GET LEASED UP, FASTER!
Currently navigating the Student Housing market but struggling to get leased up? Not sure why your state-of-the-art, high-end apartments don’t have prospective residents knocking at the door? Perhaps you could take some inspiration from these three marketing hacks to ensure you’re doing everything you can to get leased up, faster!
Do you really know who your target audience is? Do you understand the community that you’re entering into? Or the type of student that is likely to attend the university that you’re catering for? If our most recent article, getting to know your target audience, didn’t bring you closer to your audience, then let’s take a walk in their shoes to figure out whether you’ve really got them figured out.
1. TAKE A WALK IN THEIR SHOES
One size doesn’t fit all. As more students enroll in US colleges than ever before in history, what depicts a ‘typical student’ is shifting. People of all different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups are attending the same universities, so it’s become harder than ever to accurately define a target market for your venture. One size no longer fits all, so it’s becoming increasingly popular for developers to operate multiple properties in a single market to appeal to more customers. Some things to consider are:
Students of a different socioeconomic background or status will want different lifestyle options. Where some people want a dorm room, others want a more residential experience. So when you’re investing in student housing or starting a new development, don’t look through a narrow lens. Instead, try to imagine all the different types of students that might attend the University you’re catering to, and all of the different lifestyles they might desire.
As students become increasingly more money-conscious, it’s becoming more important to diversify your offering to appeal to a larger audience. Students are now focused on value, looking for quality in services, amenities, and concessions. So in order to attract and retain residents, consider that a large majority of students will need to take out loans to pay for college and will be more mindful of their budgets.
Where once the responsibility lay with the parents, students are now taking research and comparison shopping into their own hands. Students have become more informed consumers in making their housing choices and they’re doing their homework. So now, more than ever, your marketing efforts must be targeted at the students themselves, even if their parents are funding their college experience, its likely that the students are having more say in where they stay.
2. BECOME AN EARLY ADOPTER
When developing student housing, much thought goes into the use of modern technology. From security systems to entertainment, developers already understand the value that these amenities offer a lease-up. However, for whatever reason, technology is still seriously overlooked as a valuable tool in the marketing process. As the student demographic becomes increasingly more tech-savvy, using certain technologies will no longer be an option, but a necessity. As mentioned by Pierce Education Properties in our recent interview, a technology-based marketing campaign is “Very important as our student audience is well equipped and more advanced with technology than ever before. They expect it.” Some things you might consider when developing your student housing marketing campaign are:
VIRTUAL REALITY TOURS
The latest and greatest, most immersive technology currently available in the real estate world. Considering that lease-ups are 67% more likely to happen when a video tour is available, the impact that a virtual reality tour can have on a prospective student resident is endless. In our recent interview with Pierce Education Properties, they stated that marketing is “all about the experience and virtual tells more of an intimate story than video.” While a fully immersive VR experience requires a headset, you can also view the 360 videos on Youtube from your phone or tablet using the Youtube app.
Humans are notoriously emotional animals and the best way to engage them on this level is through video, and especially a video that depicts the type of lifestyle that a student will be living in your community. People remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, but 70% of what they hear and see, so if you want to leave a lasting impression, whether showing the video online or at your property, then a video is the way to go.
3D ANIMATED WALKTHROUGH
If you’re still in the pre-construction phase but want to appeal to your audience on an emotional level, technology is your new best friend. With a 3D animated walkthrough, you can build anticipation among prospective residents and give them a true sense of what it would be like to live in your community. And give that 20% of internet users read text compared to 80% would rather watch a video with the same content, it’s not just enough to talk about your upcoming project, you need to appeal to the emotional side of prospective student residents.
3. DONT WAIT FOR THEM TO COME TO YOU
Gone are the days of stale email marketing campaigns and print advertising where you’re forced to wait for prospective residents to get back to you. Now you can go straight to the source and be part of the conversation that once probably only happened behind closed doors.
Students no longer need to wait for orientation day to ask their questions, they no longer need to wait for the term to begin to get a feel for the community and the lifestyle of where they’ll be living. We’re now more connected than ever and while that might mean you need to start looking at employing personnel to manage the ongoing conversation online, it’s still a lot cheaper than traditional marketing and its reach is far greater.
And because technology is so important to today’s students, it stands to reason that you should employ that same technology in trying to attract them to your properties. Already we’re seeing student housing operators shift the bulk of their marketing budgets to social media. Ten years ago, student housing operators spent the majority of their marketing budgets on direct mail, according to Bayless. Today, however, Facebook and Twitter, along with company and property websites, have taken precedence. And the expense entailed in a strong social media campaign is a fraction of the cost of a traditional campaign.
Combine this with a video-centric approach to marketing and you’ll begin building an online community for your students before class is even in session.