Once this is accomplished, a self-storage operator can spend more money on marketing and maximize the return on marketing dollars spent. I’ve seen too many operators “throw away” money on marketing because they were not equipped to handle the calls when they came into the store. In summary, spend the time, money and energy on maximizing sales so you can maximize your return on marketing dollars.
What constitutes a good marketing plan?
Naylor: A good marketing plan should focus on three objectives: increasing occupancy, increasing tenant value to the facility, and improving marketing efficiency. It should also be based on results and flexible. It will clearly outline specific activities to accomplish those three objectives, with deadlines.
The plan should provide strict guidelines for logo usage, copy creation and offers so your marketing has a consistent and recognizable look and feel. The plan should also discuss how the marketing is going to be tracked for effectiveness and what constitutes “effective” so that quick, smart decisions can be made throughout the year.
North: A good marketing plan must be comprehensive and focused on the target markets that produce the best results. It must be a combination of building relationships in the community, customer referral, key influencer referrals, search-engine marketing, social networking, Yellow Pages ads, and niche marketing specific to the local community. The marketing plan must be implemented on a consistent basis with tracking and measuring to make ongoing improvements.
What role will online marketing play moving forward?
Naylor: As consumers’ comfort and use of the Internet continues to grow, online marketing will become an important part of every operator’s marketing plan. With the wild explosion in social media, and a sure explosion in “the next big thing,” operators will be well-suited to pay close attention to the Internet and embrace change as it presents itself.
However, I caution everyone to put emotion and excitement aside as new things come out and avoid falling in love with something because it’s “cool” rather than because it makes good business sense to participate. The Internet will always play these two roles for operators—attract new customers and allow existing customers to maintain their accounts.
North: Online marketing is the wave of the future. Five years ago, we were receiving approximately 3 percent of our rentals from the Internet. Today we range between 10 percent and 20, depending on location. This will only increase over time and will eventually take over Yellow Pages advertising altogether.
What are the top three marketing tactics every facility should be practicing today?
Naylor: Internet marketing, database marketing, and community-network creation and maintenance.
North: Every self-storage operation must have an effective search-engine marketing program. Second, there must be a comprehensive program to target key influencers in the area surrounding the facility.
These key influencers can be real estate agents, chambers of commerce, business-networking organizations, apartment communities, housing communities, etc. Lastly, there must be a program to reach out to the community and become a credible organization that helps others. Through helping others you will become known throughout the community and improve your business.