AIM 2018- A Freshman’s Perspective
As first time vendors to AIM I thought Digible’s freshman experience might be worth sharing with our brothers and sisters in the vendorhood (not to exclude our vast casual online readership). I’ll kick things off by expressing some newfound envy that I have for the conference creator/host- Steve Lefkovitz. Seeing him sip on an upper class of wine (assuming it wasn’t Yellowtail) surrounded by hundreds of attendees/vendors at a kick-ass resort off Huntington Beach made it hard not to dream that Digible might reach those heights in the years to come. Hats off, Mr. Lefkovitz! Moving on to what we learned, didn’t learn and highlights of the conference . . .
What We Learned
Hopefully, you’ll trust that I’m not just saying this, but me and David learned or were reminded just how much we love the people in this industry. Both of us hold career backgrounds in digital marketing, but primarily outside the multifamily (albeit David has been immersed in property management the past 4 years) orbit. As we gave and received advice from all spectrums of the apartment marketing community it was impossible not feel the comradery and energy that flowed through the conference.
Another theme or lesson from AIM was the shared interest and confusion surrounding artificial intelligence (see more below). There were countless references and sessions throughout the conference about AI; however, both presenters and attendees seemed to struggle how to bridge the conversation in a meaningful way. It’s easy to pontificate about AI or make sweeping statements about the impact it will have on our lives, personally or professionally. The ability to speak toward the direct applications and opportunities that AI supports within a niche marketing population is far more difficult.
Now for some lighthearted discoveries/observations . . .
- Yardi has more money than most small countries
- Joaquin Phoenix’s doppelganger is the president of Lease Labs
- ILS should stand for Internet Listing Saturation- how do these sites keep multiplying?
- Google is shamelessly remarketing ‘micro-moments’ as the ‘age of assistance’
- GDPR + Fair Housing = MMP (Multifamily Marketing Paralysis)
- The badge police were legit. Guess for $800/ticket you can afford to hire Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.
- Influencer marketing raised a few eyebrows- must be nice to be Greystar
- The conference MC was a nice find- he made a lot of lemonade where most of us couldn’t.
- Digible will be moving from water bottles to sunblock next year- guaranteed to be a home run
- Real Page? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?
What We Didn’t Learn
From a knowledge perspective (digitally, speaking) I can’t say that we left any smarter than we arrived. This isn’t to say there weren’t some terrific sessions or veritable thought leaders at the conference. However, we were hoping (and not hoping) that we would discover new technology or AI applications like Fiona that can help advance the industry forward. Speaking of AI . . . the phrase AI was overused to the point that it should have become a drinking game (maybe it was based on the bar scene). Unfortunately, I did not hear anyone (even the keynote speaker who was AWESOME) demonstrate tangible use cases or outcomes of AI specific to apartment marketing. Glad it’s top of mind for the industry, but there’s a big gap when it comes to application.
Expanded DL list . . .
- How marketers can escape the ILS vortex?
- Where to find fish tacos for less than $18?
- Whether scaling hyperlocal content is really possible?
- How to attend two sessions at the same time?
- Who won this year’s Game of Swag?
- If conversion rate optimization exists within the apartment industry?
- What RentPath paid for the title sponsorship?
- What click streams look like through the renter customer journey?
- Why a VC fund was in the same lineup as marketing startups?
- Whether anyone will read this entire blog?
Highlight of the Conference
There were several highlights from our maiden trip to AIM that come to mind (see below), but none of them compare to David’s performance at the startup showcase. He beautifully executed a complete demo of Fiona for more than a hundred marketers in less than 5 minutes. He covered every use case, spoke fluently about the tech, did not oversell the platform, and even squeezed in a couple drops of awkward Staley humor. It was criminal that he didn’t present until 5:30 pm, but considering the subsequent waterfall of demo requests we can hardly complain. I salute you Mr. Staley!!!
Other highlights . . .
- Breakfast with Melissa Robbins (and team) from Greystar. Really impressed by her opinions on digital marketing, views on innovation, hard-hitting questions and superb taste in podcasts (who knew!). Can’t wait for our half day in Denver with them.
- Entrata private event. Enjoyed learning about the past, present and future of the company directly from Chase Harrington. Incredibly smart guy, and super down to earth. Shout out to Elaine Williams for getting us an invite!
- Meetup with Sam and team from LivCorp. Sharp group led by one of the industry’s very best. Appreciate their early adoption and feedback on Fiona! Look forward to working with them more in the near future.
- Great conversation with Brenda and Shelly from Excelsior. Incredibly smart/cool women and quickly becoming one of our favorite clients.
- Dialogue with Windell Mollenido from REMM. Dude has serious brain game. Felt like he was finishing our sentences halfway through the meeting. Fascinated by his ‘outsiders’ perspective on the industry, and unbridled candor about multifamily operators. If you’re listening Dennis I would consider him for a speaker next year!
- Twilight riff with Mike Kaeding from Norhart. Love his company vision and commitment to a technology-based mindset. If these guys ever go public I’m digging under the couch for some investment change.
- Roundtable discussion with Aaron and team from Luxury Chicago Apartments. Aaron definitely “gets it” when it comes to data and predictive analytics. Hope to get them up and running on Fiona in the coming weeks.
- Discussion with Brian Coyne from Zumper. Spent about 30 minutes talking with Brian about their business model and roadmap. Really encouraged by Zumper’s pricing flexibility, dedication to quality leads and performance-based cost model. If you haven’t tested them already I would look for an opportunity in Q3.
- Meetup with Evan Savar from MyResidentLinc. For all the love that Fiona received during the conference I think Evan’s reaction took 1st place. Seeing him demo our product to a couple of marketers in front of his investor was a Kodak moment for us.
- Patio session with Lindsey Holland from HomeMe. Lindsey is good people- straight up. Her experience and perspective on apartment based startups is invaluable, and she genuinely seems passionate about paying her lessons forward to companies like Digible.
Apologies if we left anyone off, but have to get back to the grind. We’ll see you next year!
- The Digible Guys