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Building Self-Storage Brand Recognition Through Charitable Events

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By Donna Edwards

Self-storage facilities have a unique opportunity to be involved in their communities by hosting charity or other local events. This strategy not only builds name recognition and brand awareness, it creates goodwill in the area at little or no cost to the business. Getting involved in grassroots efforts can also provide top-of-mind awareness when a resident or business owner needs storage at a later date. Prospects will remember the self-storage facility that supported a cause or charity they advocate.

Keep the following information in mind for planning a donation drive, fundraiser or other event. First, here are 10 popular ways for self-storage operators to support local charity organizations:

  1. Sponsor a coat drive during the winter.
  2. Collect portable heaters and fans for the elderly.
  3. Host a toy drive during the holidays.
  4. Participate in a non-perishable food drive for local food banks.
  5. Host a child-safety day. Ask fire and police personnel to come to the facility and offer education on bike safety, proper installation of child-safety seats, fire safety, etc.
  6. Participate in a walk-a-thon to raise money for March of Dimes, Alzheimer’s research, breast cancer, etc.
  7. Partner with an animal shelter and host a pet adoption, or solicit donations of pet food, cat litter, blankets, towels and toys for a local shelter.
  8. Launch a school-supply drive for local kids and teachers. Donate to a school close to your facility or partner with a charity that helps low-income students.
  9. Donate free use of a storage unit to victims of floods, fires and other natural disasters, or accept donations to assist them.
  10. 10.  Be a drop-off location for water, diapers and other supplies for the Red Cross. If you have a truck, offer to deliver items as well.

Choose a Cause

The first step to building any kind of event is to research local charities with which your organization would like to align. Ask yourself who you want to help. Is there a cause your ownership or staff openly supports such as animals, food banks, cancer awareness, the elderly, children or the homeless? Choosing a cause employees already follow will help boost energy, morale and involvement.

Once you decide on a cause, contact a related organization at least 90 days prior to your proposed event date. This allows time to reschedule in case there are any conflicts. Identify your best contact and ask if there are marketing materials, logos, fliers or other information the group can provide that will assist in your marketing efforts. Will the organization help promote your event to its supporters?

Promote the Event

Successful events require careful planning. The next step is to determine your budget. There are many types of events that require little or no investment on the part of your facility. In many cases, you can generate free publicity.

Send press releases to all local media including cable channels, magazines, newspapers, radio and TV stations, and the chamber of commerce. Your releases should be issued 30 to 45 days prior to the event, depending on the media outlet. Monthly publications, for example, have earlier deadlines than newspapers or broadcast stations. It’ll take some time to identify the correct contact for each outlet, but once you’ve found them all, your list will come in handy for future events.

When sending a press release, make sure it promotes the event you’re hosting and not your business in general. No one will publish it if it looks like an ad for your company—they’d prefer you to buy ad space or time! Instead, make the release about the special day and cause. Explain how you’re offering support to a local organization.

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