Marketing Limelight: To Know Customers Is to Rent to Them
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
By: Sue Weinman
Posted on: 01/17/2008


Print Yellow Pages seems to elicit the least amount of excitement of all the advertising mediums. It doesn’t have the sex appeal of TV or the Internet, yet it still delivers the greatest number of new customers to storage facilities.

As a facility owner or manager, you probably spend the lion’s share of your advertising budget on print Yellow Pages. Doesn’t it make sense to know who you spend that money to reach? Who searches through the directory, reads the ads, and decides which business is worth a phone call?

Introducing … Your Customers

To introduce you to your customers, here is the most current data from Knowledge Networks/SRI. It will help you understand what they need and how to deliver it.

  • 72 percent of people referencing the “Storage” heading are female.
  • They look at an average of 5.5 ads.
  • 45 percent are married.
  • 63 percent are between the ages of 25 and 49.
  • 64 percent are high school graduates or have attended college.
  • 52 percent are college graduates.
  • 71 percent earn between $10,000 and $60,000 per year.
  • 75 percent have a computer at home.
  • 68 percent of those with computers are online subscribers.
  • 60 percent indicated looking at a local storage business as opposed to a large national company.

Knowledge Is Power

Now, let’s use the above information to design an ad that will drive a customer to call you instead of a competitor:

Gender. If almost three-quarters of Yellow Pages consumers searching the “Storage” heading are female, your ad should artistically appeal to women. Plus, women are detail-oriented, so specific information about the facility has to be included. Blending the two means the layout has to be attractive, clean and easy to read—not crowded, yet still informative.

Women are looking for a “solution,” and they will be more discerning shoppers than men. That’s why they look at a higherthan- average number of ads in this heading. Give them answers to their questions, and they will beat a path to your door.

How do you know their questions? Ask them. Survey your customers to find out what is most important to them in a storage facility. Then make sure those points are featured in your Yellow Pages ad.

Age. The storage customer is on the younger side, so your ad design has to have a contemporary feel. If you’ve been running the same ad for several years, freshen it up. This customer prefers photos to line drawings.

Education. Studies indicate your customers are more educated than the average consumer. They are intelligent enough to see through benign bullet points such as “Secure Units.” They want to know what “secure” means: Does the property have full perimeter fencing, or do you provide surveillance, individually alarmed units, etc.?

Income. Your average tenant tends to have a lower income and is likely price-conscious. Of course, “average” is the operative word. That may not be the case if you’re in a more affluent area. However, if your customer is in a lower average-income category, your ad needs to feature value, pricing, special offers, etc., to influence the decision.

Computer use/online subscriptions. The majority of Yellow Pages print users are computer-savvy and Internet-connected. Additional statistics show many print users also-perform Internet searches. So include your website address is in your print ad. These consumers are intelligent enough to know that most Yellow Pages ads don’t have the space to provide all of the information they need; many will go to your website to find out more about your facility before making any phone calls.

Local business loyalty. More than half of your customers prefer to do business with a local company as opposed to large national chains. Make it obvious that you are a community-based business; belong to your local chamber of commerce and Better Business Bureau, and state that in your ad. If you support community organizations, you may want to mention it in your ad as well. And if you have longevity, let people know. For example, use a statement such as “Meeting our community’s storage needs since 1975.”

Now that you have statistics on the average Yellow Pages consumer who searches the “Storage” heading, remember that none of your customers is average! They are all special because they are yours. Find out what they want and how you can better meet their needs. Then take those answers and use them to design a unique ad that will bring you even more special customers just like them. 

Sue Weinman is vice president, Yellow Page Services, of Michaels Wilder Inc., an advertising agency specializing in Yellow Pages, Internet marketing and talent recruitment for the self-storage industry since 1989. For more information, visit