I have been saving this post for a long time. I’ve tried to figure out a way to “monetize” it and earn some revenue from it, but it’s more of a concept than a product or service. The bottom line is I can’t really keep it to myself anymore and it’s time to burst. So here it is….
LIST YOUR COMPETITORS ON YOUR OWN WEBSITE!
If you are an apartment community and you advertise on apartments.com, rent.com or For Rent or Apartment Guide’s websites, you’re already paying thousands of dollars a year to list your information side by side with your competition. So why not add them all to your own website, increase your content exponentially and get the Google juice as a result?! The bigger the company, the better the results should be. Allow your prospects to shop and compare your communities with your competition on your own site. Make it even easier for them than the websites you pay to advertise with and create a shop and compare chart with all the amenities and services you offer right next to what your competition offers.
This will work for almost any website really. Do you own a hair salon? List your competitors, their services and rates and compare them with your own. Run a local coffee shop with a few locations? List your competitors and their menus and pricing. Own a landscaping service? List your competitors and tell the consumer why you are better.
DO NOT: List their phone numbers.
DO: Put photos of your competition.
DO NOT: Bad mouth your competition.
DO: Share reviews about yourself and your competition.
DO: Add as many competitors as possible. The average consumer will find it anyway.
DO NOT: Be afraid! The average consumer already knows your competition anyway! If they don’t then don’t listen to me.
I’m not going to tell you every little detail of this concept and how to make it really work. If you want a great plan of execution then you’ll find me. I’ve given you enough information to be dangerous. If you really are better than your competition, offer complete transparency and crush your competition online and in your bottom line.
Just wanted to share this article. It seems interesting. A friend of mine just forwarded me this article from LifeHacker.com, “Five Best Apartment Search Tools”. With the exception of Apartments.com, these websites seem to be geared more toward micromanagement companies and individual owners rather than tradititional property management companies. Obvioulsy, Craigslist has become a standard advertising source for many of us, however, I’m not sure the others have or will. Each seems to offer it’s own unique perspective and features.
Conducting a Google search for “Detroit Apartments”, Apartments.com was number one in the organic search, followed by Craigslist at listing number 7, Myapartmentmap.com at listing number 16, while the others were not in the top 50 organic search results. A search for “Chicago Apartments” put Apartments.com at number 2, Craigslist at 4 and Myapartmentmap did not appear until page 5. Results varied from city to city, however the only two that remained consistently on the first page were Apartments.com and Craigslist.
There seem to be a lot of companies popping up trying to win the share of apartment traffic to their websites and likely taking up a lot of our time with sales calls. Until they are proven, I would stick with putting any extra money into your own website and making sure it is optimized. Some companies out there are doing this and they happen to be ranking much higher on the organic search results than 3 out of 5 of the “5 Best Apartment Search Tools”.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this, “We know that half of our advertising is effective, we’re just not sure which half.” If you are saying that today, then you need to reevaluate your marketing and advertising strategies. If you can’t specifically measure the results of a marketing initiative or advertising campaign, you probably shouldn’t do it.
So here are some thoughts to consider:
Don’t just put your home page in print/billboard advertising. These leads cannot be measured specific to that advertising. They will just get lumped into your overall traffic. Create an alternative landing page specific to that advertisement and only use it for that particular advertisement. That page may then be directed to your home page or a community page.
Do imbed google analytics into every page on your website. It’s a simple process with tremendous value. It will also help you measure the hits to those alternative landing pages mentioned above. You can also see how deep into your site prospects are going.
Don’t use your local phone number in ANY advertising. Even in your Craigslist ads use a call tracking number. You might discover that certain properties don’t get any leads from Craigslist or it might be sending unqualified traffic. Even though it’s free, you could determine by tracking the calls, or lack thereof, that you don’t want to waste time posting or dealing with unqualified traffic.
Do record your leasing calls. This is a subjective form of measurement, but probably one of the most important. We all know the difference between a good leasing call and a poor one. After only a day of listening to phone calls at a particular property, I discovered they weren’t asking for the prospects name, taking control of the conversation or even asking the caller to come tour the property. The calls were long and awkward. Now the leasing staff at that community is doing all of those things and more. They are even getting email addresses to confirm appointments and listening to each others calls and providing feed back.
There’s another old saying to “inspect what you expect“. This is hard to do without consitently measuring results.
AG iPhone application
So the numbers are in for the Apartment Guide iPhone application and on paper it looks pretty good, according to Primedia’s press release earlier today. Over 230,000 downloads. Like most of you, I’d like to dig a little deeper and find out how many of those downloads resulted in email or phone inquiries. I’m sure my account rep will be in this month to tell me.
Without that information available, I’d like to draw a picture of how truly remarkable this could be. This is the equivalent of 230,000 Apartment Guides being added to their distribution. That’s 28,750 books per month since they started in October. I would imagine it’s probably closer to 40 – 50,000 per month since they launched their advertising campaign in March. 40 to 50,000 additional users of the Apartment Guide without adding a single page of print. At that rate they will approach 600,000 downloads by the end of the year.
There are a million and one questions that need to be asked and answered, but at first blush, this seems to be a successful first step in the right direction to improve the consumer experience and potentially increase traffic to communities advertising on Apartment Guide. Win-win.
It is no longer just enough to drop books off at the local grocery and pharmacy and claim you have distribution that is relevant. Distribution is not simply related to the number of books flying off racks. Distribution is so much more than that. Distribution is google ad words. Distribution is search engine optimization. As of this week, distribution is an iPhone application.
Congratulations to Apartment Guide for their recent television commercial partnership with Apple and the iPhone. I thought it was pretty cool to see a company from our industry partnering with such an iconic advertising campaign. I saw it last night during American Idol. (Yes, I was watching American Idol, but just for the ads!) It is also very encouraging to see a company like Apartment Guide investing outside of print. I know from an insider perspective that they have been doing this for a long time now, however this to me sends a clear message that they truly are thinking outside the rack.
You can see it tonight during Scrubs on ABC or The Office on NBC. It will also air on Leno tomorrow night, Saturday Night Live on April 11 and Extreme Makeover on April 12. It’s cool to watch on YouTube, but it’s even better to see it during your favorite programming.
Forget the racks at 7-11. Now distribution is Saturday Night Live and American Idol.