Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived… odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief.” — Helen Keller (Blind and deaf educator, 1880-1968)

As your potential residents walk through one of your properties they are consciously examining their environment but there is unseen magic at work. Unconsciously, they are being transported to positive and negative associations through the scents in the air. You can weld that power to your own advantage if you know how to use it.

Can you smell the cash flow?

Memories and emotional associations

10 Scents that Work Magic in Apartment Marketing and LeasingHere’s the basic idea. Smell is one of the first senses to form and develops deep connections in the brain, one area being the amygdala, an area that forms memories. When we smell something, we unconsciously associate it with emotions from the memory.

For me, the smell of Hawaiian Punch recreates happy childhood memories. I cannot consciously explain why my elementary school brain locked onto the scent of Hawaiian Punch. All I know is that, for me, it means pure, childlike excitement.

You could name your own associations, as everyone can. This is called the Proust phenomenon, the ability of odors to spontaneously trigger emotion through personal memory.

Thank you, advertising industry

Frequently, these memories and emotional associations are not consciously considered, but instinctual responses. Retailers know this and scent their stores appropriately. They call it “environmental fragrancing” and it means increased sales.

It works for big business and it can work for you.

Start with the bad scents

First you have to get rid of any bad odors. People can tell if you are masking a scent, especially if it is a bad one. You have been next to someone wearing too much cologne, attempting to mask an unpleasant odor, haven’t you? It’s the same thing. You must thoroughly clean the property.

  • Plug in a dehumidifier and/or a HEPA air filter.
  • Mop or vacuum floors.
  • Wash any fabrics in the unit that absorbed odors.
  • Paint walls with “odor absorbing” paint.
  • Make sure all food and liquid has been emptied from cabinets and fridge.
  • Clean all surfaces.
  • Use products that neutralize odors – baking soda, vinegar or Febreze

Marketing with scents

Now that you have set the stage you should plan on using one simple fragrance for the rental unit. Researcher Eric Spangenberg found that, “cash register receipts revealed a significant bump in sales when an uncomplicated scent was in the air.” Spangenberg used a simple orange scent to create the sales increase.

Choose a scent that would be appropriate to your market and season. Keep the scent understated, not overwhelming. Sometimes a little goes a long way.

Recommended simple scents:

  • Orange or lemon
  • Rosemary
  • Vanilla
  • Baking cookies
  • Fresh air
  • Cucumber

Recommended simple holiday scents:

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Apple pie
  • Pine
  • Cedar

Once you choose a fragrance that will “brand” your property to the brains of potential residents you are on your way. Let scent work it’s magic in the mind for you. Keep it simple and keep it understated.

Related Articles:

Apartment Complex Branding 101 – Who Are You?

5 Extraordinary Ways to Market and Lease Apartments

How to Generate Traffic to Your Apartment Community

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Theresa Bradley-Banta writes about investing in real estate while avoiding the pitfalls that plague many new investors. She is a 2017 PropTech Top 100 Influencer and winner of 14 American and International real estate awards for her website and real estate investing programs. As featured on: The Equifax Finance Blog, AOL’s Daily Finance, Scotsman Guide, The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show, Stevie Awards Blog, Rental Housing Journal, and Investors Beat among others.

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