If you’ve been having less than stellar success with your self-storage business advertising, now’s a great time to freshen your marketing plan. Here are three ideas to ensure you’re on track to reach your goals this year.
1. Start Tracking What You’re Already Doing
If you’re a spreadsheet nerd, then you’re probably already nailing this. If not, get organized and start tracking all your marketing spending as well as its return on investment (ROI).
What gets measured, gets managed. If you’re working with a small budget, it’s even more important to track every dollar, lead and new customer coming in through your various marketing channels. If business is low overall, don’t paint with a wide brush. Rather, try to find out exactly what marketing sources are down and dig into the different elements to see where you can make better decisions.
If you aren’t already, one of the biggest things you should start tracking is customer lifetime value (CLV). This tells you the value of each tenant based on how long he rents from you and the price of his unit. For example, if he pays $100 per month and rents for a year, his CLV would be $1,200. CLV is extremely important because as it increases, so does your overall marketing ROI. You want to spend your marketing dollars on leads with the highest potential CLV and avoid filling your units with tenants who rent at a low rate—like a $1 move-in special—for a short time.
2. Focus on Customer Reviews
It seems like online reviews just keep growing in their marketing power, and they’re just as important as ever in 2019. Never underestimate the power of online word-of-mouth on Google, Facebook and Yelp. During your busy season when you have many new rentals, focus on getting as many high-scoring reviews as possible. Then, during the slow winter season, focus on asking current tenants to for reviews, responding to negative ones and managing old review scores.
Bringing in more reviews is simple. Believe it or not, all you have to do is ask. Tenants feel most motivated to leave a review when they have a memorable experience (good or bad). It’s harder to get one when they just had a mediocre experience. Your busy rental season is a great time to turn up your customer-service skills to 10 and ensure your facility is putting its best foot forward every day.
When responding to negative reviews, always be professional and polite, not defensive.
Since storage facilities are bought, sold and rebranded so often, it’s possible your facility has some old reviews that stem from a past owner or manager. Reach out to these reviewers and let them know your business is now under new management and explain the ways in which you’ve improved upon the issue they had.
Make sure you ask tenants to leave reviews, and include a link at the bottom of every e-mail your customers receive. Online reviews are a free and extremely powerful marketing tool for your self-storage business, so make the most of them. Ask every customer and strive to make every new rental a five-star experience.
3. Try a Little Paid Marketing
In most cases, if you want to truly fill your storage facility without sacrificing CLV, you’ll need to reach a segment of customers who require more work. Reaching these sought-after prospects often necessitates the use of paid marketing tools such as self-storage aggregators and pay-per-click (PPC) ads as a way to supplement your more organic, foundational drivers. Your competitors aren’t just waiting for tenants to contact them, they’re targeting them with paid ads!
Get comfortable with the idea of aggregators and PPC. To rent your hard-to-fill units at a premium rate, try targeting specific search terms on Google AdWords or getting listed on an aggregator site. Paid search tools like AdWords are some of the most cost-effective ways for storage operators to attract new tenants.
Test and Be Smart
Assemble a plan to test some new marketing options, understanding that part of the value of paid marketing is learning what doesn’t work for your business. You might spend $500 on an advertising channel that doesn’t drive rentals, and that’s OK. If you measure it properly, at least you’ll know the channel doesn’t work for you. Just make sure that when you try something, you put in enough time, money and effort to truly test its potential.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to effectively market your storage business; you just have to be smart about it! There’s nothing wrong with spending money on advertising. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to bring in high-paying tenants and fill premium-priced units. Just remember that some of the most powerful marketing tools—online reviews, word-of-mouth and customer referrals—are totally free. By tracking every ad dollar you spend and keeping tabs on every click, phone call, lead or customer your business gets from your various marketing sources, you’ll be able to prevent wasted spending and maximize your marketing ROI.
Jana Haecherl is a member of the marketing team for SiteLink, SpareFoot and storEDGE. A graduate of South Dakota State University with a master’s in mass communication, she enjoys bringing technology, Web marketing, and industry news and tips to self-storage owners and managers. For more information, call 913.954.4110; visit www.storedge.com.