Local promotional tie-ins are a cost-effective marketing technique. They carry a high return on marketing dollars, meaning very little money invested results in a lot more money coming in. First, let’s define our term: a promotional tie-in involves linking your storage facility with other businesses in your local market.
For example, let’s say you have a Domino’s Pizza a mile or so down the road. You go in and introduce yourself. You find the store needs some storage space, and you strike a deal: The pizza parlor gets a free 10-by-10 unit for three months in exchange for putting your coupon on every pizza box that goes out the door during the 90-day period. One owner used this exact approach. In three months, he got 20 extra rentals through the pizza-box coupon. Considering he only sacrificed about $300 in revenue (to cover the free unit over three months), that’s not a bad return!
Another business that works well with promotional tie-ins is the moving industry. About six years ago, one storage owner contacted a new moving company in his area. He knew the business was struggling and asked the young owner if both his moving trucks were being used to full capacity. It turned out they weren’t, so the storage owner said he would pay the moving company 50 percent of its usual rate to book the trucks for storage customers during off times. Not only did the moving owner agree, he was willing to put a large magnetic sign on the side of the truck that said, “We’ll move you for free to ABC Self Storage.”
Over the years, both parties have been delighted with the arrangement. The storage facility uses and recommends the moving company exclusively, recommending it as his “in-house” mover. If a customer agrees to rent a unit for six months, he gets a three-hour move for free. If the customer agrees to rent for a full year, he gets a five-hour move.
Let’s look at how the numbers might work. Let’s say the moving company usually charges $25 an hour for a move. You only pay him $12.50 an hour, providing your customers use the truck during designated times when they’re not in use at the full rate. A six-month customer will cost you $37.50 in moving fees, while an annual customer will cost you $62.50; but when you consider the value of that six- or 12-month contract, you see it’s well worth it.
Not only that, but providing a moving truck to customers is a fantastic USP (unique selling proposition). Your customers get free use of a truck, and you never have the hassle of vehicle maintenance, insurance, etc. When the opportunity presents itself, there is no reason for you to go to the expense to offer something a moving company already does.
Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents provide another great tie-in opportunity, as they are constantly doing business with people who are moving and need storage. To get started, approach a number of agents with an offer of free booklets of moving and storage tips they can pass out to clients. The title of the booklet might be something like “The 17 Things You Must Know Before Your Next Move.” While its content will remain the same for all agents, you can customize the cover to each business.
Include a coupon for your facility on the inside of the back cover, and add a code unique to each agent. This way, you’ll know who is sending business your way. Finally—and most important—reward the agents for their cooperation. For example, consider giving them gift certificates to a local restaurant or shop. And cash is always popular! Again, this is a win-win situation. You get your company name in front of an untapped market, and you help real estate agents help their customers. The trick is to sell your site in a way that is subtle, more informational and less sales-oriented.
Use Your Imagination
There are many other businesses with which promotional tie-ins can be successful. The important thing is not to prejudge any industry—you’d be surprised which ones will work for you. Be creative in your approach and consider all possibilities. And keep in mind that tie-ins can also work online. Link your website to that of other local businesses, and always track your results. Whether you work with a business physically or virtually, you want to know the source of your new customers.
Be active in your community, especially local business functions, and be on the lookout for opportunities. The chamber of commerce provides an excellent venue for networking with new business owners in your area. The smart storage operator is always looking for ways to effectively market his services through others. Don’t be concerned about approaching business owners and being turned down—that is their loss. Your goal is to have the greatest number of people sending potential renters your way at minimal cost. The cleverer you are, the more profitable you will be.
Fred Gleeck is a profit-maximization consultant who helps self-storage owners/operators during all phases of the business, from the feasibility study to the creation of an ongoing marketing plan. He is the author ofSecrets of Self Storage Marketing Success—Revealed!, available for purchase at www.selfstoragesuccess.com. He is also the producer of professional training videos on self-storage marketing. To receive his regular insights via e-mail, send a blank message to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, call 800. FGLEECK; e-mail email@example.com; visit www.fredgleeck.com.