The importance of lead nurture in property marketing

By Chris Arnold
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The “Renter First” Mindset

Have you ever seen a beautiful new building, mid-construction or even late construction, reaching toward the sky without any onsite activation?

A building without a name, website, or any further details.

And then, have you wondered how that building would get leased up?

(Me too.)

During a podcast conversation this week, I was reminded of a true story about a fellow marketing mind in the multifamily industry.

Sometime in 2022, they shared a picture of beautiful new signage at a property on a LinkedIn post, proudly announcing their work and the details surrounding the building’s completion.

Curiously, they emphasized the ‘now leasing’ signage in the window.

It was beautifully crafted and looked sharp, but the post wrapped up with language that I found peculiar.

To paraphrase, “We’re so excited to begin preleasing this weekend. … The fitness equipment is getting installed this week!”

From what I could tell, the site hadn’t been activated, and future renters had no insight or access to the progress of the building.

It was only a few weeks from welcoming new renters, and zero effort had been put into demand gen.

😬

It seemed clear that the “renter first” mindset was entirely overlooked.

(You could also argue the developer's best interest was overlooked too.)

What did that project miss?

Simple Steps to Nurture Your Renter

The scenario I mentioned above is not uncommon across the industry because I always hear stories like it.

When you build it, some believe the renters will come.

And that may be true, but only to a point. Certain circumstances may allow for a primarily marketing-less approach, such as:

  • A premier location,
  • An existing brand that garners a lot of unique attention, or,
  • An organization that injects a copious amount of marketing spend into the local market after the fact to “catch up” on lost time.

But on the whole, most new developments aren’t on Cool Street proper, and even if they were, it doesn’t necessarily equate to lease-up success.

When working on new lease-up projects or even conversing with teams that seek advice, we generally share a few simple suggestions.

1. Start activating your property the moment shovels hit the ground.

Get your construction fence wrap thoughtfully designed and messaged for immediate activation as soon as possible.

We’ve even seen partners take down onsite activation after a certain point (for various reasons - another conversation), and their demand gen drops significantly. This step matters more than the industry gives it credit for.

Remember, you’ll need at least a splash website live to capture those visits.

2. Pre-lease as long as possible. Nurture your renter for months.

The argument against this is that someone signing up 6-8-12 months before they could occupy space is not very qualified. And that might be true.

But think about it: if Jane Doe, someone who is an excellent fit for the property, tells five other great fits about this new spot opening up, you’ve created a demand gen flywheel that renters produce for you.

For free.

If all it takes is an email or two a month to a growing list of interested people, then why not make the effort if it means better leasing velocity?

3. Be thoughtful with onboarding and incentivization.

Have you ever received a throwaway birthday or holiday gift? Something that didn’t mean anything and never would?

That same “feeling” is what renters get when they get a printed frisbee or hackysack with your logo on it.

Getting a renter in the door is one thing, but trying to impress them with illogical swag or weird leasing incentives will always miss the mark.

Consider your options and execute what makes sense for your brand, the experience you want to uphold, and what matters most to your community. This aligns with your leasing staff, too.

A welcome bag with locally roasted coffee, five free HIIT classes, and coupons to the local food trucks will land far better than plastic throwaways.

It’s Not Easy (But It’s Not Hard)

I recently heard the phrase, “This is PR, not ER,” from another marketer, and I laughed out loud.

We’re not stitching up bodies here, gang. We’re doing our best to ensure people are cared for and that they are a positive part of something bigger.

That idea isn’t easy, of course.

But it doesn’t need to be complicated.

Think about the renter first, and you’ll be steps ahead of the rest.

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