Saturday, February 21, 2009

"You mean, like the brown meat at the grocery?"

Kim Andreadis inspired me to write this with her Sincere Professionalism vs. Hype? post at I think the question she poses is, with specials flying around when do your customers just turn their head and label you as another gimmick? A few thoughts come to mind.

1. Revenue management systems are a much better solution for staying competitive with price. Simplify the pricing process and your customers will appreciate it.

2. A leasing trainer I work with has a great response to customers that ask if we have specials. "You mean, like the brown meat at the grocery?" Are we selling brown meat here or are we leasing apartment homes?

3. Better yet, why does used car sales have the reputation it does? Go ahead, put a huge gorilla out on the road, wear a plaid jacket, open all the doors to your apartments (why do they do that with the hoods?), and advertise "Cash Back" on all your listings. All that should definitely set you apart from your competition. :)

I understand, desperate times call for desperate measures, but there is a line out there where your customer actually just labels you as untrustworthy and a gimmick. Feel free to attract some unqualified traffic to your property, move some brown meat to some interesting people, and in the end create an experience based on gimmicks. I'm sure those people will surely renew next year and be good testimonials for your communities and brand. Good luck with that.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Walkin' the Line

After defining the difference between Social Media Marketing & Using Social Media for Marketing and reading some recent blogs, in my mind we're finally starting to get somewhere with the whole marketing with social media idea. My friend Duncan at Firebelly Marketing shared his frustrations recently in his blog. He asks for some results based blog posts, and enough with the theory already with social media. It's time we all start trying to use social media for marketing and share results (good or bad). So, today a fellow Apartment Marketing enthusiast, Mike Brewer, wrote about a concept Ford is trying that markets their Fiesta using social media. Read what Mike has to say here: Tryvertising. Thanks Mike for sharing this story and of course your application to apartment marketing.

Now this Ford contest spurred a little debate on Twitter in my little apartment marketing world, and the argument was basically one for "how" Social Media should be used for "marketing." Arguments were made that Social Media should be used in its honest and true form for unbiased feedback and conversation, and feedback from consumers should not be "bought." Others felt that as long as the feedback was honest (even with a freebie) it's a good marketing play.

There are countless examples of companies using social media to market their products. Whether they are buying someone's opinion or not, brands are looking for exposure. How many people are sending Guy Kawasaki or Chris Brogan their products to blog about them? It's happening all the time. Guy is test driving a brand new Audi right now!!! Is this right, is it wrong? I think it's all open to interpretation.

As we move forward and experiment using social media for marketing we will walk the line in the eyes of the consumer. While some might view the Ford and Audi strategies as "against the rules," others will appreciate the projects and want to hear the stories. It's just like any other marketing or advertising, your efforts are not going to appeal to everyone. As long as it fits with your brand and the image you are trying to achieve I say go for it.

Thanks and enjoy your day!


photo courtesy of harry.1967 on

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's the Difference Between Social Media Marketing and Using Social Media for Marketing?

So, what's the difference between social media marketing and using social media for marketing? Let's first define social media.
Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.
OK, now that Wikipedia gave us that definition, let's look at social media from a marketing approach. Here's my definition of "Social Media Marketing."
Social Media Marketing is giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, and making it easier for that conversation to take place using social media tools.
This definition is actually taken right from the WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) website, but I added the "using social media tools." Let's stop fooling each other by throwing theories around that Social Media Marketing is anything more than an online evolution for word of mouth marketing.

Now, "Using Social Media for Marketing" is different than "Social Media Marketing." The use of social media for marketing can be a number of things. In general, "interruption marketing" examples like banner ads, sponsorship ads, AdSense, or blog buttons/links would qualify.

You're probably asking now, OK Mark, where are you going with this? Here's where I'm going. Try whatever you want with social media and marketing. It should qualify as either Social Media Marketing as WOMMA has defined it, or it will qualify as "interruption marketing" as I gave examples for. But here's the rub, DON'T let your marketing efforts fall under any of these definitions here at WOMMA.

Now that I've defined this for everyone please let me know your thoughts, and please read my follow-up post with some friendly debate and frustrations surrounding Social Media and Marketing.

Thanks and enjoy your day!


photo courtesy of Eleaf on

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alert, Alert, Alert!!!

Recently I have received some Google Alerts for a couple of our communities. If you don't have these set up for your company or your communities I highly recommend you do as it's a free service offered by Google. So let me share with you the two most recent alerts that touch each end of the spectrum.

First is Bayshore Apartments. I received an alert linking me to I'll have to say that I'd never heard of, but it appears to be a long tail website for city/business searches. The alert came due to a review from a former resident that was dissatisfied with us. How great! If I didn't have Google Alerts I may have never know about the review, and I would not have had the opportunity to respond. Unfortunately, both reviews have now been removed (in less than a day) as they must not have represented what was looking for in a review. While the resident's review was obviously very negative, I'm happy I had the opportunity to respond in an apologetic way and explain J.C. Hart Company was following the terms of our lease agreement in this situation. Nothing too detailed, but a nice apology for any confusion for the resident and for readers of the reviews. I do find it interesting that chose to remove the reviews. The only conclusion I can make from this is that they were not specific to the apartments and focused on one incident vs. being an entire review.

Now onto the other end of the spectrum. I received an alert for our Linden Square community. This was a link to, and a conversation thread about Linden Square. I also had not heard of, but it appears to be a long tail relocation forum. It was great to see positive testimonials for our community as well as for J.C. Hart. I did take the time to write a short response to those involved and thank them for their posts. This is a great way to acknowledge to our residents and future residents that we care and we are listening.

I highly recommend you find out what people online are saying about you. It's a great way to discover some websites or forums you were not aware of. Also, good or bad it's always nice to know what your customers are thinking as it may confirm you are doing things right, or it may help you to make improvements to your processes.

Enjoy your day!