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4 Steps to Successful Grassroots Marketing

Industry ,

By Lori Hammond

Even in this digital world, grassroots marketing to local businesses can mean a 10- or 20-percent increase in qualified visits. Find out how to partner with local organizations without being a pest.

In today’s digital world, it is easy to forget the value in old-fashioned outreach marketing to local businesses. Effective outreach marketing eventually adds a 10- or 20-percent increase in your overall, and probably qualified, visits. That, in turn, supplements the traffic from other advertising sources.

But the key to all of this is effective outreach marketing. 

The key to effective outreach marketing is in the relationships created between the local businesses and the onsite team. Consistency is the key.  Regular visits from the onsite team, whether monthly or at least quarterly, are critical to generating a partnership that will bring referrals to your property. If you wait until you are faced with an occupancy challenge, an overflow of vacant apartments or a flood of move out notices that were not anticipated, to begin outreach marketing, you are going to be in trouble.

Here are four keys to implementing outreach marketing before it is too late.

Creating Consistency

Including outreach marketing on the onsite team’s schedule will increase the likelihood that it will be done and not pushed off to the perpetual “To Do” list, which never seems to be completed.  In addition to scheduling time for marketing visits, include preparation time for reviewing or printing flyers and brochures to eliminate last-minute delays.

Marketing Again?

Consistency is one thing. Being a nuisance is another. How do onsite teams prevent irritation that could be caused by possibly visiting a local business too often? One good strategy is to use a theme or schedule for each week. This schedule not only prevents potential irritation, but also can help you plan the production of your print materials.

Here is what a schedule could look like:

  • Week One: Visits to local businesses, hardware, hair salons, medical care centers and physicians.
  • Week Two:  Restaurants, insurance providers and realtors.
  • Week Three: Community service agencies, churches and schools.
  • Week Four: Veterinarians, pet supply, local storage providers and fitness centers.

The list can be defined to better serve the demographic profile of your community.  Working with an overall schedule eliminates the paralyzing fear of who should I contact this week?

Flyers, Brochures and Good Things to Eat.

Every marketing visit does not require the distribution of Godiva chocolates or large gift baskets.  If you take a small jar of treats on the initial visit, then the monthly calls can easily be an opportunity for a refill of candy or puppy snacks.

During the first visit to a business, asking if you can leave print material allows you to obtain a commitment for the distribution of your flyers.  Will it be on a bulletin board?  Would it be helpful to provide a plastic holder for your information?

Calendars with fun little-known firsts can be a great source for marketing themes. For instance, you can plan your visits and gifts around the day tootsie rolls were discovered, national flip flop day, popcorn day, lemonade day and even National Tequila Day (remember the gummy worms).

Also consider how your information is presented on print material. Using paper with preprinted borders can create a memorable attractive advertising piece, even with standard black printing.  

It’s a Partnership

Asking each and every business how you can help them changes the dynamic of the visit. Make it about them and not you.

Use a script like this: “I’m the manager of ABC Community. We like to provide information about local businesses for our residents, who might be new to the area.”

In return for sharing their information in newsletter or move in package, you can create a relationship where the business could post your information and, even more importantly, be a likely source of future referrals.

So, what’s left for you to do? Start planning your weekly calendar by deciding what day you are going to schedule marketing visits and figuring out how you will assemble your materials for these visits?

Lori Hammond is the author of Property Management Minutes, which is a blog focused on the multifamily industry. It provides her an opportunity to share ideas with an industry that she says, “has given me so much.” Her experiences with affordable and conventional portfolios and mentoring by several industry leaders provides the foundation for blog content.