SPOTLIGHT ON: PIERCE EDUCATION PROPERTIES
We recently caught up with Maureen Lannon from Pierce Education Properties to discuss what it is that has made their approach to marketing in the student housing market so successful. For four years now, we’ve been working side by side with Pierce, developing Virtual Reality and Video expositions that are in line with the unique brands that they create for each of the different markets they operate in.
When asked how important video and virtual reality have been to their overall marketing strategy, Lannon stated that they were “essential to the experience for our audience” and later went on to explain that new technology is “very important as our student audience is well equipped and advanced with technology than ever before.”
Lannon also went on to explain that understanding your students and “tapping into their interests” was essential to a successful marketing strategy, noting that one of the biggest blunders that you could make in student housing was “not considering the audience in front of them when positioning their brand.” This got us to thinking about target demographics and how tempting it can be to try and market to everyone, to try and please everyone, even though it there is no ‘one shoe fits all.’ So, how can we do better?
DO YOU REALLY KNOW YOUR TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC?
It’s essential to get really clear on who your audience is. Take a walk in their shoes. When you’re positioning your brand and developing a marketing strategy, you want to ensure that it’s obvious who you’re speaking to. And because universities attract such a diverse range of people, it can be easy to get caught up in trying to appeal to everyone. And that’s not to say it isn’t possible to speak to students of all backgrounds, but it takes a multi-faceted approach to marketing.
OPERATE SEVERAL PROPERTIES IN ONE MARKET
As seen in the hotel industry it’s possible to communicate to multiple target demographics under a single umbrella brand. It isn’t, however, wise to paint them all with the same broad brush. Intelligent segmentation ensures that what you’re offering is suited to your audience and their needs. Companies will now often operate several properties in the same market under various brands to attract a wide range of guests.
For example, The Hilton started as an upscale hotel brand but quickly realized that their high price point was alienating a large percentage of prospective customers. Their solution was to develop multiple brands, underneath the same umbrella company, that were specific to the needs of each demographic. The Hilton now operates hotels that appeal to the budget traveler, families, businessmen, and the elite. Instead of feeling limited by the differing needs within their market, they saw an opportunity.
EXAMPLES IN STUDENT HOUSING
The same is true of the student market and as more and more people attend university in the US, the opportunity for growth is endless. Pierce Education Properties offer a great example of a multi-faceted marketing approach. They have divided their services into Core, Core-Plus, and Value-Add Student Apartment properties and adapt their approach to the unique needs of each market. They have a thorough understanding of the importance of tailoring their value proposition, which is probably why they’re one of the nation’s top 15 buyers and owners of student housing, having acquired more than $825 million of purpose-built student housing.
When asked about the future of Pierce Education Properties and for the student housing industry in general, Lannon responded that their aim was “to grow with the demands and interest of our audience.” and went on to say that we now have “a new generation to learn from” and that there would be a need for an emphasis on “more virtual or lifestyle/butler platforms to do things for you (similar to AI).”
Already we’ve seen such a giant leap forward in the student housing market and if artificial intelligence is really on the cards, then we can’t wait to see where it goes next.
WORKING WITH US
If you need help bringing your brand into the future with exciting new technology and videos that tell a story, then schedule a free consultation with one of our dedicated staff by clicking here.
And thank you to Maureen Lannon of Pierce Education Properties for chatting with us this week and offering your insight into the student housing market.