‘Free’ The Buzz Word For 2010

In a recession-type market there is one work that everyone wants to hear and that’s the ‘F’ word.  The word that motivates all of us is ‘Free’.  In our current business environment, we are dealing with a fiercely competitive print media that operates on the premise of ‘survival of the fittest’.  A couple of weeks ago a friend showed me a Caribbean newspaper that has a sizable distribution in the Scarborough and Pickering area.  It serves its community well and even featured an article by Michael Ignatieff.  While his article was interesting, what was even more remarkable was the reality of his article in this publication.  This newspaper is obviously outside Ignatieff’s normal constituency, but for a man with greater ambitions seeking a future leadership bid, he is reaching out to people that can help achieve his goal.  Ignatieff is a man that knows where to go for support.  As an industry – do we?

When I reviewed this publication and several others that focus on particular demographics, I found a notable absence of advertising from our industry.  When I called some of these papers, I found that they were so excited at having an opportunity to advertise my clients’ services, and many offered to do so for free in the hopes of obtaining a future long-term commitment.  In some cases, the cost translated to less than $50 for the insertion, which in our world is as good as ‘free’.  And better yet, some of the ads are effective.  While they may not translate to immediate applications, for the cost involved, we can certainly afford to keep trying.  Some of these venues offered ads for an entire year at a cost that is still less than a single full page glossy ad in another publication.

In our search for ‘free’ we also found that there are dozens of websites where you can post an apartment ad for free.  Not every rental office has a computer, and not every agent is capable of uploading an ad to these sites, but we’re beginning to realize that it’s time to invest in the people and the equipment for best results.

Leasing agents can no longer sit idly by and complain that it’s not busy, or that the phone isn’t ringing.  With the technology that’s now available, they only have themselves to blame for poor results.  The Internet is a great visual advertising medium and our customers like to see what they’re getting before taking the next step and visiting the rental office.  Free websites require a bit of effort to learn how to create appropriate text and upload photos, but the effort ultimately pays off.

It’s a tough market out there.  As a landlord, are you doing everything you can to attract customers?  If you aren’t taking advantage of the multicultural newspapers and the Internet as free or modestly priced vehicles, you’re missing some terrific opportunities.  If you want a full house – spend a little time investing in new mediums.  Then sit back and reap the rewards!