By: Peter Lillis, Digital Marketing Manager at McCaffery Interests.
A regular challenge for marketers of all disciplines is establishing, defining and expanding new sub-brands within an existing and recognizable identity. With diverse target audiences fractured across several forms of media, communicating the unique but cohesive messages of sub-brands can be a daunting task in every industry. For the real estate industry, sub-branding most often comes into play with mixed-use assets, where marketers are struck with the duty of communicating the virtues of the different components, while still emphasizing the overall brand of the development itself. As Digital Marketing Manager for McCaffery Interests, I am learning the strongest methods for developing and sustaining the multi-faceted branding for Roosevelt Collection, a cornerstone of our developmental, residential and commercial portfolios.
When McCaffery Interests acquired Roosevelt Collection from Centrum Properties in the summer of 2011, the condo-finished, loft-style apartments had been completed and delivered with 85% occupancy. Despite high residential leasing numbers, we were left with nearly 300,000 SF of vacant retail space and a building-length center plaza space undergoing a major redevelopment. Recognizing the influence a development of this size would have on the burgeoning South Loop neighborhood, we enacted a multi-tiered marketing strategy to engage the community, learn from their experience and effectively communicate our plans and procedures. As part of that marketing strategy, we have defined two sub-brands within Roosevelt Collection: The Shops and The Lofts.
Through the use of social media, we have controlled our message, promoted our property and solidified a series of progressive brands, as well as provided a strong online presence to act as a commercial leasing tool. We learned that our program, which is constantly growing and shifting, has enabled our staff to more effectively manage the property, acted as a litmus test for community thoughts on the development, and has further enticed prospective retail tenants.
Our blog Urban Life, Collected acts as the anchor for the social media program, as well as our main content hub. Content on Urban Life, Collected holds three simultaneous functions:
1) To build grassroots support for The Shops at Roosevelt Collection, which is set to open in Fall of 2013. Through the blog, we make regular announcements on new tenants, space build-outs, and upcoming events. From there, neighborhood and city-specific publications will link to the blog, citing McCaffery Interests as the information source.
2) To enhance the at-home living experience for residents of The Lofts at Roosevelt Collection by providing consistent and trustworthy information specific to the building, staff and retail developments from multiple levels of management, including the property management staff up to our Chairman and CEO, Daniel McCaffery.
3) To enhance the prestige of the South Loop community by providing audiences with a one-of-a-kind neighborhood guide, complete with interviews with community leaders, profiles on local institutions and curated lists of the hottest landmarks.
While our blog is the center of our online messaging, we develop and share content across all of our social media platforms. Different audiences are on different platforms, so we take time to tailor our messages for each medium, specific to each of the sub-brands. We are active on as many platforms as we deem necessary, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest, Constant Contact, and YouTube. Each platform serves its own unique purpose in the larger program and the overall brand.
An essential part of our program is a system of metrics. We closely monitor our site and platforms performance using several web-based tools (Google Analytics, bit.ly, Hoot Suite, Twenty Feet, Facebook Insights, WordPress statistics, etc.), analyzing engagement numbers against previous months. Through these practices, we have honed our message and content to best suit our audience, while expanding our promotions and content development. By understanding the data, we can provide the best possible content through the appropriate platform.
Since we began our social media program, resident retention of The Lofts is at 66%, with 96% occupied and 98% leased. The Shops at Roosevelt Collection is set to open in Fall 2013, and we have debuted our brand new retail website to much fanfare. Thanks in part to our marketing efforts, we have secured leases from prominent international retailers such as H&M, White House | Black Market, Francesca’s Collections, among many others yet to be announced. The Roosevelt Collection blog has received significant feedback from residents and the community alike, with links to prominent city publications like Curbed Chicago, Chicago Journal and Crain’s Chicago Business. Our social media program received the Chicagoland Apartment Marketing and Management Excellence award for “Property Marketing – Electronic Form.”
Ultimately, the digital marketing strategy has directly increased the awareness and attractiveness of not only The Shops and The Lofts, but also of Roosevelt Collection on the whole. This increased profile of Roosevelt Collection translates indirectly to heightened awareness of the entire McCaffery Interests portfolio.