What Lionel Richie Knows About Marketing

The year was 1984 and the last thing I was thinking about an article I would be writing decades later for my marketing career. My head was full of ideas for my Sadie Hawkins Dance outfit and my date for the night. I popped in my favorite cassette tape called “Can’t Slow Down” and started singing along with Lionel Richie. “Hello” became his most popular song of all time as it hit number one on 6 music charts. Executives at Motown Records hum this song because it helped lead the way for this album to be the best selling in the history of the company.

Can you hear it in your head? Sing along as we talk a little marketing.

When he was young, Richie watched beautiful women walk past but was too shy to talk to them. He thought to himself, “Hello, is it me you’re looking for.” Years later he started to write a song using the phrase but got stuck and gave up. But his record producer liked the line and urged him to finish it. Richie left this off his first solo album, but his wife Brenda liked it and insisted he include it on Can’t Slow Down. And so the famous line was born that became my marketing mantra:

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
‘Cause I wonder where you are
And I wonder what you do

Great marketing starts with knowing who you want to attract to your product. Who will think this is the perfect home? Who is looking for this location and amenities? After knowing who you are looking for, you have to go find them. Today, that task is not as hard as it was years ago. When I started in the busines, over 20 years ago (SHIT!), my manager would have us all meet on Wednesday morning to design a catchy tag line for the column ad in the weekend paper. Our favortie was “NOW pLEASING”. Catchy? NOT! It was such a shot in the dark! We made gut decisions and ran with tag lines that sounded good to us. We had no idea until Monday if they were effective.

When I look back I wonder how we ever leased a property to capacity. What were we thinking? Well, I guess you do what you know is best until we know better. And that is the point of this blog. Friends, you know better if you would just read your reports. Every marketing source you are investing your meger marketing dollars will tell you information that is very helpful to your decision making process. You cannot do all the marketing you want but you can do some of the marketing you want. It is so important that you are putting your money where your future renters are. Read your reports. Listen to your vendors. Ask them pointed questions. Survey prospects and residents.

Today, in a meeting with my Apartment Guide rep, he actually advised me to pull out of print because my online presence was pulling qualified traffic. I could back up his data with my own. And, I don’t care how big the gift basket is that the advertising source gives me on my birthday, if that ad is not pulling, I am not going to spend my owners money.

Make yourself look good by doing and asking the following:
1. Are you attracting qualified traffic? (I’d rather have 20 qualified people a week and 62 I am not sure about.)
2. Who currently rents are your community? Can they handle the rent increase we have planned for them in the next three years? Do I need to attract a client who can afford more? (Plan ahead.)
3. What source IS my best source for my qualified traffic?
4. Of my skips and evictions, what sources attracted them?
5. Do you know what your residents like to do in their freee time?
6. Do you know how to reach your residents and potential qualified traffic?
7. Do you still love singing along to Lionel Richie?
8. Are you using data to make decisions and not your gut?

Asking the questions in the lyrics of “Hello” helped Lionel reach the greatest success in his professional career. You have that opportunity too. Ask the right questions, listen to the answers and make the best decisions.