How to Spend Your Multifamily Marketing Budget During the Coronavirus

by LCP360, on Jun 10, 2020 8:30:00 AM

When the coronavirus pandemic shook up the world in March, it also shook up the multifamily industry. Suddenly, multifamily marketing budgets were at a standstill. Marketers were scrambling to pivot strategy and decide on new areas to spend their budgets.

While many multifamily marketers have successfully pivoted their strategies to align with current renter trends, some are still wondering where it’s best to focus their multifamily marketing budgets as we enter the summer months.

Lockdowns are lifting and rent payments are still being made. So what does that mean for your efforts? Where should you be focusing your attention? We’ve laid out several scenarios where you may be with your budget decisions as we enter the middle of 2020.

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If You Experienced Cuts to Your Marketing Budget Due to COVID-19

Some multifamily marketers have seen a cut to their budgets due to the coronavirus, as have many marketing professionals across industries. History tells us that this is nothing new. In the onset of trying times, marketing often takes a backseat. Or at least, that’s what our gut tells us to do in order to save money during difficult times.

For multifamily, we can safely say that is something you won’t want to do. If you saw your marketing budget cut even a little in the past couple months, it’s time to take what budget you have left and really hone in on what matters right now. It’s not recommended to pause and wait it out. We need to think about current renter habits, what is happening now, and what will happen three to six months from now.

So let’s ask: where are you currently investing your budgets? Is it into more media? Exterior advertising? Paid advertising? A lot of marketers are choosing to stay the course with their remaining 2020 budgets to play it safe, but again, this brings us back to current renter trends.

In a typical world without coronavirus, marketers often test new strategies as trends change to get the most from their budget. In our world of social distancing, trends have changed, and investing in more billboard ads or outside advertising may not be the smartest move. These kinds of marketing pushes can be expensive and create little results, while there are many other digital strategies that cost far less and have much higher returns.

It’s understandable that investing in new marketing strategies, especially with a budget that has been cut, can be worrisome. With your remaining marketing budget, it’s important to consider your goals and the current climate of the world:

  • Renters are staying home more than ever, with 90% of Americans not leaving their homes
  • Main renter demographics consist of Gen Z and millennials, two age groups where technology is second nature to them
  • Online lead generation continues to be a vital part of increasing move-ins, even during the coronavirus

With your remaining budgets, consider investing in cost-effective digital strategies that focus on lead generation. Content such as photography, virtual tours and virtual staging go a long way during times like these when renters can’t tour their future home in-person. These marketing efforts are stand-out ways to generate more web-based inquiries. Keep in mind that renters are also making their decisions quicker now that they’re spending more time online. In-person tours take days, even weeks before seeing a return. Virtual tours are quick and effective for a quicker return on investment.

We still do not know what the months ahead will bring, so it will be vital to invest in virtual leasing solutions that make a lasting impact on your marketing efforts down the road.

If You Are Maintaining Your Marketing Budget

If you saw no budget cuts during the coronavirus, you’re probably sitting in a pretty good spot right now (but also probably paying close attention to the market and foreseeable future).

Despite no budget cuts, you may be wondering where to spend your budget moving forward now that the multifamily sector has seen a shift. Should you focus on branding? Paid ads? Are you looking at more in-house resources?

Instinct tells us to pivot strategy during these times, and that feeling is right on course with what we’re seeing on the virtual tour side. With data from our community tours, we are finding, on average, that engagement has quadrupled on virtual tours in 2020 compared to 2019. Here is a preview of what some communities are seeing across the board in virtual tour views:

Virtual Tour Views - Coronavirus

This tells us that renters are changing their habits, but still very active in their apartment searches. As such, you’ll want to align your efforts with current trends by focusing on digital efforts that will result in quick wins.

Still, marketers are worried, even without budget cuts. If you’re in fear of what’s to come at the end of summer when unemployment runs out and rent payments are uncertain, this shouldn’t be cause to halt your marketing investments. Now is the time to secure more qualified leads and move-ins during the summer months to improve your ROI.

Where to shift your marketing budgets

You may be wondering what digital efforts you could be focusing on right now in place of your previous efforts. As we all know, future resident traffic has taken a hit across many listing sites and in-person property tours have suspended.

That’s where virtual leasing comes in.

Here are some alternatives to consider in your marketing efforts:

  • If you have a model unit with staged furniture: consider relinquishing the model unit and opt for virtual staging instead. Virtual staging is a cost-effective tool that allows you to showcase both an empty and staged unit on a virtual scale. Many renters aren’t touring model units right now, so consider transforming your model into a live-able space for an additional move-in, all while saving money on rented furniture and maintenance costs.
  • If you have leasing agents on-site or at home, with no walk-ins: no property tours means no walk-ins. There are ways, however, to keep your leasing agents engaged with future residents online. Virtual tours, like Panoskin, allow leasing agents to give guided virtual tours to prospects over the phone. If a prospect calls, the leasing agent can immediately offer them a quick guided tour by mirroring their screen to the prospect. This is a quick way to engage renters and keep your on-site staff engaged with leads. Additionally, virtual tours are acting as digital lead generation tools on apartment websites and listings as more renters turn to primarily online tours.
  • If you have 2D floor plans in need of a refresher: now that less people are visiting communities prior to signing a lease, consider updating your 2D floor plans with 3D floor plans. Rendered floor plans offer a more realistic representation of your space, complete with staged furnishings and finishes of the space.
  • If your website and listings need refreshed content: now is the time to focus your marketing on digital efforts, such as your website and apartment listings. Photography is an easy win to refresh your marketing content. Not only can great photos be used on your website, ads and other marketing materials, you can use updated photos on your listings and virtual tours.

When making decisions on your marketing budget, look at the road that lies ahead

Budget decisions are often based on instinct or data. We recommend paying attention to the numbers. Instinct may suddenly tell us to hold off on investing in more marketing, but the numbers right now tells us that renters are still looking for new apartment homes. They’re just doing it differently.

Now is the time to adapt and pay attention to the road ahead. Look at the challenges you have mapped out and how to overcome them. It’s time to pull away from branding efforts and focus on lead generation to increase move-ins during these crucial months.

Need help generating leads on your website? Contact us today to know more about how virtual tours play a vital role in your lead generation.

Topics:Multifamily

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