Jamie Matusek: Integrated Marketing Can Change Student Housing Marketing

The marketing landscape is ever-changing. New strategies, tools and tactics are highlighted daily on social media. Everyone is intrigued by the latest system for marketing success. The C-suite is demanding more information, better solutions and measureable results that not only drive business goals but also guide marketing activities — and as well they should.

Since entering the student housing industry, I have noticed that many organizations employ a lot of tactics that keep marketing teams busy, but each activity is treated individually and not as a cohesive, coordinated effort. That strategy is a broad stroke approach, or as you may have heard – a shotgun marketing approach. As a result, you fail to see measurable results from your efforts. 

What Is Integrated Marketing?

Integrated marketing is a tried and true approach that has been around for years. It puts an overarching strategy behind a property’s marketing tactics and deploys them within the same time frame to solve a particular problem or challenge. Integrated marketing can also help student housing companies solve many of their own marketing challenges.

I’ve seen properties get frustrated with marketing results, but many times it’s an easy problem to solve. They may be using too many offers, too many differing messages and marketing materials that lack consistency in how they represent the brand.

Fortune 500 brands don’t have a special formula, but they do use cohesive marketing materials across different marketing channels, strong concise messages and impactful offers to target a precise segment of their customer base.

Try a Strategic Approach

To successfully market a property, one first has to identify the key challenges facing it and put together a strategy designed to meet that challenge using the marketing tools available.

Is the market crowded? What type of students has the property been designed for? Is there an international segment? Does the audience rely heavily on guarantors for decisions? Are renovations planned? What are students saying they want from a property? All of these questions help to shape a marketing strategy, budget and tactics to meet a definition of success.  

The integrated marketing approach is like a laser beam and includes the following steps:

  • Outline what success looks like to your organization.
  • Develop a strong offer.
  • Create marketing pieces that share the same look, feel and messaging.
  • Include a clear call to action.
  • Send these pieces multiple times through various channels.

The key is in creating a campaign in which all messaging, designs and offers are communicated across a variety of media — email, printed handouts for feet-on-the-street activities, social media, website content and pay-per-click ads.

For example, a property may have four-bedroom units to fill. We know younger college students primarily lease four-bedroom units, so they would become the target audience. Following an integrated marketing approach, we would develop an offer targeting these students, create messaging around the four-bedroom units, identify marketing channels to reach younger college students with this offer and run the campaign four to six weeks. All of these marketing channels would direct people to a campaign landing page where visitor data can be captured and provided to the leasing team for lead-nurturing efforts.

Voilà! Marketing does its job by driving leads for the leasing team.

Integrated marketing efforts can lead to increases in leasing and renewal rates. Money spent on integrated marketing efforts also delivers more return on investment because your marketing strategy is streamlined and matched to specifically defined goals that address a challenge.

Case Study

Catalyst has used this approach with our clients with great success. An integrated marketing campaign recently won us the 2015 Gold Award of Excellence in Marketing Effectiveness from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts for a campaign conducted for The Marq, a 612-bed student housing property in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

After rebranding the property, we developed an integrated ad campaign leading up to a VIP brand reveal party to showcase the property’s new look to students and school officials. Eighty of the approximately 250 people who attended the event signed leases. Within weeks, the property’s pre-lease rate was 13 percent higher than the same period for the previous year, and the property was set to reach its budgeted occupancy ahead of schedule.

Take $20,000 that was previously used for Internet advertising or property promotional items, set a strategy and goals and build a campaign that addresses the top three marketing challenges facing your property.

— Jamie Matusek brings more than 15 years of experience in operations, account leadership, sales, interactive, and traditional marketing to her role as vice president of Catalyst. She has years of experience handling marketing for big brands in telecommunications, student housing, multi-family, commercial real estate and many others. Visit www.thelyst.com to learn more.

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