By David Wolf
A key question for many self-storage operators is whether to outsource online marketing and lead generation to an agency or consultant. Hiring an outside resource comes down to you and your teams time, expertise, and breadth of your online and offline marketing efforts. Partnering with a third party provides the benefit of having an expert deployed on your digital lead generation and online branding.
The challenge many operators face is staying abreast of the numerous online, mobile and social-advertising channels and how they converge within the scope of an integrated media plan. Another variable is the rapid pace of change in the online- and mobile-media landscape and the evolution of new advertising platforms. Lastly, the continued introduction of online directories and lead-aggregation platforms targeting consumers looking for self-storage has created an additional layer.
Finding the right agency or consultant to leverage the opportunities online advertising can yield is crucial to ensure your facility generates leads that convert into high-quality tenants. There are a myriad of factors you should consider to ensure you find the right partner.
Determine Your Goals and Objectives
Define what youre looking to get from your partnership. Are you looking to remove the administrative burden of managing your online marketing efforts? Are you looking for expertise and guidance? A combination? Defining and sharing your goals and objectives with prospective vendors during your evaluation will serve as an essential guidepost to find the best solution.
Define Roles, Responsibilities and Account-Service Needs
A key benefit of hiring a third party to manage your online marketing initiatives, besides expertise and knowledge, is account-service and program-management capabilities. Chances are youre looking for someone to remove the administrative tasks of managing multiple campaigns. Define the roles and responsibilities you and your team want to pass off and the parts of the relationship in which you want to be engaged.
If client service is important, select someone who has a strong account-service pedigree. Focus on getting to know the agencys culture and the importance it places on the client experience. Some variables to consider is the level of account service, for example, are phone and e-mail requests promptly addressed?
Also consider the firm's size and capabilities. If youre working with a smaller company with few employees or a sole contractor, this may be a poor fit if your goal is to disengage from online marketing. Lastly, ask the prospective candidate to provide client references.
Industry Expertise and Experience
Choosing a partner with self-storage experience is beneficial. One who already understands consumer drivers and how consumers shop online for self-storage is useful. You dont want to pay a company to learn about your industry and the drivers of your business.
Strategy and Approach
Have the agency rep or consultant define his strategy and approach to online advertising. Evaluate how he will approach media planning and measure the efficacy of the campaigns he recommends. Have him distill his approach to online lead generation as it relates to self-storage. Look for new and creative ideas he suggests to improve performance, generate leads and increase conversions. I suggest choosing someone whos media agnostic with the ability to understand, plan, place and analyze the results generated from all the channels in which you advertise.
Determine Success Factors and Benchmarks
Identify the benchmarks you plan to use to measure success and evaluate performance. Also determine the intervals on which you plan on reviewing your partner's performance. If your partner misses the targets you established at the onset of your relationship, this is a great time to discuss changes and get back on track.
Dave Wolf has been the managing partner of Linkmedia 360 since 2004. Hes responsible for a number of innovative strategies that have enabled the companys clients to use online, mobile and social media to maximize the impact of their lead-generation campaigns. For more information, call 877.843.1091; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.linkmedia360.com.