Michaels/Wilder Group

Kimberly Hundley Comments
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When you need a self-storage expert to consult on Yellow Pages advertising, who you gonna call? For the past 15 years, the answer has often been Peoria, Ariz.-based Michaels/Wilder Group. Though not exclusive to the self-storage industry, the consulting agency arrived on the scene storage-savvy, its principle players having spun off from MiniCo Inc. Over the years, the group’s expertise has grown to include online Yellow Pages, Internet advertising, and other marketing and promotion strategies.

“We know the industry as well as a lot of people who own storage,” says Curt Ogieglo, vice president of operations. “We bring that intangible, value-added quality. For instance, we know to talk to you about your unit mix and cap rate. We know what matters: service radius, occupancy, signage and frontage. If you don’t have a good location, you’ll need more Yellow Pages advertising than if you’re on a major thoroughfare. We put all that stuff into consideration when we’re telling you how to buy ads.”

Yellow Pages

Michaels/Wilder’s pledge to clients is increased response and superior advertising programs. Yellow Pages know-how is an integral component of its self-storage services, due to the medium’s paramount importance in the industry. A new facility can expect 60 to 80 percent of its revenue to be generated by the printed Yellow Pages; that number rarely drops below 50 percent for established facilities. Calculating the best bang-for-the-buck advertisement involves variables that differ from market to market.

Most self-storage owners recognize the confusion, complexity and expense of Yellow Pages advertising and seek assistance when coordinating their plans, Ogieglo says. Though purchasing ads through Michaels/Wilder is no more expensive—in fact, the company offers discounted rates with more than 250 publishers of 8,000 directories—that isn’t the reason to retain the agency. “Owners want someone sitting on their side of the desk when negotiating with publishers,” Ogieglo explains. “If you need a bigger or smaller ad, I’ll tell you that, and I’ll tell you why. Our mission is not to sell Yellow Pages but to bring information to storage owners so they can make an informed decision.”

The quagmire of ad buying includes design, placement and knowing which directory to use. Companies often purchase ads in multiple directories because they don’t want to miss a call, yet a single publication may dominate the area. “We know which books pull the most response, so the client’s Yellow Pages budget will go down, or he’ll get more calls because he is making better use of his funds,” Ogieglo says. In some cases, there is simply no prime space left in a region’s key directory. Owners would be wise to investigate the situation before buying a facility.

One-quarter of all Michaels/Wilders’ customers are from the selfstorage industry. To qualify as one of the agency’s Yellow Pages clients, an owner must operate in multiple states due to directory-publisher restrictions. “The more stores you have, the more valuable our service becomes. If you have 50 stores, imagine trying to coordinate that with 100 different reps and trying to keep track of it all,” Ogieglo says.

Online Results

The Internet has emerged as another key factor in self-storage marketing. Michaels/Wilder developed its Interactive division about four years ago in response to the industry’s needs, including consulting for online Yellow Pages. “Websites used to comprise 2 percent to 3 percent of self-storage revenue generation. They’re anywhere from 10 percent to 12 percent now. Our interactive business was born because of our big storage business. We had to start supporting the industry that way,” says Ogieglo.

Online Yellow Pages has proven to be a boon for self-storage, according to Ralph Knight of the Interactive division. Numerous sites offer online-directory services, which is where Michaels/Wilder’s intelligence becomes invaluable. The agency performs analysis of regional providers so clients’ listings reach their target audience. The same goes for pay-per-click campaigns. Clients have the option of guaranteed programs in which certain results are assured for various keyword programs.

“Most of our storage clients say their clientele comes from within a certain radius of their facility,” Knight says. “On Google and Overture, for example, you can target your ads to only show up to people in those specific areas.” For an extra fee, staff will also provide tracking, so operators know just how effective their campaign is with hard return-on-investment numbers.

Through website optimization, Michaels/ Wilder boosts a facility’s Internet presence. “We make a website easier for the search engines to crawl through,” Knight says. This means more search engines list the site in their top results; and being on the first page of search results increases the likelihood of being discovered by prospective customers.

Michaels/Wilder’s key to success over the years comes down to results. The agency talks plain sense to clients about how to maximize their marketing dollars. “This sounds corny, but they trust us,” Ogieglo says. “We tell them what they should or shouldn’t do, they believe us, and it works. It’s that simple. Whether it’s good or bad, we’re going to tell them the truth.”

Michaels/Wilder also has a group that specializes in the Hispanic market, offering translation services, search-engine registrations, direct-mail campaigns, and keyword use to maximize Yellow Pages and Internet search results for the Spanish speaking. The agency’s Recruitment division focuses on helping employers advertise and promote opportunities to choice employees. For more information, call 800.423.6468; visit www.michaelswilder.com.

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