In my passion to build organizations, I have found that the more things change, the more things stay the same. People and teams struggle and fail with complexity. They get lost doing things, and their business becomes stuck in a constant destructive loop. Like the main character in If You Give a Mouse A Cookie, our activity generates motion but gets our businesses nowhere. Ultimately, we are all just trying to sell a good or service for more than it cost to produce. We want to lower the rates of what it costs to market apartments while increasing apartment rental rates.  Simplicity in this sales process goes a long way as well.

We hear a cacophony of business buzzwords, but the basic principles of selling still exist. In fact, they are more prevalent and available now than ever before. Digital marketing efforts are simply the ongoing conversations between ourselves and our potential tenants. Whether through an ad, an email or an optimized website, we are having a conversation with the potential tenant. Everything stems from these basic concerns: What is the tenant thinking when they see this material? How are we helping the tenant? How are we persuading the tenant to act?

Key in this process — and I think very exciting — is the website, specifically the technology that is helping websites become more proactive, rather than reactive, to customers. Traditionally, we think of marketing websites as static — digital collateral material or a digital catalog. However, websites are becoming more active and more adaptable to a potential tenant’s place in the buying process. This is really cool stuff — instead of just shouting “BUY OUR STUFF NOW!” we can say, “Hey, how are you? What are your interests? What are your habits?” This way, we develop a relationship with our tenants, gaining their trust, loyalty, and, in turn, more of their spending dollars.

We can now have a conversation with our potential tenants, advocates and influencers more easily than ever. The message can be bent to the medium, and the medium can adapt to the message. Both message and medium have an ease of use and flexibility that allows for specific tailoring to multiple parties and for conversation to happen more freely. Landing pages can be generated based on customer activity, content can be pushed based on where an Internet user is in the journey, and soon, the blend of the physical and digital user will allow for seamless engagement with potential tenants in the sales process, regardless of device, location, or relationship.

This dynamic helps communities talk to their tenants in a way that makes the sale easier. In marketing, Fear and Trust are two core elements in the potential tenant’s journey. You have to alleviate their fear and build their trust in you — simple marketing concepts that have always been with us. This marketing is about building a story, which is Branding 101; thus, that story is crucial.

Successful selling is about overcoming fear with trust. The biggest hurdle to signing a lease is the tenant’s belief that they are going to be cheated; this is particularly true of online sales. Think about shopping online for a place to live—the biggest drawback to any committment to rent is fear. Concerns about being overcharged, scammed or taken advantage of are at the forefront of the potential tenant’s mind. They want to know if this is a company they can trust before they invest potentially an application fee, let alone a year’s worth of rent or a security deposit.  Real or perceived, these fears keep us from continuing the conversation with our potential tenants.

When we do attain our tenant’s trust, it is not something to be taken lightly. The best digital marketing sustains high standards of integrity and transparency so that trust is not only earned, but maintained.

So, while sales might be happening more and more online, the most important aspect of any sale — trust — remains the same.