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Remember to Think Like a Customer!

While I was preparing to teach an advertising and marketing class a few weeks ago, I was reminded of my first experience managing a multifamily advertising campaign. Although I had worked in the retail industry prior to becoming an apartment manager, I had no training or experience creating or managing advertising. We were running a display ad – the same display ad – in the newspaper every day (please remember – I started in the 70’s). After a couple of weeks of looking at the same ad, I told the assistant manager I was tired of seeing it and would like it replaced with a new one.

“Are you planning to rent an apartment?” she asked. “No”, I replied, “Of course not”. Then she said “Well, stop looking at it – it’s meant for all the people out there who ARE planning to move and have not seen it yet.”

Upon further investigation, I discovered the ad was making the phone ring off the hook, and a majority of the callers were qualified. I stopped complaining about the ad.

When PayLease announced their new mobile site, my first reaction was, “Wow – that’s great!” and my second reaction was, “Wait a minute – who pays their rent by phone?” I pay most everything with a debit or credit card; online, I use PayPal. If I was living in an apartment, I would just add the rent to my monthly auto pays with my bank. Who uses their phone to pay anything . . . ?

Well, OK, when I go to Starbucks I do but that’s it! And then I remembered two more things: First of all, I was looking at all of this from MY point of view: a baby boomer who, while technologically savvy, is still a digital immigrant, not a digital native.

Secondly, I remembered a statistic that PayLease included in the 2014 Market Survey about International Data Corporation’s prediction that in 2015, the internet will be accessed more often through mobile devices than through PCs. It went on to say that “From a multifamily perspective, progressive firms can expect to see as much as 40% of their website traffic to come from mobile devices by the end of 2015.”

And just last week, I got the news that PayLease and Ocius will be working together closely to further simplify and consolidate the collection of rent and utility billings so that the resident can pay their monthly housing expenses in one bill. Will some folks pay by phone? Absolutely! Who knows, maybe one day I can pay with my watch . . .

The lesson: the next time you’re asked to evaluate the business case for something, make certain you view it through the eyes of your customer – the profile for the asset you’re managing – will it serve them? Try it – it works!

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