AIM Conference Recap - Marketing Thoughts
Now that it’s been a couple of weeks since the Apartment Innovation and Marketing (AIM) conference, I’ve been reflecting a bit on everything I heard and saw in Huntington Beach. Kudos to Steve Lefkovits and Dennis Cogbill for once again putting together a great lineup and what I think was a record attendance north of 900 people!
The conference certainly covered the topics that are top of mind for industry marketers. Artificial intelligence and the future of the leasing agent were featured in several sessions. One particularly good session showcased a real-world example of how one company has centralized leasing—their claim to have moved from the old standard of one front-office employee for every 100 homes to one for every 500 homes certainly caught my attention. And ubiquitous (and I believe still premature) claims of the death of the internet listing service (ILS) once again showed up.
Despite all these contemporary (and important) subjects, my attention post-conference keeps returning to a topic that has been discussed openly and “under the surface” for my entire 20+ years in marketing and multifamily operations—whether marketers have, and how they can get, a seat at the C-suite table.
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The unfortunate truth is that many marketing leaders do not have a seat at that table. Throughout my career, I’ve coached many colleagues looking to develop their careers on what I think is the best way to be noticed and promoted. Teach your boss something she or he doesn’t know about the business, and you’re indispensable. Simply execute tasks based on what your boss already knows, and you might be important, but you’ll never be indispensable. And seats at the C-suite table are usually reserved only for those who are indispensable.
One of the best ways (maybe the only way) to teach your bosses something they don’t know is to understand and bring data to show them what’s really happening. A teaching point of view without data is simply an opinion, and it’s rare (never?) that a leader will change their business beliefs because of a subordinate’s opinion. However, data to prove a point of view can often change a leader’s mind! And if compelling data won’t change a boss’ mind, it might be time to “fire the boss”. 😊
That’s one of the reasons, as part of our mission to change how the industry uses data, we have focused on a key set of marketing dashboards. Whether you use REBA, use a competing BI product or build your own BI platform, here are some key data you should be able to access in seconds, not minutes or worse hours (or never):
Review your actual conversion ratios and do “what if” analyses on how your occupancy would fare with different conversion ratios. Get a handle on how many leads you’ll need to hit a particular operational target taking known and forecasted move-ins and move-outs into account.
Start your workday with a clear understanding of which communities and regions need the most help. Set your own thresholds on key indicators to make it obvious where your attention will pay off the most.
It’s hard to manage marketing spend without a clear understanding of costs per lease and cost per lead (unfortunately both with the same acronym). The days of spending tens of minutes to gather the necessary information should be gone as you see your CPLs at the click of a button.
Spend by Channel
Same for spending by channel. This data should be right at your fingertips!
If you have access to the above data and a modicum of initiative and tenacity, you are guaranteed to teach your bosses something about the business they don’t know—and earn a seat at the table!