Most people don’t really understand who property managers are, or what they do. This is even more surprising when you consider that renting is a surging trend for a wider range of Americans. More and more of us will interact with property managers.
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At Buildium, we get to see who property managers are every day and help them with the software we create. We know that they are often the first person to pick up a late-night phone call for a burst pipe or the first to resolve a dispute. In many ways, they are the unsung heroes of the real estate industry—but it goes deeper than that. Property managers have relationships that stretch over the long haul with renters and owners, and that makes them much different than anyone else in real estate.
When you peel back the curtain, you find a treasure trove of stories under the surface. Some are hilarious. Some are tragic. But all have an unmistakably human element to them.
The Big Idea Is Born
With all of this in mind, we began thinking about a different kind of marketing campaign to reveal more of property managers to the public. Normally, our content marketing is tailored to drive leads down the marketing funnel, but this was something completely new. We weren’t aiming to give “5 Proactive Tips for Your Spring Maintenance” or something else that had already been overdone.
We wanted to tell the kind of stories that we hear all the time when we talk to our customers, because they handle things every day that we thought deserved some celebration.
That next week the Multimedia Manager, Fred Tracy, and I sat down to vamp on ideas. After some initial thinking time on our own, we came up with a shortlist to present back to the team. A music video? Too awkward and difficult to pull off. A day in the life of a property manager? Too cliché.
We soon figured out that we couldn’t come up with the right story on our own—We knew nothing we could invent would even hold a candle to what our customers tell us. From that realization, the idea evolved into a national social media contest where property managers could submit their most humorous and heartfelt stories for a chance to tell them to the world.
The winners would be flown to our headquarters in Boston so that we could record them in person. After that, we would work with an illustrator to design animated characters. Last but not least, we would call it the #BuildiumEpicStory Contest and promote it everywhere! Sound crazy? It was, but our idea was green-lit shortly after pitching it.
Picking the Best One(s)
And let me tell you we got some stories in our inbox (many of which we can’t share). A couple of choice examples that come to mind involved extramarital relationships gone awry, a single renter competing for the same exact property through two different leasing agents, and seedy trespassers scared away with wasp spray fired from a scooter—yes, all true!
We also got a story of a property manager who opened a food pantry for her residents so that they wouldn’t have to make the choice between affording rent or groceries. Not all of the stories had a hilarious punchline, but they all shined a light on the very human, very real ways that property managers impact our living experience in overlooked ways.
A highlight of the campaign was also encouraging property managers to talk about their experiences in social media. To help spark this, we posted our reactions to our favorite submissions using short-form videos on social.
After all the fun, two submissions stood out: One about a haunted house from San Rafael, CA and the other about a gaggle of ducklings from Rockland, MA. We made the arrangements to record them right before the Labor Day weekend.
The Production Phase
Thanks to the production hustle of our videographer, Fred Tracy and, designer, Jennie Garrepy, we were able to capture everything we needed in a day, without any major hiccups. This is especially incredible seeing as Fred created the set in the back corner of our office.
Once we had a rough cut, Fred worked with the illustrator to storyboard the live action that we had witnessed and turn it into colorful animations. Instead of trying to explain the winning stories or spoiling the surprise too much, it’s probably best to let you watch his brilliant work with your own eyes.
Buildium Epic Story Winner #1: The Ghost of Valerie
As told by Matt Borries of Prandi Property Management, San Rafael, CA
Buildium Epic Story Winner #2: Light & Feathery
As told by Mitch Johanson of RGR Property Management, Rockland, MA
More Than a Contest
Pride is the underlying reason why we did this project in the first place. Of course, we wanted to get the word out about our company—helping property managers become the best at what they do is why we are in it—but it was more than that. Beyond making fun videos to share, we wanted to influence old tropes that still affect our customers. In short, we wanted to celebrate an often uncelebrated role by sharing what we see and hear from property managers, every day.
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