By Erich Noack
There are many companies out there hoping to sell their online-marketing services to self-storage operators. Their products are viable because the Internet is an important place to have a strong presence. You could hire one of these providers to handle your business, but how do you know whether it’s right to outsource these services or manage them on your own? The truth is, among the myriad options out there, you must weigh your time, resources and overall cost to determine when to hire or do it yourself (DIY).
Two of the most critical online activities that will improve your business are website development and marketing. First, you want to create a website that uses intelligent layouts, modern appearances and search engine optimization (SEO) to make it user-friendly and accessible for customers. Then you want to create a positive public image of your company through branding, smart advertising, community involvement, and the publishing of releases and other content on social media platforms and your company blog.
These things increase the visibility of your company, thereby generating traffic, which creates leads and brings new tenants and more revenue. However, while they help to develop your brand and business, they can also hurt your wallet. The price of outsourcing Web-marketing services to a third party can be expensive, and it’s important your results outweigh the cost. You might consider doing some of these things yourself, but before you sit down and start committing your time, consider the pros and cons of tackling such an undertaking versus hiring a company to do it for you.
Converting leads to move-ins is arguably the most important thing a website can do for your company. It takes a lot of know-how to make a website that looks good, convinces users to pick up the phone, and is easily crawled by search-engine bots. There are a lot of pieces that make up a good website including:
- Content: Writing good, fresh content takes time and must reflect an understanding of keywords and search terms.
- Design: Good design and layout of your site is important for customer experience. It’s also vital to have responsive website design for mobile devices.
- Local: Development of your ranking in local search results is becoming more important to the amount of click-throughs your site receives.
- SEO: This dictates your site’s ranking through the use of its internal architecture, design, content and link-building. It’s difficult to understand and use effectively.
Pros of hiring:
- Marketing companies have the knowledge to get results and develop link-building with local organizations.
- Technology is constantly changing. Marketing companies have the time and resources to continually learn.
Pros of DIY:
- Taking on these responsibilities on your own time can save your company money.
- As manager of your Web development, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting out of your work.
Many companies that develop websites also offer Web-marketing services to give your storage company a consistent look and feel. This time-consuming effort keeps your business fresh and relevant to potential customers. Good Web marketing is made up of these parts:
- Branding: Your branding should reflect your company and be consistent with an image you’re trying to convey to the public.
- Advertising: Your ads should be effective and consistent with your branding, whether they’re print, billboard or pay-per-click.
- Social media/blogs: Promoting your business through the use of social-media platforms and blogs can increase your Web presence and recognition.
Pros of hiring:
- With a marketing company, you’ll get a professional, consistent appearance throughout each piece of your campaign.
- Marketing companies have knowledge of online strategies and how they work.
Pros of DIY:
- When you establish your own brand, there’s no need for consulting. You can make your brand entirely yours.
- Hiring a company to design your brand is expensive and the return on investment for advertising is hard to measure.
Costs: Monetary vs. Opportunity
It’s important to weigh the cost of marketing in terms of money and time spent. While outsourcing is far and away more expensive than a DIY project, you’ll lose valuable time when you complete these tasks on your own. It could prevent you from handling the everyday activities of a facility manager or owner. Web-service management is time-consuming, and the cost in your time may ultimately justify the monetary expense.
Let’s say a Web-marketing company has 30 employees, each specialized in his field to add expertise to your marketing strategy. Each person is dedicated to a single part of the online-marketing process, and his time is spent developing that piece of the puzzle. Let’s say this service costs $6,000 per month.
Now let’s assume you hire two people to handle all your marketing needs in-house. You have to pay them $50,000 each annually, or around $8,300 a month. This is already more expensive than outsourcing, plus you’ll never match the combined expertise of 30 people. You’d save the money, but the time spent handling your Web marketing would probably be better focused on other business aspects.
The most important thing you can do when deciding how to proceed in the Web-marketing field is educate yourself. Learn about the industry, what the services should do for your business and how much they should cost. Research the companies and the services they provide. Speak with those who’ve outsourced and those who’ve done the work themselves. Only when you’re equipped with this knowledge can you properly decide what’s best for your business.
Erich Noack is a content writer at StorageAhead, which offers Web-marketing technology for the self-storage industry, including lead-generating search engines and facility-management software. For more information, visit www.storageahead.com.