Blog: Lessons from a Groundhog: An Invitation to Transform

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.

No surprise that such a successful campaign would begin to inspire others. For instance, 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. Not to mention the humor and belly laughs it evokes!

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.xc

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.

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.

BLOG: What we can learn about branding from Chip & Joanna Gaines

At Magnolia Market and Silos, I was blown away at the incredible attention to detail in every facet of the store. Around every corner, there were vignettes set up in ways that looked fresh, friendly and inviting. Even the guestbook when I walked in the store looked like I was coming to a family store. That’s the beauty of a powerful brand. It’s much more than just a logo. Do your properties have a memorable brand? Do they make residents and their guests feel welcome and at home? Here are a few things we can learn from Chip and Joanna’s branding that we can incorporate into our own businesses.

1. It’s More Than A Logo

Whether you’re into home improvements or not, it’s unlikely you haven’t heard of at least one of Chip & Joanna’s business ventures. But did you realize all of their brands have a similar look and feel? They are all based on the values of fresh, classic and functional. Whether you’re looking at their line of paints at Ace Hardware or spending a small fortune on home décor at Target, the Gaines have both aligned themselves with trusted brands and BECOME trusted brands. Their Magnolia-branded lines evoke the feelings of family, comfort and freshness before you even see them.

How would your clients and target audiences describe your brand? Have you asked them? At NEX-GEN Management, we have built our brand on the foundation of expertise in the multifamily industry, advanced technological capabilities and the firm belief that __________________________ is the future of our industry when it comes to __________________________.

2. Be Real With Your Clients

There is truth to the adage that “people buy from people they know.” Our target audiences, especially millennials and Gen Z, are inherently skeptical of companies and brands they don’t know or trust. That puts the responsibility on our shoulders to be as real as we can in our communications with them.

Joanna and Chip are as real of a couple I have ever seen on TV. They tell stories that aren’t flattering because they know we remember how they reacted to situations, not how the situation came about. Joanna has famously said, “I always thought that the “thriving” would come when everything was perfect, and what I learned is that it’s actually down in the mess that things get good.”

Her message, like her brand, is one of acceptance. It permeates every line she has, and she never deviates from it. We should all strive for the same message in our properties. If prospective tenants know your brand is behind the property, will they be more or less willing to spend their money with you? Or will they move on to another brand they know?

3. Find your style

Joanna Gaines had a distinct style long before it became popular. Her base of white colors with mixes of old and new pieces highlights her attention to minimalism. Do your properties have a distinct style? If you specialize in turning around old properties, do you update them with modern touches to create a perfect blend of “classic” and modern? If you specialize in building or managing new properties, do they have a unique mix of amenities for the modern renter?

Research has shown that renters enjoy social activities far more than those who live in single-family homes. Do you create spaces for socialization at your properties? Whether you have a unique style for a movie theatre or game room, or a special look for your pool furniture, those visuals let current and prospective tenants know that management cares about their comfort.

Whether you own 30-year-old or brand new properties, your branding matters. It does more than tell your customers you care about them. It shows them. You don’t need to make a trip to Waco to imitate the style of Magnolia Market. You can create your own.