Lessons from Groundhog Day: An Invitation to Transform

February 2 is approaching, and that means thousands of Americans will watch a rodent in a tree stump to see if it can predict a longer or shorter winter.

Of course, I’m talking about Groundhog Day, when Punxsutawney Phil looks to possibly see his shadow to let people know if there will be six more weeks of winter. It may be ridiculous to some, but there is no denying that it put Punxsutawney Pennsylvania in the national spotlight! The little town is a thriving commercial center with dozens of businesses that profit from what is essentially a marketing campaign.

Groundhog Day became so popular that it inspired the classic Bill Murrary comedy of the same name, where his character Phil Connors relives the same day over and over again. A TV weatherman, Phil is cynical and resistant to covering the ‘same story’ about a “weather predicting rat” for the fourth year in a row. His nightmare begins when he wakes up to find he is reliving the same day again and again.

This single movie contains everything you need to know about positive thinking, personal growth and happiness. And it’s very funny too!

Think about the time around Groundhog Day as opportunity to celebrate that you made it through the darkest period of winter. Imagine seeds of inspiration that are growing within you.

In the movie, Phil wakes up every day to find it is still Groundhog Day. He is compelled to find how he can change his behavior enough to make it to a new day.

Have you ever felt stuck like Phil, with your marketing programs on repeat? Just like the movie, you too can test new strategies to captivate and drive more prospective clientele to your properties.

Here’s what the movie can teach us about marketing our properties:

Shake up your schedule

The easiest thing to do when you’ve had success with a marketing campaign is to try and recreate it. Unfortunately, that strategy rarely works. Your audience is bombarded with tasks, emails, phone calls and a barrage of advertising every day. If they have seen your message before, they are more likely to pass it by than take notice.

When you have a new message to share, start your shake up with the schedule. Your audience may look at their emails and social media at certain times of the day and week more than others. If you have a business Facebook page, it can give you great insights into when people are clicking on your posts. For emails, we recommend using a distribution program to track when they are opened. Some demographics tend to respond to emails early in the morning…others on the weekend. Understanding these trends can have a big impact on engagement.

Don’t be afraid of controversy

When we are trying to lease up units, the thought of a controversial message or post may seem like CRAZY TALK, but controversy can be good for a marketing campaign. First, it makes the audience pause and stop scrolling long enough to see your message. Second, it makes them think about their own thoughts and values, which is easy to do. Third, it engages them with your brand. How can you incorporate a little controversy into your marketing campaign? Create a video on a controversial trend in your industry and ask viewers to share their thoughts on it. Or share a story of a nightmare tenant (without naming names) and ask what they would have done in that situation. Try Facebook Live! The beauty of social media is that even if your strategy doesn’t work, you can try again tomorrow. The same is true for your email campaigns. Test topics to see which ones get more engagement and push the envelope on your conversations.

Shortcuts aren’t really short

Have you ever tried to take a shortcut to get somewhere, and ended up spending twice as much time? In Groundhog Day, Phil tried to use every shortcut he could think of to capture the attention of Rita, his executive producer (played by Andie MacDowell). Every day that repeats, Phil tries a new shortcut to get Rita to like him. And every day, he learns something new about her until he eventually finds out that what he needs isn’t shortcut after all.

Every time, Phil’s shortcut to earn Rita’s affections was incredibly wrong. Rita spurns his advances every time, until he finally learns how to earn her respect and admiration. Brand building is about trust over time.  The best way to earn trust is consistent positive performance.

Break the monotony

Think about your competitors’ properties and marketing efforts. Which ones do you remember? When you scroll through your social media feeds, which ones make you pause? Those that are different than what you normally see are the ones that break through the clutter.

In the movie, Phil certainly breaks the monotony of what his audience expects—he learns to speak and read French, ice sculpt and play the piano. He makes people rethink who he is and what they know about him—breaking through the clutter of their daily lives.

Talk about more than just properties

Your audience already knows your business is real estate. What they don’t know is what you value. And if what your brand values are in line with what they value, you will have created a lifelong relationship.

Why have you selected the fitness equipment in your property’s new gym? What do you love about the new selection of coffee available in your business center? What are your plans for the “Big Game” or upcoming holiday weekend? All of those things relate to your brand, but bring your audience more in focus. Show them what you are passionate about and find out what motivates them.

Did you know that most millennial renters OVERWHELMINGLY choose to do business with companies that serve the greater good of the community? Show your audience your passion projects and enlist them to do good too. You will be surprised at the response!

Overall, Groundhog Day shows us that change can be for the better. A monotonous marketing campaign will never catch anyone’s attention, and can actually lose you clientele if they begin to tune out your messages.

By considering these new changes on Groundhog Day (and every day), you can stand out above your competitors, benefitting your properties in the long run.

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