Once self-storage owners have listed their auctions online, it’s time for promotion. While the online-auction provider handles the majority of the publicity, there are several actions sellers can (and must) take to help increase the visibility and success of the lien sale.
Every online-auction provider has its own marketing strategy. Since the end product is online, much of the advertising and marketing is, too. Different providers are active on different platforms, whether it’s social media, Craigslist, or other websites tailored to certain locations. Sellers can also advertise their units via their facility’s social media pages and websites.
Posting auction advertisements through different online channels helps improve the auction provider’s search engine optimization (SEO). Increased SEO is key to online marketing because it helps buyers locate auctions in their areas through simple Google searches.
While SEO seems like a complicated concept, there are easy ways sellers can help increase visibility for their auction provider, which should eventually lead to more bids on units.
First, sellers should take advantage of the “tag” feature most auction websites offer. For instance, if a seller types “used washer and dryer” as a tag for the unit, and people search that same inquiry, Google can gather data on those hits. Over time, the seller’s storage facility will have enough postings with that crawlable tag to get the auction links to appear in someone’s search for used appliances.
Sellers can also help increase SEO by placing links to the storage-auction site on their facility website. Prompting people to click on the link results in two benefits. Visiting the auction site introduces users to online storage auctions and creates SEO credibility for both the storage facility and the auction provider. Sellers should take interest in helping increase both websites’ SEO credibility because it helps the them move up in the Google search results.
While online marketing is important, sellers shouldn’t forget about traditional strategies like newspaper ads, contact lists and word of mouth.
Many state lien laws still require managers to post newspaper ads about upcoming auctions, even if the auction is online. All facility managers need to do is include the name of the online-auction provider and a link to their listings. You should check your state lien law for further details and requirements. With online newspaper articles and apps, these links can even be clickable and make the process run more smoothly.
When sellers first switch to online auctions, they should make a contact list of all the people who usually attend their live auctions, and call or e-mail to let them know about the change. Also, as buyers call your facility to inquire about upcoming auctions, managers should add each caller’s name and information to the contact list. Once the facility is ready to host an online auction, managers can send links and photos of the lien-sale units to everyone on the list.
Finally, sellers should never forget the power of word-of-mouth advertising. Tell friends, family members, tenants and visitors to the storage facility about online auctions. Let them know when they should check online for units up for bid. After all, more bids drive higher profit.
Lonnie Bickford has developed and owned five Appletree Storage facilities in Greater Baton Rouge, La., and is a board member of the Louisiana Self Storage Association, where he’s worked closely with the national Self Storage Association to make changes to the state’s lien law. He’s also the founder of StorageAuctions.com, a provider of online self-storage auction services.