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Are Marketers Making Hillary’s Mistake?

As political observers continue to analyze the outcome of the November election, many are pointing to Hillary Clinton’s ineffective communication with Middle America as a key reason she did not win the presidency.

Delivering demographic-based marketing messages is a winning campaign for apartment marketers, who succeed when they analyze and speak to their constituents— er, resident base—when seeking renewals or to fill vacancies.

Savvy marketers aren’t making Clinton’s mistake of appeal. They aren’t focusing too much on Class A, urban, new developments or quintessential chic.

Midwest-based apartment operators deftly craft precise, prescribed messages that can maximize occupancy in their neighborhoods with inclusive campaigns that satisfy a variety of income or education levels, values and personal interests.

Kate Good, Senior Vice President, Multifamily Development, Hunington Residential, Houston, and a frequent speaker at local and national apartment events on behalf of the Apartment All Stars, says apartment-marketing campaigns are well-tailored to all classes.

“I have been marketing to middle America my entire career,” Good says. “Class A and B rental depend on the middle class to rent. I think we have been successful at delivering our message.

However, as the temperature of opinion changes, we adjust our message and delivery. It is why sales and marketing has to continually evolve.”

While chic lifestyle photography often found on Class A urban apartment communities’ websites, particularly lease-ups, is appropriate in many situations, Good says when these are applied unrealistically to prospective residents, the appeal generally doesn’t work. Not everyone is seeking this lifestyle or is necessarily comfortable with it.

Good explains that apartment marketers are successful when communities are marketed individually, “specifically, selling their own attributes, which give them efficient market placement.

Mary Herrold, Vice President of Marketing and Innovation, JVM Realty, an Oak Brook, Ill., operator of Class A communities in tertiary Midwestern markets, says methods used to appeal to prospective residents change based on location, as well as income, education and other factors. Personas are formulated by the marketing team based on data that is available at no cost through studies such as the Census Bureau or that is purchased through firms such as Nielsen.

“From a scientific standpoint, the marketing methods used are the same,” she says. “You still conduct your research, determine what motivates a person to rent and convince them to lease an apartment through the marketing channels they would be exposed to. From an artistic standpoint, it differs from property to property and from market to market, based on the experience those properties and markets can give to their residents. It is never a one size fits all.”

Herrold says marketing differences between urban core apartment communities and Midwest apartment communities depends on the people who would choose to and be able to live in that particular community.

“A young, urban-core resident living in a Class A high-rise in New York City is probably going to relate more to a sophisticated message carefully staged with minimal elements about modern contemporary amenities and styles, whereas a young Midwest resident living in a suburban garden community might prefer a more personal feel with more down-to-earth messaging and images they identify with. You have to message to the right audience,” Herrold says.

Good points out, “The apartment industry conducts hundreds of thousands of personal interviews every day of the week, each time we welcome someone into our leasing office who is considering moving in,” Good says. “We start with a short interview to see what their hot buttons are and how we can best meet them. When people connect with people, leasing happens.”

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