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Having ILS's as your main Marketing mix is just lazy Marketing.I mean seriously... technology is so useful and gosh darn helpful why do we need to Market at all? Just slap our properties on these ILS's, throw up some decent copy and let er go. So what if this stuff costs us a boat load of money? We're able to focus on way more important things. I mean seriously why bother with these minor details like lead generation? Bah.
ILS's are everywhere."It's impossible to compete. You ever see those Google organic search results?" Don't give up. Here's what I think about it. Our biggest demographic is 20-30 year olds. This generation isn't really keen on grabbing a magazine to find an apartment. Their apartment search begins one of two ways. Google or Craigslist. Why? It's what they know. So what does this mean? You must be there otherwise someone else will. That someone already has. The ILS's have done their homework and own this space. It's time to take it back. Sure it will take time and effort but with a good strategy and approach, over the next 6 months, you can kick the "habit".
1) Have a killer website.What I love about the business website is that the only thing preventing you from being creative is YOU. ILS's have beautiful websites but it's on their terms. You can't move pictures around because you're feeling those creative juices flowing. You're limited by THEIR creativity; not yours. Business websites should be engaging with their visitors. Here are some ways you can engage:
- Showing Facebook streams and recent Twitter posts These are great ways of demonstrating how great your service is and what type of company you are. Plus it gives your prospects a way to get a hold of someone much quicker by providing links to your Twitter stream and Business Facebook pages.
- Online Chats Have a prospect who has a question? Besides the phone there's no better way to engage with someone than by chatting online.
- Contact Pages Sure it's the snail mail version of engagement but you must have a working contact Us page. It's still relevant today. Kind of like "leaving a message after the tone."
- Blogging Blogging can help us later (SEO) but it's also a great way to engage with your prospects and get them to come back to read more.
2) Claim your Apartments on Google Places for BusinessHere's an experiment for those non-believers. Go to Google and search the following terms: "apartments rental baltimore". Do you notice the Places listings that show? What's great about this "organic" search result is that you didn't have to pay to be there. Sure you're creatively bound because it's Google's rules but you're not paying for leads so who cares? Still haven't claimed your listings yet? Stop reading and do it... NOW. There's a caveat though ... Google uses ApartmentRatings for their ratings. Let's not go into why we dislike that here...
3) CraigslistSure I've talked about Craigslist in many posts. The fact is I still hear of people not using it. I don't understand why this is so. Remember what I said about lazy Marketing? Sure Craigslist takes effort and creativity. Isn't that one of the things that makes Marketing so much fun? Creativity? You have lots of flexibility here... interesting titles, in your face descriptions, pictures to WOW you. What's not to like? Alright maybe a few things:
- Craigslist takes time. It's worth it. It drives the highest percentage of our leads hands down. Bottom line is it works. I don't want to hear "It doesn't work in our market." Bah. It means your ads aren't working. Try something else.
- There are no metrics. There are a lot of software packages that can do this. RentSentinel is the best but there are lots of other ones. These software packages are cheap and offer metrics you could only dream of before. Want to find out which templates work, which titles are effective and when the best time to post is ... it's possible and it's amazing.