Think Outside the Rack

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.


Print is Not Dead, It’s in Remission

Print is not dead.  It is in a state of remission.  It has good days and bad days.  It goes to the hospital every day to get a dose of internet support.  If it doesn’t it will surely die.  But with the healing powers of internet support, print advertising has managed to stay fairly healthy.  In some cases it has proven to be the top producer of traffic to many apartment communities.  

My advice to decision makers is simple:  do your research, gather as much data as possible and create a customized advertising program for each apartment community individually.  Refrain from making blanket advertising decisions.  Create an individual advertising strategy and budget for each apartment community. 

Blanket advertising decisions often include exclusivity in one print medium or another.  For example, only advertising in Apartment Guide for print.  What if one of your properties is better served by For Rent or Apartment Finder?  Don’t limit your strategy with exclusive relationships.  If you are effectively managing your print advertising you should have solid relationships with a sales rep or publisher from each of these publications.  These people are very knowledgeable and can be a tremendous resource.  

Continue to evaluate each ad’s effectiveness and determine if you are getting the most out of it.  Sometimes it’s not necessarily the medium by which you advertise that isn’t effective, but the content you provide. Make sure you are effectively managing the content of your ads.  Plan in advance what your ads communicate to prospects.  Don’t wait until the deadline and settle for mediocre photography and copy.  If you don’t have good photography yet, use stock photography until you have an opportunity to get high quality photos taken of your best features.  If you don’t have an in-house marketing department, use a third party to make sure your words jump off the page.  It will cost you a little more up front, but in the long run it should prove to be most cost effective.

Don’t give up on print yet.  It still proves to be a proven source of traffic and leases in the apartment industry.