By Christopher P. Baird
I’ve been around the Internet in a Web-development and marketing capacity for most of my adult life. At first, the Internet was a fad, then a get-rich-quick platform. Now it's matured to the point where it’s a real line item on the budgets of larger companies. The problem is smaller, less sophisticated companies don’t see their Internet marketing from a global point of view or broader perspective. It’s because they haven't been trained to look at it that way.
Most companies that sell Internet-marketing products have trained self-storage operators to look at each piece separately because they can only sell based on their expertise. One company does local search (maps), another paid search (Google Ads) and another organic optimization. There are also listing sites, transaction sites, Web developers and anyone else who wants to sell you ads.
Looking at these services as individual parts rather than as a whole is not ideal. For example, a facility’s paid search is not completely independent from organic results, which are not completely independent from maps, video content, etc. Nor are those items not completely separate from a facility's Yellow Pages ads, TV commercials or even its signage and business cards. They all work together to provide information and make a sale. Self-storage operators need to look at everything they’re doing from a marketing perspective and find any overlaps or disconnections so they can make the whole process more efficient and profitable.
When adding any service to your marketing mix, you first need to consider what you’re already doing to market your business and what you want to do. Will there be a duplicated effort that causes an unnecessary increase in costs, or will the new service create a connection that increases your return?
For example, rather than hire two separate companies to handle paid search and search-engine optimization (SEO), it may be more sensible to hire one that specializes in both so information can be passed along easily. If you find a keyword isn’t converting through paid search, why would you pay someone to optimize your website with that keyword?
Let’s look at just one area of marketing where many self-storage operators are overlooking the sum of their efforts: aggregator websites. Before I go further, let me say this: There are debates going around about whether aggregator websites are good or bad. This is not one of them. There’s no intent on my part to be pro or anti aggregator; I'm simply neutral. Think of it as if I were discussing any external website that conducts transactions or advertises your product and whose goal is to compete for Internet real estate in your market.