As markets become increasingly competitive, amenities and location alone are not enough to ensure the success of a student housing community. Leveraging a strong relationship with your University could be the X-factor that your student housing community needs to rise above the rest.
Don’t forget the “student” in student housing.
To Universities, the student experience is as important as the occupancy or fiscal health of a community. Be mindful of this as you are developing campus relationships. Remember to mention the leadership opportunities that your community offers along with the creative and engaging programming that your staff plans. This will go a long way to showing that students are more than $$$ to you. The difference between a good student housing community and a great one is their residence life program – and this is something the University will notice and appreciate.
Ask for Permission.
With Universities, you can’t take a “Beg for Forgiveness” mentality when it comes to going on campus to market. Like an elephant, they never forget and the reputation will be with your property for years to come. While they are not always receptive to some of the more direct and creative marketing strategies that we would like to implement, you should always first ask for permission.
Do your homework and know your audience.
All student housing community staff should have a basic understanding of the Student Development Theory. Not only is this useful in your day to day interactions with students, but it will help you understand and communicate more effectively with your campus partners. In addition, have a good understanding of how the person you are meeting with fits into the University Organizational Structure. This will help you determine their authority level and the level of influence they have on campus.
Be a good partner.
Participate in campus events that are not necessarily marketing opportunities, look to sponsor a scholarship on campus, or take part in service learning opportunities. By doing this, you show that the student housing community embodies the same values of the University and are somewhere that they will want to recommend to students. Never underestimate the power of simply being liked.
Add value to the campus.
There are many ways to do this, but sometimes it is best achieved by knowing what not to do/be. Don’t be the student housing community that is not well maintained and an eyesore. Don’t be the community known for having out of control parties. Do be the community where students say they can be academically successful. Do be the community that encourages staff and residents to get involved on campus.