One of the most powerful modern sales techniques involves translating the features of a thing into the benefits that users will experience because of those features.
If you’ve ever had a single sales or marketing class in your life, you probably learned about this. But if you haven’t, I’ll explain.
People are notoriously bad at connecting what they want (or want to avoid) with attributes of items that could potentially help them accomplish those goals. Through marketing, if you can lay out the connection for them, you’ll instantly make what you’re selling seem more valuable to them.
So, for example, let’s say you’re selling a pair of shoes that has a unique feature: a fold-out spike hidden in the heel. If you don’t clearly spell out the benefits of that spike, most people will be confused. They might think, “Why would I want something on my shoes that could ruin the flooring in my house?”
But if the shoes are advertised as great for climbing or excellent for gaining traction in mud or snow or ideal for getting leverage when pushing or pulling heavy objects, a person expecting to be in a situation where those attributes would be beneficial is much more likely to buy the shoes.
Features and Benefits in Rental Advertising
Now that we’ve defined features and benefits and explained their importance in advertising, let’s talk about how to apply this technique when marketing rental property.
Remember, you need to connect the dots for people. Think about the features of a property, then figure out in what way they could be beneficial to prospective tenants.
Common Features and Associated Benefits
Here are a few common property features and examples of their potential benefits:
- Basements: Obviously, ample storage space is a good thing, but extra space could also be used as a playroom, a home gym, a bar area, or anything that someone might want to keep “out of sight, out of mind.”
- Garages: A garage can act as a workshop, a game area (think darts or ping pong), a practice area for a band, or (with a little work) a three season room.
- Spare Rooms: Any room that isn’t a bedroom but still has four walls and a roof can be turned into almost anything—from a craft area to a game room to a library, a home office, or even a huge walk-in closet!
- Breakfast Nook: Even if a person rarely eats at home, they can still put a breakfast nook to good use. This area could serve as a computer desk or homework station, or maybe an arts-and-crafts space or small workshop.
- Yard Space: In a decent-sized yard, perhaps residents could (with your permission) install a gazebo or a shed, plant a garden (veggie or flower), or park some sort of vehicle like a golf cart, camper, RV, motorcycle, or limo(!).
Brainstorm alternative uses for spaces within your property. You’ll see why shortly.
Location, Location, Location
The easiest market segments to identify and target with your advertising are those already present near its location. It’s almost too obvious, but it’s worth pointing out that every culture is a market segment. So the fact that a house has a halal market on one side and is kitty-corner to a Buddhist center is its first and most exploitable market segment—usually, at least.
Most properties in bigger American cities are in neighborhoods that are pretty generic. It’s hard to pull much of a meaningful market segment if the property is just like all the other houses on the nearest 21 streets in either direction.
You should be able to gather a broad cultural context, though—and that can meaningfully change how you advertise.
Choosing Segments to Target
OK, that’s all well and good, but how do you choose which segments to market toward? Well, actually, you don’t start with the market segments. You start with the house.
See, most house-hunters come to the table with a pretty significant list of things they want but a relatively short list of deal-breakers. The trick is to identify the deal-breakers and use that list to inform which market segments likely apply.
For example, foodies might want a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s nearby. Dedicated parents are going to look at school quality and crime rates. And hardcore corporate types might want nothing more than fiber-optic internet capability and access to a highway within a couple of blocks.
Of course, you probably can’t get your hands on applicants’ list of deal-breakers, so you can’t use them to create your market segments. You have to work backward from the traits of your house, and from there, come up with a bunch of different market segments that you could potentially attract based on its features and benefits.
Working Backward to Target Specific Market Segments
Start by writing down a list of features and amenities in and around your house. Whip out Google Maps and your MLS listing, county records, whatever you have that details attributes of your property. Jot down everything interesting.
Divide a sheet of paper into two columns (or use Excel, if that’s your jam). In one column, list all the features/benefits. In the other, brainstorm three to five ways that you could advertise each.
Once you’ve done that for each of the items on the list, look for any themes that could be used to define a market segment.
Notice things like “big garage and near an auto parts store.” Identify other features of the house can be “massaged” a bit to fit into the obvious segmentation.
Is there a basement that could act as a workshop? Is there an auto wrecker somewhere up the street? How can you expand on each theme you see?
And the Writing
Once you have a list of three to five solid themes going, it’s time to write. Put together an ad for each of your themes.
To be clear, by themes, I’m referring to the prospective market segments you’ve identified. Each ad you’re writing should specifically target one of those segments. In this way, you’re accomplishing what I discussed in a previous post, which is advertising with exclusive (as opposed to broad) descriptions that appeal to a particular audience. This is important as it’s been found to be more effective than advertising with generic ads meant to appeal to a broader audience.
Any questions? Do you have any rental marketing tips to add?