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10 things overlooked: when connecting with college students.

1. Understand Your Audience. Who are they? Build out comprehensive audience personas for each of your target audiences. Break them down as much as you can, so instead of simply targeting college students, divide your messages so they appeal to incoming freshman, transfer students, international students, parents, sophomores, juniors, seniors, etc.

2. Understand the Competition. Study them to identify their strengths and weaknesses so you can then stand out from your competitors. Offer unique features, amenities and social events that speak to their wants and needs.

3. Learn From Your Staff. What questions are they asked most often by students? What rumors do they hear? What marketing collateral do they receive from other communities? The answers can help improve your relations with your residents and their friends.

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4. Use Non-Traditional Methods. Cool fliers and passing out pens won't cut it anymore. Go online, get outdoors, find valuable partnerships for both you and your residents. Find ways to get in front of students without it sounding like a sale's pitch. Even giving out a $5 gift card to a student who fills out a guest card can make for a memorable moment.

5. Create a Wow Factor. Is it virtual reality? Is it chatbots? There are plenty to choose from, but if you're introducing something new, fully train staff on potential pros and cons so that they can provide detailed feedback and improvements based on customer interactions.

6. Build Relationships and Trust. Talk to students in ways that they want to be talked to (which you'll know because you did your audience personas). Remember that their happiness and trust means higher lead generations and leases procured.

7. Rapid Responses. Set goals for how quickly you want resident issues resolved by your staff on any outlet for residents and potential residents. If you are on Facebook, what should your response timeframe be? Industry best practice is responding or acknowledging the complaint or issue within 20 minutes, regardless of platform.

8. Remarket/Retarget. When people visit your site, they often leave before taking action. Retarget those lost audience members with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or Pinterest retargeting. Remarket with AdWords display units.

9. Check Reviews Everywhere. Make sure you're not leaving a bad taste in anyone's mouth by not responding to or trying to improve upon the reviews your community receives. If you are not receiving reviews, set up an email campaign to request residents to fill out reviews on your google my business page, Facebook, Yelp! and anywhere else you're listed.

10. Tap Into UGC. Create an experience your residents won't want to pass up, such as a party, concert or charity event, and then connect with them in a way that inspires them to create user-generated content (UGC) such as photos or commentary.

Cris Haest Director of Digital Marketing Servitas Irving, Texas

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Title Annotation:10 THINGS
Author:Haest, Cris
Publication:Units
Date:Jan 1, 2017
Words:473
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