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No matter how spectacular your property is or how many one-of-a-kind amenities you may offer, unless you are marketing your property properly, you are just another face in the crowd. These days, you can get a lot of impact without spending a lot of money, thanks to the power of the web and the additional offerings it provides. Don’t discount your traditional sources though; with the right placement you may still gain a lot of bang for your buck!
You won’t get any more traditional than this format! Now that most newspapers have also moved to duplicating their publication online, your ad will be available to a wider audience. Many out-of-towners will begin their search here. All you need to include are a few details about the property, such as number of bedrooms, location, and price. Be sure to prominently display your website address to direct users to obtain more information about your properties.
“For Rent” Signage
Although you won’t reach the masses with this technique, it can and will display that this property is available for those that are interested and may be driving around the area. Or so I thought until I talked with Rex Eagon, President of EasyAds. He referenced a National Association of Realtors (NAR) study which found that the use of yard signs as an information source has increased from 36% in 1999 to 55% (59% for the 18 to 24 age group) in 2011. Add in QR codes and/or text messaging (more on these approaches later in this article), and you have bridged the traditional with the present.
Signage also may help to drive word-of-mouth advertising for others that live in the vicinity. Those who have found the property through other sources and are interested in receiving more information, will also find the yard sign helpful when attempting to locate and identify your property. Again, make sure that your website address is prominently displayed on the sign.
For certain markets, sending direct-mail postcards may be an appropriate mechanism to get the word out. Postcards can be easily tailored to advertise the specific property, and some software packages allow direct mail-merge of the information to third-party printers. For full-color front and back printing with mailing, your cost is significantly under a dollar per postcard including postage and mailing.
You simply cannot get any advertising that is more valuable than word-of-mouth. If you have current tenants who are satisfied, let them know of your current vacancy, as they may have a friend or family member that is currently looking. Your current residents may also be looking to move to a different or nicer location. Also inform your friends and business associates so they may inform those within their networks as well.
One way you may also drive word-of-mouth advertising is to create flyers featuring your available property to place upon billboards within your local community(churches, schools, community centers, restaurants, etc.). People will be passing by these quickly, so just have the relevant information such as number of bedrooms, location, and rental price, along with your contact information and one picture of the property. You’ll want to save the details and additional images for the website you will drive them to via a web address or QR code.
Internet Listing Service (ILS)
Many people searching for rental properties are foregoing an initial search in traditional printed formats, such as the newspaper, in favor of digital media to glean the information for which they are looking. Many of these services such as Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, and Rental Homes Pro will provide listings for free or for a minimal charge and allow you to include multiple available features. These sites will also allow prospective tenants to contact you directly and locate your See the Technology Matters article in the January 2013 Residential Resource, pages 16-17, review of this channel.
Millions of people use an array of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Your company should be taking advantage of this power by having an account through each of these offerings. Your ability to reach scores of people with a single post is unprecedented!
Interactive Web Brochure
If you would like to separate your property from the pack, consider having an interactive web brochure created. Although this medium may not necessarily be mainstream yet, you can provide the traditional print reading experience with the bonus of digital enhancements, such as streaming video, dynamic slide shows, and active hyperlinks to access information directly from your website without the necessity of any downloads. Consider this approach particularly for advertising higher-priced rental properties.
Quick Response (QR) Codes
Traditionally, property flyers have featured a phone number or web address for prospective tenants to gather more information. Prospects could either take that information with them by copying it to another piece of paper or tearing off a paper tab at the bottom. They had to not only keep up with these additional pieces of paper, but they also had to remember to follow up to see the information at a later time. The rapid increase in the use of smartphones allows for the gleaning of said information in real time and the adoption of QR codes have made that even easier. Adding a QR code to a flyer you have posted will allow for those that scan it to instantly be directed to your web page or the interactive web brochure you have created. This allows the spark of interest that was initially created by your flyer to be followed up in real time. Include the website address on the brochure for people that are resistant or not familiar with QR codes.Don’t make the number one mistake of not modifying your website for mobile presentation. Many spend a great deal of effort to include QR codes, only to drive traffic to a non-mobile website and lose the opportunity.
SMS Messaging (Texting)
Place a five or six digit Common Short Code (CSC) along with a property identifier on your For Rent signs and other advertising media (e.g. newspaper ads and flyers). Automated services are available which will respond to this request with information about the property, including the most popular statistics that fit within this 144 character format (typically rent amount, number of bedrooms and baths, and a link to your mobile website’s detailed listing). You can offer the prospect additional information and the option to be informed of similar properties. The best feature of this approach is that you can capture the prospect’s mobile phone number which can also provide their name through reverse lookup. You now have the ability to contact them directly.
These days it is fairly simple (and cost-efficient) to create an information-rich website for your company. A prospect portal for your website can help you market your properties by creating an online directory leading to detailed listings for each of your available properties. It can also help to guide the online viewer thru the next steps that lead more quickly to a signed lease. This process can be beneficial by giving the prospect the ability to schedule a viewing of the property, allowing for the submission of contact information of the prospective tenant or facilitating the completion of
A blog can be a valuable resource to keep your current tenants engaged and informed, as well as to increase the flow of quality prospects. Don’t discount writing a post to feature available properties and to point out what makes each unique. The word-of-mouth buzz that may be generated within your online community can help to bring qualified and interested prospects to your door.
You can help to increase your visibility with the right audience by considering what kind of tenant you are looking to place. If it is a student, consider placing your ads in student publications and posting flyers around campus. Similarly, consider your locale, although some locals may be interested in relocating across town, you are likely to have better luck focusing your efforts within the immediate geographical area in which your property is located. While it seems that the trickiest part of getting your property rented is finding the right tenant, in reality it is getting the right tenant to find you!
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