Takeaways from Apartment Innovation and Marketing 2023

By Chris Arnold

Apartment Innovation and Marketing 2023

One of my favorite things to watch for are reactions from major industry conferences. There are usually 3-5 key themes and topics that everyone’s talking about.

Something new, something old, or something that finally reaches the spotlight.

The 2023 edition of the AIM Conference brought the heat with a great mix of thoughtful leaders from across the industry.

So, what topics stuck out most to me?

I jump into a few of them here.

AIM 1

1. Paid via Streaming TV

This is one I wasn’t expecting.

Imagine: streaming your favorite shows on Hulu, and suddenly you catch an ad for a new property coming online this fall.

It sounds a little different, but it may head in that direction sooner than you think.

As I play out the geo-targeted conversation with a developer in my head, I could see it going a few different ways… at first. 😉

One thing is certain: the competitive edge is what many will seek in the coming years, and streaming may be a favorable option for many regions, especially densely populated metro locations.

Keep an eye out for this lane to get a few progressive groups taking it for a test drive.

2. Self-Scheduling for Prospects

Giving the power to the renter remains a critical component to any modern marketing arsenal. Offering up self-scheduling options upfront can smooth the buyer journey and promote ownership in one’s apartment search.

But, there is a catch.

At the same time, it is important to align closely with a leasing team that understands and appreciates that automated scheduling only goes so far.

Feedback across the industry still resonates with the notion that renters want clarity and automated tools, but they also want the human experience.

Meaning leasing teams need to follow up.

They must engage, ask questions, and offer a helpful ear to guide the renter, even if some of the upfront work of selling and scheduling happens in a digital space.

AIM 2

3. Resident Expectations

One of the more humorous threads I picked up on from this year’s AIM caught my attention thanks to a one-liner about residents not renewing leases because their free coffee was taken away.

But, at least in the eyes of Sentral, this is a very real issue.

The panel was focused on resident expectations and the (sometimes) disconnect that can occur between corporate leadership and onsite teams.

From a marketing perspective, this one falls into onsite best practices rather than a specific brand or digital-related area.

However, one could argue that pulling the daily coffee from the lobby shelves severely impacts the brand experience. (I would certainly agree with that take.)

Another example of those important touchpoints that are easily forgotten?

Katie Kane of Northland also mentioned low-hanging fruit when a fitness machine is out of order. It’s simple: give the residents an expected date for the repair.

“Do better…”

4. Customer Data Platforms (CDP)

The CDP is something that Daniel Paulino has been waving the flag on for more than a year, and clearly, it’s a topic that Bozzuto is taking very seriously.

Between changes to the role the cookie plays in browsers to the management of paid ads (internal vs. external teams), there is a lot to consider looking ahead when it comes to managing customer information.

Does the term GA4 get you squirming in your seat at all?

Coincidentally, a little birdie told me about an upcoming podcast on this exact topic, so keep an eye out for Mike Wolber’s Modern Multifamily podcast coming in the next week that dives into this theme with authority.

5. Leveraging AI

It should come as no surprise that leaning into AI tools for all aspects of the multifamily industry is gaining much attention.

Many of my observations about the events at this year’s AIM Conference seemed to touch on the subject.

It’s not just marketing that AI will impact, but Leasing, Ops, and Maintenance are starting to see new tools rolled out to their teams, as well.

That being said, many had a general sense of caution about the tactical deployment of AI on the marketing side.

For example, dumping AI on a website and expecting it to answer prospect questions seamlessly isn’t a reality today.

Can AI be given information (property, units, rents, location, neighborhood, etc.) and immediately improve answer output? Absolutely.

But that doesn’t just happen with a chatbot.

To this point, AI works best when given a series of facts – a dataset – that it then builds from and learns from.

So, while it may be enticing to shovel off common tasks to a robot, keep in mind there’s a time and place to leverage AI.

(The time is now, to be sure, but how it’s done is what matters most.)

This is an exciting space to watch. It’s one that also has the potential to trim operating expenses and deliver simple tasks to improve the renter journey.

What did I miss?

If you attended AIM this year, I’d love to hear about your biggest takeaways.

What are you thinking about? What’s next in property marketing?

Did you enjoy this recap format?

As always, I appreciate your comments and fellow insights!

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