By Melissa Stiles
Marketing is an important aspect of operating a self-storage business, but building an effective plan can be challenging. Creating a budget can help you devise a marketing strategy that allows for the best return on investment (ROI).
Your budget should reflect all the aspects of marketing being handled by your facility manager. It can be broken down into two major categories: local and digital. Let’s take a look at each and see how to address them in your overall plan.
Local marketing is especially important to your business. The facility manager needs funds available to build brand awareness within the community. To do so, you need to include line items for promotional goods, community sponsorships, print materials, events and networking fees.
Promotional goods includes any giveaways your managers hand out to potential tenants or leave with partner businesses. These are small items such as pens, magnets or water bottles that build brand awareness. The manager also needs professionally printed materials to present your brand to current tenants, prospects and referral businesses. The budgeted costs of these should include the design and printing.
Sponsorship of local organizations allows the facility manager to connect with community members on a higher level. The sponsorship doesn’t have to be a huge amount; even a nominal donation is welcome by most groups. For example, the manager could consider covering the cost of trophies for a children’s baseball tournament or donate free use of the facility moving truck to a charity. These small gestures will be noticed and aren’t very expensive.
Local events are also important. Designating money for events your business hosts or participates in is critical, as the manager should be out meeting residents and community leaders. Each affair should have a set budget that allows the manager to plan or attend.
Membership to networking groups is the fastest way for a manager to meet with individuals and businesses consistently. These include chambers of commerce, local organizations or interest groups. The manager should know how much is allocated so he can choose the best group suited for the facility.
Local marketing is significant in allowing managers to build the facility brand within the community. Your business should be consistently and positively represented.
With the prevalence of online advertising, the Yellow Pages has rapidly disappeared and been replaced by digital marketing. If your manager is responsible for your facility’s online presence, budget line items in this category should include:
- Your business website
- Search engine optimization
- E-mail marketing
- Advertising and promotions for social media (Facebook, Twitter and other platforms)
- Online giveaways and contests (such as drawings for tickets to local sporting events) via social media, or your own website or blog
Along with the monetary budget, create a time budget that outlines how much time a manager is allotted for social media posting, blog writing and other digital-media marketing. Consider how much time the manager will need to develop an idea, post content and engage your facility’s online audience.
Building the Budget
Creating a successful marketing budget doesn’t have to be a grueling process. You can build it easily by looking at the prior year’s marketing activities and the return for each, as well as your goals for the current year. A great way to determine how to assign marketing dollars is to look at last year’s data on how tenants heard about your facility. On the digital side, look at how well individual ads performed and which content had the most conversions. The budget should be shaped to focus on the activities you and your manager agree provide the best ROI.
A self-storage manager wears many hats. The task of marketing can be stress-free if you put a budget in place that meets all the facility’s needs. Focusing on local and digital marketing and adding appropriate line items for each will ensure enough funds are designated and give the manager some control. The budget generates a plan for the manager to follow for the most effective promotional outreach.
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.