Funnels are all well and good, but your inbound marketing success tends to happen when your efforts create a 'flywheel effect.' What this means when converting property management leads into fans is that you put a lot of initial effort at the outset—depending on the time frame in which you make your marketing push.
After this initial sprint, the campaign takes on a life of its own, creating an organic spread. One of the ways that popular direct-to-consumer brands generate this word-of-mouth buzz that costs so little but is so valuable is through converting leads into more than mere clients: you need to build a fanbase.
By turning your product or service into something people can build a community around, you make it possible to do less marketing and advertising yourself and instead focus on continually improving the quality of your service. This only serves to generate even more property management leads that can become future fans.
You are poised, in this exact moment, to turn leads, followers, and even your current clients into a fanbase depending on how you choose to respond to the events unfolding around us as a community. COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for multiple industries: you can jump on board now and #FlattenTheCurve, or you can be crushed by it.
The first—and perhaps hardest part—of building a fanbase is to use your marketing buyer personas to craft an identity.
- What is the person who uses your services like?
- What are their hobbies and interests?
- What image do they aspire to convey?
- What are their current pain points and stressors?
These aspects allow you to shape the marketing content you create to find these ideal property management leads and convert them to your cause.
If what your target buyer wants is both success in his or her business and the look and feel of a successful person, your materials have to sell them on your services and sell them the fact that people like them want your services. Many consumer brands have managed this: there are shoe companies that focus on selling to people who see themselves as creative thinkers, and mattress companies that sell to people who see themselves as green pioneers taking on a toxic mattress industry.
Figure out who your customers want to be, and use your advertising skills to convince them that your services are what will get them there. In the process, you'll be building a loyal fanbase from your property management leads.
Building Virtual Closeness
Once you've got the identity aspect rolling, you want to bring the distance between you and your customers much closer. Many marketers already do this with everything from chatbots to contact forms to social media platforms, but many don't think about it this way. Make it possible for potential leads to engage with your content and interact with your brand without immediately having to make a purchase. How can you offer them value before they even express interest in your services?
Becoming a fan necessitates some closeness, with a sense that there is a friendly, connected feeling between the brand and its customers—and other connected individuals. This may mean engaging more often with leads that aren't promising in the near term, but doing so may give you access to those leads' networks, which creates the fanbase effect down the road. This step, like building identity, requires a lot of work at first—but sets the flywheel spinning once your community begins.
There is also a danger of becoming too relatable by completely misreading the mood of the community you're trying to build. This is exactly what happened to corporate-chain titans like Burger King, McDonald's, and Wendy's in the face of the 2016 backlash to a perceived lack of brand empathy. The result was a flood of derision from their fanbase that resulted in a loss of the very community they had built. Don't let this be you.
At first, your marketing, sales, and advertising efforts will be working to interact with new leads, but one of the goals of creating a fan base is to have your customers talk to the leads for you. This may sound odd, but think about it: professional basketball players aren't the ones who answer new basketball fan questions; other basketball fans do that! As your customers build loyalty to your brand, they'll pop in on forums, social media posts, and in other venues you set up to give valuable testimonials and share with your leads about why your services are worthwhile.
Depending on your services, 'community' may look different: it could be in-person networking events, or a professional list-serv, or social media sites. You'll want to tailor your community-building efforts to the kind of environment where your target market would actually spend time. The key aspect, though, is the opportunity for current, loyal customers to mingle with people who are on the fence or considering becoming your client. This is where their connections and bonds form, and the subject matter is your business. It's an incredibly powerful marketing tool when it works!
Letting Fans Do the Work
Companies that generate community through building a fanbase then give customers more and more opportunities to make their product or service part of their identities. Some companies go through a straightforward affiliate marketing plan, by which superfans can share the service with others and receive a portion of the revenue generated. Other companies create contests, social media sharing campaigns, and video series that feature their biggest fans, showcasing how other newer customers can also become fans.
The goal, throughout, is to reward customers who have extensive knowledge and loyalty while letting them share what they know with newer customers. Beauty industry Instagram posts are a great example of this fanbase snowballing effect in action. If you look closely at most of their campaigns, they rely heavily on giveaways that require tagging and interaction.
Some products and services are more conducive to widescale fandom than others, but you can create small niche fan groups at any level. Wherever you can earn the loyalty of your top customers such that they feel you are part of their identity, offer them opportunities to share their experiences.
Bringing Momentum to Your Goals
Fostering a sense of community right now while we're all caught up in the effects of social distancing is not only good for business: your clients will remember the impact you had on their peace of mind down the road. Over time, you'll see how this kind of marketing converts property management leads to a long-term, loyal client base.
However, there is another element of your business that you can't neglect if you want this strategy to take root: for loyal clients to sway new clients towards your services, you need to be able to generate clients in the first place. This comes at a time when fears are mounting; many of your would-be clients are afraid of what their financial future might hold. You need to be the one who can provide the answers—but how do you do that during a lockdown?
Put our expertise to work for you! RentBridge got our start as a completely-remote company—we're now a HubSpot Diamond Partner. We know that property managers are feeling the heat right about now—which is exactly why we are offering our insight to you for free.
Download your copy of our Business Development Handbook for Selling During Social Distancing, and let's get you back to doing what you do best #AloneTogether.