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A Self-Storage Lesson From 'The Babe': Security and Marketing Make a Home Run


After a disastrous baseball season in which it seemed he was all washed up, Babe Ruth turned his career around with a well-executed marketing campaign. In these tough times, self-storage operators can do the same, using security as a hard-hitting promotional tool. 

The year was 1922, and George Herman “Babe” Ruth was larger than life. He broke his own home-run record nearly every season, and during a few, he hit more home runs than some entire teams! But young and reckless, the Babe rarely abided team or league rules in those days. At first, it didn’t seem to matter. The Yankees kept winning, he kept breaking records and everyone was happy.

Happy, that is, until a stern warning came from Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, a no-nonsense man who was also the Commissioner of Baseball. He told Babe that playing in exhibition games or “barnstorming” during the off season would not be tolerated by the league. In violation of his contract, the Babe ignored him, and was consequently suspended for the first 39 games of the 1922 season.

When Babe finally returned to the plate, things remained rocky. He was suspended two more times, threw dirt in the face of an umpire, and even attempted to fight a spectator. The season ended poorly, and it seemed the entire country had turned on its former superstar. Babe knew it was time for a change.

His new strategy? An aggressive marketing and public-relations campaign to clean up his image and come back better than ever―which he did.
Self-Storage at a Similar Crossroads

There are lot of similarities between self-storage and Babe’s story. As an industry, we’re at a crossroads like the one he faced after his disastrous season. In previous years, self-storage kept breaking records. Occupancy rates rarely dipped below 90 percent, business was booming and everyone seemed on top of the world. Today, some of us have gone from fat and happy to shaken and uncertain of the future.

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