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AIMInsider2Matrix Residential Director of Marketing Dana Pate talks hyper-local branding, always-on marketing, and awesome fried chicken in Volume 2 of the AIM Insider Article series. Download a copy for an inside look on the shrinking divide between student and conventional renter demographics and the community-level approach to branding and rebranding 5,000 units worth of acquisitions and new development.

Have a great idea for a future AIM Insider article? Know an incredible apartment marketer deserving of a no-holds-barred Q&A interview? Drop us a line — we’ll be featuring articles every other week or so between now and the 2015 AIM Conference, with future articles profiling confirmed AIM speakers and also looking deeper into our planned session topics.

Have your own cool marketing trend, idea, opportunity or challenge you’d like to air out? Get involved with the AIM Insider conversation in our LinkedIn Group and on our Facebook page, and of course in person at the 2015 AIM Conference, May 4-6 in Huntington Beach, Calif. We hope to see you there.

 

 

AIM 2015 Keynote Speaker Christian Rudder is the co-founder of OKCupid and the bestselling author of Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No one's Looking. Photo credit: Victor G. Jeffreys II

AIM 2015 Keynote Speaker Christian Rudder is the co-founder of OKCupid and the bestselling author of Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One’s Looking. Photo credit: Victor G. Jeffreys II

You must have haters to be hot.

If you catch yourself surfing the net and updating your online dating profiles this week while all of our bosses are at the NMHC conference, keep in mind that you’re participating in—and contributing to—some of the most expansive research and data collection on human behavior in the history of human behavior.

Can search history tell us what kinds of jokes you like? Whether or not you’re married? What your I.Q. is? How you judge others? Whether people bathe more in Vermont or New Jersey? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes says Christian Rudder, the AIM 2015 keynote speaker and bestselling author of Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One’s Looking.

Rudder’s insights come from one of the richest data sets in the world, accumulated from the dating site he co-founded, OkCupid, as well as Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and the like. In his AIM keynote address, Rudder will investigate how personal, online data shows us the real human behavior behind the numbers: a revolutionary look at who we truly are.

“Data is real life,” Rudder says. “Online you have friends, lovers, enemies, and intense moments of truth without a thought for who’s watching, because ostensibly no one is—except, of course, the computers recording it all. To the extent that friendship, anger, sex, love, and whatever else happen online, we can investigate them.”

Rudder’s research took place on OKCupid’s blog, OKTrends, which was not only read by millions of people, but also changed the way companies approach data as a media-relations strategy. His research and findings have been featured repeatedly in The New York Times, Harper’s, The Atlantic, and were the subject of a New Yorker feature.

If you’ve ever thought about where all of your personalized data really goes, or how all of your online likes and dislikes not only describe your personality, but provide a predictive road map of your behavior, and, of course, what all of this means to the future of understanding (and marketing to) online human behavior, you won’t want to miss what’s sure to be the best AIM keynote presentation yet.

But don’t take it from us. Aziz Ansari probably sums it up best. “In the first few pages of Dataclysm, Christian Rudder uses massive amounts of actual behavioral data to prove what I always believed in my heart: Belle and Sebastian is the whitest band ever. It only gets better from there.”

We hope you’ll register for AIM today and join us for Rudder’s audacious, irreverent look into the next revolution in human behavioral data collection and research and the evolution and posturing of our online digital personas.

Until then, stay hot, and don’t be a hater (just collect a few).

TheProducers-AIM15-E01-FinalYeah, the comics come out on Sunday, but for this one we just couldn’t wait.

Without further ado, the 2015 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference is psyched to debut The Producers, an original AIM multifamily comic strip from illustrator Xander Davis.

Publishing weekly each Sunday on the AIM website (OK, except for today), The Producers follows three multifamily marketers — Ginny, Kat and Ari — as they search for big time marketing opportunities while dealing with savvy vendors & ROI demands from the Quant Bullies, all in a universe populated with ratings and reviews challenges, SEO pitfalls, social media mindgames, mobile marketing mayhem and more.

Each weekly comic strip (super hi-res versions are available on aimconf.com) will also point towards exclusive AIM content, sessions, speakers, articles, discounts and downloads (i.e. Easter Eggs, people). With an AIM 2015 conference theme centered around storytelling and DIY digital media production, we couldn’t think of a better way to start talking about all of the coolness that will be AIM 2015.

Stay tuned to via the AIM website blog or our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages and platforms for the latest episodes of The Producers, and if you haven’t registered for AIM yet like Ari, you’ve got 2 days left to take advantage of the early bird discount.

We hope you enjoy The Producers as much as we’ve enjoyed creating it. Until next week, same AIM time, same AIM channel.

18568_AIM_180x180_FacebookSquareAcacia Capital senior vice president George Dobbel just called the AIM offices.

A long-time AIM conference supporter and attendee, George (like all of us) is incredibly busy in this sizzling hot multifamily real estate cycle, managing acquisitions, leasing, operations and marketing for a 14,000 unit portfolio of West Coast apartment assets. With everything going on, George said last week’s deadline for early bird pricing for AIM 2015 whizzed right by him.

“AIM is a must-attend conference for Acacia,” George said. “Every year we make sure to take advantage of the discount pricing because this is the mandatory multifamily marketing event of the year. But with tons of acquisitions and lease-ups going on, we just missed last week’s cut-off.”

We hear you, George. You’re not alone, either, as this week saw a flurry of calls and emails about AIM pricing from marketing teams bringing two, three, or even four or more people to this year’s conference. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that an extension on our early bird discount pricing was in order.

So, in honor of George Dobbel, AIM is extending discount pricing until midnight, January 17. Be like George and register early to take advantage of one of the best opportunities this year to refresh, recharge and reinvent your multifamily marketing chops. We hope to see you at Huntington Beach, May 4-6 at the Hyatt Regency – just be sure to register by Saturday night to take advantage of the discount.

And don’t thank us. Thank George.

A fully colored line-up of characters in The Producers, an original AIM 2015 Comic Strip from illustrator Xander Davis.

A fully colored line-up of characters in The Producers, an original AIM 2015 Comic Strip from illustrator Xander Davis.

If you’re over 50, apartment marketing is something you buy from vendors. If you’re under 30, marketing is media you create so you can leverage and exploit the distribution networks of others to get eyeballs.

A decade ago, it was enough to be an expert ad buyer. But no more. Companies like Alliance Residential, Bozzuto Group, and, WC Smith are vertically integrated content shops producing consistently great media – from the written word to imagery, videos or new forms of social and mobile multimedia (see the slideshow below for examples).

The best multifamily marketers are great storytellers, weaving and sharing the narrative of people, product and place at every opportunity. The 2015 multifamily marketing executive is like a movie producer – gathering the resources to tell great stories, making sure the stories get distributed, and making sure the profits from those stories return to the company like any good investment.

Armed with media, marketers can use stories to engage in any channel where renters or referrers are to be found: ILSs, Instagram, Twitter, Craigslist, YouTube, with local bloggers, in the trades and industry publications or on their own web sites and mobile apps. Stories can be used over and over again. They can be adapted and customized for time of year. They can be collated into brochures and books and e-publications. Stories sell. (And so do photos of babies and dogs, but that’s a different blog post.)

In the digital age, consumers get value cues from the professionalism, beauty and targeting of the stories they read about products and services. High-definition photos are easier to understand and thus equate to a better value. A funny or touching story creates empathy and a desire to linger. People still buy from people and identify with others who are engaged in solving the problems they face. The best multifamily marketing teams have recognized a way to convey their humanity most effectively by creating the media that represents their true and authentic lifestyle.

The theme for this year’s conference – The Producers – recognizes this new normal for the in-house producers of marketing across the apartment industry. We’ll celebrate best practices in creating compelling stories, and story elements. You’ll learn how to sharpen your writing, script and shoot a video, take great photos (and aerial photos too) and create new multimedia. You’ll improve how you craft location and amenities into stories prospects identify with. And we’ll take a fresh look at which content goes into which distribution channel for maximum exposure.

To paraphrase last year’s keynote speaker, our industry’s humanity lies in our fundamental stories about homes, security, status, lifestyles and community. Every community is a brand, and every resident interaction is a potential story that can reach the heart of someone who wants to be a member of that tribe. We hope you’ll join us at AIM for an exploration of what could be possible.

AIM attendee, super-charged video awards judge, and Senior Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer of Princeton Properties Sarah Greenough.

AIM attendee, super-charged video awards judge, and Senior Vice President / Chief Marketing Officer of Princeton Properties Sarah Greenough.

We’re back! The 2015 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference is pleased to announce our slate of programming for the 10th annual AIM Conference May 4-6 at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. From SEO audits to workshops in digital copywriting, imagery and video, presentations on the wired apartment, a dive into retargeting and alternative advertising opportunities and yes the return of the AIM video awards, we’re looking forward to the best AIM Conference yet. By popular demand, we’ve also relaunched our annual call for speakers. Check out all of the planned programming and download a speaker submission form on the AIM website. We’ll announce all confirmed speakers and sessions by January 30, 2015. Don’t forget to register early and save on discounted attendance to AIM 2015!

Panda and cloaking: Search Engine Land founder and chief editor Danny Sullivan keynotes AIM 2014.

Panda and cloaking: Search Engine Land founder and chief editor Danny Sullivan keynotes AIM 2014.

Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Search Engine Land, didn’t waste any time answering the conspiracy question posed in the conference guide: “Google is taking over everything. This will be a very short talk.”

Fortunately for the attendees of the keynote session at the Apartment Internet Marketing conference (AIM), Sullivan continued and explained that success with Google isn’t about the tactics, but the Internet marketing strategy.

“Stay focused on the broad strategy,” Sullivan says. “It will guide you toward success in the long run. You understand how people search on Google and you should take advantage of the ways that help you do well on Google.”

Being successful, however, is becoming more difficult by the day, as Google regularly changes its guidelines, making it difficult to keep up for brands. Sullivan pointed to the introduction of Penguin, a Google algorithm update aimed at decreasing search engine rankings of websites that violated Google’s Webmaster guidelines, as a prime example of the complexity.

“Every day, I think I have seen it all,” Sullivan says. “Google had to ban itself for violating it’s own rules.”

Google banned some of its own pages in 2005 for cloaking, a search engine optimization technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different than the content presented to users. If Google can make mistakes that lead to being banned, apartment owner-operators can easily find themselves in the same position.

At least cloaking is in an apartment company’s control. What isn’t is Google’s increasing emphasis on advertising, which is pushing organic search results further down the page.

“A few years ago when you searched for the name of a hotel on Google, the number one thing would have been … the hotel,” Sullivan says. “Your conspiracy. That’s it. It’s just reality. Google is showing more ads.”

That means apartment owner-operators have to pay for a lot more with Google to get prime placements in search results. And that’s the conspiracy of Google – a brand once known as the champion of free information.

Download the Danny Sullivan AIM 2014 keynote presentation here.

 

Melanie Flaherty of Carmel Partners presents on building a Brand Book at AIM 2014.

Melanie Flaherty of Carmel Partners presents on building a Brand Book at AIM 2014.

The logo doesn’t make a brand. The design of marketing collateral doesn’t make a brand. Even the style of the apartment community doesn’t make a brand.

Brands are always bigger than most people first think when they hear the word. They’re a combination of all of the above and much more, including the personalities of the associates, the style of customer service and even the appearance of the uniforms. Brands are an experience.

So, it only makes sense that the experience be created in a collaborative environment, involving on-site operators who have to execute the brand, the development team and a little outside help from an agency. That’s exactly what Melanie Flaherty, vice president of marketing, led at Carmel Partners to launch 14 individual brands for communities across the country, which she presented at the Apartment Internet Marketing Conference. But it wasn’t easy to sell in.

“We have such small amount of time with senior execs to discuss branding,” Flaherty says. “If we can frame up how we approach strategy, the process that we’re using and show them that strategy with results and how it plays out in creative execution, it can be an effective way to sell in the creative strategy.”

The collaborative process in which on-site operators were intimately involved in the branding helped frame the branding concepts win the executives over.

To begin the process, Carmel categorized the communities into five different themes: boutique, location, destination, suburban and Gen Y. Boutique communities are smaller, unique communities with an opportunity to be defined by an intriguing style. One example of a boutique community was 325 Lexington in New York City, which reflected an appreciation of culture, art and travel.

The location communities offered excellent location amenities that could be easily incorporated into their branding. The RockVue Apartments, a location community in Broomfield, Colo., was branded for active men and focused on the many outdoor activities available near the community.

Destination communities incorporated the fact that they were in destination places like Iroquois Point in West Oahu, Kapilina. The branding for the Kapilina apartment community creating a sanctuary experienced focused on the backdrop of the beach, family-friendly amenities and open spaces for indoor-outdoor living.

Suburban communities are locked in unremarkable neighborhoods, but offer an opportunity to bring urban style to soccer moms in the burbs. Alder, a community in a California suburb, creates a distinct sense of style with modern patterns and the use of stylish lifestyle photography of interiors that look more like an urban home than the traditional suburban experience.

Gen Y communities were designed with Gen Y expectations in mind, including being technology-friendly, having a unique personality and offering a walkable location. One example was BLVD63 in <insert location>, which features a beach lifestyle throughout all marketing collateral featuring surfboards, skateboards, beach cruisers VW buses and other beach-related iconography.

Within each category, Carmel worked with 11 different marketing agencies to develop individualized brands for each of the 14 communities. The brands that were developed delivered a first-class experience similar to high-end consumer product and service brands from brochure design to community amenity space design.

The cohesive brand strategy was achieved by also working closely with development on new projects that were in the works.

Lauren Curley delivers her Think Like a Technologist presentation at AIM 2014.

Lauren Curley delivers her Think Like a Technologist presentation at AIM 2014.

To be a better marketer, think like a technologist. It’s happened faster than anyone probably anticipated. Marketing and technology have become so intertwined that marketers must not only understand technology, but also transform its use into revenue generating activities.

That’s definitely been the experience for Lauren Curley, marketing director for Landmark Property services, who shared her advice with attendees of the “Think Like a Technologist” session at the Apartment Internet Marketing Conference (AIM).

“We’re the ones driving this change within our organizations because our customers are driving the change,” Curley says. “And we’re responsible for the customer experience.”

To be effective in driving that change marketers have to think like the technology gurus who consider the needs of the user before moving forward with development.

“We need to be the intersection between our communities and our brand and our customers,” Curley Says. “Technologists think about software as a service. In this changing dynamic, we need to think about marketing as a service.”

Thinking about marketing as a service means providing the technology tools that solve the problems apartment residents and customers have that technology can solve.

“Good software is all about trying to solve a problem,” Curley says. “They’re asking themselves, ‘What do my customers want? What do my customers need that they don’t realize they need?’”

It’s the antithesis of QR codes, which have all but disappeared because customers didn’t want to use them. They were something marketers wanted so they could better measure the value of their marketing campaigns.

But determining what marketing technologies actually add value is easier said than done. The key is to collaborate and work with on-site teams to determine what customers are asking for, Curley says.

“The future of marketing is all about partnerships both inside and outside of your organization,” she added. “One of the most successful things you can do as an organization is get your regional team on site.”

Download the Think Like a Technologist presentation here.