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Marketing Self-Storage Religiously ... Are You an Atheist, Agnostic or Believing Marketer?

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Had you stopped to consider your ways and looked at the long-term implications of this marketing channel, you would have come to the realization that it was a horrible idea. You would have deduced that you live in an area with a lot of environmentally conscious people. But being an agnostic marketer that considers only cost, you missed the not so obvious and created a huge problem for yourself.

Of course, this is a wild example, so let me bring it closer to home. Many self-storage operators say they use online aggregators because they provide rentals at an acceptable cost. Well, step back for a moment and consider the type of renter you get and what the long-term implication will be if thousands of your fellow self-storage operators adopt this mindset. Do aggregator rentals stay as long as other tenants? Have you checked? Aggregators say their customers aren’t mainly looking for best price, but their pay-per-click ads with headings like “Cheap Units” say otherwise.

Patronization of aggregators by facility operators gives “credibility” to aggregators in the mind of the consumer and further conditions them to use them in the future. Since aggregators market with a cheap/discount price message, they also condition consumers to make price the main consideration on storage-unit selection, commoditizing our product even further, which hurts everyone in the long run. Not to mention you’re basically funding your competitor to compete against you online and driving up your own online-marketing costs. The agnostic marketer who follows this path should consider his ways and think through the long-term implications.

The Believing Marketer

The believing marketer believes in marketing and sees the world in black and white, not shades of gray. Adopting a core set of sound business principles, he believes there’s a right and wrong way to market self-storage. He’d never “dance with the devil” or sell his soul just to get a few more rentals. He thinks through the long-term consequences of his actions and doesn’t use cost as the only consideration.

Unlike agnostic marketers, believing marketers care about their message, where it appears and how it’s perceived. They market their facilities with an eye toward the future, not with campaigns of cost-effective convenience. Believing marketers know you cannot escape the universal principle of "whatsoever you sow, that will you also reap." They choose to build their own brand to own their own marketing, not simply farm it out to another.

Let me bring this marketing “sermon” to a close by saying I have faith that you can succeed in building a business without compromising sound marketing principles. Don’t adopt a “don’t care" approach to marketing. Don’t sell your soul to a third-party entity just because it might be cost-effective. Believe in your brand. Believe in your business. Believe the “good news”—that you can free yourself from marketing sins. Become a believing marketer today!

Randy A. Smith is director of operations for Another Closet Self-Storage in McAllen, Texas. The company operates seven facilities in Texas. To reach him, e-mail

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