Target Market Segments with Your Rental Ads, Part I

Understanding your target market will help you know how to cater to your prospects.

A very happy lady holding a document.If you want your rental advertisement to really be successful, you have to stand out from the sea of other similar rental advertisements in the minds of your readers. One of the best ways to do that is to make the reader feel like your ad is made for them – by making the ad for them. Or at least, for a fairly specific group of people like them – the house’s target market segment. But how do you figure out what the target market segment is for any given house?

Defining Market Segments

A ‘Market Segment’ is basically any group of people that is defined by one or more shared traits and is composed of potential customers. There are an infinite number of traits you could think of that people share, so let’s narrow that down a little…OK, let’s narrow that down a lot. Actually USEFUL market segments tend to come from fairly broad swaths of shared experience.

  • Life stages/events: Students, recent parents, newly-together couples, empty-nesters, retirees…every significant change in your life can have a significant effect on how you relate to your housing situation, which will relate to what you look for in a new rental.
  • Occupation: People in long-hours/high-stress jobs (health care workers, for example) look for different thing than people who work from home on their own schedule, or people who work the graveyard shift all the time.
  • Passion: Some people work in a job they don’t really care about, but love to cook, and wouldn’t be happy if they lived more than 20 minutes from a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Other people love to blast stupidly loud Punjabi rap songs at 10:30 at night and need a place that has at least a few dozen feet of empty space between their wall and their neighbor’s. Still others have spent decades rebuilding the same ’69 Charger over and over again and simply must have a 2.5 car garage (bonus points if it’s attached).
  • Ability: If you can’t climb stairs, you’re not going to rent a house with stairs. This one is kind of a no-brainer.

As long as you’re not defining your segment based on a qualifier that the Fair Housing Act deems illegal (see below), you can segment your market as narrowly as you want. Just remember that if your segment gets too small, your pool of potential applicants will be so low that you won’t rent the house no matter how attractive it is to the seven left-handed Bolivian flautists that might come across it.

 Features, Benefits, and Segments

So now that you’ve got a grip on what a market segment is, how do you figure out which segments your house will appeal to? It starts by looking at the features of the house, and determining how those features can be applied in real life to benefit the potential tenants. This basically involves asking yourself “why would someone care about this feature in a real-world situation?” over and over again and coming up with several potential benefits for each one. The next step…we’ll, we’ll get to that in Part II. For now, let’s look at some common features and the benefits they can offer.

  • Basements can offer storage, but they can also offer a sound-insulated place for a wet bar, or an out-of-sight place to stick a kid’s playroom, man-cave, home gym, or so on.
  • Garages, if they have electricity and insulation, can be basically just like basements. If they don’t, they can still offer workshop space, act as a covered patio, a play space for games like darts or hopscotch that is safe from rain, or the titular practice space for a garage band.
  • Spare Rooms (Bonus Room, Front/Back Room, 3rd/4th Bedroom, or a finished room in the basement) can be turned into a home office, a crafting space, a massive walk-in closet, a library, a laundry room, or a rec room.
  • A Breakfast Nook can easily be turned into a serving room/sideboard, a computer spot for homework, or a crafting area.
  • A Large Yard/Second Lot has great potential as a garden (for food or flowers!), a romping ground for kids or pets (especially if it’s fenced), or a place to stick a home playground, a gazebo, or a recreational vehicle like an RV or a boat.
  • A Heavily Shaded Yard is great for enjoying the outdoors whether hot out or rainy. It also makes it a lot easier to sleep during the day if you’re working that night shift.

Of course, there are an infinite number of variations on this theme. Just remember that it is illegal in the United States to say anything at all in an advertisement that would give the impression that you are trying to seek out or avoid potential applicants on the basis of:

  • Race, color, or nation of origin,
  • Age (not including retirement communities)
  • Marriage, pregnancy, or children, (though you can deny a family if there are more people than the house has bedrooms),
  • Religion or creed, or
  • Gender (though you can, if you have a multiplex, call it a ‘women’s home’ and have only females move in.)

As long as you follow those rules, you can get a specific as you want in your advertising – and generally, you should! Next week, we’ll look at exactly how.

Posted in: 1. Property Owner Blog Posts, Finding Tenants, Rental Marketing, Screening Tenants

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