This post was originally written by Kerry Sugrue, former Social Media Specialist at Apartments.com.
It’s that time again. Back to school! If you have an apartment community near a college campus, then you are gearing up for the busiest time of year. As soon as you get all of your 2011-2012 residents moved in, you have to start thinking about getting leases signed for next year. I had the opportunity to chat with Kim Cory, Sales and Marketing Director for University Village, about marketing to students. She offered five tips for reaching your key audience and having a positive presence on campus.
1. You need to have school spirit
On college campuses, a lot of prime recruiting opportunities for you revolve around university events. Decide what the most popular sports team is and host tailgate parties before home games at your apartment community. If the school allows it, set up a tent in the tailgate lot and hand out food and fun collateral to students. Make sure to invite your current residents, their friends, parents and university staff to stop by. Better yet, partner up with the university or student groups for a joint tailgate. More exposure = More fun!
2. Encourage your residents to bring friends
When you host an event, encourage your residents to bring their friends. These are your potential renters! Don’t be afraid to advertise your resident events on campus and in the school newspaper. This is the fastest way, bedsides Facebook, to spread the word. More students will want to come knowing their friends are welcome.
3. Start advertising immediately
Don’t wait until you are in full-blown leasing season, or realize you have fewer renewals than anticipated, to start advertising on campus. Find out when Welcome Week is and have your ads ready to go in the student newspaper, freshman move-in guides, visitor brochures, sports calendars, etc. Get creative with where you advertise!
4. Partner with the university
Creating open lines of communication with the university is extremely important. Set up meetings with the Student Life Department to find out how you can help with campus events, share tips for student safety and discuss easing the transition from on-campus to off-campus living. Inform the university of any changes to your lease agreements or community policies to keep them aware of how it may affect students. Keeping the university involved and informed will help build a lasting relationship, benefiting your residents in the end.
5. Get involved
Put a friendly face and helping hand to your community from the first day. Campus Advantage is a great example of this, as they have the best move-in program I have ever seen in student housing! Organize your staff to welcome residents on move-in day, go big and have fun with it. Recruit a welcome committee or ambassador program to help new students learn where to find everything around the community and let them know what upcoming resident events they can look forward to. Help your residents, as well as other students, get acclimated with the university by providing restaurant guides, maps, campus and resident event calendars or bus schedules. You can bet these types of resources will be put on their refrigerator or in their backpack, so make sure it’s branded with your apartment community name, website and email address.
Most importantly, as with any apartment community, make sure to provide excellent customer service and you will have happy residents, that will hopefully, do the word-of-mouth marketing for you. Do you have any questions or thoughts about these tips, or others to share? Make sure to comment below.