by Jason Leonard
Advertising is sometimes referred to as a necessary evil in this industry. Advertising is an expense everyone loves to hate. It's a "can't live with it, can't live without it" kind of thing. What today's advertising options allow landlords to do though, is become smarter about where they place their advertising and how much they budget for each medium.
Your Prospects want Details
It's a fact that renters today are utilizing a greater number of media outlets to find rental properties and are often using them in conjunction with one another. We're in the information age after all. In today's market it's a question of how much should I budget for each medium.
Here are some of the commonly used media that generate positive results: Internet, Rental Magazines, Newspapers, Company Websites, Lawn Signage, Word of Mouth, Vehicle Ads
The Balancing Act
The list of media I provided is just the cream of the crop. There are plenty of other ways to get your message out to the market but for the sake of this article, let's focus on that list.
The list could be broken into two categories:
1. Advertising with an ongoing weekly/monthly cost.
2. Advertising with an upfront cost and little to no ongoing cost.
I think it goes without saying that advertising with an upfront cost but little to no ongoing cost is advertising worth using. Agreed? Let take a look at how we integrate these media with those that have an ongoing cost.
The media with the least cost include lawn signage, word of mouth, vehicle ads and company websites. Ask yourself, can you amplify the medium? Can you make it interactive? Can you capitalize the upfront cost? The answer is "yes" and it's easier than you think.
These media are critical in any advertising/marketing campaign. The more you can leverage these media successfully, the less you will need to spend on the other three. If you're not already maximizing the benefits of these media, put your focus there first.
So how does this save you money? Before I go any further, you should know that the next steps require that you have a website or an online advertising presence. In other words, you need an interactive medium where you can send people for more information.
Now, imagine all your advertising working in harmony leading prospects to one common place. The ideal place of course is a company website. The main reason for this is that there is no presence of competitors and you have the prospect's complete and undivided attention.
Did you know that less than 20 percent of newspaper ads include a
website address? Do you see the opportunity here to separate yourself from your competitors?
Print ads without website addresses are just plain old ads. So little effort is required to make the ad interactive yet so many landlords don't direct prospects to a website. What an opportunity!
Even your advertisements on rental websites should have a direct link to your company website. This way you remove the prospect, at least temporarily, from the site where all your competitors are and get them to focus solely on your information.
So back to saving money! Funnelling prospects to your website allows you flexibility in how and where you spend your advertising dollars. Shorter classified ads with a website address actually stand out and cost less! As an experiment, try buying a couple of ads in rental magazines with a focus on directing users to your website -where information on all your properties can be found. The signage in front of each of your buildings and the ads on your vehicles are also great ways to drive even more traffic to your website.
And then there's old fashion word of mouth. Never in the history of marketing has it been easier to amplify what people are saying about you. It used to be that someone might be able to tell 10 people something good about you. Now, with the power of personal networks and websites such as Facebook, a good news story about your company can spread to thousands of people within hours. If you don't have a place for all these people to get more information about you however, all that chatter goes to waste. Amplify word of mouth!
Finally the most significant reason for directing all your marketing efforts towards your company website is the free stuff. When you have a website that is properly optimized for the search engines, users will be able to use a website such as Google.com to find you. This is FREE advertising! Imagine thousands (yes thousands!) of people looking at your rental property information and you paid next to nothing for it other than your up front start-up costs and ongoing nominal hosting fees. There is no better way to save on marketing costs than to earn free advertising.
Generating free traffic to your website doesn't just happen by mistake though. It's a combination of good design, inbound links, AKA referrals and offline promotion. When these elements come together and you watch your traffic grow, your reliance on costly advertising diminishes and the true savings are realized. You will find yourself in a position to redistribute advertising dollars without the fear of watching your vacancy rate rise. You will be able to reach more people by using more media at much lower costs and when your properties are at capacity you can even choose not to advertise at all knowing your website is still working for you!