From new regulations to advanced technology, the multifamily industry is constantly changing — and so too are your consumers. This is why it is only natural to change the way you lease as well, adapting to today’s renters.
Traditionally, leasing staff is trained to focus on what they are selling such as high-speed internet, shared community areas, and other amenities. Today, properties are experiencing more success when focusing on who they are selling to — honing in on what’s important to the targeted audience.
For example, if a leasing agent offers the same sales pitch to a Baby Boomer and a Millennial, they may only get one lease. It is important not to just be experts about your amenities and physical space, but to know what resonates with each potential renter. This is called a buyer persona. Building a buyer persona helps you target sales around your audience, and makes the difference between one lease and many.
Understanding Buyer Personas
Do you know who your customers are? Where do they work? Where do they shop? What are their interests? While these questions might seem unimportant in the sales process, they are essential characteristics to know in order to understand your prospective renters’ purchasing decisions.
A well-defined buyer persona helps target marketing efforts toward the right people, at the right time, and in the right way. Personas help you identify your renters and understand how your product can fulfill their needs and wants.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on interviews, market research, and real data about your existing or target audience. These personas capture the demographics, motivations, behaviors, problem areas, and professional/personal drivers of your ideal customer. Knowing this information helps you create content, design amenities, and understand the type of customer service needed to attract residents.
Building Buyer Personas
When working through our research process for branding new developments, we always start with the creation of personas. Through this research, we interview current and prospective residents in order to obtain a 360-degree view of the organization. It is important to dive deep and gain a thorough understanding of your customers, where they spend time online, what resources they trust, and what pain points they are facing.
As a commercial real estate marketing agency, Criterion.B lives in the world of brand identity. We help multifamily properties understand that such a big part of marketing their communities is tied to knowing their residents and then communicating differently with each target audience in the leasing process.
We begin by thinking through very specific examples of the target residents, identify unique qualities about them, and find out what is important to them. This helps create a more personal connection when the ideal resident walks through your door. We take the information we learn and craft personas for each target. Then we give them a fun name such as Empty Nester Nell or Baby Boomer Bob, making each persona easier to remember.
Consider the following when building a buyer persona:
- Memorable name
- Job titles and responsibilities
- Demographics such as age, ethnicity, family status, education, etc.
- Goals you want to accomplish on your website
- Pain points (Why is it so easy for residents to leave? What are they struggling with? What are some of the things that frustrate them about the apartment industry?)
- Technical experience
- Work environment (Do they work a standard 9 to 5 job? Busy stay-at-home mom? Are they on their feet all day in a fast-paced workplace? Is their office located in a large high-rise downtown?)
- Photos (Using realistic pictures, rather than celebrities or stock photography, is always best.)
Leveraging Buyer Personas
After establishing your persona, everything about your brand should be angled toward your ideal customer. But what do you do when your perceived customer comes from two different generations?
For example, if your property is located in an urban area, you will draw several different prospects. One might be a Millennial professional who likes to do fun activities and enjoys the convenience of the light rail. Another might be a recently retired Boomer couple who want the relaxed feeling of less maintenance and walkability.
Building a buyer persona gives the entire leasing process a purpose. Otherwise, you are selling the same physical amenities no matter who walks in the door. If the leasing agents are trained to understand each target persona, they can tailor the sale to that person. This means that when that empty nester couple walks in the door, the staff will focus their sales pitch around the carefree lifestyle the couple can have with a full-service maintenance team or the community spaces they can reserve for family gatherings.
The Key to Commercial Real Estate Marketing
While building a buyer persona may seem tedious, it gives you the ability to humanize your audience and work more efficiently to let them truly envision what they value most as a renter. Download our multifamily persona worksheet to learn how to develop a buyer persona that speaks to your renters’ needs and helps align your marketing strategy.
For more information on buyer personas and selling to the person, be sure to attend the NAA’s Apartmentalize Conference on June 13-18, in San Diego. The “Undercover Resident” Panel session will delve more into this topic.