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Inside Self-Storage Magazine 07/2004: The Free Report

July 1, 2004

5 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage Magazine 07/2004: The Free Report

The Free Report

By Fred Gleeck

As a promotions strategy, self-storage marketers frequentlyrecommend operators use a giveaway item they can distribute to key influentialpeople in their areas, such as apartment-complex managers. The idea is to visitthese folks personally and leave them something that will help them remember thefacility. Most of the time, the item is candy or some other consumable, usuallyin a coffee mug printed with the facility name. Then, the operator or managergoes back to these individuals on a regular basis to refill the cup or whateverelse he brought them.

This is a great marketing idea, but there is an even betterone. Why not give business owners and other influencers something they can, inturn, distribute to their own customers, something with real value? Mysuggestion is a free, informational report about self-storage. Free reports arentthe same as brochures, as they are generally longer and a lot more detailed. Abrochure is general, a report is specific.

The purpose of the free report is to provide valuableinformation on specific storage-related topics to groups who may have aninterest in the product. Walk into any chiropractors office, and you will seegreat examples of the free-report concept. If you ask for a brochure from thesame practice, you will get a more general piece that advertises its specificservices. A free report first informs, then sells. This is crucial for everystorage owner to understand.

Your facility brochure and your free report both have theirplace in the operation of your business. The brochure is cheaper to produce and,therefore, should be given to just about anyone who asks. The free report ismore expensive and should be given out more selectively. It can be produced insmaller quantities as needed.

The free report, like your facility brochure, should not betoo slick, nor should it look cheap. I prefer to have it saddle-stitched(stapled two or three times down the middle), with card stock used for thecover. The report should be a minimum of 16 pages, but you can make it as longas you wantthe longer the better. I have seen some as long as 48 pages,packed with just about everything you could possibly think of as it relates tostorage.

The free report must also have a price printed on its cover,even though you give it out for free. People are more apt to hold onto items towhich there is an assigned value. If you print free report on the cover,people will be more likely to throw the report away. The goal is longevity, sowhen people require storage, they will look to your materials and, hopefully,contact you.

The Content

The report should address a specific target group or astorage-related question. It should be highly informational and start with astory that illustrates how a particular market segment uses the self-storageproduct. This will provide readers real-life examples of the value of storage.

You can gather the content for your report from anywhere: theInternet, industry publications, self-storage associations, even yourcompetitors. Include any and all information that relates to storage, such astips on what and what not to store, how to pack specific household items, how todetermine how much can fit to a particular size unit, etc. Dont hold backthe more information youinclude, the more credibility the report will have with readers.

Make sure the report provides the phone numbers of anyavailable information hotlinesparticularly the one for your own facility. Thereport should pull people into your marketing system in a variety of ways. Afterall, some readers will be convinced to store with you after reading the report;others will need more convincing. If they call your personal hotline for moreinformation about storage, they will be looped back into your marketingefforts. Similarly, you can refer callers to your hotline or facility phone toyour free reportthey all work to support each other.

Of course, the report will also include your facilityspertinent details: name, phone numbers, mailing address, web address, etc. Place these subtly toward the back of the piece, rememberingyou want people to distribute the report as an educational item, notadvertising. Finally, include a coded coupon for your facility so you cantrack the marketing success of the piece.

Be a Specialist, Not a Generalist

If you are handling your marketing right, you are carving upyour market into bit-sized piecesin other words, niche marketing. In doingthis, you are not selling to everyone; you are selling your services to a fewvery definable groups. For example, residential renters can be further brokendown into apartment renters vs. and homeowners. You can then break them down into even smaller categories ifyou so desire.

The reason niche marketing makes sense can be illustrated witha story. Lets say a pharmaceutical rep walks into your facility. He islooking for storage space and visiting several facilities to determine which onehe will use. You happen to rent to a number of pharmaceutical reps and havedesigned a report that specifically targets that group. The prospect will likelyrent from you, because you have demonstrated specific knowledge of hisprofession and its use of storage. You have targeted his unique needs.

Consider this: When you have a heart problem, do you go to ageneral practitioner? Of course notyou go to a cardiologist because he is thespecialist in the field you require. It is possible for you, as a storageoperator, to specialize in more than one niche market? Absolutely. With this in mind, you should produce multiplereports to distribute to the niches you serve, such as boat/RV storage renters,commercial renters, residential renters, wine-storage renters, etc.

Its great to have freebies to give directly to potentialcustomers or to those who may have contact with your prospects. Why not come upwith something much more powerful than candy or some other valueless item? Whynot create a free report, which has low cost, high perceived value and marketcredibility?

Fred Gleeck is a self-storage consultantwho helps owners/operators during all phases of the business, from thefeasibility study to the creation of an ongoing marketing plan. He is the authorof Secrets of Self Storage Marketing SuccessRevealed!,available for purchase at www.selfstoragesuccess.com, as well as the producer ofprofessional training videos on self-storage marketing. To receive a copy of hisSeven-Day Self-Storage Marketing Course and storage marketing tips, send ane-mail to [email protected]. For more information, call 800.FGLEECK;e-mail [email protected].

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