As a father of young kids, I’m constantly bombarded with questions like, “What does this word mean?”, “How does it do that?”, “Are we there yet?” and the old favorite, “Why?”. These little inquiries can sometimes be irritating when asked repeatedly, but at the root of each one is a curiosity to gain better understanding.
When considering our approach to building advertising content, it would serve us all well to act more like a child in taking time to ask frequent questions. Before creating your next apartment advertising campaign, stop for a minute and ask yourself these four essential questions:
1) What is the purpose of this advertisement?
Any smart advertising strategy starts with a sharp focus on the end goal. Is the purpose of your ad simply to lease available units? Are you trying to push a contest that can be shared on social media? Is the intent to help manage your reputation with a message centered on brand values? Defining and understanding your purpose gives you clear direction to develop the overall strategy of your ad.
2) Who is the primary audience?
Identifying who you are trying to speak to will play a huge part in determining what type of messaging needs to be created. For example, student housing operators ought to consider whether they are aiming to speak to students or to the students’ parents. An ad focused on swimming pools and weekend parties may appeal to the student crowd, but the parents (aka “payers of the rent”) will likely be much more interested in the safety of the community or the availability of quiet study areas.
If you need to reach multiple audiences, create separate messages specifically catered for each one and then rotate those ads as part of your media mix.
3) Where is this ad going to be placed?
Once you’ve identified your target audience, the next step is figuring out the most effective way to reach them. Don’t be afraid to ask advertising vendors to provide information about their circulation numbers, readership demographics, expected impressions, etc. When you understand the different audiences that various media channels are likely to reach, you can make proper decisions on where to place your spend.
An ad geared towards senior renters is not likely to receive much of a response if it’s only being pushed through web banners or mobile advertising. Similarly, running ads exclusively in print is probably not the best way to reach tech-savvy prospects.
4) What is the single most important idea we are trying to communicate?
I’ve seen many apartment community ads that try to pack as much content as possible into a single flyer, Craigslist posting or web banner. With all the advertising “noise” in the world today, you need to have a simple and clear message to break through the clutter. The goal shouldn’t be to provide a laundry list of every single unit type or amenity, but rather to highlight an interesting benefit that will incent prospects to take action and learn more.
By identifying one thing that you want to communicate, along with a clear call to action, the focus shifts from just pushing information to instead getting prospects in touch with your leasing agents, where the effective selling can take place.
What can you gain from asking a few simple questions? The answer is a lot! Admittedly, these questions may seem very basic, but it’s the basics that are often skipped over when it comes to getting an ad out the door. Taking the time to think through and answer these framework questions will create advertising that is more purposeful and will lead to a greater return on your apartment marketing spend.