By Julie Purcell
Theres a lot going on in the marketing world. Back in the good old days, all you really had to worry about was placing a Yellow Pages ad and having a brochure to promote your self-storage business. A few years ago you likely added a website to that mix. Now you have a Facebook and Twitter page, conduct e-mail marketing campaigns, worry about search engine optimization (SEO), write blogs, and so much more! It can be overwhelming.
Wondering where to begin to ensure you cover all your digital marketing bases? It takes some effort, but when you combine several strategiesnotably social media, blogging and e-mail marketingyour facility will reap the rewards.
Inbound and Outbound Marketing
Before we talk about each of the digital marketing elements and how to use and integrate them, first we need to get in a whole new mindset. Enter inbound and outbound marketing. To understand what these are, lets compare marketing to dating.
Say you want to meet Mr. or Miss Right. Outbound marketing is like placing a personal ad. Youre blasting out information about yourself, hoping someone likes it, responds and takes the next step. You schedule your first date, your eyes meet from across the room and, hopefully, its all champagne and roses from there.
Outbound marketing includes Yellow Page ads, print advertising, billboard displays, signage, etc. You have a short window of time to really make a good impression on someone and catch his attention. You lay it all out there, hope a potential client responds and takes the next step to contact you. This is a waiting game and often expensive.
Inbound marketing is a bit different. Theres more strategy involved. Instead of just blasting out content, youre trying to attract the right kind of attention and engage potential clients. Its not just a one-way street where you list things about yourself, its a conversation.
Lets return to the dating analogy. You go to an event and chat with someone. You try and find out more about him. What are his interests? What is he looking for in a relationship? These are things you try to uncover in that first meeting.
Back to self-storage. How do you attract the right kind of attention through inbound marketing to get new customers? You find out what people are looking for and make it about them. This takes research. Sometimes what people are looking for may be different than what you think. Any initiative you take will have a bit of risk, but with risk comes reward. For example, instituting a referral program works very well at some facilities but not at others. Here are some other ideas to attract the right attention:
Change your advertising messages to be more attractive. Think less about long lists of what you do and instead focus on how well you do it. Most important, how will you solve the customer's problem? When people need storage, they're often moving, downsizing, making some sort of a change in their life. They need a solution, and you can provide it.
Make things interesting. This is where digital marketing mediums such as social media come in. Dont just always talk about your facility on your Facebook page. Talk about whats going on in your community. Talk about your latest charitable partnership. Be witty and funny. Heres how to get started:
- What are your goals? Keep them specific and measurable. Write down some of your priorities and the time frame in which you want to accomplish them. Check in with this list monthly.
- What is the average value of a customer? When thinking about marketing and advertising, this is a great metric to use. Determine how much your average client spends with you annually, then add the referrals you generally get from one client. If your average client spends $1,000 and gives you two referrals, that average value is $3,000. Any advertising dollars you spend should be with these figures in mind.
How do we reach those goals of creating more attractive messages and being a more interesting company? Enter the inbound-marketing trifecta: blogging, social media and e-mail marketing.
Social Media: Get the Word Out
Social media is the easiest way to get the word out about your business and increase your referrals. People are making purchasing decisions based on whether you have a Facebook page! You hope clients will refer you if they get into a conversation with someone specifically about your service, but the chances that theyll refer you to their friends if the topic doesnt come up are few. This is where social media comes in.
The average Facebook user has 229 friends. Say your page has 100 fans. Every time you post something, if its shared by your fans, the potential reach could be thousands of people!
Blog to Connect With Clients
A blog is a collection of thoughts on your website. This is a great place to put stories, helpful information, tips and the latest and greatest about your business. The most important benefit of a blog is it helps your Google search-page rankings. The more you blog, the better your website will do. This is a great way to humanize your business and help clients get to know you better.
Stay Top of Mind with E-mail Marketing
E-mail marketing is the act of sending out e-mail blasts to your current customers. E-mail messages could include:
- Articles about your business
- Information about your referral program
- Links and incentives to connect with your social media accounts and website
- Tips, coupons and monthly specials
- Cross promotional information about other businesses and their specials
E-mail marketing is also a great way to build referrals and stay top of mind with your customers.
Putting It All Together
Once you have all these pieces in place, suddenly everything starts integrating and you begin to see some pretty neat things happen. For example, when you do an e-mail blast and include an excerpt of your blog, you drive traffic to your website. With all the new visitors on your site, youll see your Google page rankings improve. This means theres a higher chance of your facility being found online when someone searches for self-storage in your area.
Your e-mail blasts might also bring more people to your social media pages. People start liking and commenting more on your posts and sharing them. This inspire a connection who needs storage to call you.
Or say you partner up with a neighboring interior-design business. You both agree to mention each other in your regular e-mail blasts to clients or on your social media pages. Suddenly your moving clients looking to stage their home hear about a great business whose services they may be seeking. In return, the other company's clients, who may be moving or need a little extra space, are now referred to you. Its a win-win for everyone.
You get the idea. You generate more top-of-mind awareness and people refer you more readily. We all know how big referrals are in this business. Imagine the power of getting just a few extra referrals a month and what a huge impact that would have on your facilitys revenue!
The most important take away is all these efforts build trust and confidence, which is key in self-storage. The more trust you build, the more youll build your business.
Julie Purcell is president of Epic Creative, a full-service marketing agency that handles a myriad of self-storage marketing and advertising needs including social media, e-mail marketing, blogging, graphic design, Web design, SEO and more. For more information, call 717.620.9804; visit www.getepiccreative.com . Follow www.facebook.com/getepiccreative and @getepiccreative.