Self-storage operators must rely on advertising and marketing to get their potential customers. In the past, the marketing strategy for the industry consisted of a sign, a listing in the Yellow Pages and a friendly (yet often lonely) manager behind the desk. This strategy worked fine for a long time. In fact, there’s an entire industry to prove that it worked just fine until bam! It all changed.
These days, we’re faced with a new, dynamic marketing paradigm in which tools such as Google, Facebook, craigslist, Twitter, etc., reign supreme. The great newspapers and magazines that served the advertising needs of American business in the past are all but gone. Even the U.S. Post Office is losing revenue because advertisers are finding better ways than direct mail to promote their products. Yellow Page directories are more often used as door stops now. And if you don’t have a website, you’re considered a dinosaur by anyone under 40.
Many large storage operators have sophisticated, revenue-management systems that help them price their rates on a day-to-day basis and collect data on every customer’s rental behavior, including length of stay. Additionally, these systems test various incremental increases in rent that relate to customer demographic. As their databases get older and bigger, their predictions on all the variables get more precise. This provides them with invaluable marketing information.
Getting Up to Speed
Updating your marketing methods may seem overwhelming but, in fact, it’s relatively simple to do and not nearly as expensive as you might think, especially when you compare the costs to your Yellow Pages bill.
To start the process, you need a crisp, clean and simple website. A complicated one with too much information is a detriment. The page should include your facility’s address, phone number, e-mail address, location map, the name of your local area, and a few pictures. Your rates (by unit size), and hours of access are also important. Briefly list your other amenities: security, retail product, promotions, etc. Lots of “white space” is a good thing—you don’t want viewers to get confused.
If you don’t already have someone to work on your website, post an ad for a Web designer on craigslist. You’ll likely get calls from a lot of young, hungry folks who can quickly create a Web page at a reasonable price. Interview two or three developers, and choose one who understands the needs of your business and can build a site that functions smoothly. To get an idea of what’s out there, take a look at other websites. But keep yours simple!
If you do want a fun gimmick, however, one that is easy to create and use, add a 45-second video of the facility owner or manager personally welcoming the visitor. Your Web developer can do this, and it adds a warm, personal touch that will make your page more distinctive.
You can also list your facility on craigslist for free, renewing the ad every week. Surprisingly, this method has had great success for some operators.