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7 Easy, Low-Cost Ways to Stand Out in a Crowded Self-Storage Marketplace

7 Easy, Low-Cost Ways to Stand Out in a Crowded Self-Storage Marketplace

As the self-storage industry attracts investor interest, it becomes increasingly competitive. This may not be news, but you still need a plan to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Here are seven ways to do it.

The self-storage industry continues to grow and become increasingly competitive. This isn’t really news, but it does leave operators fighting to establish market dominance. With only so many customers in any given area, effective marketing and promotion are imperative to ensure your business thrives. Here are seven easy, low-cost ways to help your facility stand out in the crowd.

1. Local Advertising

Self-storage is all about location. Each facility serves a specific market, which means you must find ways to promote your business locally. Though you can try offline tactics like local radio spots, magazine or newspaper ads, fliers, brochures, etc., you can’t neglect digital marketing. With an estimated 97 percent of consumers now using the Internet to search for local businesses, self-storage operators are wise to invest in online presence and visibility. That’s where people are looking, so that’s where you’ll be found.

Start by creating a locally optimized website and social media profile. In addition, list your business on online directories such as Google My Business and Bing Places for Business. Make sure potential customers can find and interact with you online.

2. Referrals

Referral marketing is a great way to reach more self-storage customers, especially in a local market. Word-of-mouth recommendations are an unbelievably productive strategy. Customers who’ve been referred by friends are more likely to buy your services and refer others to you. Referrals build trust, credibility and customer loyalty.

Create a referral program to drum up more business and make sure customers know about it. The goal is balance. Though you don’t want to appear too aggressive, you want to provide worthwhile incentives to drive activity. A good approach is to offer generous discounts to newly referred customers as well as their referrers.

3. Unique Selling Points (USPs)

What sets your business apart from other self-storage establishments? What are some of your unique services or features? These might be created around your rate structure, large storage spaces, smartphone app or special security features. If you can’t think of any USPs, survey your competition and figure out what you can offer that they don’t.

Once you’ve identified your USPs, tell people. You might even use it as your slogan or branding message. There aren’t a lot of innovations in the self-storage space. Any unique features you have might set your business above the rest. It’s up to you to find your USPs and make them part of your value proposition.

4. Proper Signage

Signage is an essential part of local marketing. Don’t be afraid to express your brand in bold colors, symbols and words. Put out billboards and banners, and brand your storefront with distinctive signage that ensures folks your business is there, open and available.

Remember to focus on what your business does rather than just your brand name. This is a common signage mistake. Only very well-known brands like McDonald's and Starbucks can get away with using just their names. For small businesses and startups, it’s important to first associate your services to your name before promoting the brand itself.

5. Promotions and Gifts

Customers love to feel valued. Offering promotional discounts and gifts is a low-cost marketing strategy that serves two purposes. First, it shows customer appreciation. Second, it can be an opportunity to spread brand awareness.

Offer branded items such as mugs, baseball caps and T-shirts. There’s no telling how many people these can reach once they leave your office. Plus, an expression of generosity exposes a more likable and human side to your self-storage business.

6. Focus on User Experience

Retaining customers is just as important as acquiring them. To keep them around, maintain a hassle-free self-storage rental and payment process that guarantees customer satisfaction. Remember, pleased customers will keep coming back for more and act as brand ambassadors.

Create a service environment that makes it easy for customers to transact with you. Smooth your process by accepting multiple payment options. Package services in a way that makes sense to a majority of customers. Also, do away with any unnecessary or complicated transaction procedures, and remove hurdles that might cause confusion or delays.

7. Monitor Performance

One of the crucial aspects to marketing is monitoring your performance by channel. This will help you identify the methods that work and adjust your outreach efforts accordingly. Multi-channel marketing can be expensive if you go all-in, so it's essential to weed out avenues with low return on investment.

Collect as much data from your customers as possible. This should give you a rough idea about your brand’s reach and how well your marketing efforts are doing. Ask every new tenant for residential information as well as how he found out about your self-storage business. The goal is to identify the sources of your traffic and determine which marketing strategies on which to focus.

No Excuses!

We’ve now discussed seven easy, low-cost marketing techniques. Some of these can be done in a matter of minutes and barely cost a thing. And remember, professional help is always available if you’re struggling to create a successful marketing plan on your own. Reach out to a local marketing team to help you get things rolling.

Chad Vanags is chief marketing officer at Talus, a fintech payment-solution provider to more than 25,000 small and mid-sized businesses. Chad helps build online and offline environments that provide value. He previously helped online businesses build automated sales and marketing systems and partner programs to improve customer engagement and retention, leads, and revenue. For more information, visit

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