Last month, we discussed the elements of communication and how it forms the foundation for marketing and sales. This month, we’ll look at marketing designed for the launch and support of records storage lite (RS-lite) in a self-storage environment.
No business can exist without selling something, which is why the importance of sales and marketing cannot be overemphasized. Marketing is the precursor to sales. To get a customer’s attention, you must demonstrate how your product or service has value to him. What makes this tricky is people value different things; but what seems to be common to all members of the human race is the avoidance of pain and the pursuit of pleasure. Dealing with records is a “pain” all business owners seek to avoid, whether their operations are large or small.
The business of records storage, like self-storage, is largely driven by peoples’ problems: lack of space, audits, litigation, employee fraud, etc. Records are often relegated to a basement, closet or storage room until an important issue rears its ugly head. When marketing records storage, you seek to show clients how they avoid this pain by storing their boxes at your self-storage site. If you accept the definition of marketing we used in last month’s column—”Marketing is everything you do to put yourself in front of the customer”—and you agree the process must be simple and attractive to the customer, the goal is to develop a marketing plan that reflects those basic concepts.
The Elevator Speech
The “elevator speech” is one very powerful marketing tool. The playful premise behind it is you encounter a prospect in an elevator on the 25th floor and have only until you reach ground level to sell the person on your product or service. When you arrive at the lobby, he should know everything important about your offering and why it would be valuable to him. In your situation, the elevator speech is a brief, carefully constructed statement that tells interested parties the most essential information about your company and its RS-lite service. It summarizes your solution’s value into a well-organized, digestible paragraph that will be compelling for your prospect.
You can use your elevator speech on the phone, during standard sales calls, at networking events, or any time you find yourself face-to-face with a potential customer. Following are a few questions that will help you construct an effective presentation:
- What is your product, service or solution?
- What need, problem or pain does it address and solve?
- Who is your target client?
- What does your offering do for him?
- How does your offering work (how does it provide value)?
- What makes you and your offering different from and better than others?
Many marketing experts say prospects do not really pay attention to you and your business until the third contact, so you should devise a reason to communicate with prospects regularly. Some business owners use newsletters, others offer educational events, and some call on clients to introduce new products or services. Records-storage articles and websites are filled with stories about marketing methods owners have used to make (or break) their businesses. Read as much as you can and learn from others’ experience.
Some of the most successful RS-lite operators in self-storage use a showroom at their facility to demonstrate to clients how records management works. If you have the space, there is not better way to convince prospects of your service’s value than show and tell. If you don’t have the luxury of a showroom, you can also consider using a laptop presentation or kiosk.
Finally, the Internet offers many inexpensive marketing opportunities. Professional videos and Flash applications can quickly walk prospects through a demonstration. Invite clients to visit your website by sending an e-mail with a link to your presentation, which should be informational and entertaining. Some enterprising owners have even offered a prize for spending a certain length of time on their websites. Be creative, and use as many marketing tools as you can to get your message in front of prospects.
Cary F. McGovern is the principal of FileMan Records Management, which offers full-service assistance for commercial records-storage startups and sales training in commercial records-management operations. For help with feasibility determination, operational implementation or marketing support, call 877.FILEMAN; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.fileman.com.