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Building Self-Storage Brand and Industry Awareness in Brazil

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By Jay Harron

Build it and they will come? That only works if “they” know what “it” is. By “it,” we’re referring to self-storage in Brazil, Latin America’s biggest country and most dynamic economy. “They” are Brazil’s population of 200 million. In the entire country, there are only 125 storage facilities, with the majority in São Paulo, the largest city with more than 20 million residents.

So what’s the best way to share knowledge of the self-storage product to this vast potential market? MetroFit, a São Paulo-based operator focused on Brazil’s major metropolitan areas, is marketing to educate the public. The company has two facilities in São Paulo, with a third expected to open this fall. 

Marketing Challenges

Since MetroFit was formed in 2012, its principals and executive management team have been aware of a unique challenge: how to educate an entire marketplace about the benefits of a product no one knows to exist. “While we were intrigued by the prospects of self-storage in Brazil, we fully acknowledged that market awareness of the service offering is extremely low,” says Matthew Nagel, chairman of MetroFit parent company Metro Storage LLC. “We take for granted that nearly everyone in the United States knows about self-storage. In Brazil, however, we estimate that market awareness of the product is less than 1 percent of the total population.”

MetroFit in São PauloSo, what to do in the context of a startup company where budgets are tight, especially for marketing? The short answer is to be creative, both in the marketing spend as well as the campaigns designed to educate. “We’ve been focused on marketing from day one of MetroFit,” says Arthur Ostrovsky, head of operations for MetroFit. “We look at marketing both in terms of online like Internet and digital strategies, as well as offline, which we define as more traditional marketing efforts.”  

Online vs. Offline

The benefit of addressing a lack of product awareness is being able to use the enormous advantages of digital marketing. Not surprisingly, MetroFit focuses its efforts and ad spend on search engine optimization (SEO), principally through Google. “A big chunk of our marketing dollars are focused on SEO and, specifically, trying to position MetroFit for prominence when our potential customers search for self-storage,” Ostrovsky says.

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