Any business owner could take a tip from the new administration and think about creating a stimulus plan for customers. What better way to boost your personal economy? Whether you're a self-storage facility operator or a vendor related to the field, your primary concern should be getting and keeping customers.
My husband manages Web development for a large cosmetics firm, and his marketing team has been in overdrive crafting promotional campaigns to keep the consumer dollars flowing. They super-exceeded sales expectations one day this week with a simple free-shipping offer. He couldn't understand why. "Is free shipping such a big deal?" he asked his shopaholic (but bargain-hunter) wife. My response? Duh!
Money is tight all around, but people struggle with sacrificing life's little pleasures. When there's something you want to buy, in these times, you tell yourself you shouldn't ... until you have a compelling reason to justify it. Free shipping. A 10 percent discount. A buy-one-get-one-free offer. Whatever it takes. And as the retailer, you don't have to give away the farm—you just have to learn how to push those hot buttons that make the wallet pop.
Just last week, Inside Self-Storage published an article by industry expert Jim Chiswell, "Establishing a Self-Storage Stimulus Plan for Tenants." He talks about creative ways to piggyback on the national stimulus package and provide cost savings for your customers. The idea is to acknowledge what's happening in the economy at large and demonstrate to tenants what you're doing to alleviate their pain.
In response to the online article, we received a comment from Shaun Ferguson of Southern Storage Centers, whose company had great success with a stimulus campaign. His company sends a monthly e-mail newsletter to tenants of its three facilities; in its March edition, it included a $10 "Stimulus Refund Check" for the next month's rent. To claim the discount, customers could either respond to the e-mail, typing "Refund" and their name in the subject line, or they could print out the letter and bring it to the site. Then they were told to take that $10 and go spend it somewhere to help stimulate the national economy.
Shaun said the promo went out on March 20, and by March 25, the company had received more than 100 responses. The experiment allowed them to spread goodwill to customers but also measure newsletter readership and response. Thanks to Shaun for sharing this brilliant approach!
Did this idea help to get your own creative juices flowing? How might you generate a similar stimulus strategy? To attract and retain customers in these days of limited expendable income, you will have to show tenants: a) you care, b) you understand, and c) you are willing to alleviate their burden. See how it works for you, and share your success stories with us here.
On a separate note: Earlier this year, ISS awarded four Humanitarian Service Awards to self-storage companies and individuals who are working to help others in need. One of our winners was Gina Six-Kudo, general manager of Cochrane Self Storage in Morgan Hill, Calif., who was recognized for many philanthropic efforts, including her support of the local Wildlife Education & Rehabilitation Center.
WERC is an acute-care center for injured and sick wildlife and a nurturing center for orphaned animals who are too young to exist on their own. One of the center's "educational embassadors" is a Great-Horned Owl named Luna, whose beak has not developed properly. Because of my great love of owls (and "Luna" as a personal nickname), Gina let me know that our girl is celebrating her first birthday this weekend. So, this is an official shout out to her: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LUNA, you gorgeous night hunter, you!
Also, congratulations to Gina, who just yesterday was promoted to the rank of moderator on our Self-Storage Talk online community.