How to identify a target market for your rental properties in 5 steps

Samantha Clark
Samantha Clark | 6 min. read

Published on February 20, 2018

Identifying your target market is essential to marketing your properties. It’s an important step–one that many people overlook when developing their marketing strategy. It’s the secret ingredient that every successful business has, but it’s easy to ignore. Once you identify your target market, you’ll have a better understanding of what your residents’ needs, wants, and struggles are. Plus, you’ll know exactly how to cater to them!

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It might feel uncomfortable at first. You’ll worry that you’re giving up a lot of business by choosing to focus on one specific audience. However, it makes your job easier, because you weed out the people who are on the fence about looking at your unit before they even walk through the door. Instead of wasting another weekend showing the unit to just anyone, you’ll attract the people who are most likely to sit down and fill out an application right then and there.

Ready to identify your target market? Here’s how to get started.

#1: Visualize Your Target Demographic

The demographics of your target market will give you a concrete idea of who you should market to. Different amenities appeal to different renters, and they search for rentals in different ways–which means that you need to adapt your approach depending on who you’re hoping to attract.

For example, Millennial renters search for apartments online. They look for affordable places to live in vibrant areas, and love feeling like they’re part of a community. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers who rent search for apartments online, but they look out for “for rent” signs and classified ads as well. They are drawn in by the curb appeal of a building, and they care about living in a safe neighborhood. As you can see, these are two demographics that require different needs. You wouldn’t want to market a high-rise to a Baby Boomer who’s looking to retire in a quiet neighborhood; and you wouldn’t rely on a sign in your front yard to attract Millennials.

To get a better understanding of who your target market is, think about the following factors:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Hobbies
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Lifestyle
  • Location
  • Marital or family status
  • Occupation

Keep in mind that you’re not narrowing down who you’ll rent to, since that would be discriminatory. You’re just fleshing out the ideal customer that you’ll visualize as you write and market your listings.

Don’t stress too much about getting every detail exactly right. This exercise will help you to determine where to focus your marketing efforts, but residents of all kinds will still want to rent from you–mainly because the value that you provide will draw people in.

#2: Find Out Why Renters Choose You

Another way to identify your target market is to understand why your current tenants stay with you year after year. Ask them why they like where they live. Is it the community? The location? The amenities? You’ll learn what’s popular with your property and can start to track recurring patterns.

Your current customers will teach you a lot about your target market. After all, they chose you over the competition. Figure out what makes them stay, and make a list of those important items. Even if you think you know what brings tenants to your units, there’s always something new you can learn from asking the right questions.

#3: Separate Units’ Features from Benefits

After you’ve identified why renters choose your property, now you can separate the features from the benefits. Features of your property are valuable, but they aren’t what make people want to rent from you: It’s the benefits that come as a result.

For example, you might be renting out a one-bedroom unit with central air and free Wi-Fi. The benefits are that a one-bedroom provides privacy and space; central air brings endless comfort in the summer; and free Wi-Fi means that they won’t have to mooch off of Starbucks anymore–all of which could mean a lot to a young couple who work from home. This is where knowing your target market’s needs, wants, and struggles come into play. Highlighting the benefits of renting from you makes them feel understood and provides a solution.

#4: Differentiate Yourself from the Competition

The apartment complex down the street from yours has a waiting list, and they do a lot of promotions. How are they able to do that? What can you learn from them?

When tenants are looking for their next place to live, it’s difficult deciding which option to go with. Make it easy for them to choose you by embracing what sets you apart from everyone else. How can you bring value to them in ways that your competitors aren’t able to?

#5: Get Personal

Effective marketing is all about getting personal. There’s pressure to finding the right apartment, especially when people have had bad experiences in the past. Instead of sounding like a robot when you write a property description, write as if you’re talking to a good friend. Human beings crave a genuine connection, and they need to trust the person who they’re renting from.

Build that trust from the very beginning. It starts with knowing your values, as well as the value that you can provide to your residents. Be empathetic, pinpoint their struggles, and find a way to solve them.

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It takes a little bit of work on your end to truly know what speaks to your target market. However, once you know what they want, you’ll know how to market effectively and efficiently. You’ll spend less time trying marketing tactics that just aren’t working. You’ll have a clear focus about who you need to reach and how to reach them; and you’ll have the confidence that what you have to offer is exactly what they’re looking for.

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Samantha Clark

Samantha is a freelance writer who loves to help real estate professionals grow their businesses online. She specializes in writing blog posts about property management, finances, and marketing. Learn more at

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