Insights From AIM

By on May 18, 2017 in Marketing

AIM Conference logoMultifamily marketers from across the country converged in Huntington Beach for the 2017 Apartment Internet Marketing (AIM) Conference on May 7-10. Several hundred professionals gathered to explore the industry’s latest marketing trends and best practices.

Here are three ideas from this year’s event that might buoy your marketing efforts:

Tell Your Story

Marketing is not just an exercise in generating the lowest cost per lead. It’s a complex combination of creativity and strategy that ultimately tells a story to potential customers. In a world of constant digital distraction, today’s marketers need to have the skills to create content that will rise above the noise.

When it comes to creating engaging content, authentic storytelling and video rule.

AIM panelists Jamie Matusek, President of Catalyst, Lori Valenti Webb, Director of Marketing at Wood Residential Services, and Anna Geary, Founder of Show My Property TV, explored the ideal customer experience.

Matusek explained that experiences progress through the Happiness Halo framework, from anticipation to interaction to afterglow. Anticipation is the process of building excitement, teasing potential customers into wanting to know more. This can be seen in pre-event promotion and behind-the-scenes videos.

Interaction immerses customers in an experience, providing emotional direction to aid in decision making. Multifamily application could be a time-constrained promotion, such as a rent discount, or highlighting property perks, such as free recreation classes or dog-friendly happy hours.

Afterglow focuses on creating a positive memory, reinforcing brand positivity. As Matusek explained, bad things will happen, such as a poorly executed maintenance request or a negative front office visit, so it’s important to positively direct the sentiments with each resident touch point.


AIM attendees mine for storytelling ideas

Crafting an effective story can combine these three concepts into any medium, from a blog or social media post to a video. At AIM, video was clearly the preferred medium for creating authentic, attention-grabbing stories.

What is the one story everyone tells about your community? A few questions to consider when mining for story ideas:

  • What is the history of your site?
  • Does the property attract a certain type of resident (i.e. students, military, etc.)?
  • Do you have a unique service or feature at your community?
  • What types of community partners do you work with (i.e. major businesses or nonprofits)?
  • Can you feature your staff or current residents?
  • Have you looked at the obvious feedback points (i.e. social media posts, ratings, suggestion boxes)?

Understanding your audience and what they connect with most can be a good first step in creating captivating, authentic stories for video and other digital mediums.

Artificial Intelligence & Data

With the rise of artificial intelligence technology, multifamily marketing will evolve over the next decade.


Pictured: Jessica Itzel, Thomas Prommer and Andrei Faji

Jessica Itzel, Senior Director of Marketing and Brand Management at Bozzuto, and panelists Thomas Prommer, Managing Director of Technology at Huge, Inc. and Andrei Faji, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience at WayBlazer, discussed the transformative power of automation and the impact of artificial intelligence on apartment marketing.

As non-real estate professionals, Prommer and Faji explored how data and artificial intelligence have disrupted the travel industry. What is new here is not the data, but the ability to apply it in more advanced and digestible ways.

Prommer elaborated: “It’s often ’Why artificial intelligence? Why now?’ Today, people are demanding a more sophisticated user experience. Tremendous operational efficiency is possible with AI.”

With access to consumer behavioral data, you can make predictions and understand what customers need. With prospects and residents expecting high-touch service and individualized experiences, data can inform anticipatory design across customer service, marketing campaigns and the sales cycle.

Prommer and Faji emphasized that artificial intelligence shouldn’t replace human interaction, but rather, it should positively enhance customer experiences. This means starting simple and using partial automation to focus on the customer experience, providing services such as SMS updates, real-time pricing for units and following up with personalized communication.

Artificial intelligence is here to stay, so it’s important to educate your company on how technology can improve, not replace, the human touch required for successful apartment marketing.

Planning For the Future

At the opening session, Steve Lefkovits, AIM Conference Founder and Executive Producer at Joshua Tree Conference Group, and Dennis Cogbill, Managing Director, highlighted change as a constant in the apartment marketing industry.

“The evolution of the sharing economy is coming to our industry,” shared Lefkovits. From ridesharing to renting out your apartment for a few days, products and service transactions of all kinds are just a mobile app away. Accessibility to the internet’s economy means disruption in the way industries have long done business.


Pictured: Michael Grimaud, Senior Account Executive at Yardi, and Mia Wentworth, Director of Marketing at Monarch Investment and Management Group

To be successful in today’s digital world, multifamily marketers will need to embrace this wave of technological advancement while also being mindful of the end user experience. Increasingly, people want to be talked to, not sold to.

Prioritizing customer care and convenience will set your company apart. Marketing efforts will require a great deal of empathy and setting realistic expectations with new technology. Even with the rise of artificial intelligence, automation and access to big data, human touch is a key component of weaving together an integrated, targeted and empathetic consumer experience.

As the Happiness Halo framework suggests: “Appeal to customers’ reason and they’re yours for a day. Appeal to customers’ emotions and they’re yours for a lifetime.”

Stay tuned for 2018 AIM Conference dates and learn more at