You may already know that search engines such as Google and Yahoo! rank websites based on quality, traffic, volume and links to other sites, as well as a raft of other obscure criteria. Thus, it’s smart to list your property on two or three of the portal sites that specialize in helping consumers self-storage. While each site has a different approach, they all get a lot of traffic and have high-ranking positions on the various search engines. These sites improve your chances of getting a response from potential renters. They’re also inexpensive relative to other advertising methods, and the additional rentals you’ll secure will more than pay for the costs of listing on them.
Self-storage is a local business in the sense that your website and marketing area is relatively small. It’s important that your marketing and Web efforts focus on the region in which you actually do business, most often a five-mile radius around your facility. Again, this is where the self-storage portal sites can be helpful because they often restrict searches to the geographic criteria of the renter.
A Little ‘Home Cooking’
While electronic marketing is critical today, there are other effective marketing mediums that require less technology. After several years of operation, for example, many operators report the majority of their new customers are actually repeats. So it’s important to keep in touch with past tenants on a regular basis—at least every six months, or better, every quarter. A picture postcard of the facility with a handwritten note is an effective reminder to the customer that Grandma’s junk is still in the garage and winter is coming. The note need say nothing more than, “We miss you! Come back, and the first month is always free for our favorite customers. Thank you, Bob.”
Start collecting e-mail addresses from all your renters. These will be immensely valuable as your online marketing increases. E-mails will be useful for communicating general messages, such as notifying renters the facility is closed due to a holiday or weather. These e-mails not only provide information, they let the renter know you’re professional.
Similarly, you can send an e-mail to current customers to offer a referral credit if they know of a prospect. Simple contacts with customers are effective, building relationships and customer confidence.
Using these “new-fangled” strategies doesn’t mean you should abandon your marketing efforts. Those older methods will generate leads as well. Just make sure to carefully track where leads come from, and then adjust your budget to reflect the most cost-effective type of advertising.
The future of marketing is not written on the wall but on the Web. The times have changed in the marketing world, and it’s important that you and your business change with them. As singer Bob Dylan warned, “You better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone.”
Michael L. McCune is the president of the Argus Self Storage Sales Network, a national network of real estate brokers who specialize in self-storage. Argus provides brokerage, consulting and marketing services to self-storage buyers and sellers and operates SelfStorage.com, a marketing medium and information resource for facility owners. For more information, call 800.55.STORE.