When you hear the term “marketing,” you typically think of communications, advertising and promotions. While this gets most of the attention, there’s another piece of marketing – marketing operations – that is critically important.
A relatively new concept, marketing operations (MO) is one of the fastest-growing concepts today. This is because successful multifamily organizations, and business in general, are finding that collaboration between marketing, business operations and finance is an operations game changer.
What is Marketing Operations?
Smart multifamily operators are realizing that marketing is more than just signage, balloons, and move-in kits. In many organizations, marketing can encompass strategy, operations, technology, human resources, finance, communications and customer service. (Whew!) Controlling and ensuring an effective, collaborative outcome from all of these moving pieces is what a successful marketing operations program will do.
In addition, marketing operations within multifamily builds a “…strong foundation for excellence by reinforcing marketing strategy with metrics, infrastructure, business processes, best practices, budgeting and reporting.” (Source: Centric) It’s the backbone of a successful multifamily operation.
According to a 2009 Lenskold Group study, companies that excel with marketing operations are twice as likely (11% vs. 5%) to enjoy more “effective and efficient” marketing and are more likely to outgrow their competitors.
Most importantly, marketing operations in multifamily drives four key areas:
- Cost Management
Following is a more definitive explanation of how marketing operations impacts each of these areas, provides added value to your organization and increases Net Operating Income. (NOI)
If there’s one thing that you as a multifamily professional lack, it’s time. Managing a successful property, while keeping leasing and onsite staff productive and limiting vacancies can consume most of your day. A smart and efficient marketing operations program is absolutely necessary in keeping your properties running smoothly.
Marketing operations increases efficiencies by actively promoting communication and collaboration between all the different processes involved, and ultimately helps your marketing team get more accomplished with the limited time and resources they may have. Having one centralized platform responsible for ensuring the end product is produced with as little waste as possible will improve efficiencies and allow your staff to focus on important areas of marketing strategy instead of daily disruptions.
A quick example can be seen in the “man hours” wasted while addressing errors that occur when using multiple platforms and staff to manage your marketing materials. When the process is centralized through an efficient marketing operations program, error rates decrease which leads to less time spent dealing with problems, and more time focusing on increasing demand and foot traffic to your properties.
Surprises. You love them on your birthday, but not as you walk into the office in the morning, or meet with your staff. A well-executed marketing operations platform can work to eliminate surprises and ensure predictability.
Marketing operations ultimately promotes trust within your multifamily operation. Through this trust, predictability flourishes. Expectations on completed projects are developed based on the overall marketing strategy, and as the process continues, with an active level of trust, predictability on when and how a project is managed or completed is virtually guaranteed.
Successful multifamily operators work with a centralized marketing platform (CMP) and establish a trusting relationship that ensures predictability. Their dedicated account team make it their mission to develop a trusting, accessible relationship with your marketing staff to ensure projects are completed on time and on budget. Overall, a CMP can positively impact your community with NOI improvements in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even better? Your marketing operations program can collect and manage data that will help with current and future budget needs for your multifamily marketing department.
If there’s something that’s certain in multifamily operations, it’s that each day brings new challenges (or fires depending on how you look at it!) Maintaining control – over your project, staff or budget – can be extremely difficult when the unexpected happens.
Marketing operations is designed to maintain control, ensuring that all possible scenarios are thought out, options are vetted and there’s little room for disruption. Your CMP can act as the marketing operations “staff person” and ensure deadlines are met, the message is controlled and that your multifamily marketing budget remains intact. Through effective data tracking and analyzation, you’re able to see and prevent potential budget and/or project shortfalls and control the end result. Metrics specifically designed for your multifamily business can help you control capability and prevent unintended budget overages.
Possibly one of the most important functions of a marketing operations program is its ability to effectively manage costs. Infusing the marketing function with a collaborative spirit to work closely with finance, human resources, sales and customer service will create processes that prevent cost “leakage” and effectively predict cost savings and revenue enhancements.
Marketing operations, and specifically utilizing a CMP to serve as your marketing operations “hub” can incur cost savings in the hundreds of thousands. Through volume buying power, bundling distribution, error rate reduction and a centralized administration (to name a few), a 100-community operator with average-sized communities and average rents should realize roughly a $500,000 improvement in NOI. In fact, the volume buying power of a CMP can incur savings upwards of $100,000 alone. Including marketing operations as a cost savings tool will demonstrate the incredible value that this critical process can bring to your multifamily marketing strategy.
The “newbie” in the marketing world, marketing operations is crucial to your multifamily success. When you invest valuable resources into ensuring your marketing operations run smoothly, you’ll see positive change in efficiencies, predictability, control and cost management, which in turn, creates an increase in NOI…and ultimately shows the undeniable value you and your multifamily staff bring to your organization.