It’s the end of the year and fall leasing season is just around the corner. This year, beyond your standard Zillow and Apartments.com posts, you are looking for creative ways to get your name out there.
But how do you go about marketing your building? You could pay for advertising, invest in signage, hire students to spread the word, invest in photography, boost your social media efforts – the list goes on. Regardless of how you go about promoting your building, here are the five golden rules from the experts on what makes for good student housing marketing:
Make it social
Through Social Media:
If your student apartment is on TikTok, SnapChat, and Instagram, you're already ahead of the game. If you haven't created an Instagram page for your property yet (and if not, why not?!), that's a great place to start. Create a blog on your company website and post regular updates about events at the property or updates on local news related to colleges or universities in the area.
You should also use social media as a way to connect with current residents and encourage them to spread the word about their new living space. Make sure you set up an Instagram account and Facebook page that allow you to share pictures and videos of events happening at your property. Your brand's online presence should reflect its physical presence, so make sure it feels like home!
Students are always looking for entertainment options (and free food) – sponsoring sporting events or hosting an event of your own with food trucks or giveaways can help you attract new residents who may have otherwise overlooked your complex when they were browsing apartments online.
Make it personal
Personalization is a great way to catch peoples attention. You can do this by making sure the website or social media accounts for the student housing property are tailored to the students who will be living there, and to your actual properties.
This means using actual photography of your building and units (avoiding stock photography where you can), language that appeals to college students, and using fun images of students in your marketing materials.
Social media isn't just for connecting with current residents—you can also use it as a tool for reaching out directly to potential tenants before they even move in! If someone likes one of your posts on Facebook or follows you on Twitter, send them a personal message thanking them for following along. You'll be surprised how quickly people will start interacting with these platforms once they know they're connected specifically with YOU!
Make it practical
When marketing student housing, you want to emphasize the practical aspects of your property. That means focusing on location, amenities, and price—things that students care about when they’re choosing where to live.
Students (especially those in densely populated cities) will want to know if there’s a supermarket nearby so they can easily get groceries on their way home from class. They care about the fact that your apartment complex is close enough for walking but far enough away from campus for peace and quiet; and that rent will not be more than what they can afford each month.
As such, prioritizing practicality in your marketing campaigns can be a huge advantage. Location should always come before amenities or price because it’s arguably the most important factor for prospective renters.
Make it a good experience
You should make it as easy as possible to find information about your property. Here are some tips and things you can do:
- Invest in your website
- Invest in social media
- Provide brochures in the common areas of your student housing buildings
- Make it easy for students to get in touch with you if they have questions or concerns. Do you have an email address they can contact directly, or do they need to go through someone else like a front desk assistant or another staff member at the property management company who will then pass along their concerns to you or to maitenance? You want tenants that feel comfortable contacting their landlord—and if they don't feel comfortable doing so because of how difficult it is or because they have no idea who owns the building then chances are slim that this will end well for anyone involved!
Marketing is more than just advertising.
Marketing is more than just advertising. Advertisements can a powerful tool for filling apartments (check out our article on PPC marketing for apartments here), but they’re not the only way to reach prospective students and families. Marketing is about building relationships with your customers through a variety of channels that allow you to build trust and brand awareness.
Some of these channels include:
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
- Email marketing campaigns
- Blogging or writing articles for publication on third-party sites such as Quora or Medium
Your Brand is Your Business
Your brand is the foundation of your marketing. It’s the first impression and the outfit you wear out on EVERY occasion. A strong brand can make up for shortcomings in many other areas of the business, and can win over students before they even see a floorplan.
Invest in your brand and it will take care of you. Leave branding on the backburner, and you may be forced to compensate through discounts, offers, and other tactics that eat into your bottom line.
Use professional photography, video marketing, and virtual tours.
How your property looks is everything. We recommend investing in these three types of media to ensure that you look good no matter how people are seeing you. Photography is perfect for showcasing properties at a glance, while videos are an amazing tool to showcase units on social media. Virtual tours, on the other hand, are perfect for giving more info for students who are already interested in your property.
Virtual Tours are also helpful when it comes to marketing properties online through websites like Facebook or Google AdWords. Having a presence on these platforms helps you reach out to more people that may be interested in learning more about your student housing business and what makes it stand out from others like yours.
Publishing rankings and testimonials on the homepage will increase trust
- Publish rankings and testimonials on the homepage. Consumers trust reviews more than any type of promotion, so it's important that you publish rankings and testimonials on your homepage. If a consumer is considering whether or not to rent from you, they need proof that other people have had a positive experience with your property before deciding whether or not to rent from you.
- Use trustworthy sources for rankings. When we say "trustworthy," we mean sources like Yelp, Google Reviews, or TripAdvisor—not some random third-party website where anyone can create an account and post anything they want.
- Email previous tenants who you know have had a good experience living at your apartment in order to collect reviews. Having more reviews available on third party websites such as Facebook and Google+ will help you reach more prospective tenants.
- Make sure that you're monitoring all of your reviews because every negative review has an impact.
With these eight tips, you can create a marketing plan for student housing that will make your business stand out from the crowd.