Target Market Segments with Your Rental Ads, Part II
Flesh out the ideal renter that you visualize as you write and market your listing.
Last week, we defined what exactly a ‘target market segment’ was, and also talked a bit about the relationship between features, benefits, and market segments. Now we’re going to tell you exactly how to pick out market segments for your current properties.
Start with the Area
The broadest market segments can be determined by looking at the demographics of the area around the house. Online you can usually find numbers on average household income, education, etc. to create a profile of the statistically most likely tenant. What attracts a low-demographic tenant is usually vastly different than what attracts a high-demographic tenant.
It’s important to know these ‘baseline’ demographics – but they’re only the beginning. You can target an advertisement to “low-demographic” or “middleish-demographic”, but these groups are often too large and diverse to be meaningful targets. You can use them to determine what kind of language you should use though, what kinds of cultural references will be recognized, and so on. You probably wouldn’t have a lot of success telling an urban audience that a home “blends rustic and urban like Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton,”. On the other hand, if your ad stated a home is, “part city and part country like Lil’ Tracy and
Lil’ Tracy” you’d have more success connecting with your target audience (Bonus points if you can be funny with it).
To narrow down further, we have to look at the features of the house, and build a profile up based on those features.
Look at What is Accessible
When it comes to rental houses, most people have a fairly long list of wants and a fairly short list of must-haves – but the must-haves will almost always include a few items that center around what that specific person finds the most valuable. Some people will insist on living near a decent grocery store, others have to have easy access to a highway because their job is a significant commute away, and others would love it if their children could walk to school safely. Jot down everything within a 15-minute walk and a 10-minute drive, and then take note of the biggest/most unique employers, stores, entertainment, and landmarks within a 30-minute drive.
Match Those to Features of the House
Put your list of places you can easily access from the house right next to a list of the house’s features, and ask yourself “why would (this feature) matter to someone who was interested in (this amenity)?” For example, if your house has a 2.5-car garage, you can go down the list of available amenities and pick out auto parts stores, junkyards, and auto mechanics and put together a mental picture of “car lover.” Once you have a mental picture of “car lover,” take it back the other direction and see if there are any other features of the house that you can also spin to support that profile. If you get more than a couple of features and more than a couple of amenities that all point toward the same profile, you’ve built yourself a target market segment!
But don’t stop at one – brainstorm down the list of amenities thoroughly, and see if you can build several separate market segment profiles (the bigger the difference between them, the better!)
Also keep in mind that as the person responsible for the house, you have a degree of control over some of the features of the house. For example, if you realize that ‘graveyard shift workers’ is a viable market segment for a particular house, you can advertise that the bedrooms can be upgraded to blackout curtains on request — then if someone who wants those signs up, go get those curtains and put them up.
Using These Profiles
We use this process on houses that haven’t been moving with an all-purpose ad. We post an untargeted ad to all of the generic channels (i.e. Zillow, Craigslist, etc.) and then if a property doesn’t move within a reasonable time-frame, we go through this entire process and then craft an ad for the most promising market segment we came up with for the house. Then we switch market segments every couple of weeks. After all, if a house hasn’t moved in 60 days with an all-purpose ad, we’re not really losing anything meaningful by focusing on a segment.
If you’re a smaller landlord and you have the time to really focus in on moving a single house, you can take the extra step of seeking out specific places — online or off — that each target market hangs out. Then put in the legwork to figure out if you can put an ad somewhere in each of those places. Many large employers like hospitals or large manufacturing plants maintain not just a physical bulletin board, but an electronic one as well, and obtaining permission to put an ad up on either one can be a big win. Similarly, most interest groups have a Facebook page or a Meetup group or some other place that they get together, and offering relevant housing on those groups can work out in your favor, too.
• Make a list of amenities near the house.
• Make a list of features the house possesses.
• Go through the list of amenities and pull benefits out of those features that would appeal to the kinds of people who are interested in each of those amenities.
• Use the sets of amenities+benefits to build a list of relevant ‘targetable’ market segments.
• Decide which market segment is the most profitable one to target.
• Craft an ad that spotlights those benefits and uses terms the target market segment is likely to search for
• Post that ad where the target market will find it.
And that’s how to use Target Market Segments to achieve success in rental advertising!