By Melissa Stiles
Does your self-storage facility work with charities or other local organizations to sponsor events or activities? If not, you could be missing out on important marketing opportunities as well as a way to make a positive impact in your area. Even with many storage operators allocating more marketing dollars online, community marketing is still essential to a facility’s success. It can take many unique forms and play a significant role in building brand awareness for your business.
Your local marketing position is extremely important, as most customers rent within a 10-mile radius of their homes. So the most obvious reason to pursue this type of marketing is to ensure your facility is viewed favorably within the community. A good neighbor cares about the area in which he lives, works and plays. Sponsoring a local event sends a positive message that you care about your neighbors and are willing to put in time and money for the cause.
Working with a charity or other local organization also allows your facility to create a “feel good” moment that inspires others to do the same. Potential tenants will view you as a business that wants to be a solution to the local area’s needs, not just a storage provider.
Along with having a great conscience about giving back to the community, you’ll build brand awareness. The continuous use of your brand and facility name in the advertising and media for the event or activity allows you to stay in front of people. You can make an even bigger splash by sending a press release to media outlets. It’s a great way to drum up participation and acts as a catalyst to tell more people about your business. If the event will benefit a charity, putting the cause first will ensure your press release catches media attention.
Community marketing can also lead to free search engine optimization for your facility. When you sponsor, participate or host an event for a nonprofit, school or other organization, the organizers will likely relay information about your involvement to their online audience. They might even provide your facility name and a link to your website in their advertising. The media may also cover the event or drive, which could include links to your website. All of this can help increase traffic to your website as well as provide credible backlinks.
Your contribution can also be helpful in creating content for your facility’s blog and social media posts. Search engines love to see fresh content on your website and social media platforms, so a recap or photos of an event or content about your participation can help your facility’s website rank higher in organic searches.
Are you convinced that community marketing needs to be part of your overall strategy this year, but you’re not sure where to start? There are plenty of creative ways to partner with local organizations and build successful events. Here are some ideas:
- Allow a local sports team or scout troop to use your parking lot for a carwash.
- Sponsor a family in need during the winter holidays, providing gifts and food.
- Team up with local chapters of the Boys & Girls Club of America, Salvation Army, United Way or YMCA. These organizations have year-round needs with which you can help. You might provide a free or discounted storage unit for a period of time.
- Contact a local school and ask if there are any families in need, and then get tenants to help by donating the necessary items.
- Choose a cause to receive a percentage of your merchandise revenue for a month.
- Host a canned-food drive.
- Sponsor an ad in a local sports-team calendar or scoreboard.
- Host a car show.
- Donate free use of a unit for one month.
- Volunteer your time.
Once you settle on an event or activity, post fliers about the initiative around your facility, include it in all correspondence to tenants such as e-mail newsletters, and relay the information in your blog and social media posts. These are all great ways to generate enthusiasm and help from tenants. Hosting an event also encourages foot traffic to your facility, which increases the chances of someone coming through your door who may never have visited you otherwise. Again, advertising events at your facility and online creates a positive image for your business and allows you to give back to worthy cause.
The Next Step
Now that you have some ideas for community events, you’re ready for the next step. The first thing to consider is whether there’s a local organization that caters to the needs of your tenants. Start by building a relationship with that group. Find out how you can help them. This may take time, and you may not collaborate on an initiative overnight, but it will definitely result in a positive outcome for your facility.
Community marketing should be a part of your facility’s year-round marketing plan. Partnering with a nonprofit or other organization will generate brand awareness, bring in new customers and show the community you’re more than just another business—you’re a community member and good neighbor.
Melissa Stiles is the marketing manager for Storage Asset Management Inc. (SAM), responsible for the direction of marketing and sales functions for the company’s 40-plus managed self-storage facilities as well as its corporate marketing. Her previous experience includes traditional and digital marketing, specifically social media and search engine optimization in the nonprofit and manufacturing sectors. For more information, call 717.779.0044; www.storageassetmanagement.com.