Way before I was a Mompreneur, I worked in the multifamily industry managing and marketing apartment communities. You may be thinking, “what in the world do apartments have to do with me or my business?” Well, believe it or not, a lot! Apartment communities are a great way to reach a large number of people at one time since a central management office is in control of the entire neighborhood. Apartment communities are a hidden marketing opportunity for mom-run businesses and I’m going to use my insider knowledge to let you know how you can get your foot in the door to market to hundreds of new people!
First things first, you need to identify apartment communities in your area. If you live in a large metro area like I do, there will literally be hundreds. Score! The best way to identify communities in your area is to either pick up an Apartment Guide book, typically located in most grocery stores, or, look online. Some of the biggest apartment listing sites are www.apartmentguide.com, www.rent.com, www.apartments.com.
Once you’ve found communities in your area, it’s time to get to work! There are many ways you can use apartment communities to market your business. Here are some of the ones that will work best, no matter what kind of business you have!
Nearly every community will give their new residents a folder when they move in, filled with information about their area. Communities are always looking for information to add to these folders, because the more information they have to offer their residents, the better they look in their residents’ eyes. Plus, management teams are very busy and finding materials to add to their folders isn’t high on their priority list. They’ll appreciate you offering your materials so they don’t have to waste time seeking them out themselves.
So what do you include? You’ll want to create a flyer on 8.5 x 11 paper. If you can afford to make color copies, that’s highly recommended. If not, just use a brightly colored paper, or a paper that has a decorative border. You can often find packs of these at your local dollar store. You’ll want to customize the flyer to each community. So perhaps start out with the message “Welcome to XYZ Apartments!” Then you can go into telling them about your business and how you’re here to help them. Focus on letting them know how you can make their transition to a new area easier. Finally, if you can provide some sort of offer for them to come to you as a new customer, that would be ideal. Make up about 50 flyers for each community. That should last them a couple of months, depending on the size.
Every apartment community loves to host events for their residents. The more the better, but the problem is that most communities have a tight budget. Anytime they can offer their residents an event that doesn’t cost them much, they’re on board! So, think of what your business offers and how you can create an event out of that. If you sell kitchen products, you could host a cooking class. If you offer pet sitting services, you can host a pet playdate or pet look-a-like contest. If you sell baby products, you could host a playdate for kids or an infant CPR class. If you sell beauty products, you could host a makeover night. Get the picture? Most communities have a clubhouse to host the event and they’ll do all of the promotion for you!
Another thing that apartment communities like to offer their residents are special discounts that are available only to them. Decide on an offer you’d like to extend to their residents, then approach the community with that offer. Together, you can come up with a way to promote the offer to their residents, whether it be a flyer, ad, discount card, etc.
Most communities prepare monthly newsletters for their residents. Sometimes these ads will allow for space for local businesses to advertise. Not every community does this, so the only way to know if the ones you’re targeting do is to ask.
When communities hold large resident events, like pool parties and game nights, they often want to give away door prizes. Typically, since their budgets are limited, they solicit prizes from the vendors they work with. You can make an arrangement with them to offer some kind of prize, perhaps one of your products, in exchange for another form of promotion. Perhaps they can put your information in their event flyers or maybe they’ll let you attend and have a table set up where you can provide information to the residents.
Here are some tips to help you make the most out of creating a relationship with your local apartment communities.
Visit communities during the afternoon, preferably between 2-5. These are the least busy times in an office and you’re more likely to get better results.
Don’t place flyers around a community without receiving prior consent from management. Typically, posting flyers door to door is prohibited. The reason is because many apartments may be vacant and they don’t want flyers just sitting on doors for an extended period of time.
Refrain from calling it an “apartment complex.” The term complex is not used in the industry. They prefer the term “community.”
When you come across telephone numbers when researching apartment communities, look for local numbers, not 800 numbers. These 800 numbers are ad tracking lines that are recorded. It’s quite annoying to receive sales calls on these lines.
Be visible, but not annoying. It pays to follow up with management when trying to create a rapport with them, but there’s a fine line between being friendly and being annoying. Don’t contact more than once per week, and if you have 3 failed attempts at contacts (i.e. messages left but not returned, manager out, etc.), give up and move on to the next community. There are many out there who will want to work with you!
Bring goodies! I suggest beginning each relationship with a community by stopping in and bringing them a small treat. A little goody bag of candy and your business materials is perfect. They’ll always remember someone who came in with gifts! Then you can explain who you are, what you offer and how you’d like to build a relationship with their residents.
Please leave a comment if you have any questions about marketing your business to the apartment industry. It’s the one thing I know like the back of my hand and I’m happy to help you use this resource to market your business!