How Agencies and Leasing Teams Can Achieve Synergy

By Chris Arnold
Agency onsite teams

A persistent and often problematic disconnect exists between the agency partner and the onsite leasing team in multifamily.

This divide is more than just a minor inefficiency. It can significantly impact the success of a property's lease-up and ongoing retention goals. Overcoming this challenge requires a strategic approach aligning both parties towards common goals, ultimately driving better NOI and long-term resident satisfaction.

So, what is the disconnect between marketing and onsite teams? Well, there are a few that often dovetail into one another.

The Sales-Marketing Conflict

First, the tension between marketing and sales (in this case, onsite leasing) is not new. Sales teams demand more and "better" leads, while marketing teams often struggle with insufficient on-the-ground feedback and guidance to create unique and impactful campaigns.

This friction is only magnified by distinct roles and responsibilities.

Most creative and marketing agencies build visually appealing brands and related collateral, whereas onsite leasing teams concentrate on direct interactions and sales processes with prospective residents.

All too often, these groups operate in silos, each aimed at achieving the specific tasks in front of them - rather than considering how the other side is approaching the same challenge and, furthermore, how they could best support one another.

Alignment and Strategy

Second, a lack of a cohesive strategy that ties together the efforts of both marketing and leasing teams is a common complaint. Ultimately, it is a typical "miss" on the part of the agency partner.

For example, ordinary marketing campaigns consist of standard social media posts and email newsletters that fail to engage potential residents meaningfully.

The classic "one social post a week" and an "every-so-often newsletter" never move the needle. The entire marketing service itself demands more strategy from the start.

The scene is (often) compounded by leasing teams, who are frequently time-strapped and unable (or unwilling) to provide the necessary feedback or collaborate effectively with their agency partner.

We see onsite teams "taking it in-house" as a result of trying to get things done faster, but ultimately, the outcomes are far worse and serve to place a wedge between the original intent of their community's brand and resulting non-brand-designer efforts.

This lack of alignment can present significant confusion and a disjointed feeling in a renter's buying journey.

How can we bridge this gap?

Moving Beyond Traditional Approaches

Content-First Marketing

One area in which we see a lot of promise is making a significant shift from the mere "distribution" of content to a content-first marketing strategy.

This means focusing on creating valuable, engaging content and content strategies that resonate with potential residents. For example, developing out a series of community FAQs in video format based on common resident queries can be more engaging and useful than generic social media posts.

Pulling in actual residents to record quick shorts will connect with fellow and future residents 10X compared to a stock image and lifeless post.

Integration of Efforts

Unsurprisingly, another way to build toward successful integration requires ongoing communication and feedback between agencies and onsite teams.

Regular bi-weekly or monthly discussions about what is working on the ground can help adjust marketing strategies to be more effective.

For instance, if studio apartments are leasing quickly but two-bedroom units are lagging, the marketing focus should shift accordingly and as soon as possible.

This dynamic approach ensures that marketing efforts are always aligned with current leasing realities. What the leasing team sees on the ground should drive themes, content changes, and real-time adjustments from marketing.

Beyond Social Media

Simply increasing the quantity of social media posts or emails is not a solution, either. The key lies in the quality of the content.

However, as most know, this is easier said than done.

Effective content is strategically crafted to attract and engage potential residents at various stages of their decision-making process. It is essential to understand that social media and email are merely distribution channels, not the content itself.

The idea of "getting up an Instagram" or "getting some ads going" is meaningless without intent and execution.

Creating content that answers prospective residents' most pressing questions, builds trust, and develops brand loyalty will significantly enhance their experience from day one.

Education and Leadership

Not to be forgotten are the marketing champions of the property teams.

Property managers and leasing agents need to be educated and convinced of the benefits of an approach that goes beyond the obligatory templated posts.

At the very least, they must understand the intent of the marketing strategy and be versed in providing feedback to further dial-in marketing efforts. Feedback loops allow for real-time adjustments based on what is working or, more importantly, what is not.

Having a champion on board is often the glue between the agency and the onsite team.

Agency and Leasing 2.0

The divide between marketing agencies and leasing teams in the multifamily industry is a significant barrier to success.

However, I'm confident this gap can be bridged by leaning into a strategic content-first marketing strategy, integrating efforts, and ensuring continuous feedback. And we're already seeing it at some partner communities.

The ultimate goal is to create a seamless and effective marketing and leasing process that drives better results, boosts NOI faster, and hits on higher resident satisfaction.

Transforming the lease-up phase requires a collaborative approach where both sides are aligned, informed, and working towards a shared goal.

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