Forget all the 'It's About the Conversation" Social Media hype and babble. If you are using Social Media for your Small Business, or any business, or you are contemplating entering the Social Media space for your business, It is About Selling More Stuff, period. There is NO other reason to do it.

The quote by Sergio Zyman sums it up nicely, just replace the word Marketing with Social Media.

"The sole purpose of marketing is to sell more to more people, more often and at higher prices. There is no other reason to do it."
If you are contemplating utilizing Social Media for your business for any other reason Than To Sell More Stuff, consider it is a Hobby, not a viable Business Decision

It seems that many of the "purists" in the Social Media Space may well be slowly coming around to the reality that unless they are selling something, hunger sets in. We all need to buy shoes, so sooner or later a business must profit. Absent selling something there is no profit, absent profit, there is no business, only a hobby.

For us at Urbane Apartments, Social Media Marketing has worked very well. Our year over year numbers are impressive considering the economy and the fact that we operate in SE Michigan, plagued with the highest unemployment in the nation.

Year Over Year Numbers; Sept 2008 verses Sept 2009
Our Web Site Traffic to our three web sites, UrbaneApts.com, UrbaneLobby.com and UrbaneBlog.com increased 108%! Great news right, web traffic soars from the effective use of Social Media by 108%, but who really cares? Did We Rent More Apartments, because if we didn't, the practice of Social Media Marketing is just a hobby.

Our phyisical traffic did increase, in that we did 54% more tours and showings, but the real metirc which is Renting Apartments increased by 69%!

How Did All That Happen
We are learning a lot about how to establish and maintain  The Larger Communty, and that The Directional Flow of Marketing Has Changed.

By Larger Community, we mean, just how many "Members of the Community" do we need on say facebook, our blog, our Ning site, our myspace page, our flickr site, our You Tube site, etc. to keep our apartments full.

By The Directional Flow of Marketing Has Changed we mean, with Social Media, prospects are part of your Larger Community because they choose to be and they can leave at any time, as oppossed to the reverse, which is you shouting marketing messages at them. 

You see, we didn't do any paid advertising at Urbane Apartments in 2009, We only used Social Media Marketing , and yes We Engaged in the Conversation, We Connected with our Residents, We Enhanced the Residents Experience, all of the popular buzz words for Social Media, but we started with the Goal of Renting More Apartments.

October 25, 2009





Eric Brown has (30) years in the Multi-Family Apartment Business having built and developed over 17,000 apartment units, both market rate, luxury and tax credit apartments. Having started Urbane Apartments in 2003 after leaving a lengthy stint as a Senior Vice President at Village Green Companies, a national apartment developer, Eric decided he wanted to create wealth, and set out from Corporate America on his own and created Urbane Apartments in Royal Oak, MI.






Comments(11)

Is your rental income up on a Y/Y sequential basis? What about your net operating income? - I agree it is about making more sales and at a higher price - and in the same breath if you are creating that kind of demand - then it would suffice to say that your ability to grow income should be enhanced as well. Is that fair to say?

Thanks for the post Eric - thoughtful as usual.

M

Mike, Good Morning,
Our Rental Income is down year over year due to suppressed rental rates locally, however, our Net Operating Income, (NOI) is up slightly year over year due to crushed expenses, ie No Paid Advertising, and just tending to the basics of managing our business better.

It should be noted that we did have three Lease Up's in 2009 that created additional rental demand, however, to your point, in 2010, we should only need to rent say, (150) apartments, but have created traffic for (225) rentals, all things staying the same.

Albeit, it is strange economic cycle, it seems that we should see an uptick in rents, based on Supply / Demand, which would increase rental income for 2010. Too, at some point job loss will subside, which will further tighten up occupancy, and further lower expenses.

I like the headline as it is catchy and grabs attention. Suffice to say, your sales are up because of numbers. Sales is all about lead gen. By engaging in the conversation and increasing your flow to your product and services, you sold more. Being engaged only exposes you for what you are. If you suck; that is bad. If you are good....well you know the story. Congrats for being great at what you do FIRST and engaging in these spaces second. It sounds like you have the important pieces down; 1) Lead Generation and 2) Lead Conversion. In these spaces selling more stuff IS all about the conversation.

Social media is about the conversation and building loyalty to your product/service. If you're only looking for a quick sale then no, social media is not for you.

From RentWiki.com's Facebook page
“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Lots of it fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.” Tom Peters, Management Guru.

Develop something unique. Innovate with your own big ideas. Assess what your competitors are doing. Of course, them copying you...How sweet flattery is by Imitation.

Eric, while you wax poetic, at the end of the day, your Urbane Trusted Team Members worked together with your residents and people interested in becoming residents. Problems that arose were addressed by your Trusted diverse Urbane Team discussing problems and solutions - together. Outsiders took notice of what you guys were doing. Word got around. And here we all are talking about the successes you've felt in your unique setting and situations.

Urbane's efforts have been widely publicized. From the outsider looking in, you've devoted your Trusted Team's focus to work on what interests them...your resident's (and future resident's) specific need. The end result for you has been remarkably effective.

While seemingly a haphazard "method" for marketing message distribution, the opposite has actually occurred. Instead of an absent corporate entity shouting down orders dictating the message of the day, your people on the leasing/resident communication trenches firing line have been mobilized in talking about particular problems and coming up with personalized solutions.

Empowering individual Trusted team members in resolving specific problems removes the limits of possible solutions. Empowering Trusted team members to join in conversations with their "clients" is the embodiment of social media . The toughie here is that 'Trusted Team Member" part.

Kudos to you and your Trusted Urbane Team. You guys converse not just with your "clients" to figure out what to do next to be successful; sounds like you actually converse with each other. Holy moly...who would have ever thought of THAT as a marketing plan.

Auto attendant phone messages and uninformed folks who answer the phone calls and email leads that we depend on in this business to communicate with our consumers need to go away. Let's get our people to the "Trusted Team Member" status. Heigh-ho, let's go. We can do that.

@Sean, Thank you for stopping by, and we agree with you, Create Remarkable and folks talk about you. It is about lead generation and lead conversation, as without them there is no business,

@Webkinz and @Debt, thank you for the kind words, We plan on continuing to push the envelope at the Urbane Lab,

@David, We agree with you that Social media is About the Conversation, However Your first goal must and should be to Sell More Stuff, otherwise you can go fishing and relax, as Social Media is just a hobby

@Tamela, Yikes, you nearly drafted a novel here! Thank you for the great comments, I thought I could hide out over here on an SEO Blog site, but you and Mike still found us!

You bring up an interesting point, that I don't think much about, Trusted Team Members, and their Relationship with the Urbane Evangelists. Kind of hard to imagine that folks become Evangelists for an apartment brand, but they have. They have shaped that relationship Absent ANY Rules. (I am not so big on Rules, or following other peoples Rules, just always bugged me)

The bigger question is, How many Influences / Evangelists does it take to lead a Tribe, large enough to Self Rent all your apartments.


Thanks for telling the truth.

Some of the loudest voices shouting this "It's about the conversation!" seem to have more interest in dictating the terms, controlling the frame of interaction. A form of sales in itself I suppose.

@Dave, I agree with you, and I also think they are getting hungry, For way to long Marketers have been talking to Marketers, as opposed to Business Folks talking to Business Folks.

Eric ~ I like the article but I do feel that you are missing a major aspect to social media (SM) and why it can work for building business. I think that looking at SM only from a lead generation standpoint and to use it's potential to line pockets is one sided.

SM should be used to open the door of communication for both business and client\customers. It should be used to generate new ideas, help clients\customers, generate trust, and build brands.

For my dollar and one half...social media should not only be used to generate more sales, interest, consideration, etc...but it should be used as a microphone for customers\clients and a head set for business\brands. My thoughts and nice article. I will return for more.

Alton j.

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