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Amy Campbell

Amy Campbell
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acampbell@vpico.com

Self-Storage Marketing: Gaining Support and Know-How

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While marketing is a huge part of every self-storage facility’s ultimate success, operators often struggle with it. One of the reasons is a lack of budget. Marketing dollars have to compete with replacing unit doors and roofs, purchasing new management software or even adding solar panels. In addition, operators must decide where to allocate their marketing budget. Do they try a direct-mail campaign, update their website, create a new referral program, sign up with an online directory or launch a print ad campaign? All tough but necessary decisions.

In a new poll launched by ISS recently (You’ll find it on the right side of the main page), we asked self-storage professionals what are their biggest marketing challenges. While nearly 25 percent agreed the lack of a marketing budget is their biggest challenge, a more concerning response is the lack of owner support on marketing initiatives. Nearly 30 percent chose this answer. Another 23 percent claimed lack of know-how. This was followed by 14 percent not clear about their target market and nearly 9 percent who’ve experienced negative online reviews or bad PR.

Marketing is by no means an easy endeavor. It takes creativity, time, a budget of some kind, and truly understanding your market. How many times have you watched an ad on TV or seen something in a magazine and thought, “That was stupid!” Conversely, we’ve all seen really great ads over the years. What’s a self-storage operator to do?

First, self-storage owners must understand the importance of marketing. I’m not saying new doors, signage and security are not equally important, but a marketing budget is essential. How much you allocate depends on your market and what works. If your Yellow Pages ad brings in the tenants, stick with it. If sponsoring the local Little League makes you a community favorite, there’s your answer. Operators in competitive markets may need to spend more than those with fewer facilities. There are hundreds of articles on the ISS Marketing pages about getting involved in your community, online marketing, print advertising and more. Take advantage of these resources.

Second, you need to know your target market. To get a better grasp on zeroing in on your target market, check out these articles from the ISS archives. 

Finally, get educated about marketing. Spend some time reviewing online marketing websites such as Adweek, or even peruse the marketing clips on YouTube. You may get an idea or two and can learn about marketing trends.

Your best source for learning more about marketing is Self-Storage Talk , the industry’s biggest forum. Operators from around the world share advice and ask questions on a myriad of topics. There are dozens of threads in the marketing forum, and members are quick to respond to inquires about this topic.

While I’m discouraged to read more than 50 percent of respondents to our poll don’t have a marketing budget or lack support from ownership, I’m also positive that self-storage operators recognize times have changed and marketing is, indeed, a critical component to a facility’s success. I see this on the forum, in responses to our blogs and articles on marketing and, most important, at the Inside Self-Storage World Expo , where the marketing track is always full of participants.

ISS will continue to bring you more on the topic of marketing in the January print edition and in future online articles. I’d also like to hear from you. What articles on marketing would you like to see? Do you want more information on print advertising, online marketing or community events? What marketing strategies have worked for your facility? Weigh in by posting a comment below. 

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