The Benefits of an Integrated Marketing Strategy for Student Housing

Topics: Marketing Toolkit, Public Relations, Millennials + Gen Z, Digital Media, Media + Advertising, Property Marketing, Campus Media

Posted by: Marketing

In this fifth post in our Property Marketing for Student Housing blog series, we complete the DISCOVER stage of marketing strategy development before moving on to stage two - CREATE. Here we discuss how and why to identify the right mix of paid advertising (both digital and traditional) and earned, owned, and shared media for a successful integrated marketing strategy.



If you missed the earlier posts in this series, you can access them here:

+ Learn what a state-of-the-art student housing property marketing campaign consists of.

+ Learn how to create a successful marketing campaign for your student housing property step-by-step.

+ Learn how to develop, establish and refine student housing property marketing goals.

+ Learn how and why to identify target market personas for a successful property marketing campaign.

What is an integrated marketing strategy and why do you need one?

An integrated marketing strategy for student housing incorporates traditional campus advertising, digital marketing tactics, and public relations (PR). By combining tactics from these three marketing arenas, you can extend your reach while each part of your marketing campaign amplifies the efforts of the others. 

This type of holistic plan blends appropriate combinations of traditional out of home and print advertising, display, video, search, social, earned media, influencer marketing and promotional events to produce the outcomes you're looking for. To maximize effectiveness and keep costs in line, you will want to include the right mix of paid, earned, owned, and shared media. And in this increasingly virtual era, digital marketing tactics are especially important.

Digital marketing solutions are vital for property marketing success. 

Student rentals cater almost exclusively to Millennial and Generation Z audiences, both digitally native demographics. To advertise to and connect with these demographics, you must include a digital advertising strategy in your marketing plans.

The umbrella term “digital marketing” encompasses an enormous range of tactics and new media assets. Everything from paid digital advertising to your website and social media channels falls under this category. 

The world of digital marketing can be overwhelming. Leasing managers may be tempted to focus the majority of their time, efforts and budget elsewhere. However, this ever-expanding sector is key to attracting students in today’s crowded real estate market. Including a digital component is truly one of modern marketing’s best practices.

Online, email and text marketing reach Millennials and Gen Z audiences exactly where they’re spending the majority of their time – on their smartphones. Through these channels you can amplify your branding efforts, extend your marketing reach and build deeper relationships with your target audience. But where should you focus your digital marketing activity?

It’s important to choose the channels that best fit your needs and are proven to deliver real results. For property managers looking to increase occupancy in today’s market, paid ad campaigns are an excellent way to optimize your ROI. Using location specific geo-targeted advertisements (local Pay Per Click) ensures that the impressions you’re paying for reach the candidates you’re pursuing.

+ See our PPC infographics for more information.

Today’s best digital advertising channels include Google (for search, display, and video), Bing (for search and display), social media campaigns (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter), and emerging media. When it comes to social media, each platform serves a distinct purpose and your company needs to know how to properly utilize each of the platforms you employ.

+ See our paid social advertising stats infographic.

Since 96% of adults in the United States ages 18-29 now own smartphones, it is especially important that companies know how to optimize their campaigns for a mobile setting and make the mobile shopping experience as easy and seamless as possible. 

Videos are another key marketing tool, and are rapidly growing in popularity. With video, your marketing message can be effectively conveyed to a wide audience faster than ever before. Ads featuring virtual property tours are an incredibly effective way for leasing managers to make use of this technology.

Traditional media and advertising also play an important role.

Targeting your advertising efforts geographically is a smart move, especially for student housing property managers. College campuses concentrate your target audience in a small area as students live, eat, socialize and learn within a few square miles. Build your brand voice and capture revenue through strategically placed outdoor and transit advertising, print advertisements, chalk art and graffiti.


+ See our complete suite of campus media services.

Outdoor & Transit Advertising

Whether delivered via billboard, signs or screens, out-of-home (OOH) media and transit advertising generate repeated exposure, delivering your message over and over again. The visual impact delivers more bang for your buck.

+ See our guidelines for creating a successful outdoor advertisement.

Print Advertising

Build rapid exposure within a targeted area with postering. Available when larger advertising formats aren’t, posters can be placed in shopping centers, bookstores, cafes, breezeways and public buildings. High frequency repeat exposure produces real results. Campus newspaper ads are another way to reach your target market on budget, with precision, quickly and effectively.

Chalk Art & Graffiti

Sidewalk art, chalk art, stenciling, clean graffiti and graffiti walls allow you to reach your audience in fun, surprising and unique ways that leave a lasting impression. Sidewalks offer a canvas for marketing your brand and promoting events in an artistic style that resonates with young adults.

Created by writing a message on a dirty sidewalk using pressured water and a stencil, clean graffiti has particular relevance for Millennials and Gen Z. This environmentally friendly form of outdoor media creates a buzz and positions your property and/or management agency as an innovative beacon of social responsibility.

+ See the top 3 things to know about campus advertising campaigns.

How does PR fit into the property marketing picture?

The public image that you create and promote for your property (and property management company) is an important part of attracting renters. When your reputation both reaches and speaks directly to your target audience, you will generate meaningful results.

Engaging in influencer marketing is possibly the most effective PR tactic for student housing properties. This form of marketing has exploded with the growth of social media. Mentions and shares on sites like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, TikTok and Linked-In reach millions of viewers. 

Whether individuals share your content with their peers or high-profile influencers speak favorably of your organization, you gain exposure, build positive brand awareness, and engage more of your target audience.


Create a workable integrated marketing strategy using the PESO framework.

Between the many digital marketing channels, traditional advertising options and PR tactics, we’ve presented a prodigious number of approaches that could be included in a property marketing campaign. It’s essential that you choose the tactics that are right for your business, rather than trying to do it all.


“Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.” 


The PESO model is a framework for integrating paid, earned, shared, and owned media to create a successful holistic marketing strategy. To use this system, separate potential marketing tactics into four categories - paid media, earned media, shared media and owned media. 


When choosing which avenues to include in your marketing strategy, first consider where and how your target audience spends their time. Where do they eat, work, study and relax? Will they notice advertisements placed in these locations? Which social media platforms do they use? Are they likely to engage with email marketing? Do they read the campus newspaper?

Next, think about the media channels you currently use to advertise vacancies and promote your property. How are they performing? Are there ways to optimize channels with low engagement or should these be dropped altogether? Are there tactics you’re not currently using that could amplify your existing efforts and improve outcomes? Keep your goals firmly in mind and choose approaches that will provide real and relevant results.

Time and money matter too. Pay attention to how much you will need to invest to reach your goals using the tactics you choose. Consider the expected time commitment as well, and be sure you have the available bandwidth to take the necessary action steps for success.

By incorporating the PESO framework into our Discover. Create. Execute. process, you will be able to develop an effective and efficient property marketing campaign that includes the right mix of paid, earned, owned, and shared media.

Would you like to learn more about how to create a successful property marketing campaign for student housing?




Here at MSSmedia, we’ve been providing Education, Government, Real Estate & Lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for more than 15 years. Consider MSSmedia a full-service, one-stop shop for all your Media and Public Relations needs. Your goals are our motivation. And our mission is to propel your message, further and faster, to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. If you found this blog post helpful, please share!

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