Last weekend, I sat down with a 25-year veteran property manager and apartment leasing specialist. I sat there and listened like a good student would. I took a lot of notes and asked a lot of questions. How often can I get the attention of someone so experienced and willing to share their wisdom so openly?

There are plenty of folks out there that’ll teach you about how to find, negotiate, and buy apartments, but very little is taught about how to keep your apartments full of paying tenants – all the time. In the Southwestern part of the US, roughly 60-70% of apartments are turned over every year. What I mean by this is that if you owned a 100 unit apartment building, 60-70 of those units would have someone move in and then out within a year.

That’s a lot of move-ins and move-outs folks! In other words, only 30-40 of those units will have someone live there for more than one year. Wow. So that means you can never stop your marketing machine for “replacement” tenants. Even if you’re 100% occupied, don’t stop advertising, because it’s highly likely that someone will be moving out in a few weeks. That’s just the nature of the apartment business – turnover is inevitable.

So, the question I had for “my new friend” was “how do I keep my apartments full all the time”? Her answer was, “Peter, you gotta know who you’re marketing to. Don’t try to be a be-all do-all apartment owner. Your complex is attractive to a certain tenant profile. Market strongly and cleverly to them. If your complex is near a university and is suited for students, it makes no sense to market to “baby boomers”. That makes perfectly common sense, right? That something that you and I already know, right?

Then all of a sudden all those years of leasing and marketing experience just started pouring out of her. What I want to share with you today is just a small part, but an extremely important one on marketing. It’s called Generational Marketing.

There are three generational categories of tenants that every apartment owner should be aware of and understand when setting a marketing strategy. They are:

Generation Y: Born after 1981

Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1980

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964

In order to market effectively to a generation you must find a way to grab their attention, by using a message that resonates with them.

Here are top ways to get these specific generations you are targeting to show up for an appointment, sign a lease and move in!

Generation Y:

  • They crave praise and love instant gratification.
  • This generation grew up with a better lifestyle than any previous generation
  • They are multi-taskers and have been since childhood
  • Get financial help from their parents and grandparents
  • Information driven – if you don’t give it to them – they will find it somewhere else
  • Text messaging is their acceptable way of communicating for answering questions or even making appointments
  • You need a web presence and be accessible or they go “bye-bye”
  • They don’t like mass-marketing. They’ll be gone in a heartbeat if you even try

Generation X:

  • Gen Xers are self-reliant and resourceful
  • They do a lot of research on the internet
  • They know what they want and require less hand-holding
  • Want to live close to work and be close to good schools
  • The layout of the apartment is very important in terms of bedroom and bathrooms
  • They love media rooms
  • Gen Xers tend to be skeptical so you need to be prepared in advance

Baby Boomers:

  • Boomers love food, travel, fun, fitness, and entertaining
  • They like to work from home
  • This is the generation of the prestigious country club communities
  • These are the most difficult customers to reach – you have to try everything
  • Some still don’t have computers

This makes a lot of sense to me and explains why early on in my career my “brilliant” marketing strategies did not work well. It’s because I didn’t know the tendencies of the people I was marketing to. Does this make sense to you? I hope it does because it’ll save you thousands of dollars in marketing and in turnover. I owe her a dinner!

Til next time,

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