Dallas — Generating leases today requires more than just developing a stellar property. Attracting students to your community requires an adept use of social media, on the ground marketing and the creation of a website that represents your brand.
More than 185 student housing leasing, marketing and operations professionals gathered in Dallas in late September for SHB LeaseCon — a social media, digital and traditional marketing boot camp held at the Westin Galleria.
During the session, “Leasing and Marketing: How to make the two work together to ensure you are maximizing efforts, creating dollars and generating the most leases,” attendees got a first-hand look at what some of the top management and marketing firms are doing to set their properties apart from others in the market.
Moderator Ashly Poyer, director of sales at Peak Campus, started the session off with a discussion on best practices for getting students through the doors of your property for a site visit.
Considering one’s property and what sets it apart from the rest in the market, and then providing consistent marketing efforts throughout the entire year of leasing is an integral step for Cardinal Group.
“It’s important to consider your property’s brand positioning and what your property is best at, and then work off of those strengths to generate leads,” says Tiffaney Alsup, group marketing manager at Cardinal Group.“Be consistent with those strengths throughout the entire year of leasing — that really helps to send the message to your prospects so that they know what the property is all about. That is going to pull in your marketing more than just having an online presence.”
Utilizing the right blend of digital and on-the-ground marketing is another key to bringing consistent leads onto a property.
“In the audience that we’re trying to capture — students — a lot of it is word of mouth, so having a balance between digital and on the ground marketing is important,” says Felipe Beraldo, senior director of business development at LoftSmart.“Whether it’s a school partnership or a partnership with the student body or Greek Life, it really helps a lot in organically tapping into student’s own social networks. We found these partnerships to be very successful in getting someone’s brand, messaging and marketing out there to get feet onto your property.”
Understanding what gets students in your door is of equal importance when developing a marketing plan.
“A big trend that we are watching is attribution,” says Billy Wilkinson, CEO of Threshold/Carve.“This is how you can really understand where your leases are coming from. Are they coming from Google advertisements? Or your website? Or walk-ins? It’s important to be fully integrated to where your property management system can measure this information and tell you so that you can get your cost-per-lease. Attribution is something that you should put in your toolbox and be on the lookout for in the future.”
Once you’ve gotten a student through the doors of your community for a site tour, the next important steps are making sure that they connect with your property’s leasing agent and creating a memorable experience.
“I read a study the other day that said 60 percent of students won’t sign a lease if they don’t like the leasing agent that they’re speaking to,” says Beraldo. “Interactions matter — whether it’s the leasing agent, or someone acting on behalf of the property, it’s very important in qualifying a lead and getting them to close on a lease.”
“First impressions are everything,” seconds Alsup. “If students don’t feel welcomed or don’t feel a vibe when they walk through the door, they won’t sign a lease. People may not remember going in and looking at your luxury amenities, but they will remember an awesome doughnut wall or the communities name spelled out where you can take a photo with it. That will be on their phone and they will remember that. We try to emphasize creating moments that people want to capture in our leasing and resident events.”
Look for the November/December 2018 issue of Student Housing Business magazine, where you will be able to read a transcript of the panel in full.