By Brandon Honeycutt
No matter what industry you work in, a solid marketing plan is essential in gaining public awareness for your products or services. With so many different forms of advertising available, its important to keep your target audience in mind and consider the reach and effectiveness each medium will have for that specific demographic.
Search-engine optimization, or SEO, is rapidly becoming one of the most talked about marketing strategies among self-storage operators, offering an extremely targeted form of advertising combined with low cost and high return. Other traditional advertising includes TV, radio, magazines and periodicals, direct mail, and print directories. Each medium differs in price, but its important to look beyond the initial cost when deciding how youre going to allocate your marketing budget.
Cost, audience reach, response/reaction rate, length of campaign term, and value of leads are all marketing factors that play a role in your bottom line. To achieve the highest return on investment, each factor should be carefully examined to determine the method of advertising in which your hard-earned marketing dollars will go furthest.
Effectiveness of Other Avenues
In June 2010, Harris Interactive conducted a survey for Buddy Media on marketing tactics considered very effective by U.S. brand managers for reaching customers in local markets. The results reinforced the idea that SEO has become one of the mostif not the mosteffective forms of marketing. Websites optimized with local content were considered by far the most effective tactic, named by 30 percent of brand marketers. Compare that to:
- TV ads: 18 percent
- Print ads: 15 percent
- Local programs offering products: 11 percent
- Radio ads: 10 percent
- Social-media fan pages: 10 percent
- Paid social media (sponsored ads): 7 percent
- Banner ads: 5 percent
- Short text-message marketing: 3 percent
The most effective forms of marketing differ between industries, primarily due to the diversity of the appeal, value and demand for the products or services being offered. While television or radio advertising may be extremely effective for business A, business B may find the same method to be completely ineffective.
For example, if you own a luxury car dealership and sell sleek, sexy, top-of-the-line automobiles, a 30-second network television time slot that allows you to show off your inventory and current promotional offers may be worth the $80,000 to $600,000 price tag. To evaluate the return on investment (ROI) for that network commercial, consider how much each new customer generated from that ad campaign is worth. You own a business that sells luxury automobiles, so if you spent $100,000 on a 30-second network commercial, you would only need that commercial to bring in a few new customers to see a reasonable ROI.
However, for self-storage operators, advertising and marketing can be much more difficult. You have no flashy sports cars to grab the viewers attention. You have storage units, which are considerably less eye-catching than a Mercedes or BMW. In addition, youre marketing to a much smaller demographic. Everyone needs a car; not everyone needs storage. Spending thousands of dollars on TV advertising would likely only generate a few leads for a self-storage company, and those leads are worth an average of $600 for each that converts to a unit rental. Compared to the value of a lead on a luxury automobile purchase, it equates to pennies on the dollar.
If a self-storage operator paid for that same 30-second time slot, chances are he would take a considerable loss on the investment. He would need approximately 170 leads converted to unit rentals just to make back the initial cost of advertising! Needless to say, this is not a fiscally viable option for most facility operators.
Internet Search Stats
So whats the most cost-effective form of marketing for self-storage operators looking to increase occupancy levels? SEO produces an exceptionally high ROI, primarily because search-engine users are already seeking your services when they see your online listing. Now more than ever, people are using search engines to find what they want rather than flipping through traditional print directories.
If you were a self-storage operator in Timbuktu, and someone looking for self-storage in your area used a search engine such as Google or Bing to search for Timbuktu storage, imagine the impact being the first result out of millions of other websites would have on the amount of calls you receive and, ultimately, on your facilitys occupancy.
Consider the following statistics gathered in a search-engine study performed by Forrester Research: 93 percent of all Internet traffic is generated from search engines. Out of that 93 percent, 89 percent are first-time visitors. Additionally, 65 percent of online revenue is generated by websites ranking in the top three organic positions on search-engine results pages, and 92 percent of search-engine users do not search beyond the first three pages of results.
A similar study performed by Jupiter Research showed 68 percent of all search-engine users will not select a result beyond the first page of listings, basically in the first 10 results. This means that if you arent on the first page of search results, more than half of the potential tenants who are searching for self-storage in your area will not even see your listing, let alone visit your website. With fewer people turning to phone books to find what theyre looking for and more people using search engines, your online visibility has never been such a valuable marketing asset.
The SEO Advantage
A properly designed and optimized website will not only help you rank well in the search engines, but will give your self-storage company a modern look thats difficult to convey through other advertising mediums. Remember that luxury automobile dealership mentioned earlier? You still cant make your storage units as attractive as a sports car, but you can create a website thats just as visually appealing to potential tenants.
When a user views your website for the first time, his first impression is almost always based on whether your site has a user-friendly interface and is aesthetically pleasing. Even if you have the lowest prices, cleanest facilities and best customer service, chances are prospective tenants will move on to another site if they dont like what they see. It may be wrong, but its human nature to make judgments based on appearance.
A quality website is necessary to give users a good first impression and keep them on your site. Creating a website thats fully optimized for both users and search engines, and developing a multifaceted SEO strategy can keep your self-storage company ahead of your competitors for a fraction of the cost of other marketing tactics.
In addition to saving you thousands of dollars in advertising costs, SEO allows you to work personally with a professional SEO marketing consultant, individually assigned to develop an online marketing plan tailor fit to meet your self-storage companys specific wants and requirements. In todays constantly connected world, making your brand visible online is rapidly becoming a new standard in marketing protocol, redefining the status quo of self-storage marketing, one site at a time.
Brandon Honeycutt is a content writer and marketing consultant for Storage Marketing Strategies, a full-service website-design and online-marketing company catering exclusively to the self-storage industry. For more information and a free website analysis, visit www.storagemarketingstrategies.com .