How to Create Ten Thousand Engagements

How do I get more traffic?

Have you ever received that call from one of your site managers or regional managers? “XYZ property has a vacancy; we need more traffic!” I get at least one of those a week. The first question I respond with is, what is the last awesome thing you did for your residents? Advertising and marketing are changing. I believe advertising still serves a purpose of creating awareness, but when it comes to convincing and converting, the power is in the hands of our current customers. So how, beyond the resident referral bribe, do we turn our citizens into property advocates?

One of my favorite tactics is Surprise and Delight.

It’s not new. It’s now just better documented, and when executed with intention, it’s a vehicle for turning one customer’s great experience into the experience of hundreds.

Let’s be honest, most of our clients do not expect their apartment community to be going the extra mile for them. But now, more than ever before, we have so much information about our customer’s needs and wants. If we take that information and deliver a timely exceptional experience, just that little something extra, we can improve those expectations.

There are resident loyalty programs out there, and they’re great, but if your residents have to remember one more username, account number or password, or carry one more card, then that is too much effort. And the holiday parties I see communities put on are fantastic, but how many residents miss it because they already have 15 other obligations for that night?

“Rather than doing a hundred really big projects, today’s marketers need to do tens of thousands of tiny actions each year to be successful. It’s not about the campaign, it’s about engagement,” David Meerman Scott, a marketing expert, recently noted in a post on his personal blog.

Don’t stop reading! I’m not suggesting you do 10,000 events a year. I am suggesting there are little gestures that go a very long way. Like, maybe at the beginning of the month, you send everyone who has a birthday the option to rent the clubhouse for half off. Giving them something when they would actually use it accomplishes a couple of things. First, it shows you were thinking of them. Second, it reminds them that you do indeed have a rentable space, something they may have forgotten. Third, you provide something useful at the exact moment in time that matters to the resident. Now, are they going to post on social about it, probably not? But it’s the first in a series of small gestures that will begin to build that trust and like factor.

Why Surprise and Delight Marketing Works

Reason #1 Consumers are thrill seekers

As much as people find routines comforting, watch what happens during an unexpected little moment. People pull out their phones to capture the moment. Their faces light up. They smile at complete strangers. When people experience a positive moment that comes out of nowhere, the experience is likely to be one they not only will remember but that they will share. {Hooray for user generated content!}

Reason #2 We are all attention hungry

Be it for Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook, most of us are on the lookout for the next great photo op

If you learn to play on high emotions and create memories through unanticipated happiness, you will be sure to generate increased loyalty AKA retention. When businesses decide to cut through the predictability of everyday life and offer unique experiences, they cut through the logic and into the heart of the customer.

Reason #3 Surprise can create more passionate relationships

One experiment conducted by Arthur Aron among middle-aged married couples showed that when people enjoy activities they see as ‘exciting’ or ‘out of the ordinary,’ people develop stronger bonds with one another. That’s why dating sites recommend experience centric dates vs. dinner or coffee. In the same sense, apartment communities need to work to keep the spark alive with their residents by focusing on customer retention through exciting activities. It also is a fantastic opportunity to create bonds amongst your residents and their neighbors.

Reason #4 We Love to share the positive

If you scroll through your news feed right now, I guarantee half of your friends are threatening to boycott social media because of the current climate of negativity. All the negativity in the world creates a strong desire to share the good news. Surprise marketing tactics play into this online culture dynamic. Remember Psy’s “Gangnam Style”? The video didn’t go viral because the song was amazing. It got one billion views because its quirky visuals and dance made everyone smile. If you find a way to inject humor and kindness into your communication or activities, you will create buzz.

It can be expensive and extravagant like what Tropicana pulled off:

Or this  KLM airline Surprise

BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE-Because even when something small but good happens we instinctively want to share it.
Spike Jones, a communications professional, wrote in an article for that “it’s actually the smallest things that are often the most valuable to customers.” Jones pointed out that “businesses could do something as simple as calling a customer to thank them for their business or giving them a link to a website where they can pick out a free product.”

Reason # 5 Actions Speak Louder than Words

Everyone by now is aware that overall consumer trust in brands is falling. Study after study shows that consumers will trust reviews from complete strangers over the advertisement of a company. By actually doing something to brighten their day, make their life easier, or just something good; you give the consumer an opportunity to believe in your brand. We all want to believe the businesses we choose to give our money to are good and care about us.

So if we know it’s a bunch of small actions, what could those be?
Your imagination is the limit:

It doesn’t have to be big to be impactful. Remember, ditch the ten big campaigns and go for the 10,000 small engagements.

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