When you’re launching a new development, there’s a lot to worry about, and your real estate marketing plan is just part of the puzzle. But while financing, designing, and building might seem like your most pressing concerns, a great marketing plan starts early—often before you ever break ground. The most successful new developments are those that make marketing decisions early and use marketing insights to inform construction, design, and management every step of the way.
So what are your marketing to-dos as you launch your new property development? There’s a lot to cover, from market research to branding to social media and more. That’s why we’ve put together this extensive New Start Marketing Checklist covering all your basics and our tips for getting them checked off successfully.
If you’re interested in getting professional help checking all these items off your list, contact our team at Threshold—we’ve been around this block a time or two.
[su_spoiler title=”1. Perform Market Surveys” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
Your very first step is to do your research. This will inform everything that comes after, from branding to digital campaigns to community outreach. In particular, you need to understand a few things:
Take stock of your local competition, gathering all the information you can. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to take stock of its composition. How are local properties branding themselves? What amenities are they offering? What audience are they targeting? What are their rental rates? What campaigns and specials are they running? Where are they located?
Keep your learnings together in a well-organized document or spreadsheet for later reference and update it periodically. This information will come in handy when developing your brand, launching awareness campaigns, and more.
Understanding your audience is an indispensable step. Whenever you can, get out in the community to do market surveys. Ask what your target audience wants in an apartment community. Ask what amenities are important to them, what they think is missing from the market, and what makes a community a great place to live. This information is essential not only to building the sort of property that there’s actually demand for, but also to the messaging you use to market your property each step of the way.
[su_spoiler title=”2. Develop Unique Branding” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
You have probably heard that your brand is your biggest asset—and it’s true. Developing a unique, cohesive brand that tells a story, establishes a personality, and gives your development purpose brings everything to life. It drives interest, action, and loyalty from your audience. When executed well, it informs every design, every marketing asset, even every hiring decision you make.
As you develop your brand, you’ll need to establish the following elements, then codify them into brand guidelines that everyone who represents the brand can reference moving forward.
First and foremost, your property name should be unique within the market and resonate with your target audience. Your name, along with your logo, will be your brand’s face to the world, informing your audience’s impressions of your community from the word go. Take special care to select a name that has staying power, that won’t cause you to be confused with another brand, and that aligns with the brand personality you want to build.
Beyond that, you also need a property name that allows you to select unique and easy-to-use domain names and account names so that your online presence is cohesive and accessible.
Your domain name is the URL—or web address—where your property website will live. Before committing to a property name, ensure there are domain names available incorporating that name.
Online Account Names
Again, before committing to a property name, consider the account names—or handles—you’ll use for social media sites like Instagram and Twitter. Your account names should clearly connect the account to your property and avoid too much similarity to existing account names.
Voice & Personality
As you build your brand, ask yourself: if this brand were a person, how would they act? What would they like? How would they speak? In fact, your brand will do a lot of acting and speaking, through messaging on your website, your ads, your social media accounts, even your transactional emails. The more distinct and identifiable your brand personality and voice are, the more loyalty you can inspire and the easier it will be to develop new creative and digital messaging further down the road.
The elements below can help you establish your brand voice and personality.
A tagline is a motto or catchphrase connected to your brand—like McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” or Dunkin’ Donuts’ “America runs on Dunkin’.” Your tagline should be memorable while hinting at your brand voice and purpose. What’s the main takeaway your audience should associate with your brand? What short phrase hints at your brand’s core?
A brand manifesto is a mission statement for your brand written in the voice of the brand. Its purpose is to outline what key ideas define the brand as well as what sets it apart from the competition. You may not use the brand manifesto verbatim beyond the initial branding phase (though it may make a decent romance paragraph on a landing page) but it’s a very helpful tool to explore your brand voice and establish the “why” of your brand.
Logo & Logo Treatments
Your logo is perhaps the most visible feature of your brand. Along with the brand name, the logo is your brand’s face to the world, informing impressions of your brand before your audience knows anything else about it. Having a unique logo that aligns with your brand identity helps bridge the awareness gap as you reach new prospects further down the road.
Brand colors also communicate a lot about a brand, often in very subtle ways. For example, bright, saturated colors might communicate an energetic, playful personality while pastels or neutrals might communicate a more relaxed or professional feel. Select a few main brand colors that can be used throughout your branding, from business cards to websites to interior design so that your brand identity is consistent and obvious across all visual media.
Like brand colors, a typeface (or font) can subtly communicate a lot about your brand. Whether you want streamlined and professional, intricate and formal, playful and unique, or something else, the typeface(s) you use across your creative assets are part of building a consistent and clear brand identity.
[su_spoiler title=”3. Establish Online Accounts” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
Shortly after selecting a name, it’s time to claim your social media handles on Facebook and Instagram. You’ll also want to set up a few other online accounts you’ll need, like your Google My Business page, Apartments.com, and ApartmentRatings.com accounts. These accounts will help expand your reach, manage your online reputation, and engage with your audience.
Once accounts are set up, ensure that one or more staff members are frequently checking these accounts for comments, reviews, and questions. Engaging with your audience and responding to any reviews helps build a positive online reputation and generate qualified leads.
[su_spoiler title=”4. Develop a Conversion-Optimized Landing Page” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
As early as possible, you’ll want to build up a full online presence so you can start generating buzz and capturing leads. One of the central assets in those efforts is your property website. However, since building a full, multi-page website can take extra time and money, you might start with a single landing page containing just enough information to get your audience interested.
Consider including a simple form allowing interested parties to sign up for future updates as your property is further developed—you might call it a “VIP wait list” or similar. This is a great way to generate leads and set up future digital campaigns that will yield highly qualified traffic and high conversion rates.
Later down the road, make sure you develop a full website with great SEO and UX. While an early landing page is a great trick to jumpstart your digital marketing efforts, it won’t sustain you as your property grows and your marketing needs change. In order to drive organic traffic, continued conversions, and customer loyalty, a full website is essential.
[su_spoiler title=”5. Set Up Analytics Tracking” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
Once your website is launched, it’s important to set up analytics tracking through Google Analytics so you can assess how you’re performing throughout your marketing journey. Getting this set up as early as possible will ensure you’re equipped to diagnose any issues and make improvements that impact your digital traffic and conversions.
[su_spoiler title=”6. Launch Digital Brand Awareness Campaigns” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
Your first ad campaigns should be focused on building brand awareness. After all, you’ve spent a lot of time with your new brand, but your audience likely has no idea you exist yet. You can’t persuade prospects to sign leases until you’ve put yourself on the map, so it’s time to do the groundwork that will set you up for future success.
Social media platforms are great places to run ads targeting your local audience and directing them to your landing page. Gmail ads and other display ad tactics can help you make the most of compelling messaging and stunning property renderings. You might also use property renderings to create video ads which can be run on YouTube and social media platforms, often earning better results than static ads. Geofencing campaigns will also help you target a local audience and are an excellent tactic when focusing on awareness rather than conversions.
For more information on how to get your audience from the awareness phase to the purchase phase (and beyond), check out our Digital Buyer’s Journey resource.
[su_spoiler title=”7. Design & Print Construction Signage” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
As you build your property, you can drive awareness and leads with well-designed signage around your construction site, especially if your location receives a lot of foot traffic or drive-by traffic. Install signage at your property location that leverages short, compelling messaging and property renderings or lifestyle imagery to attract attention from passersby. Make sure you include the URL of your landing page so you can turn looks into leads.
[su_spoiler title=”8. Design & Outfit a Temporary Lease Space” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your property is likely to be in development for months or years before opening—and that includes your permanent lease space. While the property is being built, it’s important to give staff a place to engage with prospects in person and for prospects to learn more about the property. To this end, we recommend you design and outfit a temporary lease space where you can take advantage of foot traffic in the area and engage with your local community.
Your lease space design should align with your branding, leverage prominent outdoor signage, and be outfitted with all the information a prospect needs to convert. That means flyers, brochures, floor plan renderings, amenities lists, business cards, and other print media. If at all possible, building a model of the property and/or a model unit helps bridge the gap while you can’t offer tours.
Before officially opening your temporary lease space, make sure you have fully set up your preferred CRM software so leasing staff are ready to collect information, track visits, and follow up with prospects that come through the temporary leasing office.
[su_spoiler title=”9. Partner With Your Local Community” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
For most prospects, location is the top priority when deciding who to sign a lease with. The more you put down roots in your local neighborhood and utilize this community to your advantage, the more you’ll see qualified leads making it to your website and lease space.
In addition to participating in local housing fairs (if applicable), we highly recommend partnering with local groups and businesses relevant to your audience. For student living properties, sponsoring an event or hiring an ambassador within Greek life, clubs, or international student groups can help expand your reach. For multi-family properties, you might establish a preferred employer program, ask local shops to display your flyer, or sponsor an event in partnership with a local restaurant.
[su_spoiler title=”10. Launch Digital Lead Nurturing Campaigns” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
Once your landing page has done the work of generating leads, you can leverage that list of email addresses to launch lead nurturing campaigns. This is the power of establishing a “VIP wait list” or similar. This is your opportunity to reach out directly to prospects who have already expressed interest, staying top-of-mind with these warm leads and continuing to drive excitement for your property as you approach your open date.
[su_spoiler title=”11. Capture Search Traffic With Paid Search Campaigns” open=”no” style=”default” icon=”plus” anchor=”” class=””]
Search ads are a powerful marketing tactic, but should only be leveraged as you approach the peak leasing window prior to your official opening date. In the case of multi-family properties, prospects performing searches are mostly looking for quick—if not immediate—move-ins, so wait to launch search campaigns until you are six months or fewer away from your open date. Student properties, on the other hand, may launch search ads as much as one year in advance of their open date, since pre-leases are the standard for this industry.
Paid search ads will help you capture existing search traffic from prospects looking for housing in the area by ensuring you reach more of this audience than you normally would via organic results alone.
Once you’ve checked all these items off your list, you should be set up for success! Keep an eye on your analytics, connect with your audience, and put your brand at the center of everything you do—this way you’ll be poised to make continued improvements and get your audience to take the first step in their buyer journey with your property.
If you’re interested in getting professional help checking all these items off your list, contact our team at Threshold. Our marketing experts are here to help with tried-and-true strategies and high-performing creative assets that will ensure you’re making the most of every marketing effort.
For a print-friendly version of this marketing checklist, download the pdf below!