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Self-Storage Marketing: When to Outsource, When to Do It Yourself

By Jana Haecherl Comments

If you operate a self-storage facility, marketing is a critical part of your business. If you get it wrong, you’ll miss leads, send customers to competitors and lose profitable opportunities. So, when should you seek the help of a marketing professional, and when can you take a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach? Read on to find out.

Facility Website

Your website is your online storefront. When customers search for storage, your website will help them find information about your business and complete helpful actions such as reserving a unit or contacting a manager.

The customer experience no longer starts when a person walks through the front door; it starts online. Most customers find you by Googling “self-storage near me” and browsing search results. Now more than ever, it’s incredibly important for your website to provide a fantastic user experience to bring in new leads and convert them to paying customers.

Your website isn’t static. It needs to work with your facility-management software, gate system and payment processing to allow customers to browse available units, rent a unit and pay their rent. Because of all these moving parts, it’s important to work with a professional Web-design company that has expertise in designing websites for self-storage.

The verdict: Outsource. This is a no-brainer. Even if you dabble in Web design or have a friend who can give you a cheap deal, it’s best to work with a Web-marketing company. Only these professionals can make your online move-ins happen in real time, avoiding problems with prospective customers renting unavailable units. Talk to other operators in your area and meet vendors at tradeshows to find out more about these providers.

Social Media

Social media marketing refers to the process of gaining traffic or attention to your business through posting and sharing content on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a personal Facebook account, you’re already familiar with how this marketing works. Brands can have social media pages that allow them to post updates and photos. Cultivating a large following is no easy task, but if you’re comfortable using social media, it can be a fun—and free—marketing tool.

Create social media pages to help promote your business at no cost. You don’t need to invest a lot of time into posting content every day, and you don’t have to be an expert at marketing. There are many free resources to help you easily manage your social media. Also, consider following local businesses you enjoy for inspiration.

If you have multiple sites, you might need help getting all your brand’s social pages organized and bringing them all together. If you’re a large brand or you’re just not savvy with social media, you can absolutely outsource to marketing professionals. But for small businesses, managing social media is usually doable with a little know-how.

The verdict: DIY (most of the time). Unless you’re a big fish, managing social media for your storage business should be quick and easy to do on a weekly basis. There are many free online tools to help you, such as programs that can automate your posts. Also, look for blogs with free information on what, when and how to market your business on social media.

Paid Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allows businesses to push their website in front of users when they search for related keywords in a search engine like Google. As the owner of the ad, you’re only charged when a user clicks on it, hence the name. Similarly, paid social advertising allows you to advertise on social media so your posts are promoted or your business information appears in a target audience’s social media feed.

PPC and paid social ads can get a little confusing. There’s the whole figuring out if this is all worth the money as well as managing your ad. Not to mention that you must be knowledgeable about social media and your online audience.

I’m not saying PPC and paid social ads aren’t useful marketing tools—they are. PPC ads through Google AdWords are incredibly powerful, and Facebook Ads are a great way to get your business in front of hard-to-reach target customers. But it’s a little tricky if you’re not Web-savvy. Choosing an advertising platform isn’t black or white, and designing your ad takes a little research. If you work with a Web-marketing company to manage your website, it’ll likely have search engine optimization (SEO) experts who can help you create and run an effective PPC or paid social-ad campaign at very little cost.

The verdict: Outsource. Web marketers such as SEO specialists and social media managers are professionals at running paid ads online. They know how to expertly advertise your business, so you’ll always get the most bang for your buck.

Customer-Review Management

Customer-review management, also referred to as reputation management, is the act of managing your facility’s online reviews on websites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google, Facebook and others. Managing reviews involves updating business information, providing business photos and responding to posts.

One of the first things customers see online about your business is your star rating. If your facility has a trend of negative reviews, you can bet you’ll lose business. Nine out of 10 people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, according to Search Engine Land, a website that offers marketing industry news and trends. This makes customers reviews an online-marketing tool you can’t ignore.

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