Kathy Neumann rent.com

The rental housing industry is a much different space today than it was even a few years ago. Similar to the vehicle industry, many decisions are now being made entirely online, forgoing lengthy face-to-face interactions.

Moving away from the traditional, in-person process has presented challenges and opportunities for companies in the industry. In epsisode 26 of the Business to Human podcast, Kathy Neumann, Chief Marketing Officer of Rent, discussed how they use basic marketing principles to drive success.

The changing industry of rental housing

Kathy points out that rapid shipping timelines coupled with concepts such as same-day grocery delivery have increased consumer expectations for quick response and delivery times. Consumers today expect the ability to consume content quickly and have any questions or concerns answered within an instant.

In the rental housing space, the process between application and move-in was traditionally much more drawn out, with clients scheduling viewings in person. Now, consumers and tenants are expecting quicker and more efficient times.

During COVID, the need for digital communication in the space created a new standard in the market. 3D imaging, virtual tours, and the ability to see the view from a window of a potential home from your couch have become the new expectation.

10 years ago, signing a lease without ever seeing the property in person would have never been viewed as a possibility. While some consumers are not comfortable with a 100% digital process, the constant advancement of technology in the space is working to ensure success for everyone in the market.

For marketers in the space, Kathy believes the mission has not changed.

“It still comes down to experience and understanding how expectations are shaped, not just in the industry you’re working in, but with interactions across everything. The use of mobile, being able to recognize customers, meeting their expectations, recognizing the clues they are dropping throughout the journey, and being able to deliver a better experience transcends everything,” Kathy says.

Real-time support

Today more than ever, customers expect to click a button and have a response. While the desired expectation is to have a customer experience professional on the other end, waiting for a customer to click, that is not always the case.

Kathy believes it is important to make the process as frictionless as possible, and the tech is here to make it happen.

“With the onset of AI, chatbots, and everything else, we have the opportunity to really enhance that journey and every interaction in a very different way to deliver on what the customer really wants,” Kathy says.

While every interaction is not likely to be 100% instantaneous, with every new adoption, the industry moves closer to that benchmark.

Tips for success for marketers in today’s tech landscape

Kathy explains that only a few years ago, tech was considered a separate business venture and managed accordingly. Now, tech is engrained in nearly every step in every business process.

From a marketer’s perspective, keeping brand voice and experience congruent throughout these steps is extremely important. Kathy offers a few tips for maintaining a 360 experience.

Tip #1: Staying curious about the business

 Kathy believes that staying curious about the business you are in as well as staying curious about the business of marketing is the first avenue to remaining successful. With so many rapid and unprecedented changes, staying ahead of the game is crucial.

“Too often, we get so siloed in what we are doing, what is in front of us today that we are missing some incredible stuff that is going on in other spaces that could absolutely be applied to ours,” Kathy says.

Tip #2: Keep testing

With adopting new things comes testing, and formalized testing at that.

Kathy tells her team they are not trying to put a man on the moon. They are trying to help people find a place to live. In their environment, like in most, it is okay to take risks, try new things, attempt to reach new channels, meet with new audiences, and more.

The world of digital makes this possible at scale without as much risk, offering a huge potential unlock if the conditions are right. Staying on top of new potential opportunities should be a constant effort.

Tip #3: Remember that marketing is a team sport

Kathy is a firm believer that marketing, when done well, must be a team sport, taking a village to reach success. She encourages marketers to ensure that they are engaging all members of their team and avoid getting pigeonholed in their channel or discipline.

A step further, Kathy encourages marketers to engage with their cross functional business partners, as they are viewing the business through a much different lens that can bring marketing opportunities to the table.

Interested in learning more? Listen to our full conversation with Kathy, where we take a deep dive into changes facing the rental housing industry, broader tech changes in the marketing industry as a whole, tips for marketers in today’s tech-backed world, and more. Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.