By April O’Rourke
To effectively market to your ideal self-storage customers, you must first understand who those customers are. Going out with a broad message and hoping that you reach the right prospects leaves much to chance, including whether you’re on the right path to achieving your revenue and business goals.
Before diving into target markets and how to identify them, let’s start with the purpose of marketing: to raise awareness of your brand, get more customers and, ultimately, make your business successful. Another way to look at it is marketing is today’s “matchmaker”—it’s important to connect the right self-storage facility with the right prospect at the right time. To get started, you need to hone in on who you are and who’s your best match.
Your Brand: Who Are You?
Your brand is more than what your business offers or provides—it’s more than leasing storage units. Your brand is what prospective tenants think and feel about your operation. You can create a lasting brand impression by clearly communicating your promise to customers and being consistently recognizable. Think of your brand as a person: What is that person like? What can you expect when you interact with that person?
Your Target Market: Who Are They?
When identifying your target markets, consider not only what your customers want but what you want. Remember, this is matchmaking. While it’s important to rent your units, it’s just as vital to attract the right tenants. From a business standpoint, you likely want someone who can afford your services; but you probably also want renters who are quiet, clean and follow the rules of your facility. Happy customers who are connected socially are more likely to brag about their great experience with your facility and raise their voice on social channels as your advocate.
By identifying these characteristics, you can zero in on the personas you want to reach, begin segmenting your buyers, and tailor your messaging according to what you know about them and will best resonate with them. For example, instead of sending the same lead-nurturing e-mails to everyone in your database, craft a message that specifically addresses the pain points of one of your buyer personas.
Classifying Buyer Personas
How do you go about identifying buyer personas? Start by drawing from your knowledge and experience. You want to consider your customers’ demographics (characteristics)—things like age, gender, family size, income, education, etc.—as well as their psychographics (lifestyle), including activities, interests, opinions, attitudes and values. Also think about some of the reasons people seek self-storage:
- Decluttering: These customers want to get organized and clean out their living space, but aren’t ready to cut ties with their treasures.
- Life transition: These customers are going through big life events such as marriage, divorce or death of a loved one.
- Hobbies: From athletes to artists, these customers’ recreational activities require additional space for equipment, gear and supplies.
- Downsizing: This category includes empty-nesters or folks who simply want to scale back and need a place to store everything.
- Renovation: These customers need a safe place to store their belongings while undergoing home improvements.
Once you’ve evaluated what you already know, spend some time reading what people say about you and the self-storage industry in general (on review sites, for instance). By regularly doing online research, you can glean insight to what your buyers are looking for and whether their needs are being met. Also, ask your existing customers about what drove them to seek a storage facility and what prompted them to choose yours.
By taking the time to understand your target audience and buyer personas, you can be more strategic about where and how you reach your ideal prospects, as well as how you communicate with them and what type of messaging will motivate them to become your customer. A well-thought-out, targeted approach can give you a competitive advantage and help you reach potential customers in ways that haven’t yet been tried.
Not only will you increase leads, leases and occupancy, but by targeting your audience, you’ll find the right match for your facility. Identifying target markets is just the first step toward achieving your marketing goals.
April O'Rourke is senior director of product marketing for G5, which provides Digital Experience Management software and marketing services to the self-storage industry. The company’s offerings include responsive-design websites, search engine marketing, social media, reputation management, lead tracking and management, analytics, and client-performance management. For more information, call 800.656.8183; visit www.getg5.com.