It’s because of marketing anyone buys anything. When a tenant rents a new home, it’s because of marketing a landlord did.
- Everything we do could be marketing.
- Why People Buy
- How to turn what we do to your advantage to “get it rented.”
- Some tricks to think about marketing
Here’s one secret. Top-notch tenants, you know, the ones who are considerate neighbors, who take care of their homes, who pay the rent on time, like to rent top-notch properties and rent from landlords who are businesslike and competent. Bad tenants, you know, the ones with chips on their shoulders, who don’t care much about their homes, who pay the rent when the mood strikes, don’t expect to be able to rent top-notch properties and avoid businesslike and capable landlords like a power outage.
Do you have as many top-notch applicants as you want eager to rent your properties? Why not? How about units sitting vacant with no applicants or only unacceptable applicants? Why? If that’s your situation, you are far from alone. Many other landlords face the same problem. Too many landlords can’t seem to “Get It Rented.”
What are they doing wrong? Why don’t all those rental owners have full units with outstanding tenants? One reason is sloppy, indifferent or NO marketing. After all, good tenants are going to rent from someone, so why not from you? It is the marketing.
Our aim here is for you to get it rented, not just rented but rented to good tenants. As we will discuss in this book, effective marketing begins in the owner’s mind. Effective marketing is a system, a system of always paying attention and doing the things that cost little or nothing but are more effective than an ad. So many rental owners think they only have to pay attention to marketing when they have or are about to have a vacancy. Then it’s too late. They end up like every other landlord who can’t figure out what to do to get that property rented. They don’t know why the phone doesn’t ring and why it seems that nobody wants to see their property. Or just as bad, they can’t figure out why everyone who calls shouldn’t be able to rent even a Barbie Playhouse.
Here’s how to adjust your thinking. If the other rental owners aren’t paying attention, all the better for you. You get the edge that could mean that your properties make a profit every year, your bank account bulges, and you will be able to retire in comfort. It begins with marketing.
A Second Secret
Here’s a second secret. You don’t have to be infinitely better than other rental owners to shine. After all, it only takes one stroke to win a golf tournament and one millimeter to win a race, but we remember the winners. And in the rental property business, if somebody wins, somebody else misses out. To win the best tenants, you only have to be a smidgen better than the competition. That’s what you will learn in this book, the smidgens that win. It’s only a tiny bit, but you will seem to stand head and shoulders above other rental owners.
Could Everything Be Marketing?
We can’t escape it. Everywhere we look, everything we see, everything we hear, touch or feel may be marketing. Much of it, if you aren’t up on the tricks they use, you may not think of as marketing at all.
Marketing is everywhere and we can learn things that work for our rental properties by watching not just how the pros do it but also what other techniques can be even more effective. Everyone buys (or rents) for his or her own reasons, not ours. So in order to be effective, we need to appeal to as many of those reasons as we can to hit the bull’s-eye of why a particular person buys.
Product placement is one example. Next time you watch a TV program or movie where someone uses a laptop computer, notice what brand it is. Chances are it’s a Mac. You can tell by the Apple with the bite out of it on the cover of the laptop. That’s in spite of the fact that Macintosh computers account for less than 10 percent of the computers in use.
Apple proudly announces that it doesn’t buy ads. But an article in Business Insider Aug 7, 2012, reported that “Apple products appeared in 891 TV shows in 2011 alone. According to Brandchannel, iDevices were in 40 percent of movie box office hits.” In fact, “Of the 35 number one movies in the U.S. during the course of 2014, Apple products appeared in 9,” reported a March 8, 2015, article in Digital Trends. That’s 26 percent for a product that doesn’t even sell to 10 percent of the market. From watching movies and TV programs, you’d think that most of the world used Macs. Product placement is marketing that never enters our conscious unless we know what we’re looking at.
Why did you buy the house you live in? Your rental properties? How did you learn about them? How did you make the decision to sign on the dotted line? Possibly you saw an ad for an open house and visited, but that wasn’t what got you to buy. Some other factor did. It could have been the location, the way the property looked, the balance sheet of the rental property, or any number of other things. I don’t imagine you called the owner or Realtor on the phone when you saw the ad and said, “I want to buy that. Where do I sign?” Another factor entered in, and that other factor most likely had to do with marketing of some kind.
No matter what factor prompted you to buy anything, we will discuss it in this book. Why anyone buys has to do with marketing. And it’s more than just the advertising, believe me. Many people believe that marketing and advertising are the same thing, but advertising is just one piece of the marketing picture. In fact, advertising may have had nothing whatsoever to do with why someone ends up buying. We will look at how each factor affects getting a unit rented.
Just so, almost anything could be considered marketing. Yeah, right, you say. We watch sports on television because of marketing. Taking kids to a soccer game has to do with marketing. Even brushing my teeth has to do with marketing? What we’ll look at here are first, how marketing permeates our lives, and second, how we can take advantage of that in getting it rented.
When you watch sports on television, you endure commercials, lots of them. In fact, usually more time goes to commercials than the actual game. But during the games, you will see athletes wearing one brand of shoes, shorts, or using a brand of equipment or product. That’s product endorsement. Those athletes get paid to wear the shoes, use the products or equipment, or put on the shirts with the company logo. More product placement. After all, if a basketball player sees Stephen Curry wearing Under Armour shoes, he or she might be prompted to beg mom and dad to buy them, too. Professional athletes often make more endorsing products than their own salaries.
And then, why did you choose to watch that particular team play? Maybe you went to college there or it’s the team whose franchise is in your city. And they got your attention all different ways, only some of them by advertising.
I watch the NCAA Championship basketball game just about every year, and the program lasts more than two hours. But there are only 40 minutes of actual basketball in a college game plus a 20-minute half time break. I turn off the sound during the commercials because I’d rather not be insulted with their inanity and repetition, but pay attention and they provide lessons on what might work in selling ourselves and our product, our rental properties. Years ago, though, when I was an account executive for an advertising agency, I used to watch (and listen to) all the commercials on TV and analyze the techniques the ad guys used to try to sell me stuff.
While we’re on sports, though, let me add one more thing. Decades ago when my children played Little League and my son played Babe Ruth Baseball, every team had a sponsor. Every uniform had the sponsor’s name on it and every cap had the sponsor’s initials, at least. Those kids wore the hats wherever they went. My daughter played one year for a team sponsored by a real estate agency. Whenever my daughter’s team played, there, prominently displayed was Jacqueline’s Realty. I thought about sponsoring a team. After all, it was only $150 for the season, but my business does not lend itself to consumer sales. But $150 for not only the uniform, but the good will, and a little ad in the league program, what a deal!
My son, when he played Babe Ruth Baseball, played on a team sponsored by a State Farm Insurance agency. The agency even supplied the hats with the State Farm logo. So when the parents thought about insurance, who first came to mind unless they were already locked in to an agent?
When you drive your kids to soccer games, you most likely have the radio playing, maybe not to the station and music you prefer, but playing. They play commercials on the radio that, unless you have satellite radio as I do, you have to either listen to or push the button to a station that isn’t playing a commercial right then.
And that brings up the question, why do I have satellite radio? Why do I pay something over $20 a month for satellite radio in my wife’s and my vehicles? It’s because I don’t have to endure advertisers’ and announcers’ inane blather. What was the marketing that sold me that? No commercials and no inane babbling, oh, and over 150 stations to choose from. The benefit to me was that I could listen to music not useless chatter and commercials.
But one more question: how did you decide to buy that car you’re driving your kids to the soccer game in? I know it wasn’t by throwing a dart at a board full of pictures of cars. It had to do with someone’s marketing. Maybe it was the ad but maybe it was because of something your father told you when you were growing up.
I used to work with Al (name changed to protect the less-than-objective). He’s a “Ford Man.” He considers any other brand of vehicle not worth his attention except to ridicule it, something he is eager to do, and accuse those who drive them as somewhat less than intelligent and possibly a danger to society, though his words are far more colorful. I used to kid him about what FORD stood for, “fix or repair daily” or “found on road dead.” But his father was a “Ford Man,” too. Al didn’t have a chance. He had Ford pumped into his brain from the time he was old enough to listen. So in spite of the fact that his car was in the shop once a month (I do not exaggerate), he still had a new Ford every three years when their leases were up. His father was the marketing that affected him. That’s word of mouth to the extreme.
I drive a Toyota pickup. Why? Because of marketing. What was the marketing? Toyotas are reliable. Just check the JD Power ratings. I bought my current truck new 150,000 miles ago. The only things I’ve had to do with it are buy a new set of tires, new brakes a couple of times, and a new battery a couple of times, plus change the oil. The marketing that sold me was that I could depend on it. It’s also good for bringing home stuff that would in no way fit in the trunk of a car.
My wife drives a Hyundai. We bought that new, too. What was the marketing that sold us that? Once again, reliability. They warranty them for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Several years ago we got a flyer in the mail from a local car dealer listing the most reliable vehicles as judged by JD Power and Associates. Right at the top of the list was Hyundai. We weren’t in the market for a new car then, but we put that list on our refrigerator and left it there several years. So every time we thought about a new car, what came to mind? My wife also asked people at her work who drove Hyundais how they liked them. The testimonials were 100 percent positive. What was the benefit to buying those vehicles? We weren’t inconvenienced by having to take them to the repair shops and we could depend on them to start when we turned the key, go when we pressed the gas pedal, stop when we hit the brakes, and get us where we wanted to go.
How about brushing your teeth? Why did you buy that particular brand of toothpaste? I think we use Colgate at our house. I can’t be sure without going into the bathroom and looking, but I think the tube is red and white, Colgate’s colors. We always buy that toothpaste. I believe my wife originally bought it because of the cap. It flips up so requires no unscrewing and eliminates forgetting to put the cap back on. Somewhere in the past undoubtedly Colgate had an ad or marketing that promoted their patented cap. I do remember the colors and design of Colgate, though. That has to do with branding. We will discuss how you can brand yourself and your rental properties in the next chapter.
The toothpaste commercials never enter my consciousness. My point here is that we can’t know the factor, feature or benefit that will prompt someone to buy. Fathers, reliability, no commercials, or caps, we can’t predict what the selling point will be that tips the scales in favor of a product or service. But it will be something, and maybe something we least expect.
Why People Buy
Geoff Ayling in his book Rapid Response Advertising (available from Amazon, but not as an e-book) provides wannabe guerrilla marketers with a full fifty reasons why people buy. There are really far more than fifty, but I have a feeling that these fifty will get your creative juices flowing.
1. To make more money – even though it can’t buy happiness
2. To become more comfortable, even a bit more
3. To attract praise – because almost everybody loves it
4. To increase enjoyment – of life, of business, of virtually anything
5. To possess things of beauty – because they nourish the soul
6. To avoid criticism – which nobody wants
7. To make their work easier – a constant need to many people
8. To speed up their work – because people know that time is precious
9. To keep up with the Joneses – there are Joneses in everybody’s lives
10. To feel opulent – a rare, but valid reason to make a purchase
11. To look younger – due to the reverence placed upon youthfulness
12. To become more efficient – because efficiency saves time
13. To buy friendship – I didn’t know it’s for sale, but it often is
14. To avoid effort – because nobody loves to work too hard
15. To escape or avoid pain – which is an easy path to making a sale
16. To protect their possessions – because they worked hard to get them
17. To be in style – because few people enjoy being out of style
18. To avoid trouble – because trouble is never a joy
19. To access opportunities – because they open the doors to good things
20. To express love – one of the noblest reasons to make any purchase
21. To be entertained – because entertainment is usually fun
22. To be organized – because order makes lives simpler
23. To feel safe – because security is a basic human need
24. To conserve energy – their own or their planet’s sources of energy
25. To be accepted – because that means security as well as love
26. To save time ?? because they know time is more valuable than money
27. To become more fit and healthy ?? seems to me that’s an easy sale
28. To attract the opposite sex – never undermine the power of love
29. To protect their family – tapping into another basic human need
30. To emulate others – because the world is teeming with role models
31. To protect their reputation – because they worked hard to build it
32. To feel superior – which is why status symbols are sought after
33. To be trendy – because they know their friends will notice
34. To be excited – because people need excitement in a humdrum life
35. To communicate better ?? because they want to be understood
36. To preserve the environment – giving rise to cause?related marketing
37. To satisfy an impulse – a basic reason behind a multitude of purchases
38. To save money – the most important reason to 14% of the population
39. To be cleaner – because unclean often goes with unhealthy and unloved
40. To be popular – because inclusion beats exclusion every time
41. To gratify curiosity ?? it killed the cat but motivates the sale
42. To satisfy their appetite – because hunger is not a good thing
43. To be individual – because all of us are, and some of us need assurance
44. To escape stress – need I explain?
45. To gain convenience – because simplicity makes life easier
46. To be informed – because it’s no joy to be perceived as ignorant
47. To give to others – another way you can nourish your soul
48. To feel younger – because that equates with vitality and energy
49. To pursue a hobby – because all work and no play etc. etc. etc.
50. To leave a legacy – because that’s a way to live forever (Used with permission)
But two reasons override all others, fear of loss and hope of gain, with fear of loss by far the most “persuasive” reason. People fear losing one of the buying reasons above. We will discuss that in much more detail in Chapter Six when we work on advertising and writing headlines.
Here’s where it starts
If you have not read the book Guerrilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson, I encourage you to get your hands on it. It is written for more than just the small business person. In it are tips and ideas that every landlord can use to make his or her marketing not only work but stand head and shoulders above that of almost every other landlord.
The life of every business is fed, either fattened, starved, or just kept creaking and groaning along, by the marketing it does. You are in the rental property business, or you wouldn’t be reading this. And if you think you’re not in business as a rental property owner and manager, stop reading right now, put for sale signs up in front of your rental properties, all of them, and sell them. Get rid of them. If you don’t, you will be out of the business you don’t believe you’re in within a couple of years. It will drain every penny you have through bad tenants, maintenance disasters, and indifferent management. You will become a part of the “get-rich-quick” landlords who end up wondering whose stupid idea it was to buy rental property in the first place because they not only did they not get rich, their investments ate them alive.
Rental property ownership and management is a business that requires attention, a lot of attention. It is a hands-on business, and by no means a passive income business as some real estate investing “gurus” might claim. Even if you hire a management company to tend to your property, you need to manage the management company. Trust me. In Chapter 7 I tell a story about how a management company can mess up getting a property rented. Part of that management is attention to marketing. In this book, we discuss how to get good tenants to want to rent from you; we don’t discuss how to select and ensure good tenants because that’s another topic entirely and the subject of another book I wrote, Profitable Tenant Selection. Even so, how you market can subconsciously tell bad tenants to not even think about calling you, not to even think about looking at your property, to not even think about filling out a rental application.
We also examine how careful and conscientious maintenance enhances the marketability of your properties and their appeal to good tenants; we don’t discuss how to maintain the value of your properties; again that’s another topic entirely. But how your property looks tells good tenants either that you are someone they will want to rent from or someone they want to avoid. We examine how to see marketing potential in a property, potential that will make marketing more productive. We don’t discuss how to invest wisely. Look on Amazon and you will find hundreds of books on that subject. But if your first attention is to marketing, you will know which properties will rent easily.
Marketing starts with the packaging of yourself and your properties. In the next chapter, we discuss how people like to buy from people they like and how to look at your properties as products to be sold, not much different from a can of soup on the grocery shelf, just bigger and more expensive. Rental properties are products, products that people “buy” when they rent them. And they buy them for specific reasons where enticing packaging helps in their decisions. Believe it or not, it works both ways. Good tenants rent well-maintained properties and bad tenants expect to rent poorly maintained ones.
Of course, advertising is part of marketing, but the classified ads you call marketing are a minuscule part of it and, unfortunately, often done poorly, ineffectively, or in a way that actually drives off prospective tenants.
The most effective marketing you can do is marketing on the telephone or face to face. We will study how to answer the telephone, how to hold rental open houses, how to show property, and how to ask prospects to fill out a rental application. That’s all part of marketing, the most powerful part, the part that determines if you get the property rented. And if the prospect is on the phone or in front of you because of word of mouth, because you were recommended by a friend or relative, you’re halfway there.
But there’s one more thing, a caveat that terrifies landlords, and rightfully so, into being afraid to do any “creative” marketing—Fair Housing. They may be afraid to even tell anyone they have a vacancy because they believe they have to rent to the first warm body who shows up, money in hand, wanting to rent. They cower in dread that they will say the “wrong” thing and end up on the receiving end of a Fair Housing complaint. Those fears are justified. Anymore, people are programmed to be insulted, to assume the worst, to take things the wrong way when nothing at all was meant by it, to be “victims.” Plus, there are those who are looking to make a quick buck by claiming discrimination and getting a payoff from the “offending” rental property owner. But in the chapter on marketing and Fair Housing, we will look at how you can keep from having a complaint filed against you because your marketing will be open, above board, and welcoming to every applicant who is qualified. Good tenants come in all different races, colors, religions, national origins, handicaps and families. Their being members of a “protected class” has nothing whatsoever to do with their quality as tenants.
Be conscious of your rental property marketing at all times. There’s no telling what will bring your next outstanding tenant to your available property, eager to rent from you.
The most important job a landlord has is getting good tenants into his or her rental properties. Good tenants pay the rent, take care of and take pride in their homes, pay your mortgage and taxes, and increase the value of your investments. Good tenants appreciate well-maintained properties and landlords who are careful in their businesses and have their businesses organized effectively.
Get it rented.
Copyright 2016, Cain Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author except for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews. For more information, address Property News Service, PO Box 68761, Oro Valley, Arizona 85737.