5 Crucial Marketing Mistakes Costing You Student Residents
Property managers who own units in college towns can suspect to rent to many students each year.
You may think you’ve got your marketing techniques optimized, but in truth, there are several common marketing mistakes that landlords and property owners make that actually repel student residents rather than draw them into learning more about potentially renting your units. Here are five common errors to avoid if you want to appeal to students.
1. Obscuring the most important details of your unit
When searching for housing, students need to know four things right off the bat about properties up for rent:
•The date your lease would begin and end
•The cost of rent per month
•The price of utilities or electric bills
•Any amenities included with the property. Does the unit have a washing machine and dryer? Is the property close to bus stops for buses that go to campus? Is there a pool on the property available for use in certain months?
If you can’t be straightforward about these basic details, students will think you’re not being transparent enough with them — and this could be a deal-breaker for folks who would otherwise be eager to lease your property. Check your advertising materials and ensure basic information is prominent and easily found on any fliers, websites, Facebook posts, and other listings you may circulate in hard copy or online.
2. Severely distorting how the property looks in pictures
Students are smart. They’ll know when a photo seems too good to be true (and if they visit the property, they’ll be able to tell that you took photos of only the pretty parts of a house or apartment). Any sense that you’re trying to deceive prospective tenants will leave students with negative energy, which makes for a bad memory and overall experience with you. Being truthful about the flaws in a property is a much better practice than trying to detract from them too much with misleading images.
3. Being rude, discriminatory, or just plain deceitful in communications with potential tenants
Students are quick to protect their peers when it comes to bad property managers. Often, students post on housing Facebook groups with advisories about shady or rude renters they’ve unfortunately encountered. They will even post the landlord’s contact information and tell other students to avoid their listings if they’ve had an awful experience with careless or otherwise problematic landlords.
Students really rely on narratives from their peers, and hearing others’ experiences can be enough to stop them from pursuing a certain landlord or property manager. They talk to each other; make sure your treatment of student renters is positive, or they won’t recommend you to others.
4. Discriminating against students with financial aid letters rather than parental letters of guarantee as proof of income
For students who receive lots of financial aid from their universities, moving off campus only means the money they’d normally receive on campus turns into money they can use for rent. While students usually receive slightly lower amounts of financial aid for moving off campus than they received on campus, they still get regular deposits of aid in their accounts (which should count as viable income).
Make sure to give students a fair chance at renting your property regardless of their type of income; marketing-wise, you might include a line somewhere on your flyers or social media posts that indicates you accept financial aid award letters if tenants wouldn’t be receiving funds from their families (as would be the assumption with receiving a parental letter of guarantee). This will increase the number of students who might pursue you as a renter.
5. Being slow to respond to messages
Students live in an age where nearly everyone responds to messages within minutes. Although of course you likely don’t have tons of time on your hands as a property manager to respond to inquiries quite that fast, do not lag on your responses to students’ emails or messages about your property. A landlord who responds to a student’s email within a few hours or one day is going to leave students with a positive impression rather than a landlord who is careless about checking and responding to emails.
In a tight student housing market, especially in towns where overcrowding and housing insecurity is growing, students scramble during springtime to find summer housing and housing for the upcoming academic year. As you likely know, finding housing is a competitive game for students; thus, your responsiveness is key to helping students sign a lease for your property. It will ease their minds to have found housing, and it will ease your mind knowing that your unit is filled.
These are only a few marketing mistakes renters make, yet most of them share the same core principle of being an honest and lively communicator. If you are honest in your marketing, you’ll be trusted in the community. Yes, marketing often involves airbrushing and prettying up the item you’re advertising; however, you must use these tactics minimally at most if you hope to attract and keep prospective renters in your housing. Communicate with students, respect them as individuals, and make yourself easy to reach above all else.