10 Critical Marketing Channels Every Self-Storage Operator Should Master

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5. Self-Storage Aggregator Websites

Advertising mediums such as USstoragesearch.com and Storagefront.com also use SEO to bring your advertised listing to that first search-engine page. Some of the aggregators are affordable and have excellent SEO, so they provide qualified leads that turn into actual customers. Others can be more expensive or, because of the search key terms they use in their SEO, the leads may not be as qualified.

A few years ago, we advertised with one of the aggregators and noticed a large number of the calls the facility received were through this aggregator. When we listened to the recorded calls, we noticed 80 percent of them were for auction inquiries, as “auction” was the keyword the aggregator was using along with other industry-related keywords to optimize its ranking. It’s important to research and find the right aggregators for your advertising.

6. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

A quick way of getting first place on the first page of search engines is to advertise via “pay per click.” There are numerous vendors that manage PPC advertising, and some use proven methods to continuously optimize the most relevant keywords that bring the most qualified leads for your business for a price. Alternatively, you could do this on your own and start with a conservative budget to do your own testing. Google will walk you through the process of setting up your first PPC campaign. If you don’t have a first-page presence on search engines through one or more of the methods I outlined above, you may want to consider PPC until your other Web presence climbs its way up.

7. E-mail Campaigns

Don’t take e-mail campaigns lightly. Collecting e-mail addresses from prospective tenants and informing them of new specials and other offers costs nearly nothing and will prove to generate new business. There are various online websites that allow you to do your own e-mail campaigns for a small price, or you may opt to hire a company to run e-mail campaigns for you.

8. Social Media

The impact of social media is still under evaluation when it comes to the self-storage industry. Some say if you have a great manager who’s also actively managing a Facebook page for your storage facility and is good at getting followers, this effort may turn into rentals.

However, having to check on your site manager to ensure proper social-media conduct with customers and prospects can be time-consuming. Any improper social-media conduct on your manager’s part may create larger issues. Nevertheless, staying in touch with customers via Facebook and other social-media outlets via predetermined weekly posts wouldn’t take much time so long as employee social-media guidelines are clearly defined and followed.

9. Yellowpages.com

I find it necessary to list Yellowpages.com as its own category. If you’re a long-term player in the industry, in the past you must have spent a big part of your marketing budget on Yellow Pages print advertising. Since the shift to the Internet, one by one, many operators either downsized their ads or completely pulled out of printed Yellow Pages.

Some converted to Yellowpages.com thinking it was a replacement of the print version. While I cannot speak for others, we tested it and found we didn’t break even. We also found there are other online advertising channels that provide a higher number of quality leads for a fraction of the cost.

10. Your Site Manager

All of the above online marketing methods are in place to generate phone calls, walk-in customers, e-mail requests or online reservations. If the request is in the form of an e-mail, industry statistics reveal a 15-minute turnaround time is required to contact that customer. Otherwise, the prospect will move on to your competitor. A timely, service-oriented reply is of the essence. If the contact is in the form of a walk-in or a phone call, the manager should be aware of all Internet promotions. Site managers should also be knowledgeable to guide an existing customer on how to use your facility’s website to make online payments or a new reservation.

Once our managers realized how much time they could be saving from manually processing payments, they became motivated to convince existing and new customers to make their payments and even reservations online. We also mention to customers that the “Web specials” are only available via “Web reservations.” This again helps with more automation and time savings for our managers.

Adapting and embracing the change in self-storage marketing is of the essence to take your facility’s share of Internet leads. With some guidance and industry expertise, you can be on your way back to profitability within a short period of time.

Aycha Williams, marketing and training strategist for AC Commercial Property Management, has more than with 15 years of experience in the marketing of commercial real estate and high-tech and consumer products. Based in Orlando, Fla., her company manages more than 1 million square feet of self-storage and other commercial holdings in Florida and Texas. For more information, call 407.481.9899, ext. 111; e-mail  awilliams@accommercial.net; visit www.accommercial.net.

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