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Mishandled Messages: Be Creative, Not Cringey With Your Self-Storage Marketing

A marketing message that’s poorly worded or in bad taste can turn away self-storage prospects and even hurt your business reputation. Consider the following to ensure your campaigns entice new customers and build brand loyalty.

Amy Campbell

September 16, 2022

4 Min Read
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Last week I received a marketing postcard from a local gym. The header was “Fat Dads [You]." Another tagline said, “Get your @## back in shape today.” Finally, it had “Because you don’t have to be old and fat.” I understand this was meant to be playful and grab attention, but come on! How could any business think a “fat dads” promo would be enticing? What if it had said “fat moms” or “grandpas who need to lose a few”? These messages are outdated, unacceptable and, in truth, insulting. We can do better.

Bad marketing exists all around us, and even the biggest companies in the world can suffer from poorly worded message or a commercial in bad taste. Remember the tone-deaf Pepsi spot starring Kendall Jenner from 2017? Or when Burger King tweeted “Women belong in the kitchen” on International Women’s Day last year. The tweet was actually meant to promote culinary scholarships, but the damage was already done.

As a self-storage company, it’s imperative to promote your business, even when times are good and occupancy is high. And while there’s a myriad of offline and online channels available, you must always be mindful of your message. How, where and what you say is critical and can be the difference between a message that’s well received and generates leads or one that send prospects into the arms of your competitors. Consider these pointers:

Watch your wording. This is by far the most important factor of marketing. You might think what you’re saying conveys your message, but can it be misinterpreted as in the BK tweet? Are you using appropriate language? Also, you want to incorporate powerful words and phrases, those that evoke emotion or are thought-provoking. If you’re using hashtags, be sure you know what they mean.

Stay away from controversial or sensitive topics. Leave the politics and social commentary out of your marketing. While you can certainly reference pop culture, you could polarize your audience by introducing provocative subject matter. Also, never use a tragedy for marketing fodder.

Heed your platform. Many formats offer little room for your message. A tweet is limited to 280 characters, so every word must count. Even a postcard, like the one I received, has limited space. And what looks great on Instagram might not convey via an email. When crafting your message, think about how it’ll look and read on the platform you choose.

Consider your imagery. Images have long been a staple of great marketing campaigns. However, the wrong picture can do some serious damage to your campaign. You can’t just grab your favorite meme and slap it on an Instagram post or offline promo. You must think about not only the graphics you’re using but also the color scheme, fonts and placement.

With any marketing, your aim is to entice someone to buy your product or service. But you should also connect with your audience. They might not need storage today, but if you’ve introduced powerful marketing and established your brand as the best storage business in your community, they’ll remember you and you’ll be at the top of the list when they do need your service. Thoroughly consider how your message could be received. Every marketing campaign has the potential to fail. The “fat dads” promo should’ve immediately raised a few red flags, yet here I am writing about it.

When it comes to marketing, it’s challenging to be creative, particularly when promoting a storage unit. How many marketing messages have your seen with the tagline “Have too much stuff?” alongside a harried person surrounded by an excess of goods? It’s been done. Move on from this trope. Rather, focus on the various ways storage can improve people’s lives. It isn’t just about getting their “junk” out of sight. Help them organize their treasures in a way they can use and appreciate them more. Make connections so your marketing is always on point.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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