Do-It-Yourself Video Marketing Helps Self-Storage Operators Get Real With Customers
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
Posted on: 11/08/2011


By Rachel Greenfield

The influence of do-it-yourself video is everywhere. Big brands are using popular motifs from viral Internet videos in their huge mass-media campaigns. They’re doing this because marketers recognize the simple appeal, and they want to associate their brands with that down-to-earth, scrappy vibe.

This trend in advertising is popular in 2011 because consumers are seeking transparency and realness from the businesses they choose to patronize. The most successful brands aren’t afraid to let a little personality shine through.

Believe it or not, you can create and promote a video that appeals to your potential self-storage customers and generates return on investment for your facility. You don’t even have to hire a production team. We’re talking do-it-yourself video. It can be a low-budget, fun marketing effort that actually works in a trackable way.

But Self-Storage Is Boring

It’s easy to think self-storage is too unglamorous to be entertaining. However, video is actually the perfect means to showcase how you and your team make storage great. You’d be surprised by how many cool examples there are of self-storage featured in movies and on TV and the Web, where several operators have posted entertaining videos.

Manhattan Mini Storage enjoys great press coverage and tons of social sharing with its ad campaigns thanks to smart, creative writing in videos and billboards that appeal to the local target audience in an inclusive way. Their ads make viewers feel like they’re real New Yorkers, included in the city’s inside jokes. This tactic can work in any location.

Ultimately, Internet users prefer hitting the “play” button on a one- or two-minute video over reading lengthy copy. For potential future tenants, this is an ideal first point of contact with your facility. Video can enhance the customer experience and add value to your facility through educational “how-to” content. It also has the power to help potential tenants find you in the first place—not only through social sharing, but through online search engines.

Where Do I Start?

The best place to start is with a short welcome video on your website. Ask staff for content ideas or hold a contest for your social-media followers, rewarding whoever comes up with the best idea for a commercial.

This should be a fun tour of your facility, staff, products or unique value position. Think of the physical tour as your cake, and then add icing and sprinkles to make it awesome. Your video can include anything from funny staff antics, to the unique history of your facility’s building, to the charitable work in which your company loves to participate. This is what’s going to make your video entertaining, compelling and unique. Also work in a local angle whenever you can.

Keep videos short and simple, no longer than two minutes. Always avoid coming across as too self-promotional. Video should be entertaining, helpful and real. You want viewers to feel as if they can relate to your business. A welcome video is perfect to feature front and center on your website.

Distribution for Results

You know how when you type in certain keywords into Google videos pop up at the top of the search-results page? They appear as those irresistibly clickable thumbnails. You can get your video ranking here for search queries such as “[your city] storage.” With educational videos, try ranking for phrases like “How to use self-storage” or “Do I need climate control?”

Another way to get attention for your video is to upload it to YouTube, making sure every field on the video-edit page is completed, especially keyword tags. In the description, use the keyword in which you’re trying to rank, as well as your website URL. Another best practice is to set up your brand’s YouTube channel and add new videos as often as you can.

If Google decides to include video in search results for your keyword query, it will appear on page one or two. So do a search yourself and see if any video is ranking yet. If not, you have an untapped opportunity to be the first.

If there are already two or more videos displaying, you can get more specific with the keywords you’re after, such as targeting your specific neighborhood instead of “Detroit self-storage.” Or check out how the videos already displayed in search results are actually performing. Video metrics are conveniently transparent. You have easy access to the numbers your competitions’ videos are pulling in including how many views, shares, likes and comments they have. This will dictate what you need to exceed, because all those numbers have an influence on how Google ranks video.

Promote Your Video Everywhere

It’s easy to add video to practically any social profile and directory listing you already have. Get everyone in your network of friends and family to share it with their own contacts. When relevant, send an e-mail to your base of current customers and leads with new video content. You can even enlist self-storage peers in non-competing geographies to repost for you—this industry is in need of cool fodder like video to share on social media.

Is It Working?

Once your video is posted, you need to determine if it’s drawing attention. Consider offering an exclusive promotion to viewers. This will help you track how many new tenants mentioned your video to get the discount when leasing. Also display a unique trackable phone number in each video you release. Websites such as Callfire can help you set up a number that reroutes to your regular facility phone. This makes it easy to track how many calls come in from each number and to determine which video is gaining the most attention.

You don’t need a big budget or fancy equipment to make an impact online with your self-storage video. With a little investment of time, creativity and energy, you and your staff can make a simple but fun marketing message that will gain online traction for your facility and bring in more rentals.

Rachel Greenfield is the marketing analyst at SpareFoot, an online self-storage marketplace listing real-time unit pricing and availability. The company offers a suite of Web marketing tools for storage operators, including ad listings on its 50-plus partner sites, a facility website builder and local search solutions. For more information, call 512.705.6208; visit .