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A new student housing development might have the perfect curb appeal, hottest amenities, trendiest decor, and more yet still have trouble reaching its lease-up goals. Some common requests coming from Gen Z that might in part underlie the problem are that these renters want to touch, feel, and experience their future home, as well as live at the same spot where their friends reside.

While meeting these desires isn’t always possible, developers and property managers can reach students more effectively by implementing a robust branding and marketing strategy for their property. Memorable brand creation, digital targeting, a good grassroots campaign, and a strong, enthusiastic closing strategy will get students flocking to your new community.

Brand Creation
Creating a market-specific brand with an impact should be the first step when introducing a new community to market. This is your chance to immerse students in what your community offers, generate buzz, and position your community’s reputation as the place to live.

From the name and logo to all the signage and digital creative, your community’s brand should be compelling and consistent, to grab students’ attention and stay top of mind. You want your brand to set the standard for what students can expect from their living experience. This will drive all of your key messages, content strategy, and promotional-campaign design moving forward throughout lease-up and beyond.

Digital Marketing
The world is moving digital, especially with Gen Z. In fact, they were practically born with a smart phone in their hands and don’t know a world without photo filters and live streaming video. Having a clear digital marketing strategy will allow your new community to target prospective residents based on their location, their interests, local pages they’ve liked, and more.

Social media is where your prospects are: Studies show that 85% of Gen Z learns about new products through social media, and the majority of them are connected online for an incredible 10 hours a day. It almost goes without saying, then, that it’s of the utmost importance for your community to be present where Gen Zers are talking, sharing, and spending most of their time.

Your digital marketing strategy should entail more than just posting the same content on all platforms daily, however. A targeted and custom digital content strategy is crucial, as is using tracking metrics to see exactly which digital tactics are driving the most leads and conversions to leases.

A cohesive digital strategy is one that hand-holds the prospect every step of the way, from the first click to the conversion to a form-fill or virtual lease. It should guide students or parents to a social media ad related to a specific special, for example, where they will then be driven to a landing page on your website with more information to convert them on that special specifically. If they click through to the landing page and don’t convert to a lead right away, you can still have your ads follow them around on the Internet to influence their purchase. Tracking these actions is very important to see how successful the ad is and to identify any improvements that need to be made.

Through social media, your community can promote current specials, update followers on the progress of construction, showcase the property’s perks, and more. Using a variety of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest, and others, you can reach a larger audience. Social media is also an excellent way to implement gamification and animation. Utilizing visuals, Facebook Live video, Instagram Story, and the like, you can grab someone’s immediate attention and keep them following along.

Lastly, one of the hottest tools in digital marketing currently is virtual reality (VR). VR offers a serious advantage for housing communities due to how it allows students and parents to experience the community from the comfort of their home or see what the fully finished community will look like from your leasing office. VR enables communities to establish a personality, provide convenience, and offer exceptional customer service to future residents.

Grassroots Marketing
Grassroots campaigns are a fundamental aspect of marketing for many types of businesses. With student housing communities, the tactic is great for getting involved with the local community and campus, to reach already established audiences and get in front of students through cross promotion and outreach. Although not all campuses allow student housing communities to promote themselves on campus, partnering with local businesses can be just as powerful.

Sponsoring events within the community is another effective way to reach potential residents. At these events, be sure to bring unique promotional items, such as portable chargers, fanny packs, tank tops, and so on, to pique your demographics’ interest and keep your development top of mind when they’re ready to sign. One of the most important tools you can use at such gatherings is promo codes or tracking phone numbers, which enable you to track your community’s success. In addition, you can bring tablets to the events to collect contact information from leads on the spot.

Closing and Follow-Up
Though driving leads and traffic for your new student housing community is critical, it’s just the first leg of the race. Having an equally impressive follow-up process, tour, and closing strategy to lock in the deal is the last, but definitely not least, step to leasing up your new property. Referrals from students who’ve already signed up and can share the news with their fellow classmates by leaving reviews or responding to promotional incentives can also be effective. Most importantly, having a passionate and driven team that’s dedicated to tackling the marketing strategy from start to finish will lead to a successful lease-up.

Reaching the goal of full lease-up within your community’s first year requires all hands on deck.