I think it's in this pivotal point right now that technology, for the first time, is really starting to integrate more into the experience side of the multifamily industry.Vice President of Marketing at Northland
[A] seamless transaction process to me seems something that we should continue as an industry to pay heavy focus to, because as younger generations come up into this housing pipeline, they're so used to on-demand and immediate satisfaction that I think we need to be able to meet their needs.Vice President of Marketing at Northland
I think when you're able to [...] pick out the facets that really make your property special and sell those, that's when you really get to what the resident experience means.Vice President of Marketing at Northland
Maximizing the impact of property management marketing
View of marketing in property management coming in from outside the industry [05:16]
- Even with additions to various technology startup groups over the past few years, multifamily marketing is still playing catch up to most industries, which was surprising because multifamily and traditional real estate as a whole is something that's always in demand.
- Technology tools and solutions are really starting to integrate more into the experience side of the multifamily industry, and what those experiences mean from the moment someone comes into your funnel from a prospect all the way through their move-in cycle, their residence cycle, and then if and when they depart your community.
What should multifamily marketers be concentrating on right now [08:16]
- Seamless transaction process
- Similar to how Amazon has made the shopping process simple - through any digital avenue you can pick your item, it shows up in your shopping cart, and you check out.
- Leases have legalities that’ll always add steps to that funnel. But it’s something that we should pay heavy focus to, because as younger generations enter the housing pipeline, they're used to on-demand and immediate satisfaction and we need to meet their needs and expectations.
- To meet the customer where they are is something utilize technologies like AI and the enhancements we've had with self-guided tours or virtual tours.
- Using this to modify how the leasing cycle works, not from a prospects perspective, but internally inside a company.
- Leverage social media
- This is for all types of properties. Depending on the property and residents, the social media avenue will be different.
- For some, Facebook will be a better fit for advertising, while others, it might be Instagram. For example, student housing could use Snapchat or TikTok. Just being able to leverage some of these opportunities that are still fairly untapped.
How to empower onsite teams to create content and distribute materials [14:09]
- Typically in a large portfolio, the team creating content is not onsite. Onsite team member requests to corporate for material. What can be created, by its nature, is more generic. With a large portfolio it isn’t possible to customize each item for each property. The main office also can’t fully understand the needs, the wants, the demands, the lifestyle, and the local market as well as the teams that are onsite each day.
- Utilize software that we train, teach, empower, facilitate someone from each site to be almost an extension of the central marketing office. We can provide an outline or the first draft of what they need and then work simultaneously with them in the form of collaboration to be able to build collateral that caters to that particular property.
- This will also help us to bring some aspects of social media management more in house to each on-site team to allow for resident engagement in real-time. This will enable them to answer comments on posts, interact with residents real-time, and also allow them to partner with local businesses with a social strategy.
How will you measure the success of the above initiatives? [16:47]
- Initial success can be measured along two aspects.
- First is simply how many different pieces of collateral can we make each year from portfolio-wide to regional-wide to each on-site team's collateral contribution. Essentially, is the content creation process working and producing quality material.
- Second, on the social media side, we can look at the number of comments, the number of people that come to your resident events, the people that tag you because they're loving their life at your property. Ideally, a prospect was referred to the property because they saw how wonderful their friend's life was at your property via those social platforms.
- Over time, we can start to measure lease potentials through social media, and resident retention through social media.
Leverage branding and brand marketing in property management [24:42]
- It’s a balance on how to manage a brand and depends on the property management company. Some companies are able to take their corporate name and applying it to all their properties in their portfolio. However, this works best when the properties in the portfolio are very similar.
- For other companies, their portfolios are too wide and diverse for this to work. The approach they need to take is each property is its own brand. Which can be a lot! But it is important to have this clear brand distinction.
- For either approach, the brand needs to have a brand kit that guides the presence - from a digital and marketing space, the look and feel as to how someone, when they walked on-site, would relate to the property.
- Brand color can be an important component to build an authentic brand presence for that property in their specific area. It’s important that it's not just property-focused, but the surrounding area, because it’s an opportunity to sell a relatable lifestyle to the current and potential residents.
- We use color palette-generating software, where we take a series of photos from some that belong to the property and others that belong to the surrounding area, and we plug them in, and these generators spit out color gamuts for us to look at and pick from.
- Even with a portfolio of individual brands, you can still bring cohesiveness and link to the main company brand. This main link is through the people - employees who love the company and represent the brand well. Can also bring consistently by using the same font across the website and all collateral for each property.
New marketing initiatives for the remainder of the year and into 2024? [19:30]
- Key is measuring return and demonstrating how marketing drives financial results.
- Restrategized from an ILS perspective where we cut some spends, not because of direction, but because we’ve been overspending on marketing sources that weren't performing in a way that we could measure an effective return.
- Produce case studies in 2024 - idea is to run an ROAS study and look at the gross rental income from our marketing sources to see how well they perform. In 2023, we’ve primarily been looking at cost per lease based on source. Goal is to tie the creative initiatives and show how it moves the needle from a financial metric space and how we're contributors to the revenue stream.
Tips or best practices for marketers that are starting their career in multifamily? [33:27]
- Marketing departments in multifamily are varied - from one-person shops to up to 20 people. It’s fundamentally for a marketer to take the time to learn their portfolio and how the portfolio is structured.
- But also don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask a question or be afraid to speak up when you notice something in inefficiency, or you want to try something new.
- You can try a lot of things at very low costs. You should study and research, talk to your peers both inside the company and outside to figure out how other places have done things.
- Attend conferences and network with other marketers!
Sarah is responsible for developing company-wide marketing programs and directing the overall brand cohesiveness of Northland and its properties. She effectively partners with property operations, asset management, and acquisitions to ensure efficient management and execution of marketing and advertising initiatives. Sarah’s expertise lies in brand empowerment, social media strategy, and curating creative content for diverse audiences.
Before joining Northland, Sarah served as Senior Manager of Branding and Marketing at PRG Real Estate. She holds an undergraduate degree from Philadelphia University and an MBA from Florida Atlantic University. In 2020, Ms. Wieman was appointed to the Advisory Council for George Washington University.
Sarah is a yoga, food, and travel enthusiast, and in her free time enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and pets.
Multifamily Property Marketing for the Resident Experience Revolution
So, Sarah, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here on TGIF.
Yes, definitely I am with you on that. Well, let's kick off this conversation with you telling our listeners a little bit about yourself, your marketing experience, and how you got into the multifamily industry.
Yeah, so I was born and raised in the City of Brotherly Love. I'm so thankful today that I still get to call it home in a capacity, although I've since relocated up to Massachusetts, where my office is, but I'm a frequent visitor and I love the city. So, born and raised in Philadelphia. I actually got my undergraduate degree in fashion merchandising at Jefferson University, and I always thought I would go into New York and work in some textile office and be able to curate avant-garde textiles, but clearly, life had a different plan for me.
When I graduated, I always had this curiosity to the human experience and understanding how humans make decisions, so I decided that that really funneled well into marketing, and I went and got a master's degree in marketing with a thesis in customer engagement through social media and multifaceted outlets. And from there, I landed my dream job at the time, working for a surfboard company in Fort Lauderdale. Went to the beach every morning, went for a swim, went into the office. It was a wonderful experience as my first grownup job, as I like to call it.
But over time, I just realized that I could offer a little bit more and I wanted to continue to grow, and mom and pop establishments, you tend to hit a ceiling, and you either become comfortable or you look for something else. So, I packed up and I moved back to Philadelphia and stumbled into a real estate office, completely by accident, for a really well-known realtor in the city named Allan Domb. He primarily is traditional real estate, condominium sales, transactions, and development of certain neighborhoods in the city. Was with him for a year. He's now evolved into a wonderful mentor of mine.
But from there, I was recruited into my prior firm, PRG Real Estate. I spent from, I think, 2017 until this past fall with them, and it was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had in my life. I really felt that for the first time I got to build a strategy on my own and find my footing as a professional marketer, and work with really wonderful people, a great team. I never anticipated departing from PRG, but this past late summer, the opportunity to come into Northland was presented, and I just thought, "You know, get to a point with every firm where again, you either want to become comfortable, or you want to keep expanding your horizons." And Northland just had an abundance of opportunity from a marketing perspective, and it was a bigger firm, a bigger team, and I was just like, I'm ready to take that risk again on myself. So, I packed up my cozy little life and migrated north, which I never thought would happen, and that's how I got to where I am today.
Awesome. What a story.
I always say it's an accident, and sometimes those accidents end up being the best thing for you.
Absolutely. I've had a couple of those in my life as well. Well, as a marketer who fairly recently joined the multifamily industry myself, I know there are a few things that have really surprised me about multifamily over the years. And so I'm curious, thinking back on your own experience as a marketer in multifamily, is there anything that has stuck out to you as a surprise along the way?
Absolutely. I think because of my background and my career journey, especially coming in from a culture that was more lifestyle-curated, I am very heavily social-media-driven at the time. I mean, we look at retail, retail now, you can literally be on Instagram, see an ad, put it in a shopping cart, and check out and you're done. I was really surprised, as I continued my journey from traditional real estate into multifamily, how antiquated a lot of the practices were. Even in the past three years, there's been so many wonderful additions to various technology startup groups that have brought, I think, paradigm shifts to the multifamily industry.
But it still feels like while we're making so many strides forward, we're still so many strides behind other very robust industries, and I think that always has struck a chord and surprised me, because multifamily and traditional real estate as a whole is something that's always going to be in demand. Everybody is always going to need some sort of place to call home or shelter, so I would have thought that the technology services would've been a little bit more advanced when I entered the industry. And again, there are so many new ones coming in. So they're starting this ramp-up, and I think it's in this pivotal point right now that technology, for the first time, is really starting to integrate more into the experience side of the multifamily industry, and what those experiences mean from the moment someone comes into your funnel from a prospect all the way through their move-in cycle, their residence cycle, and then if and when they depart your community.
Got it, and so I have a little bit of a follow-up to that. You mentioned how you were surprised how far behind the industry was tech-wise, and so I'm curious, when it comes to multifamily marketing, is there something you can point to? What do you think is the most underrated practice there right now? Maybe it's a hidden gem that has yet to gain traction, or an emerging trend that you could think might change the game, with recent advances in AI, for example. I'm hoping you can touch on that for a little bit, but really, is there anything that comes to your mind out there when it comes to multifamily marketing, an area that marketers in this industry should latch onto?
I think the idea of having more of a seamless transaction process is definitely something that's top of mind for me today. When I say that, I mean that you could use any avenue of digital marketing, almost as simple as how Amazon has made the shopping process. You pick your item, it shows up in your shopping cart, and you check out.
Now I know leases have some legalities behind them that will always, I think, add steps to that funnel. But seamless transaction process to me seems something that we should continue as an industry to pay heavy focus to, because as younger generations come up into this housing pipeline, they're so used to on-demand and immediate satisfaction that I think we need to be able to meet their needs. And I think the idea of meeting the customer where they are is something that I'm heavily focused on. I think that technologies like AI, the enhancements we've had with self-guided tours or virtual tours, this idea and the concept of centralization or specialization to changing the way the leasing cycle works, not from a prospects perspective, but internally inside a company, that the leasing strategies are probably going to continue to shift.
And I think the last part that I hope we continue to see developments on is, how can we continue to leverage various avenues of social media for all types of properties? So for some, Facebook will definitely be a much better fit for advertising, while others, it might be Instagram, and I've heard some really neat case studies in the past year of Snapchat for student housing, and even TikTok, depending on how far TikTok goes. But I think it's just being able to leverage some of these opportunities that still, to me, feel a little bit untapped. I hope that answers your question.
Absolutely. Definitely, definitely. Well, before we dive even further into this conversation, this is the Resident Experience Podcast, so I'd love to get your personal take on two terms, resident experience, and resident experience management. As a marketer, what do these terms mean to you, and how, if at all, do they differ?
I think it's so relevant to me right now and my ecosystem that I occupy every day, because I've been fortunate enough to not only come into Northland with a fantastic marketing team on one side, I'm actually developing an experience and customer strategy team on the other side. And together, we're going to hopefully marry the customer experience from the minute you have a touchpoint with Northland as a prospect, again, all the way through each phase of the customer experience pipeline. So for me, the resident experience isn't just about the four walls that someone calls home. It goes beyond that. It goes into the community, into the amenity spaces, into the resident events, and also into, I think, the local surrounding community. And I think when you're able to take that in from a strategy perspective, digest it, and pick out the facets that really make your property special and sell those, that's when you really get to what the resident experience means.
I'll just use an example, like a centralized leasing office for a property would have a very different experience for residents than a property that has an on-site 24/7 leasing and maintenance team. So I think you have to pick and choose those customizations that you want to give to those experiences, and then make sure that it fits in with that specific community that you're focused on at that time. And then I think that ties perfectly into resident experience management, because when you can define the resident experience and what it means, you're simultaneously developing and harmonizing and strategizing what your employment experience is like. I think when you can find the means to empower your on-site teams or your centralized teams or whatever formation of those teams that you have to not only embrace their roles inside the organization, but also that they represent what that experience is, I feel that there's this beautiful synergy that gets created, and they actually harmonize each other and work in tandem.
So for me, there are a lot of differences between the terms, but I really think that in my mind, the resident experience is the lifestyle that you and your company and firm can give to your residents. And then the experience management side is the portion where you empower your teams to want to embrace those fixtures and facets that define that experience.
Excellent. Thank you so much for sharing. I always find everyone I speak to has a different definition of these terms, and I just love hearing, especially your interpretation, so thank you.
Oh, thank you. I love that question.
Last year at the AIM Marketing Conference, you were a panelist for a session called Empowering the Next Generation of Marketers, and in it you hit on the really important topic of content creation while empowering on-site teams. What are you doing, or do you have plans to do, at Northland when it comes to content creation and distribution?
Yeah, so this is a big lift for us at Northland. I mean, we're a fairly large portfolio, so the changes that are coming, I hope we can navigate the rollouts and the opportunity that we have in front of us to really own what's coming. And so, I truly believe in my heart that the individuals that know their properties best are the people that work there every single day. As a marketer who's remote from the majority of the portfolio, I can do as much research as I want, but I will never fully understand the needs, the wants, the demands, the lifestyle, the localized market as well as the teams that are there every single day. My hope is that we'll be able to roll out a software in the coming months that will enable and empower the on-site teams to want to be involved with the marketing department.
Right now, our funnel works that if an on-site team needs a flyer or a piece of collateral made, they write an email to email@example.com. My team, which is a team of four for the marketing side, someone picks it up, they go into InDesign or Canva, and they create it and then they distribute it out. But they're very templated. They're pretty generic because of, first of all, the lift and the manpower it takes to manage 70 to 80 properties is a lot of work, and we don't have that ability to always customize or spend the time to customize the flyers to really resonate well on-site.
So our hope is, again, to roll out a software that we would train, teach, empower, facilitate someone from each site to sort of be an extension of our office, give us maybe the outline or the first draft of what they have in mind for them. And we work simultaneously with them in the form of collaboration to be able to build collaterals that are really catered to those teams in ... or those sites in particular, and hopefully drum up a better feeling when they're presented to their residents.
Got it. And just for an initiative, what you just described, I'm sure there are operational benefits to implementing something like that, but also probably you're going to get a better work product out of it. I'm just curious, if you were to implement the initiative that you were just talking about, how would you measure success there?
I think in two ways. We're going to be leveraging Canva portfolio-wide, and the beauty of the Canva platform is anyone, I think anyone that I've ever met, even if they're not a designer, can make something beautiful. And the platform has reporting features, so for me, the success of Canva would be, how many different pieces of collateral can we make each year from portfolio-wide to regional-wide to the nitty-gritty of each on-site team's collateral contribution.
And then currently, we do not manage our own social media accounts. We use a third party, and the third party's given us a wonderful baseline, but we're missing that piece of real-time interaction with our residents when we post. So, there's nobody there liking photos of people that follow us. There's nobody really answering all the comments that might come in. There's nobody looking to partner via social strategy with local businesses or leveraging those platforms to their fullest capabilities. So, when we roll out the content creation portion, we are going to start bringing social media into the hands of our on-site teams, and allow them that opportunity to expand on their capabilities of resident engagement.
And my hope is that we will see our accounts grow. I do realize we're in multifamily, and when you have accounts that are only specific to a certain property, you may never get a million followers, you may never get a thousand followers, and that's perfectly okay. Where I measure the success in those sorts of attributions is the number of comments, the number of people that come to your resident events, the people that tag you because they're loving their life at your property, or they had a friend that was referred to the property because they saw how wonderful their friend's life was at your property via those social platforms. So over time, I think we'll be able to measure lease potentials through social media, and resident retention through social media.
Yeah, it sounds like you're essentially talking about resident engagement, right?
The goal was essentially to increase that.
Awesome. Another topic that's been super-hot in marketing for a while now, but I haven't really heard too much about it in multifamily, is influencer marketing. What is your take on influencer marketing in this industry, and do you have any plans in the works around influencer marketing at Northland?
Yeah, so this is a topic that I find to be very interesting, and I've gone back and forth with, should we try it? Should we not try it? And I personally have sort of a mixed bag of emotions, and I'll just give an example. Earlier this year, Northland purchased a property in downtown LA. I think immediately when everyone thinks of LA, we think of that influencer marketplace.
Because they all either live in California or New York. I mean, that's the reality. The majority, not all, or they're frequent visitors. But the population at the building does have a large influencer population that solely are a part of that industry, and we don't manage the property. We third-party the property out, so we've gone back and forth thinking, "Should we? Should we not? If we did, who would we pick?" Because the property's very high-end in luxury. We have penthouses that are upwards of $20,000-plus. How do you ensure the influencer that you find is a good fit, or has a good following to fit that lifestyle that we're selling there?
I think the closest that we've come in the influencer marketplace at Northland is, we've actually partnered with a local realtor who is part of The Agency Group, and he is helping us systematically and strategically rent the penthouses. But he also is on his own a very robust social media marketer, and I think his clientele, because they're all looking for real estate and they follow him for real estate, is a very good fit for the property. Because I mean, he's selling lifestyles in downtown LA that cater to the people that follow him, whether it's traditional real estate or working with us from a multifamily perspective. But my biggest concern when it came to the property in LA was that we would get influencers that might not have the right following, and if they don't have the right following, how would we ever measure the success of the program?
So again, the closest I've come to actually having an influencer be a part of our ecosystem is with this realtor. I know that might be a little backwards way into the topic, but I personally am very nervous that you would never get clear measurables to how the program was working. And I always want to be able to show that marketing is a revenue-generating department, and if I can't, I don't think I'd want to take the risk of trying it yet.
So, how's the realtor idea going? Personally, I think that's a really smart approach. How's it going?
I personally think that he has been wonderful to work with. The collateral that he's created for the property on his own is beautiful, and we wouldn't be getting collateral like this as frequently as we are if we weren't partnered with him. And he's definitely been a part of this project since the time the building actually went in development, so way before the time Northland owned it. So he has, I think, a passion for the project.
I mean, this is one of the tallest high rises downtown LA. The penthouse idea there is sort of a nuance. Surprisingly, downtown LA doesn't have the same penthouse marketplace as you would think in relatability to New York or Miami, or I guess even some other big cities across the US, which I was surprised to learn. So I think from that ... He's also thrown some wonderful parties, which have gotten us exposure to individuals who are looking for a very specific price point in real estate, and they come because they're either open house type parties, but they happen at night and they're very trendy, and there are step-in repeats and high-end photographers there. So people have this really cool, I think, idea of what the sexiness of the property is, so to speak.
And I mean, leases have been brought in from him, so that's the win for me right there is that he's actually going to generate a revenue stream for the firm after he finds a client and brings them in. So I think for me, if I were to ever do this again, I would probably lean into the method of picking a realtor and having an exclusive agreement that really fits and caters to the clientele of that property, than just pick any old influencer because they say that they're an influencer. And I think systematically, we have to be careful in the industry with how we do that.
That's awesome. I'm so glad to hear it's going well.
Yeah, he's great.
We've touched on influencer marketing, content creation and distribution, and now another item I'd love to get your take on is branding. Traditionally, property management companies have been a little bit more passive when it comes to brand marketing, but with more and more iconic brands recently entering the industry, I'm wondering what, if at all, do you see changing in this area? What's your take on branding and brand marketing in multifamily?
Oh, this is probably one of my favorite topics, so don't let me get too off-winded here. It's really, I think, coincidental that my prior firm, when I started with them in Northland today, both firms when I got there have really strong corporate brand presence. They've spent a lot of time on how their corporate brand looks, the brand of the people that they employ, and I love that concept. I love walking into a company that has a well-curated corporate brand.
I think where multifamily has sort of been in, not limbo, but back and forth throughout the years is when you get into these portfolios that are, I think, 30-plus properties, you get to a place where you're like, how do I manage the individual brands? Some companies have done a fantastic job of taking their corporate name and applying it to all their properties in their portfolio. But for me, when I look at those companies, their portfolios have a lot more similarities, like they only build in primary markets, they only build mid-rise to luxury, they only have very high-end amenities, they offer white glove services. And so I think for those kinds of firms, it works really well.
When you get into firms, PRG and Northland, our portfolio spread is across the gamut. We have everything from workforce housing to high, high-end luxury, to beautiful mid-rises, to new construction, to traditional garden value ads. We have 155 and older. So for me, I take the approach that every property is its own brand, and I think for a lot of people it's like, "Well, now, you just went from one brand to 80." And I'm like, "Yeah, we sure did." Right now, we are taking the first steps at Northland to fundamentally rebrand every single property so that each property's brand kit represents, from a digital and marketing space, the look and feel as to how someone, when they walked on-site, would relate to the property. What I mean by that is, right now, the majority of our portfolio's websites are all orange and gray. Well, our properties are not orange and gray, so my team has gone back and we redesigned the brand kits.
We specifically spend a lot of time on the color palette. We use color palette-generating software, where we take a series of photos from some that belong to the property and others that belong to the surrounding area, and we plug them in, and these generators spit out color gamut for us to look at and pick from. The reason I like to use the pictures that are not just property-focused, but the surrounding area, is because I view each property as an opportunity to sell a relatable lifestyle to the current and potential residents.
So if you're in Tucson, Arizona, for example, I really want to make sure that I incorporate that outdoor lifestyle that comes with living in a place like Tucson, where there's hiking trails, beautiful mountains, the desert scene, and I always want to make sure that those colors sort of come into play on the individual properties. And then for a property in Charleston, you think of all the colors of downtown Charleston, the historic paints that they choose, but they also have that pop of tropics. So, looking at those color palettes and then looking at the property's color palette, and kind of marrying those components together to really build a true authentic brand presence.
Some of the places where we find the opportunity to build cohesiveness, though, is while each property has its own individual logo, its own color story, its own set of photos, we buy and purchase licensing for localized lifestyle photos to incorporate from our digital space. We do always want to sprinkle in that Northland feel. One, that comes with the people we hire. We hire really smart people, and everyone loves that they work for Northland, so that's the biggest place I think the Northland brand gets represented. But also, we use a consistent font for all of our marketing collateral on our websites. We use the same font for the body paragraphs and the headers, so there is that sprinkle of consistency that we are Northland. But then on the flip side, we let the property sort of represent itself inside of its local market.
I love that. Thanks so much for bringing that concept to life.
Of course. It's my favorite thing.
I cannot believe I am saying this, but we are almost halfway through 2023. I am curious, are you looking forward to implementing anything new in terms of marketing initiatives? Maybe it's a new Martech tool you're exploring, or a new project that you're working on through the tail end of this year?
Yeah, so I feel like for Northland, 2023 has really been a year of change, and my team has gone back, and we are reorganizing ourselves to build a really strong marketing foundation as we start to gear towards 2024. So for us, the rest of the year is really getting the individual brands fully up and running. We're about halfway through the portfolio.
This year, we've onboarded a new SEO firm, so we're finishing the tail end of that set up. We've really restrategized ourselves from an ILS perspective with, we wanted to cut some spends, not because of direction, but because we were overspending on a lot of marketing sources that weren't performing in a way that I could measure an effective return. So, I think that the rest of this year is just to really work out all the wrinkles in our ecosystem that we've built throughout the year. And then of course, we still have the initiatives of the social media change coming, and the Canva introduction that'll take us through the end of the year.
My hope is for 2024 that my team can really start to produce some wonderful case studies to also give back to the industry that supports us. So, I would love to run a ROAS study. I would love to start looking at gross rental income from our marketing sources to see how well they perform. And I think the case study that we've really focused on in 2023 is just the cost per lease based on source. So all these creative projects, while they're so much fun to be a part of, and they really create a synergy for us as a firm, I'm even more excited for the results that we're going to generate that show moving the needle from a financial metric space, which I don't think a lot of marketing firms, or marketing departments inside of the multifamily industry, have really had the opportunity to take deep dives, and start to look at how we're contributors to the revenue stream up until maybe the past 24 months. So, I'm just excited to bring that to life.
We are so much on the same wavelength here. I love hearing you talk about how strongly you believe marketing is a revenue driver, and being able to prove that out with figures and numbers, and focusing your efforts on that as well, so thank you for sharing.
Oh, thank you.
You have such a strong foundation in marketing, and so for the new marketer out there, someone who's maybe just getting started in multifamily marketing, do you have any tips or best practices that you'd recommend to help propel their career?
I do, and it's so wonderful that you brought this question up. I just spoke on a roundtable at AIM about communication inside of the organization from a marketing perspective. And I think my biggest tip to anyone who's starting out is, don't be afraid to raise your hand or ask the hard questions. Some marketing departments in multifamily are one-human shows, and other departments in other agencies or firms are two to three people, and some grow as much to 20 people, I'm sure. So if you're new and just starting out, I think fundamentally, take the time to learn your portfolio, how the portfolio is structured. But I don't think anyone should ever be afraid to raise their hand and ask a question or be afraid to speak up when you notice something in inefficiency, or you want to try something new.
I think the beauty in marketing is that you can try a lot of things at very low costs to firms, if you study research, talk to your peers in your firm and outside the firm to figure out how other places have done things. I mean, there's no secret in multifamily about marketing. I think that's one of my most favorite things about this industry is we have conferences like AIM, we have Social Media Summit, we have companies like Yardi that bring people together to talk about all of these topics. If your firm is taking a risk on sending you to any of those events, definitely come back with ideas that you want to try, and make a case for it. The worst case is they say "No," and then you go back and try again. But don't let the no discourage you. Just ask the questions as to why it's a no, and then maybe take that and learn, and come back with a different presentation of how to sell it to be able to be tested.
Thank you. I hope that helps some of you new marketers out there. I have very much enjoyed this conversation and honestly could talk with you about this topic for hours. But for now, I just have one final question for you. Since good people know other good people, is there anyone out there who you might recommend we have on the podcast as a future guest?
Oh, my gosh, there's so many people that come to my mind. There is a gentleman at my old firm. Ironically, he is not in the marketing department, but I've done a few podcasts with him before, and he is a joy to have on screen, and his name's Cedric. He works with PRG. He's actually in the training department, but something that I feel that I appreciate so much for my time with PRG was that the cross-collaboration from departments, and his department and marketing worked so much hand-in-hand on so many initiatives and rollouts. I'm so blessed at Northland that I'm getting to develop an experience team, because I think that marketing is not just a digital space. I think that this whole concept of branding is, you get to bring it all together from the people component all the way through the digital component. And Cedric has just some really interesting points. He's been in the industry a long time, and his relatability to the marketing department I find to be fascinating.
And then the other person I think of top of mind would be Jessica Foster from Buckingham. I met her several years ago and we've kept in touch, and she is just a brilliant marketer within our industry, and has done some very cool branding initiatives for her firm that I think a lot of people could learn really neat lessons about.
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for that. We will absolutely reach out to them.
Sarah, it was so great to have you on today. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I can't wait for our listeners to hear this episode.
Oh, I'm so excited. Thank you again so much. This was really fun.