Building your multifamily brand

Stand out among the online competition to get a renter’s attention and build rapport during that critical first touchpoint.

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Renters often start their search for a new home online. If a multifamily property company boasts a strong brand, consumers will go straight to the property’s website to do research instead of searching Google or social media for suggestions on where to move. That’s a huge advantage in a competitive market.

Still, your multifamily property website better deliver a great experience or prospects will quickly move on to research the multitude of other rental options in the area.

Property companies still working to build brand awareness typically rely on search engine queries, internet listings and social media to attract new renters. With all of the online competition, how can a multifamily property company avoid getting lost in the crowd?

“In any competitive scoop, it is important to have brand awareness,” says Danielle Hoffman, national multifamily sales director at PERQ. “It establishes trust and confidence in what you’re buying. This is even more important in a high-service sale. Multifamily is so competitive, so creating a brand helps people feel connected. When deciding on a home, you want to feel all warm and fuzzy.”

Developing a quality brand takes time and an ongoing effort to maintain, but it’s one of the most important things a multifamily property company can do to succeed. “Building a brand, sending a consistent message, and building a positive reputation is paramount,” says Mary Jane Trujillo, president of Barrett & Stokely, an Indianapolis-based multifamily property management company that oversees properties in nine states.

Make multifamily property websites memorable

While every consumer interaction impacts a company’s brand, the property’s website is typically the first touchpoint. To entice the website visitor to take a tour and seriously consider living there, the website experience must make a lasting impact.

“Make sure you are creating great experiences for your customers,” Hoffman says. “We work so hard to do this in person, but neglect doing this on a property website. Your website is now your first impression, so make it positive and make it memorable.”

Many multifamily property websites showcase beautiful pictures and static content that lists the amenities and various community features. By integrating interactive technology on the website, companies can grab a renter’s attention and keep it.

Jeanette Cox, who sits on the Board of Directors for the National Apartment Association, says digital success comes from understanding how the consumer wants to shop and giving them features that will encourage them to remain focused on your brand.

“With people doing so much more online and wanting less verbal communication, the more tools that a marketing company has online to help customers visualize and go through the experience independently, means they have people stay on those sites longer,” says Cox, who’s also the VP for Oddo Development in Kansas City, Kansas. “I think any time you can use interactive tools like room planners and 3D tours, it’s realizing what consumers are wanting.”

Create a personalized website experience that remembers a visitor’s name and information every time they return to the site, and serves up relevant content, incentives and calls to action. It’s this type of AI technology that allows big online brands like Amazon to really connect with customers despite its size and vast audience.

Offer interactive research tools on the property website, such as a budgeting calculator or floor plan assessment, to keep prospects engaged with your brand and establish trust by being genuinely helpful.

Nurture relationships with renters

Interactive website technology allows multifamily property companies to track a website visitor’s journey as they conduct research on the site, giving leasing agents in-depth lead information to help convert the lead while also foster a relationship with the prospective resident.

“You’re getting a lot of details about that person. It gives your leasing agents the ability to connect with them right when they get on a call,” says Patty Crawford, PERQ’s VP of multifamily sales. “They are not having to build rapport; they’ll already have established that because the lead is so robust.”

Ultimately, multifamily property brands sell a lifestyle and a home, so every customer interaction should be welcoming and inviting. When a prospect contacts a property or comes in for a tour, they’re not just checking out the amenities. They want to test out the company’s atmosphere and interact with the staff. If the property management is not very responsive or helpful, prospects may wonder if the same will be true when they live there.

Maintain a strong multifamily brand

Multifamily properties must focus on all of these interactions to establish a successful brand, then continuously vet the process to maintain the brand’s integrity.

Managing a brand’s reputation online is critically important these days. Read both positive and negative feedback to see how renters perceive the company and what changes the property should implement to improve the brand’s perception. Respond to all reviews in a professional and positive manner to show the company is engaged and open to improvement.

“Some clients will never be satisfied,” Trujillo says. “You have a very good rapport when you respond.”

Trujillo points out that Barrett & Stokely’s high-quality product and their caring, well-trained staff is what ultimately makes the brand stronger. Patty Crawford, who worked in the multifamily industry for more than 20 years before joining PERQ, also ranks service as one of the key components of branding.

“When you rent from an established brand that has set high standards, their goal is really customer service and they see all of the residents as customers,” Crawford says. “Looking at the brand, you want it to be a legitimate, fair and customer-focused company that’s looking out for your best interests.”

Author: Kristy Esch, senior marketing manager, PERQ