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Outside Help for Your Offline Marketing: Benefits and Advice for Self-Storage Operators

Outside Help for Your Offline Marketing: Benefits and Advice for Self-Storage Operators
Many self-storage operators believe offline marketing is less complicated and important than online strategies and keep those tasks in-house. But outsourcing to an agency can make just as much sense for your traditional efforts as digital. Read the benefits and how to choose a good agency partner.

Every successful self-storage business has expenses, and if you’re a smart facility operator, you aim to keep yours low. But when it comes to marketing, tightening the purse strings can cost you more in the long run.

This is as true for your offline efforts as it is for digital. Though you may think more traditional methods of marketing—billboards, brochures, direct mail, print advertising, promotional items, radio and TV spots, etc.—are less complicated and important and, therefore, less worthy of attention, it simply isn’t true. They’re still relevant ways to put your messages in front of customers. In fact, as your competitors rely more heavily on digital channels, there are a plethora of offline opportunities to make your brand stand out.

In addition to offering accessibility and affordability, even for self-storage startups, traditional marketing tactics tend to be far less restrictive than their online counterparts. For example, social media platforms often limit your content based on character or word count, whereas with fliers and print ads, you’re only limited by physical dimensions and your own imagination. Online, you have to follow strict guidelines to be viewed favorably by the oh-so-critical Google machine; in the offline world, the rules are more flexible.

The question is whether your team has the time and expertise to handle offline marketing for your self-storage business. Outsourcing to a third party can bring plentiful benefits that improve your overall results. Let’s see what they are and how to choose a strong partner.

Advantages to Outsourcing

One of the greatest benefits to outsourcing your offline marketing is economy of scale. Agencies often have access to wholesale printing services and a network of vendors that deliver competitive pricing. While it costs money to have a third party design your business cards, fliers, forms and other materials, your investment can be amortized across thousands of printed items. More importantly, those fees are offset by how much your partner can save you simply by guiding you to the right products for each application.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you need a new sign for your self-storage management office. You get a quote from a marketing agency and then shop online, where you find one for $10 less. Like many business operators, you’re tempted to go the cheaper route. After digging into the details, however, you realize the low-priced sign is made of inferior materials that’ll fade quickly in sunlight, while the agency sign is printed with durable inks on UV-protected material that remains vibrant for longer. Going with the online option means you’ll pay more over time, because you’ll have to replace the sign more frequently. The agency, on the other hand, which works with dozens or even hundreds of clients, can offer you a higher-quality sign at a very competitive price.

Agencies understand how you use various marketing collaterals and will help you choose the best materials, so your printed items look good for as long as possible. This is where savings are realized. Typically, in-house marketers don’t understand the nuances of ink, paper and other supplies. Plus, new options hit the market all the time. It’s an agency’s job to keep up with innovations, so your staff can focus on sales, service and other key tasks.

Agency teams are also acutely aware of current best practices. This includes the latest marketing technologies and how to merge and integrate them into your existing workflow. Most small to mid-size self-storage operators simply can’t afford to make the necessary investment in complex tools; but with a partner, you get access to resources that can help you meet business goals you wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve.

Another benefit outsourced marketing provides is having fresh, objective eyes look at your brand messaging. This helps stimulate new ideas and perceptions. The resulting advances can enhance and grow your brand.

Keep in mind that not all marketing functions need to be handed over to a third party. Some things work better when handled in-house, such as community events and local networking. Sometimes a hybrid approach makes a lot of sense. For example, consider your social media. You might continue to write your posts in-house, so they can be very local-relevant, while letting your partner handle overall strategy. An agency is likely better equipped to implement the latest methods and technologies to measure and increase return on investment across all platforms.

Choosing a Partner

Finding a marketing partner that’s well-suited for your self-storage operation takes time and research. The first thing to consider is cost. While this shouldn’t be the only factor, it’s a great place to start. Low prices can often result in unsatisfactory results; however, a high price tag doesn’t guarantee mind-blowing campaigns, either. Ultimately, you want to find a company that charges a fair wage and works efficiently within your budget.

When interviewing potential partners, ask for case studies or work samples. Just because an agency has a great reputation doesn’t make it the right fit for your business. To ensure a good match, you’ll want to confirm that the company’s strategy and style are in line with your brand image. Here are some other ways to ensure you can work together effectively:

Agree on expectations. Set a clear and concise contract from the start, which ensures the work will be done to your standards. Address any uncertain terms before entering the agreement.

Set clear goals. Though trying to micro-manage another company’s workflow is generally frowned upon, it’s perfectly OK to set clear objectives. In fact, it’s a great way to measure results that’ll help inform strategic adjustments.

Plan ahead. Agree on a schedule for meetings to discuss progress, as this keeps everybody on the same page and ensures there’s enough time to properly address feedback. In fact, it’s beneficial to ask your agency for a timeline, so you’re able see the big picture. Short deadlines lead to rushed work and disappointment.

Stay in the picture. Though you may be delegating the most arduous marketing tasks to your new experts, don’t remove yourself from the equation completely. Collaboration will always yield the best results.

A Mixed Solution

When it comes to offline marketing, the best choice for most small to mid-size self-storage operators is likely a mix of in-house and outsourced support. Facility staff can often handle elemental tasks, while an agency takes care of the more advanced techniques, which can be difficult and expensive to implement. An outsourced partner not only gives you access to expert advice, resources and technologies, it can free up valuable time, allowing staff to prioritize other important tasks. In the end, you’ll boost the effectiveness of your marketing, offer a better customer experience and fulfill other business goals.

Stephanie Farber is creative principal for Creative Blend Design, a full-service marketing agency. In addition to offline-marketing solutions, the agency develops and deploys multi-channel, digital campaigns using a proven, comprehensive approach to ensure client success. To reach Stephanie, email [email protected].

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