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.
I just received a personal tour of Padzing.com from Mike Mueller and my first impression is that Padzing.com is to market surveys as Wonder is to sliced bread. If you are a numbers and data junkie, then you will definitely want to check this out. Padzing is a compilation of data from Rent.com and Vaultware. Simply put, the data has been gathered from communities advertising on Rent.com and the users of Vaultware. “We developed it with the idea of going to one website to see what your peers are charging for their apartments,” says Mueller, CEO of Realty Data Trust.
A quick search on Padzing by zip code or city and state provides the user with current vacancy information, average rents, and average rent per square foot by Nationally or by, State, County and where available Zip Code. It also breaks it down by unit type. Graphs provide a snapshot of the history of those numbers so you can follow trends. Mapping options allow you to gather the same date by radius. Reports can be exported into MS Excel. With all of these different options, the number of ways to review the data are countless.
If you decide to use this information you will have to take into account the number of properties that are being used to compile that data. The great thing about it is they disclose that information on every page. So if 5 properties in your Zip Code reporting data isn’t enough, then you can research the other 5 on your own, but your analysis is halfway complete. If your top 3 competitors are listed on Padzing and your analysis is based on them, then a great deal of your information is collected for you already.
While this tool is truly in it’s infancy, with support and cooperation from the industry it can only get better. Enhancements are already being devoloped including a feature that will send an email or a text message if pricing is changed at a community you are following. Take advantage of this tool while it’s still free!
“It’s where the industry is heading,” says Mueller. “Padzing.com puts transparency into pricing. It’s a poor man’s revenue management.”
The National Apartment Association has started a blog which will be a great resource for the Multi Family industry. I am pleased to be one of the contributing writers to this blog. Check it out!
I will continue to post to brainoblog on a regular basis. Please feel free to give me ideas of what you would like to read about and don’t be afraid to share your opinion or add to any of my posts by leaving your comments. Feedback is always welcome.
Craigslist: If you aren’t using Craigslist yet, start. If you were using Craigslist and decided to stop, start over. It’s a great resource, it’s easy to use and best of all it’s free.
For many of us, this is old news, but for those who aren’t on board the results speak for themselves. Just make sure your ads are strategic and smart. For example, if you are a high end community, don’t boast your lowest prices. You will get unqualified prospects, especially given the current economy. Advertise your standard and competitive rates. Even people with money to spend are using Craigslist to find a deal!
If you are an economy community, make sure you are advertising your lowest rate for apartments that you have available. Check your inventory. If you only have one available, make sure you advertise that and create a sense of urgency. If you rent that unit, pull the ad immediately. You will continue to get calls and Craigslist users are savvy and penny pinchers. They will demand you honor your ad.
Google Analytics: This has to be the coolest free thing I have ever seen. Even if you already have tracking software for your website, you should check out Google’s technology and compare. The reports are in depth and will confirm how well your advertising sources are working in terms of hits to your website. If used properly you can get as detailed as how many users are visiting your community pages, viewing rates and floorplans, and maps and directions. This is excellent information. I will post more about this in the future, but I just wanted to get it out there to anyone who isn’t using it currently.