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Self-Storage Operators Go Fish: Change Your Marketing Philosophy and Create Demand for Your Product

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Steps to Create Demand

Let me introduce a new “mantra” for self-storage operators: “Everybody needs a self-storage unit, and it’s my job to convince them why.” Do you want to build demand for self-storage? Here are some suggestions for creating it in your neighborhood:

Change your mindset. Rid yourself and your organization of the philosophy that says you cannot create demand for self-storage. Almost every other industry spends billions of dollars annually to actively create demand for their products and services. Why not self-storage too?

Change your advertising. Never use the phrases, “Do you need storage?” or “When you need storage…”  Your whole advertising message should be “You need storage!” You tell them they need it.

Provide a solution. Couple the “you need storage” message with “and here’s why.” Tell them how they’ll benefit tremendously by storing with you. Remember, you’re throwing out an enticing lure, not waiting for fish to jump in the boat.

Educate your audience. Your job is to educate the public specifically on how they can use self-storage to improve their quality of life. Most ads for self-storage are focused on the business and not the benefit to the consumer. The benefit of self-storage needs to be bigger to the consumer than the loss of dollars to pay for rent.

Re-evaluate your advertising. Newspaper and Yellow Pages ads are now highly ineffective. Slash those forms of advertising and go heavy on radio. You can get hundreds of times the exposure from a 30-second radio ad or TV commercial than from a Yellow Pages ad. Two or three well-placed spots a day during the drive to or from work can increase your business dramatically. It’s the best medium for educating consumers and creating demand.

Go Fishing

Look at creating demand like the process of fishing. It won’t happen overnight, but you can grow your self-storage business substantially over time. Fishermen get up early, stay out late, and fish in every kind of weather. They’re always switching bait and moving around the lake in search of a catch. They don’t wait for the fish to come to them. They don’t build relationships with people who know the fish and hope they refer the fish to them. They go fish. They educate themselves on fish behavior and become experts on what appeals to fish—what makes them bite! Then they spend their days and nights out on the water creatively enticing the fish with everything they’ve got.

As you educate yourself on local consumer behavior, you can tune in to what appeals to the “fish” in your neighborhood. If you make your message logical and enticing, they can’t but help bite. That’s creating demand. You can rent more units and make more money than your competitors if you believe and practice creating demand for self-storage. Remember you’re new mantra: “Everybody needs a self-storage unit, and it’s my job to convince them why.”

Randy Smith came to the self-storage industry nearly a decade ago with close to a dozen years of prior sales and management experience. He has managed Another Closet Self Storage in McAllen, Texas, for the past eight years. To reach him, e-mail

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