations and mail the rest. The team at the post office got a great laugh and had no problem mailing our invitations. For only around $1.25 for our invitations, we received 85% attendance for our luncheon, and everyone commented about the creative invitation!

Property Binders for Corporate Outreach
By Karen Gladney

Instead of just taking over a few brochures to preferred employers or area companies take a leather binder including photos, floorplans, price sheets, flyers, etc. The binder gives your outreach program more credibility. Additionally, someone is much more likely to reference a binder with information organized than a file they have throw a bunch of brochures in. At a cost of only $20 – $50, we increased corporate outreach by 30%!

Get a Jump on Senior Tax Credit Marketing
By Cathy Macaione, CMA Direct, Inc. (www.cmadirect.com)

When marketing a senior tax credit it takes approximately one year to stabilize the community. It has been my experience that the sooner a sign is posted on the site the faster you will lease the apartments. We did a lease up in Rochester, New York and as soon as we broke ground we set up an eight hundred number as an information hotline and started mailing out applications to begin a wait list. Construction was completed and we had all of our tax credit units filled within 45 days. Unheard of!

“Color Your Dreams” Campaign
By Debbie Christensen

The “Color Your Dreams, campaign was aimed at helping the prospective resident get the perfect picture of our community, the largest and most luxurious in the area. Visuals consisted of adding a crayon “swish” behind our logo in all advertising, coloring books of our floorplans, and large crayons and pillows for dreaming. To compliment the program, coloring books of our floorplans were given to future residents who visited us, regardless of their age. The cost was only around $25!

Resource: Create your own coloring book; or order The Apartment Coloring Book, a 20-page coloring and activity book that’s customized to your community, at www.customcoloringbooks.com for only $2.75 per book with crayons included!

Make Your Budgeting Challenges Fun!
By Bobbie Smith

We used the popular TV Show, Survivor, as inspiration for our teams to compete
with each other in different areas of their jobs. We presented them with challenges that included the whole team, or dual challenges (i.e. one for maintenance and one for leasing) and then had them compete against their sister properties!

Every 10 days or so, the teams received a new challenge via email, fax, or in their weekly packets. The challenge usually contained some type of graphic (for our summer contest we used a lot of artwork that included snakes, alligators, lizards, etc.). Sometimes we burned the paper around the edges to make it look aged and mysterious, and other times, the weekly mailer included some type of confetti that fit the theme. The idea was to get their attention and make it stand out from the ordinary paperwork.

The program was presented at a company staff meeting of managers and maintenance Supervisors to take back to their teams. Each week for about three months, the teams received a challenge based on leasing goals, curb appeal, accounting issues, maintenance reply cards, phone traffic conversion ratios, resident retention, etc. Whatever area needed attention, we made a challenge out of it. Our prizes included dinners, lunches, golf green fees, amusement park tickets, day off with pay, and prizes of their choice (most were valued between $25 and $50); but the prize value can be very easily adjusted to make the program work within a smaller budget. The challenges can also be issued in any time frame (more or less than one per week) and for any duration, depending upon your budget.

Our teams really drew together; which was one of our goals since we had a lot of new staff at new properties. They waited anxiously to see what the challenges were as well as the results. This is great way to bring a lot of fun and energy to an improvement process that wouldn’t otherwise be so exciting.

Strip Mining for Traffic

By Elizabeth Smith

I was supervising a property that had a couple of apartments they needed to rent and just weren’t getting the traffic. We had tried all the traditional means of generating traffic and had to come up with something new, quick. About a half mile from the property a new strip mall was under construction. We planned on marketing to the new employees when the stores opened for business but knew we couldn’t wait. All the stores were new to our area so we assumed they would probably conduct interviews, for new employees, in a trailer, noisy restaurant or would have to rent a conference room somewhere.

We had a beautiful clubroom and were in close proximity to the stores’ new location, so we contacted the corporate offices and offered to let them use our clubroom to conduct interviews. We placed brochures and floorplans in the clubroom the day of the interviews. The cost was under $40, spent largely on refreshments for individuals conducting the interviews; and the results were terrific. We rented the apartments that were sitting and set up a new corporate account!

Adopt This Great Marketing Idea!
By Joleen V. Brannigan, Grace Hill, Inc. (www.gracehill.com)

Do you allow pets on your property? If so, offer to work with the Humane Society and/or other organization to hold a pet adoption fair on-site. Promote the program with posters of pets saying, “Would you like a best friend?” The Humane Society, local veterinary offices, radio and TV stations will help you promote the event free of charge. You’ll not only bring in a huge amount of traffic, but also raise income due to pet fees/rent. An event like this might cost you around $100; but you could earn it back taking the idea one step further and offering a pet-sitting or walking service to your residents for $10-15 per walk or visit.

Remarkable Marketing
By Anne Brandenburg

Use your computer to design attractive bookmarks that feature a building photo and your logo, a list of key amenities, and your waiting list number, then print and laminate them. Take them to local bookstores and ask them to give one away with each sale. This is a very low cost way to get your name out there!

Bus Stop Flyers Drive Traffic
By Becky Clardy

We’ve received approximately 10 visitors and secured three rentals in a few short weeks, just by taping up flyers of specials at local bus stops close to our properties.

For only around $10, this idea can be very effective on it’s own; but it’s also a great way to “test drive” the crowd that gathers at your local bus stops before advertising directly with your transit authority. If a flyer pulls loads of traffic to your door, a poster or bench ad might bring you even more!

Swim Into Savings

By Samantha K. French

This is a wonderful summer theme, and not very expensive (a lot come from extra items the staff already had), and it worked beautifully for us. We used the theme for marketing and resident retention.

Create a display that includes beach balls, lounge chairs, palm trees, swimming fins, a blow-up boat, sand, shells, fish, a sandcastle, sand castle molds, suntan lotion, mini boats, snorkels, goggles, fish nets, koozies, sunglasses, beach towels, blue crinkle paper (to represent water around the boat), fish cut-outs (hung from the ceiling), white butcher paper on lower windows with sea gulls and ocean water painted on, etc.

In Texas after the dreary spring, it was a fun theme to welcome summer. Also, the theme is not short term. You’re able to use it from April-September. You only have to refresh the setting occasionally.

Tie into the theme with direct mailers, word of mouth, visiting employers, flyers, locators w/theme gifts, luncheon open house w/theme.

At a cost of around $150 the results were great. Prospects enjoyed the happy festive theme. It really helped our 400-unit community lease!

Corporate Rental Outreach that Won’t Outspend Your Budget!
By Cecilia Smith

When knocking on the doors of corporate offices, restaurants, dentists or doctor’s offices, fitness centers, or daycare centers, carry your resident welcome folder. Explain to their marketing or promotions director that this folder goes to every one of your new residents, and that all product flyers and brochures that are in the folder are also tacked neatly onto the clubhouse bulleting board for all existing residents to see. Then tell them that you want to give their business FREE advertising, by including them in the resident folder in exchange for tacking up your community’s brochure, flyer, or coupon where it can be seen. As an incentive, you can offer a discount to all employees of that establishment that rent with you, or if they send three new customers to your community, you will reward the employee with a $5 gift certificate to the local hotspot of their choice. This is a great way to pick up corporate rentals and new residents. Happy outreach!

Pop In And Visit

By Lee Scully

Used in conjunction with a locator service, such as Apartment Search, this idea encourages the locator service representative to refer a client to our property by offering a free gift to the client just for coming to the property for a showing. The client has extra incentive to come to our property first because of the free gift. Both the locator service person and the potential resident receive the gift. The gift is a microwave popcorn bucket with a $5 video rental gift certificate (around $15 per referral).

Graphics include a flyer with a popcorn bucket background to advertise the idea to locator service personnel, a coupon given to the referred potential resident, and a thank you card placed in the popcorn bucket.

Design the card, coupon and flyer. Call the locator service for permission to place the flyers. Purchase popcorn buckets, and gift certificates, and decorative cellophane for wrapping and place with locator service.

The program generated four extra showings from the locator service in the first two weeks, with two confirmed rentals!