Apartment Search Twice as Efficient

Apartment search What can you do to make searching for an apartment twice as efficient?

One Way

Give the people who do business with you twice the number of reasons to stay. Do that by making sure that you over serve the people who serve your organization. It’s called trickle down…

Second Way

Know that marketing is everything and everything is marketing – make it your mission to never settle for the idea of a middleman in your transaction. Throw out the idea that you should by ads or digital listings from people because they are nice. And, the bring you goodies around the holidays and throughout the year. Don’t get me wrong – I like most of those people too. I consider their value in the way of always keeping me on my toes. They help me understand the better, best and excellent ways to move people direct to Mills Properties instead of to their sites and then to my site.

Your always looking to make apartment search efficient for the people who need a place to live multifamily maniac,


pic props: Legends Web Design



Are you restless in the multifamily business?

If you become someone who is uncomfortable unless he/she is creating change, restless if things are standing still, and disappointed if you haven’t failed recently, you’ve figured out how to become comfortable with the behaviors most likely to make you feel safe going forward. – #sethgodin – The Icarus Deception


I don’t know about you but I get restless more than I care to admit. I think life should be moving along a lot faster than the borderline meaningless tasks that I partake in. I catch myself – more times than not – thinking about how – in the bigger scheme of things (read: cosmic sort of stuff) – half the to-dos I am asked for are just nonsensical. Add $5 bucks to this line item, take $40 off that line item, add a period after this comment or that comment, use affect instead of effect or reword this because it does not fit my view of the world. Nonsense.

What matters in our business? The perfect budget. Not in your lifetime. The real deal is – people. The real deal is – relationship. The real deal is – collaboration. The real deal is – synergy. The real deal is – character. The real deal is getting cool stuff accomplished. You can’t capture that on a spreadsheet. Never. But, guess it – that is what matters most. Financiers, bankers, hard money, investors, etc.. – makes not the difference. I get it – you are analytical. But spreadsheets don’t get business done – people do. Proformas don’t make it happen – people do. Data entry doesn’t make it happen – building energy does.

The Mark of a Leader 

Recognize when the natives are restless. And, get the nonsense (as they view the world) out of their way.

Good business happens by default when your business serves the people who are serving it.




Don’t Bing it On

You have probably heard commercials for this or seen it on the internet…Bing It On. Essentially, Bing is conducting a blind test of your preference for Bing  or Google search results.

It is the ‘Pepsi Challenge’ of the 21st century. The only problem is, even if the challenge favors Bing more often, like it did Pepsi in the 80’s, there is a major flaw in their logic. I think Bing is under the assumption that if proven in a blind test, web searchers will actually start to change their behavior and choose Bing. Coca-Cola made a similar assumption when people started preferring Pepsi and nearly killed their brand to try to save it. Because, even though people prefer the taste in a blind sip test, that does not necessarily predict behavior. In the real world we don’t actually search for things blindly. That is to suggest that the experience means a lot more than simply the words on the page.  Mainly, the power of the Google brand is being severely underestimated as was Coca-Cola.

Current contest explanation:

In the test, participants were shown the main web search results pane of both Bing and Google for 10 search queries of their choice. Bing and Google search results were shown side-by-side on one page for easy comparison – with all branding removed from both search engines. The test did not include ads or content in other parts of the page such as Bing’s Snapshot and Social Search panes and Google’s Knowledge Graph.

In my opinion, sensation transference has a huge impact here. Real or not, people have a strong emotional attachment to Google and the aesthetics and experience associated within. So taking all of that away would obviously have an impact because it is no longer Google. Same thing with Bing. Frankly, I hate Bing for many reasons one of which is actually the relevancy of their results to my search query. Which even in this test I noticed was an issue. While I agree this marketing campaign probably brought some additional recognition to the brand, the actual conversion will be minimal at best.

Blind Apartment Test

With Bing’s logic, we could stick anyone at our apartment communities and they would sell. We all know it takes a lot more than a pretty property or even one that meets all our ‘search criteria’ to get the sale. The experience (sensation transference and all) will make the sale in my book, every day, all day long.

In the blind test I still chose Google. Try for yourself – share your results with us! My advice to Bing is to take the approach that Pepsi did. Instead of trying to take customers from Google, create your own niche. Pepsi went for the younger generation and it worked. Coca-Cola still has more market share but the gap between them is less significant.

Will you change your search behavior based on your results?

My results…








(side note, Bing you have terrible apartment search results – thank you Google for including Mills Apartments on page one)

Apartment Budgeting: Corporate Rent Premium

Corporate Rent Premiums are convenience fees added to your Apartment’s Market Rent.

Over the last couple of weeks we have discussed premiums that apply to such things as Month to Month Leases and Short Term Leases. Today we take a similar angle in the Apartment Budgeting Series as we are penning on the subject of Corporate Rent Premium. In the spirit of consistency, we will start by putting some definition around the term and then we will dig into some budget strategy and possibly some thoughts on marketing.The Boulders at Katy Trail in Missouri

Corporate Rent Premium Defined

Corporate Rent Premiums are convenience fees added to your Apartment’s Market Rent. It is a little bit different from the last two fees that we penned about. In this case,  apartments are generally leased and paid for by third-party agencies.  National Corporate Housing and Oakwood are a few examples of the aforementioned third parties. You, in a sense, up charge the agency for the convenience of getting out of the lease(s) with just a standard 30 or 60 day notice.

I have seen the fee applied by way of flat rates and/or percentages with upsides of $300 or 10% of the market rate.

Corporate Rent Premium Budget Strategy

Like all other rent premiums this can be a tricky thing to budget for and it definitely something you want to control. To budget, I would refer to a twelve month trailing all the while considering current economic conditions. If the economy as a whole is downtrodden that the likely hood of a boom of corporate leases landing in your lap is between nil and none. If the economy is gaining traction and or booming you will likely see this business experience an uptick. But, it is always open-ended.

Remember to control this. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat in an owner’s meeting trying to remind them of their generosity in giving up 20% of their unit count to a corporate housing provider only to have that provider pull the rug out from under them. How quickly it becomes the other’s guys hot potato to deal with and explain. 5% is a good number to manage. 10% is pushing the risk handle. Anything beyond that is pure gamble in my book.

Corporate Housing Marketing Strategy

No ballyhoo with this one. It’s a simple down to earth Dale Carnegie approach to getting your foot in the door. Do a little research and find out what the owners and account executives grapple with. What are the biggest problems that they deal with? What keeps them up at night? What rattles their brain(s)? Get into that in the way of solutions. Solutions that you can play into their real-time business transactions and make sure your company and community are associated in some way. Be swift with any help that you can give to them. And, don’t be shy about asking for the business.

Your always looking for some premium to rent multifamily maniac,


Cold Calling – New and Improved

I am consistently baffled by cold calling efforts in a business climate that has turned radically social. Vendors can get to know anyone on the planet by simply dialing into twitter, facebook, linkedin or otherwise. And, if they take the time to set back and listen, dive in and participate, provide value, give and take feedback and over a bit of time – sometimes a very long bit of time (@30lines took the time) (@jonathansaar took the time) they earn business. key word being ‘earn.’ Mike and Jonathan respectfully spent the better part of two years nurturing a relationship with Mills Properties and it has paid off in a good way for them. And, equally important to this point – the time they invested has been equally rewarding for Mills.

Cold Calling Giving Way to Cold Email

The following approach via the ‘contact us’ button our company website bakes my insides every time –


I wanted to take a moment of your time to introduce myself and [don’t want to or am afraid to reach out via other more appropriate media – Graphics]. We are printers and graphic designers long specializing (since 19##) in the Multi-Family and Senior Housing industry.

We have lowered the prices on our FULL COLOR Marketing Business Cards!
500 = $50.00*
1,000 = $65.00*
2,500 = $110.00*
5,000 = $180.00*

Prices DO NOT include Taxes, Shipping, Redrawing or Creation of a Logo.
Marketing Business Cards

Great low budget marketing tool!Cold Email Apartment Vendor Marketing

This product’s features include:
square corners
2 sided cards same price as one sided
your choice of 3 types of paper:
14pt uncoated cover – traditional, non-shiny paper
14pt matte coated cover – satin finish
14pt coated cover with UV – very shiny
I invite you to check out our newly revamped website at [www.imacoldcaller].

Multi-Family and Student Housing Specialists.
Long the focus of ***, our multi-family clients will love the extensive on-line shopping experience afforded by this new store. Printing, promotional products, signage, and more are offered here in an easy-to-order format, tailored for your industry.

Promotional Products. Easy On-Line Ordering.
All of our customers can pick and choose from over #00,000 advertising specialty/promotional products. Shopping has never been so easy.

Let me know if there is ANYTHING I can help you with.

Man I Don’t Like Cold Calling
Project Consultant at ***** Graphics

******, ** *****

The ONLY THING you can help me with is – helping me understand why this approach to business seems at all appropriate in today’s business climate?

Your – ranting on cold callers – multifamily manic,



More Outlets Does Not Equal a Better Story…

Are Apartment Content Marketers just being noisy?

…People do.

This is a simple unscientific case for passionate apartment marketing (professional or otherwise) content producers [Read: conduits]…

I picked the following quote off of a blog some time ago and pasted it into a file for future posting. Now, after a few search engine attempts, I can’t find the author of it so if it’s yours – please claim it and I will give you the due credit.

There seems to be a curious thing happening – the more outlets for stories we get… the less and less we’re hiring writers, content strategists, editors, designers. It’s like the second spawning of “reality programming”- no need for writers … it’s real life.

It’s a very interesting dilemma that we find ourselves facing in the apartment marketing space; do we go it alone in an amateur more reality based way or do we go pro? It’s not a simple answer but a necessary question to consider. And, the reasons run concurrent with trends in the way we influence, are influenced, how we consume and how we distribute information as a society.

The Niche is Coming Into its Own

With the absolute proliferation of platforms that host and syndicate blog content along with the opportunities to narrow our focus by creating lists and circles on the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and the king of the them all Facebook, we all have a niche to serve in some way.

Niches are not a new concept but they themselves are new to the likes of being served information in a passionate and pointed way. And, in mass from marketers, friends and acquaintances. And, thus the need for a professional or an amateur but passionate writer…

The Simple Case For 

Apartment MarketingI am very much a visual person so I took the time to draw this out on a piece of paper. While visual, I am clearly not artistic so feel free to toss fruit from the front row…

Be it you advocate professional content producer/managers or the Sunday driver version; I think you would agree that you need a guru…[term used very loosely – in fact I hate that word – let’s go with…] someone who knows what they are doing.

I have been reading the book: Grouped by Paul Adams the Global Brand Experience Manager at Facebook. You might recognize my pic as an adaptation from the book. He makes a much deeper case for what I am trying to loosely convey in this post so buy his book – it’s a goodie. (The link is not tied to an affiliate account).

As we further fragment based on interests and or outright fatigue, the ability to connect via influencers (seemingly more a myth than realistic) is waning and or presenting itself as more of a fallacy. Small groups connected by someone who cares and someone who knows what they are doing will be the way to continue on with the conversation. Continue down the current path or seek the alternative and we’re just creating noise for ourselves. And, as the number of outlets increase, we have to ask ourselves are we just being noisy in more places? Instead, be a conduit and bring together the small groups that will move business in the future.

See that person in the middle of my pic – for the theory to work, that person must know (intimately) someone in each of the four outcroppings. The way this works is that this person is the conduit of/for information (influence) to flow between the outcroppings or small niche groups. Without the conduit, the potential potency of this group is never realized. They will never have the chance to know one another because they will have no real reason to do so.

The job of that someone who knows what they are doing and cares enough to do it is to bring the groups together in a way that is appealing to the individual members. He/she gives them a reason to believe. A reason to be merry. And, a reason to be intimate with one another. Intimate in a way that moves business forward.


As I flesh this concept out in real life experiments – I’ll be sure to post updates.

Your – interested in interest graphs – multifamily maniac,




#apartmentmarketing: Blog Format Question

..should apartment marketers truncate their blog post offerings?

Short and sweet today –

One of my favorite blogs, one I read everyday without fail, is Valeria Maltoni’s – Conversation Agent. First rate content always.

Apartment Blog Trunk

I gave up on RSS feed reading about a year ago as I spend more time in my inbox. Nearly every blog I read is done through Outlook now and as such I give more time and attention to the things I read. In other words, I generally do not skim the headline and move on.

About a month ago Valeria made the decision to truncate her email subscription delivery meaning we only see a portion of the message and are forced to click on a link to see the rest.

Result: I read fewer of Valeria’s material to the end. Sorry Valeria.

I understand the reasons for cited in her Saying it in 200 Characters post  back on Aug 10, 2011.

My question – should apartment marketers truncate their blog post offerings? We are trying it a Mills [Shameless plug – the Mills Blogging Team is Putting a Dent in the #STL market place].

Would love to hear this communities thoughts? And, thank you in advance for taking the time.

#apartmentmarketing: Persistence


“There are no magic wands, no hidden tricks, and no secret handshakes that can bring you immediate success, but with time, energy, and determination you can get there.” – Darren Rowse, Founder Problogger

A ton of rhetoric has been penned about social media as it relates to apartment marketing, resident retention and the such. Some of it is really good and some of it is just fluff and fill. Some has merit and some has not the sense god gave a billy goat.

Apartment management brass tacks

Toss it all aside and get back to the brass tacks of good old fashion property management – what do you have? Boring, mundane, uncompelling and anti-dramatic and melodic methods of madness. Anyone who has been in the business for a very long bit of time would agree that property management is not rocket science. Just a couple days ago I was sitting diagonal from a finance quant who thought he hit the nail on the head when he made that very statement.


At the end of the day – it’s the culmination of personalities laced with wit, wisdom, humor, elevated emotion and a purpose larger than life itself that bring about the want to persist with the quest of managing property. And, those who do it well would admit that it’s what gives them life.

It’s the time that they love to spend.

It’s the energy that they love to exude.

It’s the determination of pursuing a worthy goal that keeps them coming back for more.

Admit it – There’s something about this business!

What is it for you? What keeps you coming back for more? I dare you to tell me in the comment section below! Double dog…

#Apartmentmarketing: Attention Economy

Instead of one-way interruption, Web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the precise moment that a buyer needs it. – David

Where's the disconnect?

Meerman Scott

Seth Godin quipped that engagement is hitting people with the right message at the right time so as to have them take action [engage]. I think we have to take that word engage and thus precise moment further. To truly engage, at least in my head, you have to be enchanted, you have to be moved, you have to yearn for more so much so that you have no choice but to act on your desires. It the deepest throes of emotion. Words like love, anger and the many nuances of each come to mind. It’s not just a like, unlike, +1 or the such. It’s deeper.

Mr. Apartment Manager Man; “I am done.”

It’s not unlike the gentleman I met with last Friday evening. He, unfortunately, was moving out of our Central West End Community. Reason? In his words, “I am done.”

You see about three weeks ago, the entire roof of his five story building blew off and landed in the parking lot beside and the street in front. Thank the one that governs it all that no one was hurt as it could have been really bad.

In response to the situation; our team entered every apartment in the building and place plastic over beds, electronics and the such. Most were thankful. Not the gentleman I met on Friday. His beef? We did not leave him a note to let him know we had been in his apartment.


Somewhere in the wake of the roof being pulled off the building by straight lined winds; his attention got engaged. The premise aside; he was moved by an aggressive deep seated emotion. He engaged with some ill language and barbed personal remarks for the onsite team and the rest of our Mills management team. He got so engaged that he ended up leaving the property.

The Point

I think we are headed toward true engagement – we are not there yet. We use the word but in it’s loosest of senses. We are in the early innings of a very long ball game that is frankly destined for infinite extra innings. Think in terms of singularity. Think in terms of love, hate and other extremes. That’s engagement. For now we are just courting. Or, at best out on a blind date and liking our mate because our friends suggested we should. Now it’s up to us and the million other people out there participating with brands to fall in love or fall in hate.

What do you think?



Photo tip to: Online Ninja Blog

#Apartmentmarketing: Blog for Juice

No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog. – Chris Brogan

Blog About Everything Unrelated

United Blogs of Benetton is one of my very favorite blogs. It was one of my early inspirations when I started writing a multifamily industry related one back in 2005. The thing that struck me most about the blog is that it had absolutely nothing to do with their core business of fashion. In fact, I remember reading a post they wrote back around that time that suggested their reason for doing so.

I can’t find the post so I am doing my best to recall here. The gist was that they thought that the real value of blogging was to give the people that read it the essence of what they valued as an organization. In other words, they wanted to translate the values of their organization by way of compelling and worldly content.

Our First Company Related Blog

When we started our first company blog in 05′ we did just that. But in lieu of a forward facing, community gathering effort; we brought out the personality of EQRs Portland Portfolio. We called the blog: Portland Rocks Newsletter and the content consisted of stories about our teams. Be it work related or a personal experience we allowed just about everything.

Everything that is except for content about EQR or any specifically related to our apartment communities. Our chief aim back then was to invite people into relationship. Whether they bought from us or not was not the point of the blog. If they did, we considered it icing on the cake.

And, fathom this for a minute. It had nothing to do with SEO or SEM back then. Whoa!

It’s All About the Juice

Fast forward to today – everyone has a blog and everyone is jockeying for the first page of Google search. And, we all do it for Google Juice. We wrap it in 800 count Egyptian cotton [Read: adding value or enhancing experience].

All that being said, I agree 100% with Chris B.

AI: Start a blog today – if you have not already!