4imprint, LLC
Promo items provide an edge in a crowded market

4 min read

Cover Story

Promo items provide an edge in a crowded market

Posted: February 07, 2024 4 min read

When a nearby university announced its new policy requiring on-campus housing for freshmen and sophomores, Honeysuckle Student Apartments’ potential market was cut in half. The company knew competition would become fierce as apartment complexes and landlords competed for a much smaller pool of students in need of off-campus housing.

Honeysuckle Student Apartments is not alone. Unexpected market changes can affect any organization. Stay ahead of the competition with ideas to help you stand out in a crowded market.

Tips to capture attention

  • Be visible
  • Focus on customer service
  • Consider prospects’ pain points
  • Reflect on the customer experience
  • Reinforce competitive advantages with branded items
two people talking in living room of apartment

Visibility matters

Few markets are more competitive than housing. In 2023, the national average interest rate for a 30-year mortgage reached a 23-year high. As a result, 2.4 million people are expected to rent instead of buy in 2024. Apartment complexes are springing up across the country, creating fierce competition for prospective tenants.

Person standing by table booth promoting Honeysuckle Student ApartmentsTo stay ahead of the competition, Honeysuckle Student Apartments took to the streets. The organization’s goal: Be visible and authentic. The 104-unit apartment complex started its outreach at student and community events. It canvassed the campus and set up an eye-catching booth at university home games to remain top of mind. There, it surprised attendees with gifts showing its apartments were the place to live.

“We try to do things that really grab their attention. We’ll stack a tall pyramid with stadium cups or use a prize wheel that they can spin to win larger giveaways, like sports discs and sunglasses in the spring, or knit hats and ice scrapers in the winter. We’ve found that these giveaways attract students to engage with us and learn about our apartments,” said Diane King, property manager.

multiple promotional products for Honeysuckle Student Apartments

Focus on customer service

Another organization, Ohio’s Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority (MMHA), provides a warm welcome plus affordable housing to the community. The housing agency, which often has a waitlist, wanted its residents to feel special.

Exterior of a Medina Metropolitan Housing Authority apartment complex

“When we get to the end of a big project, we like to have a thank-you event for everyone involved. People from the community will come along to check out the new space and it gets new residents excited to move in,” said Carrie Herman, finance manager.

At its most recent dedication ceremony, MMHA gave new residents and community members drawstring sportpacks stuffed with candy, pens and documentation on the residential communities.

“When we get to the end of a big project, we like to have a thank-you event for everyone involved,” Carrie Herman said.

Consider prospects’ pain points

One survey found that 45% of people consider moving to be life’s largest stressor, ahead of going through a divorce or getting married. For Honeysuckle Student Apartments, helping prospects overcome the stress of moving meant thinking outside the (moving) box.

45% of peple consider moving to be life's largest stressor

The apartments’ usual move-in gift baskets included a canvas tote bag, branded notebook and pen. Faced with new levels of competition, the team at Honeysuckle Student Apartments added promotional products not being offered at other apartment complexes. Items like wall planters, campfire mugs and hand sanitizers became part of its growth strategy.

three pictures filled with promotional products branded with Honeysuckle Student Apartments logo

“When our residents have a good experience, whether at move-in or later during their tenancy, we know they’ll talk to their peers about it, so we are always focused on providing excellent customer service,” King said.

Reflect on the customer experience

Unique features can set brands apart. Whether it’s delivery speed, product range or commitment to community, share what makes your brand the one people should choose.

For Honeysuckle Student Apartments, that meant knowing residents appreciate an above-and-beyond experience. “We know that we don’t offer the lowest rent prices, but we offer a lot of amenities that make it a great place to live. We want our promo items to convey that,” King said.

Reinforce competitive advantages with branded items

Everyday items can form powerful associations between a branded logo and the organization giving the items away. Honeysuckle Student Apartments kept this in mind when giving new residents useful umbrellas and cozy blankets.

The underlying message: Honeysuckle Student Apartments can make tenants’ lives a little easier and more comfortable.

“We offer a lot of amenities that make it a great place to live. We want our promo items to convey that,” King said.

This approach not only enhanced the overall brand impression but also served as a constant reminder of the apartment complex’s unique offerings. It’s a subtle yet effective way to make the brand stand out—and it left a lasting impression on the residents.

Stand out from competitors

Determining how to differentiate your brand is crucial no matter the industry. Be visible, consider customers’ pain points, reflect on the customer experience and reinforce differences to get—and stay—ahead.

Looking for more information about this topic? Email [email protected] with questions.