By Christopher P. Baird
By Christopher P. Baird
Marketing experts spend a lot of time telling people what they should do when it comes to promoting their business; but it can be just as helpful to know what not to do, especially when it comes to Internet marketing. Sometimes a self-storage operator can be doing all the right things to market his business, but just one misstep can negate all his positive efforts.
There are quite a few things you should not do when it comes to your website and online presence. Some of them are very subtle but have a significant long-term negative impact. As a self-storage operator, you should be fully aware of the cost of any action or inaction that affects your business. Below you'll read about two major online "donts" Ive seen quite a bit of over the last couple of years.
The Cost of Action: Link Sharing
First, do not link from your website to other websites unless you first count the cost. Sound stupid or unimportant? Most people dont put much value on their website links, but they should.
If you think of your website as your Internet equity, adding an external link passes at least a little bit of your equity to the beneficiary of that link. This isnt a perfect analogy, but if you think of your website equity as a bucket, links are straws that carry your equity in and out. The links leading to your site are putting equity in, while the links leading from your site are draining it out. A link to your website is, in simplistic form, a peer vote for the quality of your site; and a link out is the same from you to the site to which you linked.
You may at one point be asked to put a link on your website that leads to someone else's website. But the question to ask is, what is the potential cost of that link? For example, if you put a link on your website to another site where your potential customer can go check out your competition, how many rentals do you think you may lose in a year? Even if its only one or two annually, the cost over a five-year period is substantial.
Is there a gadget, review or peer relationship to which you would consider giving $10,000? If so, good, put the link on; but at least now you know what it actually costs. That's not to say you shouldn't ever link to other websites. But the simple strategy is to get links from good, complementary businesses with quality websites, and give links to the same types of websites. If you simply link off to another site that promotes self-storage, including other facilities in your area, you could be losing rentals, and that means losing money.
The Cost of Inaction: Claiming Listings
Do not let other people claim your places, maps or other Internet business listings! This is another huge mistake many self-storage owners make. It sounds great, righthaving someone else manage a prominent-placed listing to make sure you get everything to which youre entitled from that listing? But let me put it to you another way.
If someone gave you a great, high-traffic Web advertisement, and I came along and convinced you I could manage that ad better than you, send the potential customers from the ad to my website instead of yours (building my sites equity instead of yours), and then sold potential leads from the ad back to you in some form or another, how does that sound? Not so good, right? For all practical purposes, thats exactly what happens to a great deal of Google Plus and Bing map listings because self-storage owners allow someone else to claim and manage those listings on their behalf.
There are many other types of listings to which youre entitled as a business owner. You probably have a Yelp, Merchant Circle and CitySearch listing as well as another 30 or so map or directory listings that may not even be pointed to your website. What if just one person a day sees your unclaimed listing and, as a result, goes somewhere other than your website to look for self-storage?
Maybe it takes 500 people looking for storage to get one tenant, but you may still be losing one rental every two weeks. Thats 104 rentals per year. How much is that worth? Its worth paying attention. Even if Im 80 percent wrong on my stats and you only lose 20 rentals in a year, isnt it still worth consideration? I say a resounding YES!
Now dont get me wrong; if you have no intention of claiming your free business listings and keeping them updated, paying someone else a fee to do it seems reasonable. This is just another example of counting the cost. If youre fully aware of all it costs and willing to pay it, then go for it.
So there you have it: a couple of very important things you should not do to when it comes to building your Internet equity. Remember, with today's online marketing, there are no more silver-bullet programs that get you what you want in the blink of an eye for a few dollars. Instead, take inventory of what youre entitled to, claim it, optimize it and use it to the best of your ability. If you dont use what belongs to you, someone else will.
Christopher P. Baird is the CEO of Tucson, Ariz.-based Automatit Inc., which offers full-service Web-development and marketing services to self-storage companies nationwide. He has more than 15 years of experience in website marketing and search engine optimization. Prior to joining Automatit in 2001, he was a freelance Web designer. For more information, call 520.293.4608; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.automatit.net .