Inside Self-Storage 7/99: Magnetic Marketing

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Magnetic MarketingDrawing quite a following

It's such a simple thing, but it can make a significant impact.

As a self-storage owner or operator, one of your primary concerns is always payment. How do you, without assuming the cost for distributing a monthly bill, remind your tenants how much and when to pay, for which unit, and where to send the check? Enter Magnetic Marketing, a Lubbock, Texas-based mail-order distributor of Rent Reminder Magnets™ and storage payment envelopes.

Co-owned by Eddie Bell and Rick Crumley, both self-storage storage operators of several facilities in the Lubbock area, Magnetic Marketing Self-Storage Supply was founded in February 1995. "We had gotten into the storage business in about 1990, and after a couple of years we noticed we were getting a lot of phone calls from people with the same questions: What's my unit number? When's my rent due? How much do I owe?" explains Bell. "Finally, we started thinking that if we could put this information on a magnet, something they could keep in their house on a refrigerator or filing cabinet, that would really cut down on those calls. Plus, it would remind tenants that they had a unit rented--some simply forget."

After utilizing the magnets in their own operations, and having great success with them, the pair decided to market their idea to the industry, beginning with a direct-mail campaign and later incorporating classified advertising. Now, four years later, approximately 3,500 facilities use them. "We sell them all over the country," says Bell, who points out that even some extremely large operators, such as Storage USA, are taking advantage of this little perk.

The magnets, the size of a business card, include the facility's name, address and phone number, and contain spaces wherein the owner can write in each tenant's unit number, payment amount and due date. They also remind tenants to include their unit number with their payment. "They're our biggest seller," says Bell. "Because most places don't bill, the renter uses the magnet as their connection to the facility."

In addition to reminder magnets, the company also markets pre-addressed, security, payment envelopes that can be provided to the tenant at the time of lease signing. "We include these envelopes in every late notice or other correspondence as well," Bell notes. "The envelopes are not only convenient, but they ensure that the payment is addressed properly. In the upper-left corner is a space for the tenant to fill in their name and unit number, along with a box they can check to indicate an address change. This helps keep you up to date with your tenants."

Perhaps the biggest boon is that for less than 50 cents per customer, you have a silent reminder working towards ensuring payment for your business. Because magnetic marketing is able to order large quantities of the magnets at one time, the retail price is considerably lower than what an owner would spend if he bought them direct from the manufacturer. According to Bell, the average order includes 500 magnets and sells for $189.95. Larger orders reduce the price per unit still more.

While Magnetic Marketing also sells rubber stamps, pens, banners, pennants and streamers, signs, key rings and magnetic car signs, Bell says there is no doubt that the envelopes and rent-reminder magnets are their bread and butter. "There's a lot that this little magnet does for the customer, aside from acting as a promotional piece," he says.

"I think the most impressive thing about this business is the way it has expanded," Bell says. "It's just been really growing, and we're trying to make it grow faster." For more information about Magnetic Marketing, call (800) 687-4947; fax (806) 794-5141; Web www.mag-marketing.com.

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