If you’re considering adding portable-storage service to your existing traditional self-storage business, you’ve probably spent time evaluating every detail: how to deliver, transport and store the containers; drafting a new lease; obtaining insurance; setting rental rates, etc. But have you researched the most important aspect of all—marketing?
The most powerful and obvious source of leads will be a combination of word-of-mouth referrals and signage on your containers. Containers with a phone number, website and a memorable name or logo gain exposure. Allow plenty of time to design and create your logos to get them just right.
Keep the overall appearance of containers tasteful, so they don’t violate local government or association restrictions. Use empty containers as portable billboards in the most visible locations of your property. Consider asking friends with high-exposure property if you can park a container on their site for a short time.
Pricing strategy also plays a major role in marketing. Offer grand-opening specials immediately to ensure your containers get into circulation as quickly as possible. The low initial price will generate word-of-mouth, and containers in customers’ driveways will mean your new signage is visible to more potential customers.
Census data shows younger adults are likely to move more often. They are also more likely to research their storage options on the Web before they contact you. Posting your rates on your website (where your competitors can view them) is a judgment call. However, it is critical your website contains a phone number or e-mail address so customers can contact you. A quick reply is critical in earning business from the various services that sell leads gathered through websites.
Other Marketing Avenues
The Yellow Pages is another key ingredient of your marketing mix. Your business should be listed where your potential customers are looking. Most self-storage businesses already have an ad in the storage category, but portable storage also will benefit from exposure in the truck-rental and moving categories. Know directory deadlines and reserve your space as soon as you commit to offering portable storage so you don’t miss a year’s worth of exposure.
Networking is one of the least expensive ways of generating business. Consider who your customer is, and what major events are creating the need for portable storage in his life. He may be dealing with realtors, contractors, local home-improvement centers or nursing-home directors. Tell local professionals about the quality and value of your new business. A small investment in donuts, bagels or pizza will get your foot in the door and give you enough time to share your message.
Leave behind coupons, postcards or fliers they can pass on to clients. Mark the coupon with an identifying code so you can track the referral. You’ll also know which referrals are working and should make a point of thanking the source. Finally, watch your local newspaper for building-permit notices, then send a letter or coupon to the applicants. Postcards work well and are economical.
Take networking a step further and locate local charities that need your service. For example, one Canadian portable-storage company donated two containers during a charity event to build a new home for a local firefighter injured while responding to a call. The company helped a worthy cause while gaining exposure at the epicenter of a major local media event.
Based on feedback from portable-storage operators, newspaper advertising and direct mail tend to lack immediate measurable results. The word “measurable” is important, because it’s possible to build name recognition without generating an immediate result. With a few of the above tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your marketing budget and keep your containers on the road.
Steve Hajewski is the product manager for new product development at Trachte Building Systems. He’s been with Trachte since 2005, leading the research and development for the company’s portable-storage program, and has more than 10 years business-to-business sales and marketing experience. To reach him, call 800.356.5824, ext. 3208; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.trachte.com.