How to Attract Residents Online and Offline

As a property manager or leasing agent, you’re often looking for ways to keep your community fully leased. It’s important to find the right mix of channels and mediums to get your message across. While much has been said about the increasing prominence of online marketing, traditional offline promotion is still relevant as well. To be successful in the leasing industry, you have to unite your online and offline efforts.

Online Marketing: Create The First Impression. Most residents will first hear about your property online. Here are some of the must-haves to get noticed.

1. Updated website. Your community’s website is a digital brochure. It should provide useful information, including your floor plans, up-to-date pricing, and resident portals for rent payment and maintenance requests. A vast selection of high-quality photography is essential, and not just the front of your property or leasing office. Photograph model units and onsite amenities to show prospective residents what it’s like to live at your community.

2. Reviews / finders. Your community’s online reputation is its reputation. From Rent.com to ApartmentRatings.com, there is no shortage of opinion sites through which residents can leave feedback. Monitor these sites and be as transparent as possible. Respond to negative feedback, but don’t turn away prospective residents with a hostile attitude. Don’t overlook the value of positive feedback, either. Thank those who sing your praises online, even if it’s just with a quick posted response.

3. Social media. Social networking can increase your property’s exposure. Encourage residents to spread the word online with an incentive, such as a discount off the next month’s rent. Your pages should contribute value, not just pitches of your current specials. Think like a new resident—what would they want to know? From easy ways to decorate your home to tips for saving money on utilities, there’s a wealth of information to share.

Offline Marketing: Take Your Message to the Streets. Leasing an apartment requires face-to-face interaction at some point, so don’t ignore opportunities that arise away from the computer.

1. Onsite advertising. Your location and the surrounding area are great places to find new residents. Attract passersby by hanging a banner in front of your office or displaying a billboard on a nearby highway. Content should be bold, brief and current. According to the United States Sign Council, your message should be readable within less than 10 seconds.

2. Event marketing. Get involved with events and important causes in the area. Ask residents if they are involved in any local charities or organizations. Participating in your community builds goodwill among your residents and helps spread the word about your property. When you give back to the community, odds are it will give back to you.

3. Word-of-mouth. What better way to reach new residents than by starting with those who already support you? Referral incentives work well, with 92 percent of people trusting referrals from people they know, according to one study. The key is to ask for help and to make it easy. Print referral cards for your residents to give to their friends/family/etc. You’ll know exactly who to thank when a card is turned in to your office with a new lease.

With a solid Web presence and targeted promotional campaigns, staying at full capacity won’t be a problem. While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of the best ways to attract residents, it’s a good place to start. Over time, you’ll find what works best and craft the perfect strategy for your community.

Katherine Halek is a Marketing Associate at Signazon, a leader in online printing. Signazon works with property management and real estate companies to promote their businesses with custom banners, yard signs and more. Connect with her on Google+.