Among my personal treasures from years ago are a bunch of campaign buttons, bumper stickers and signs for various political candidates I helped to get elected. Now I’m declaring a new campaign I’ve been thinking about for almost a decade. The timing is finally right. Unlike any campaign I’ve been a part of in the past, it doesn’t require me to worry about raising contributions, writing speeches, kissing babies, walking in any parades, or debating any opponents.
I’ve nicknamed my crusade “Project Picture Storage.” The goal is to get 5,000 facility pictures (representing approximately 10 percent of all U.S. storage sites) posted on Google Maps by Jan. 1. The goal is achievable, and the purpose is to get our industry―and, in particular, your self-storage facility―more attention nationwide.
I’m calling on every store manager and owner to grab a camera and join the biggest joint marketing effort in our industry’s history. The best part is posting facility photos on Google Maps is completely free.
Show Off Your Facility
First, let’s talk strategy. We’re all searching for ways to promote our businesses and recover some of the occupancy losses we’ve suffered over the past several years. However, we’ve also been faced with the reality of limited financial resources to crank up the marketing machine.
For years, Google has allowed people to post pictures of locations around the world through its Panoramio program. To check it out, go to Google Maps and take a look your facility. (Make sure you have the photos option checked under the “more” tab.)
If you don’t find your facility’s photo, there are several ways to post one. The easiest is to go directly to Panoramio.com. If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to set up a Google Gmail account, which is free and easy to do. Next, if you haven’t taken any digital photos of your facility recently, take 10 or 15 shots. Download them from your camera, and then pick the best images, including one of the entrance, another of the office, and one inside the facility. Once you have two or three quality pictures, make sure the images are in JPEG format and less than 10 MB each (the maximum size that can be uploaded to Panoramio).
The instructions for uploading are straightforward. On the upload page, you’ll hit “browse” to access the images on your computer’s hard drive and insert the file locations. A couple of clicks later, and your images are on one of Google’s servers. Now the real fun starts. Panoramio allows you to insert captions, search tags and even marketing info about your facility’s features, hours or security. (Note: There’s no spell-checker, so be careful.)
Next, you get to map your actual location directly on Google’s master map. When you upload your images, you’re agreeing to be bound by Google’s terms of service and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (You can find details about the legalities on the Google site.) Once approved by Google, your facility photo will appear on Google’s map pages.
The Picture Storage campaign has a simple objective. The next time someone is searching in your neighborhood on Google maps, your facility photo will be referenced, enabling a potential tenant to view it and your comments. Adding an image of your facility at your exact location just might help to get you a phone call or walk-in, and the opportunity for you to earn a rental.
If you’re successful with posting your facility images, please drop me an e-mail so I can keep track and report on the campaign as we move toward our Jan. 1 deadline.
Jim Chiswell is the owner of Chiswell & Associates LLC. Since 1990, his firm has provided feasibility studies, acquisition due diligence and customized manager training for the self-storage industry. He has served for a number of years on the Inside Self-Storage Editorial Advisory Board, is a moderator on the SelfStorageTalk.com online community, and is an instructor of the Self-Storage Training Institute. He can be reached at 434.589.4446 or [email protected] For more information, visit www.selfstorageconsulting.com.