I recently came across an interesting article published by Harvard Business Review that discussed the need for more introverts in marketing. The basic premise of the article was that marketers need to spend less time talking and more time listening. The author detailed why common characteristics of introverts often allow them to discover insights that remain hidden to those that aren’t as prone to spend time listening.
As I read the article, I found myself thinking about how much time I personally spend talking versus listening. In my job responsibilities, I’m often thinking, “What do I want to tell my audience?” However, it may be more beneficial for me to flip that question and instead ask, “What does my audience really want to be told?” The answer to that second question can only be gained through truly listening to and examining the insights provided by customers.
Apartment marketers have the unique opportunity to have frequent interactions with their customers throughout the prospect and resident lifecycles. Let’s take a look at a few areas where you can sit back and listen to what prospects and residents have to say:
Are You There?
In order to be an attentive listener, you have to first make sure that people are able to get through to you. Did you know that the average apartment community misses between 40-50% of calls each day? Leasing agents are busy people. Their days are consumed with paperwork, on-site visits, phone calls, resident problems, etc. For most properties, it’s impossible to answer every call. If missed calls are a consistent problem, it may be time to enlist the help of a call center. By ensuring that all your prospects and residents can reach you, you’ll show that you’re available and ready to respond.
Review Your Ratings
Positive ratings and reviews can be very effective marketing tools, but that’s not their only useful purpose. How often are they also being used as a way to look for areas to improve operations? The natural tendency with a negative review is to automatically dismiss it as sour grapes, then to be defensive or to justify the way that you are currently handling things. Conversely, listening to negative reviews with an open mind can help to shine some light on areas of your business that may be underperforming or overlooked.
Emphasize the “Social” in Social Media
If you’ve chosen to use social media channels like Facebook or Twitter to promote your communities, remember that these are not intended to be used to carry out one-sided conversation. The real power of social media is as an engagement tool. Use your posts or tweets as an opportunity to get feedback and then respond and react when people talk to you. If time and resources allow, try to reply to each tweet or post that you receive.
When a resident decides to move away from your community, it’s a great chance to pick their brain. As part of your move-out checklist, put together a brief survey for the resident to fill out. Ask them simple, open ended questions. What was their experience like at your community? Do they have any suggestions on things that you could’ve changed to make their life easier? What is the reason they decided to move? Since they are moving on and won’t be associating with you in the future, they may be more willing to give honest opinions that will allow you to make improvements for your current residents.
These are just a few ideas to identify areas where apartment marketers can proactively listen and learn. Take a few minutes to examine all the opportunities you have to interact with your customers and make deliberate plans to listen to their feedback. If necessary, you can even schedule some dedicated weekly “listening” time on your calendar to go over resident reviews or to take a look at what people are saying about your properties on social media. Through shutting your mouth and instead opening your ears, you’ll gain a real understanding of your audience and will be able to talk to them in meaningful ways that they’ll appreciate.