Many multifamily companies have crisis management plans in place in preparation for a significant, unforeseen event. But, no one alive today has experienced a pandemic like COVID-19. Companies are making plans as they go along in response to an ever-evolving situation.
At this point, most apartment communities are following recommendations when it comes to social distancing, disinfecting and amenity scheduling. As the pandemic continues and more states ban evictions, new payment arrangements may need to be developed for residents whose employment has been affected.
Just as operational plans are evolving, so are apartment marketing plans. An apartment community’s online presence is now more important than ever before, as is its messaging. It’s also crucial to stay flexible and to expect some snafus along the way. It is 2020, after all.
Here are some tips to help inform your apartment marketing plans during COVID-19 and beyond.
Pandemic-related news feels as overwhelming as water gushing from a fire hose. Ensure that you don’t miss anything important by being proactive and actively seeking out the information you need to make the best decisions for your apartment community marketing. The National Apartment Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council both provide regular updates on coronavirus recommendations for multifamily. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your city, county or state’s health department websites can also offer location-specific updates.
Go All-In on the Online Experience
More prospects are feeling comfortable with leasing an apartment without actually setting foot in it first, so make the process as easy as possible. Apartment seekers are relying heavily on apartment websites, so do all you can to provide a great user experience. Bring the entire apartment leasing process online, from the apartment tour to the signing of the lease. Add high-quality photos and videos of the property and the apartments as well as 3D floor plans. Also, provide several options for prospects to contact you beyond an email address or contact form, such as live chat and apartment chatbots.
Get More Strategic
Prospects are becoming more willing to opt for virtual leasing, so analyze your apartment marketing budget to figure out which channels have brought in the most contactless leases, then focus your efforts on further cultivating those apartment marketing channels. Whether it’s apartment advertising on Facebook or Instagram, apartment paid search ads, or Google My Business posts, emphasize your easy virtual leasing process and include relevant landing pages, where you can close the deal by offering great videos, photos, and multiple ways to contact leasing staff as mentioned above.
Also, keep in mind that long-term studies have shown that the right approach during economic uncertainty is to increase, not decrease, your apartment marketing spend. Once the economy revs up again, you’ll want to keep up with your competitors, so resist the urge to be conservative right now.
Keep Your Current Residents
Most residents who can stay in their current apartments will most likely want to continue rather than dealing with the hassle of moving during the pandemic. But, that doesn’t mean you should take their loyalty for granted. Your residents want to be able to trust that you’ll do all you can to keep them safe and supported while living in your apartment community, so take this time to reassure them of that in your words and actions. Push out messages often reminding residents of social distancing and other requirements, and provide updates as changes arise. If you have residents who are struggling financially, show you care by offering alternate rent payment plans and methods if you can.
COVID-19 has shown apartment marketers that the most careful planning can be upended without much warning. This crisis won’t last forever, so play the long game and don’t lose sight of where you want to be a year or two from now. Your plans might not be perfect, but by staying flexible and being ready for even more change, you will have a foundation on which to build an even stronger apartment marketing plan going forward.
Respage is focused on creating extraordinary renting results. We serve as the leading provider of apartment marketing services for thousands of communities nationwide. If you’re looking for help with your apartment marketing, talk to us!