Jamie Matusek: Marketing to Parents of Millennials

by Katie Sloan

There has been a lot of information published on how to effectively market to millennials. Ultimately, millennials want to connect emotionally to a property and feel a sense of community, but what about the parents of millennials? While an incoming freshman may be attracted to the shiny amenities your property offers (lounge pool, anyone?), parents often have final decision-making power. We have found their inclusion in marketing campaigns — specifically those that target incoming freshman, transfer students and international students — to be most effective.

When including parents in a millennial marketing campaign, remember the following:

Be a Partner

This is a difficult time in the lives of parents; some are sending their oldest child off to college, while others are becoming empty nesters for the first time (not to mention the worry that’s associated with co-eds). Inspire loyalty by helping parents. Show them how you’re saving them money, making life easier or providing enrichment opportunities for their students. This will not only give them peace-of-mind, but make them champions of your brand.

Sell Happy

Parents want their kids to be happy. At the end of the day, that’s their number one priority. With student experience as a focal point, show them you’re more than just a landlord. Highlight the social interactions, friendships and memories they’ll gain, as well as the tight communities that will support their academic experience. Marketing campaigns that focus on the value the property will bring to students’ lives are most convincing to parents.

Sell and Repeat

Ensure you share the same, consistent message across numerous channels so you’re always top-of-mind during the research phase. There are a lot of options for on- and off-campus housing. Make your campaign memorable through multiple touch-points.

Bottom line: If your property is looking to appeal to college-aged students, then your marketing should be targeted to parents as well.

Case Study

Catalyst has used this approach with our clients with great success. A campaign that focused on the parents in attracting new freshmen, transfer students and international students recently won us the 2016 Silver Davey Award. The campaign was for Dobie Twenty21, a newly renovated, off-campus property serving the University of Texas.

Taking advantage of upcoming orientations on campus, we deployed a direct mail piece to the permanent addresses of incoming students. The piece highlighted property improvements and touted the outstanding service that one could expect from the new management team. The direct mail piece also included a strong offer — a free stay for parents during orientation so they would not have to find hotel accommodations.

Prior to the orientation campaign, Dobie Twenty21 was pre-leased at 24 percent for fall 2016. Within three weeks of deployment, Dobie received 480 pieces of traffic, and the property was booked solid with parents taking advantage of the free weekend stay. As students came for orientation, leasing numbers continued to improve as staff effectively closed 71 new leases the first week, 88 the second week, and 57 in the third week. As of halfway through the fourth week, 20 additional new leases were signed, resulting in the property being 61 percent pre-leased, a 37 percent increase in only three and a half weeks.

Jamie Matusek brings more than 20 years of experience in operations, account leadership, sales, interactive, and traditional marketing to her role as Vice President of Catalyst. She has years of experience handling marketing for big brands in telecommunications, student housing, multifamily, commercial real estate and many others. Visit www.thelyst.com to learn more.                                                         

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