As an out-of-state student who brought way, way too much stuff to college, figuring out what to do with it all between semesters was a struggle—until I learned about self-storage. Renting a unit was a lifesaver. Not only did I have a safe place to keep everything during breaks, I didn’t have to drag my belongings home each summer.
As an English major, I never imagined I’d end up working in the self-storage industry; but after graduating, I was hired as a content writer for Store Space Self Storage. I’m now officially tasked with all things college-related! Students make an excellent market for storage facilities, and it’s my job to help the company reach them. I’d like to share some insight to help other operators target this business segment, too.
Things Your Student Audience Needs to Know
I had a good self-storage experience when I was in school, but there are a few things I wish I’d known about using the product. Here’s some information you might consider conveying to prospective student customers in your messaging:
- Cheaper isn’t always better. As a college student, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I ended up renting one of the cheapest 5-by-5, climate-controlled units I could find. The facility was fine, except it was 25 minutes from campus. Not very convenient.
- Location really does matter. I thought location was a worthy sacrifice if it meant I could save more money. Turns out, I was wrong. After making three trips back and forth, I definitely would have paid extra for a closer facility. I was kicking myself by trip four.
- Research is important. I did a pretty good job investigating my options. I looked into climate control, drive-up storage, security and access hours. If I’d skimped on research, I may not have chosen a climate-controlled space, and my TV could’ve been ruined by the heat and humidity of the Southeast. I also didn’t know month-to-month leases were the industry standard, but they were definitely a must-have on my list.
- It’s helpful to plan ahead. In hindsight, I was pretty lucky to find the unit I did, as I didn’t start my research until a few days before I needed to move in and just showed up at the facility. It would’ve been much smarter to check availability online and reserve a unit.
- Friends are the best. Moving all your stuff into a storage unit isn’t a walk in the park. Having friends to help makes a big difference. Encourage student customers to recruit their buddies, perhaps buying them lunch if they’ll help for the day. It works, trust me; college students love food!
How to Sell to Students
Reaching college kids isn’t really that difficult, but there are a few things they prioritize. Here are some items to keep in mind in your marketing efforts:
- Ease and convenience are key. If students have to put in a lot of effort to use self-storage, they aren’t interested. Think simple rentals, easy move-ins and a convenient location. If your facility is close to campus, you have a good chance of getting their business.
- Know their schedule. Not in a creepy way! But it’s important to have a general idea of when college students move in and out of their dorms and apartments. Why run a back-to-school promotion in August if the college closest to you runs on trimesters and doesn’t start until mid-September?
- Advertise where students are looking. Cater the content and location of your ads to catch their attention. Instead of advertising in places where students will never see it, launch a “move-in special for students” campaign. Create pamphlets and fliers to advertise on campus (with permission), and share the promotion on social media. The college crowd is always on their phones, so social platforms are vital.
- Focus your advertising on the right things. College students will most likely be looking for storage between semesters, when studying abroad and during gap years. They don’t always need it for the long term. Emphasize the monthly nature of the lease, so they know it won’t be a hassle to leave when they want.
- Be tech-forward. College kids and technology go hand in hand. Your company should accept texts, and be active and reply to social media channels—especially Instagram. Maybe even start a TikTok. It’s crucial to have a modern, online presence as well as services that can translate to mobile view on a smartphone. Rentals and account access should also be accessible on a mobile device.
- Don’t try to be hip. This is my No. 1 tip. College kids will see right through it. Unless you manage Wendy’s Twitter account, you probably aren’t that edgy. Don’t overdo the slang. Instead, be real, relatable and informed about the audience.
Many students need self-storage products and services. You just have to help them realize it and convince them your facility is the best option. I hope my advice helps you reach the students searching for storage space in your market!
Sarah Dirks is a recent college graduate and content writer for Store Space Self Storage, which owns, manages or has purchase agreements for more than 50 properties in 18 states. The Winter Garden, Florida-based company fuels growth and value through operational experience, its state-of-the-art Storage360 proprietary platform, and strategic digital-marketing programs. For more information, email [email protected].