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Creating Your 2012 Marketing Budget: A Self-Storage Operator's Guide to Making Informed Decisions

By Bob Copper Comments

Take a look at your self-storage operation’s last profit-and-loss statement and notice the line item titled “marketing.” Is it accompanied by a significant number? If so—and in this challenging market, it should be—then it makes sense to ensure you are making well-informed, almost scientific decisions about how you spend your marketing dollars.

What’s your marketing plan for 2012? If you don’t yet have one, you’re several months behind the marketplace and many of your competitors. Your marketing plan is far too important to the success (or failure) of your business to leave it to chance or just “do what you did last year.” The following suggestions will help you make smart decisions about your business marketing and create an effective plan that maximizes your budget.

What’s a Rental Worth?

The first question to ask yourself is: What is a rental worth to you? To make intelligent decisions about your marketing investments, you must know the answer. In most cases, the true value of a rental is far more than you would guess, and yet many operators avoid investing in specific marketing efforts based cost. They create a marketing plan based on the price of the marketing, not the value of the income the marketing will produce.

How do you determine the true value of a rental? Using tools built into your facility-management software. Using your software, create a marketing report that will show you customers’ average length of stay and an inventory report that will indicate your average rental rate. These two numbers will help you determine an average value for each rental.

For example, if your average length of stay is 12 months and your average rental rate is $100, your average rental is worth $1,200. If you go further and figure out the average amount of ancillary sales per rental, you’ll find that number is even higher. You can get even more sophisticated and calculate how much a residential customer is worth vs. a commercial tenant.

What’s a Lead Worth?

Now that you know what the average rental is worth to your facility, what are you willing to spend to make that amount? To answer, you must know the value of a customer lead. Again, you can use your management software to help figure this out, but only if you’re using a lead-tracking system. You can’t know what marketing efforts to pursue if you don’t know what has worked historically at your facility.

Facility managers must track the source of every new rental. When I conduct mystery-shopping expeditions, most managers never ask what brought me into the facility or why I called. You cannot make marketing decisions based on instinct. You might think you know where your leads come from, but you’re often wrong. A simple-lead tracking system will take the guesswork out of what is far too important a decision to leave to your “gut.”

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