Finding a target market is one of the most important things a property owner or manager can do, but it's unfortunately one of the most commonly overlooked steps. Just as you wouldn't sell sports cars to grandmothers or yogurt to the lactose intolerant, you wouldn't want to bother advertising your openings to a group that has no real interest or intention of ever looking into renting from you. After all, once you determine who is in your target market, you can hone in on their struggles, desires and needs and give them exactly what they want. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management knows first-hand how important it is to cater to those considering renting from you.

So how do you get started? First, you'll want to step back and visualize the perfect day in your community. Are there kids running around, laughing and playing by the pool? Or perhaps there are young adults walking their dogs and checking the mail. Maybe there are seniors chatting over coffee on their porch, or college students playing some tennis after class. Deciding on your ideal scenario will help you determine what your target market actually might be.

Keep age, education, income level and hobbies in mind when doing this exercise. Do not, however, use this as excuse to discriminate against any particular kind of tenant. Fair Housing Laws prohibit discrimination based on gender, race, age and religion, so be sure your marketing strategy does not prevent people of all backgrounds from moving to your community.

Next, chat with current tenants about why they chose your community. Learn about your strengths. Is it your location that brings people to you? Your value? Perhaps it's your amenities or your stellar reputation. Take notes and track the data. You'll be surprised at what you learn!

Finally, harness this information to highlight the true benefits of your property versus your competitors. While you likely have plenty of great features, chances are good you're not the only community in town with central heating and air conditioning. Rather than center your marketing around the basics, promote the extras that will set you apart from the other complexes nearby. Because you already know so much about why people choose you over other options, you have a real psychological advantage in leasing additional units. Fill the needs of your target market and the rest is easy!

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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