Self-Storage Marketing in a Fierce Economy: Taking Campaigns to a Whole New Level

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Tenants renting at Cochrane Road Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif., never leave empty-handed. General Manager Gina Six Kudo is a huge believer in the power of branded promotional items. “Sure, it’s an intrinsic thing, but if your company name is buried in the potential customer’s subconscious because they've seen your name somewhere, you've already won the first round in the battle,” Kudo says. “All that is left is to close the sale with the best customer service possible.”

In addition to staples such as keychains and pens, Kudo has also given wine-bottle snugs for donations and raffles; paddle fans at a Fourth of July parade; and small gift bags of branded goodies to new and potential tenants. “While you cannot force people to rent when you want to increase occupancy, you can make sure that when a need does arise they are drawn to your company,” she says. “If a person thinks ‘storage,’ I want the next thought to be ‘Cochrane.’ It’s that simple.” 

Make ‘em Laugh

Often, the most memorable marketing campaigns are those that make us laugh. Remember the old lady in the Wendy’s commercials asking, “Where’s the beef?” Several of the submissions for the ISS contest focused on humor to sell their brand.

Hawaii Self Storage’s “Practice Safe Storage” campaign, a radio spot aimed at college students, parodied public announcements focused on sex education. The spot was aired across three student-targeted radio stations. “Practice Safe Storage” t-shirts and fliers were distributed across the campuses. “The campaign went against the norm of the traditional pitch of selling and did receive interest and attention among students looking for storage on the island,” says company president Daniel Ho.

Greg Putnam used subtle humor in a TV ad to promote his two American Self-Storage facilities in California. In the 30-second commercial, a wife informs her husband that her mother needs a place to stay. But his response, “I’ll go look up some hotels in town,” doesn’t go over well. The next scene shows the couple arguing in an overcrowded bedroom.  The ad then cuts to views of a self-storage facility while the narrator says, “At American Self-Storage, we can’t store your mother-in-law, but we can do the next best thing. Use our moving truck for free and make room for that unexpected guest.”

A Solid Delivery

Of course, a funny or creative campaign means nothing without the proper delivery. Today’s self-storage owners and managers are moving beyond Yellow Pages ads and simple fliers to embrace the many marketing outlets now available. Many self-storage facilities have created YouTube videos. Others have short informational videos on their websites. Social-media networks—particularly Facebook and Twitter—are becoming a part of a facility’s marketing strategy.

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