More multifamily developers are putting marketing first

By Chris Arnold
Field of dreams

Is this heaven?

Nope. It's a 2bd/1ba with luxury rooftop amenities and bike storage because, you know, we think you like bikes and stuff...

I talk with developers across the country often. A mix of our client partners at Authentic and other chats that stem from your standard introduction call.

Through these discussions, I'm sensing a shift in many developers' stances on thoughtful brand building, marketing, and renter experience.

Why?

Well, a hard reality is hitting: the success of a development project is not just about the quality of the buildings and amenities but also about how it's marketed and branded.

Let's pause and think about a few of those realities.

  • Tough capital market environments.
  • Rental rates that continue to dip compared to 12-18 months ago.
  • More units coming online after the peak ~1 year ago.
  • (See: Phoenix's absorption rate.)

With increasing industry competition, developers have realized that a strong brand and effective marketing strategies can set their projects apart.

For too long, developers have been tethered to the idea that "if you build it, they will come" ... which is not only overused at this point, but simply not true.

We've entered an era where having a pulse on consumer preferences matters - a ton. In today's digital age, buyers are much more likely to research and compare different properties online before making a decision.

Sure, no one is going to a single beautiful website only to stop and decide it's the apartment for them. ("Forget it! This is it! Not looking at all anywhere else!")

But, developers know that a well-crafted brand identity and compelling marketing suite capture the attention of these consumers much more quickly than the old adage above.

Which brings me to the concept of engagement.

"Engagement" is kind of like "Centralization" in multifamily circles. It can mean 5 different things to 5 different people.

That's not inherently bad in this case, being that we're (ideally) all talking about making the renter feel at home.

My point is, if done well, effective branding and marketing can also lead to better engagement and relationships with the renter and the local community.

It will be the developer, owner, and operator who prioritize better engagement that will attract new customers and investors in the future. They will also be those that enjoy better retention.

I'm probably a little biased about the topic, as are many marketing and design minds.

But, I don't mind. This is a drum I'll keep beating!

In the coming years, it is likely that thoughtful, nuanced branding and marketing will play a significant role in the success of upcoming real estate ventures.

Developers who invest in building strong brand identities and effective experience strategies, simply put, will set themselves apart and create lasting value for their projects and their communities.

If you're a developer, you see this requirement looming.

If you're on a marketing team, it's time to own your value.

While there is uncertainty across the industry, it's still an exciting time for making the properties we work on both beautiful and, more importantly, livable for all future renters.

Are you sensing or seeing something similar in your world?

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