Sponsored By

Your Marketing Strategy

January 1, 2006

5 Min Read
Your Marketing Strategy

Believe it or not, developing a bona fide marketing plan isnt difficult. The trick is to establish a course of action that attracts positive attention to your business and customers to your facility. I recommend a systematic approach you can immediately implement using an array of proven tools. Dont feel you have to follow every step presented here. Instead, choose those that best relate to your particular offerings and market.

First, lets differentiate marketing from sales. Marketing is a series of techniques that gives you name recognition and makes the phone ring. Sales is the process of getting prospects to commit to a purchase. Marketing gets them there; selling converts them to customers.

Analysis and Trends

The first step in developing a marketing plan is to consider the demographic, cultural, geographic and cyclical factors affecting your facility. For instance, a location near apartment complexes and a lake could benefit from a direct-mail campaign that highlights 10-by-10 units and boat storage. Your plan should also consider the current and projected size of your market, its rate of growth, and government changes that may affect your business.

Its important to understand the major trends affecting your trade area. Communicate regularly with your economic-development committee, and read local journals and newspapers to keep up with the changing business environment. What if you discovered a major retailer was moving into the area and would likely need to store inventory prior to move-in? You could tailor an aggressive marketing campaign as a result. This is the kind of information to incorporate into ongoing efforts.

Know the Competition

During this first stage, you should also research the competition. Your competitors are watching you, so observe them too! Knowing the number of facilities in your market and their unit mix is a key element in establishing your marketing plan. Knowing where they are and how they attract customers is equally critical.

How does your facility stack up to competitors? When crafting your marketing strategy, its important to candidly assess your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and tasks. The challenge is to be brutally honest and implement improvement whenever possible. Examine your product mix, prices, promotions and seasonal offerings, and then capitalize on your greatest advantages.

Survey Says!

Another way to shape your plan is to get input from current, former and potential customers. Great survey questions include: How do they perceive your operation? Are your access hours conducive to their lifestyle? Can they easily enter your property from the street? If they needed more space, how much more do they think theyd rent? You might already know this information, but a properly conducted survey can uncover areas for improvement. Plus, requesting this type of feedback gives your facility a customer care image.

Dont forget to include yourself in the survey process. Youve looked at what your business offers and others provide, and youve spoken to the public. Now, answer some specific questions:

1. What are your unique advantages?

2. What affordable methods will you use to communicate your message?

3. Which direct-mail pieces produce sales leads?

4. Do you have a facility brochure that clearly defines your features and benefits?

5. How price-conscious/sensitive is your market?

6. Which decision-makers are you targeting?

7. Have you effectively incorporated a color scheme in your signage, brochures, facility appearance, etc., to help with brand recognition?

Communications

Advertising is the most popular method of communicating with the public. Where most facilities stumble is a lack of integration in their messages. Each brochure, mailer, etc., conveys who you are, so uniformity is critical. Collateral should say to the consumer, This is who we are; these are our colors; this is what we would like you to know about us; and this is how often you will hear from us. You must be consistent or the public will be confused about your identity.

Another major mistake is trying one size fits all advertising. It doesnt work. A direct-mail piece designed to attract a residential customer should not look or read the same as one for the commercial sector. Tailor your communication to reflect the group you are attempting to reach while retaining your basic style and design.

Finally, think about your involvement with local business groups such as the chamber of commerce, homeowners associations or the Rotary club. Craft a plan to get more involved. Your commitment to professional organizations will net dividends, as these networks eventually refer customers your way.

Results

You must measure your marketing results to understand their effectiveness. When analyzing advertising impact, look at which media was used; dates the ads ran; ad positioning for each run; and the number of hits received during the advertising period. When looking at the groups of which youre a member, your return on investment will directly correlate to your level of involvement the more you participate, the more benefit youll enjoy.

Assuming you have clearly captured your product mix and service offerings, its time for action. You can be confident in selecting your target markets and determining how to reach them. Part of this final step is to decide the marketing methods you wish to use as well as their cost. The list is only limited by your imagination and budget.

Congratulations in advance for completing a thoughtful, comprehensive marketing plan that allows you to measure results. Remember your plan is a living entityyou must revisit it annually and adapt to the geographic and demographic changes of your community.

Bob Vamvas is part of XPS Services LLC, which provides call-center services to the self-storage industry. Its nationwide reservation center supports all types of facilities, answering missed calls before, during and after business hours. XPS is a member of the national Self Storage Association and the Texas Self Storage Association. Its founders, Brad Boyd and Stan Colona, have more than 26 years of combined experience in the self-storage business. For more information, call 972.783.6339, ext. 104; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.xpsservices.com.

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter
ISS is the most comprehensive source for self-storage news, feature stories, videos and more.

You May Also Like