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It must be the marketing issue, because the exclamation-mark populace is running wild and FREE has manifested in all capital letters. Marketing, quite simply, is sending a message about your product that is clearly heard by the folks who count. Most of us get so busy with daily operations, we often cheat ourselves in this department. That goes for facility owners as well as vendors and even ISS.

So, here’s some insider advice. When you’re advertising in a publication, don’t accept at face value what you’re told about circulation. Ask to see the numbers, and read between the lines. I’ll use ISS as an example because there’s a lesson here for everyone about print advertising and marketing in general. The basic measuring stick of print ads is cost per thousand readers. We can prove through a legal postal statement that we ship out nearly 20,000 issues per month, which excludes tradeshow distribution and special promotions.

Many newspapers and publications will have this information—others won’t. Our base circulation is triple that of the Mini-Storage Messenger’s self-stated mailing. As is true of any publication, rates differ based on readership, and it’s up to the advertisers to do the math. (FYI, we hope everybody gets out their calculators.) Then you have the Self Storage Association’s monthly magazine, The Globe. These guys can pretty much say what they want because they aren’t providing a postal statement or an audit of their circulation. Here’s what the SSA asserts on its website: The Globe “reaches all 12,000-plus SSA direct members, member facilities and members of 22 international and state associations that are formally affiliated with the SSA.”

As a vendor member of the SSA, we’ve never seen any documentation that the association’s membership exceeds 4,000. Have you? Also, “international” membership sounds impressive and ultra James Bond, but in fact refers only to the Canadian Self Storage Association. Sadly, our friends to the North had fewer than 100 members last time I checked.

Even the allure of reaching “affiliated” state associations loses its shine when you consider most states have modest memberships. For example, the state of Ohio has about 97 members while the ISS database sports more than 1,400 Ohioan readers.

The SSA also says it has “the largest paid subscription magazine in the industry.” I don’t know how they define “paid” or “subscription”—maybe they enrolled in the Bill Clinton school of definitions—but in my reality, The Globe is included as a benefit of membership, whether you want it or not. People don’t subscribe like they do for ISS. Indeed, our distribution substantially exceeds their claim with one huge difference: We can prove our numbers!

So here’s my point. ISS has competition—just like you. And when your competition starts sending messages that could lure away your customers, don’t just lie there. Get out and spread the truth about yourself. And when advertising, in whatever medium, don’t hesitate to ask the hard questions and demand value.

Speaking of which, the ISS Vegas Expo is just around the corner, and remains the industry's best value for your educational dollar, bar none. Come and see for yourself!

Meet you in Vegas!!

Kimberly Hundley 

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