March 1, 2003

5 Min Read
Maximize Profits Through Differentiation

As the self-storage industry grows, evolves and becomes increasingly competitive, its professionals must recognize the importance of setting themselves apart from the rest of the marketplace. With today's customer calling four to five stores before deciding where to store his belongings, it is imperative we understand our different advantages and communicate them in our sales and marketing efforts.

When we educate prospective customers on our unique advantages, we create opportunities to make the phone ring and maximize each call received. Therefore, knowing and capitalizing on your facility's specific advantages will allow you to convert more callers to renters, better overcome objections, and maximize your overall marketing efforts.

The average self-storage operator is converting fewer than 35 percent of his callers to renters. In other words, the average store is renting to only one out of every three prospects who call. This demonstrates a poor job in setting ourselves apart from one another. It is immensely important we build additional value for our store via educating our customers on our differential advantages.

The consumer is asking himself, "Why should I choose your store over another? Is there really any difference? Isn't all storage alike?" Unless you want to be viewed as just another storage facility, you need to tell every prospect why your store is better than the next one on the list. Selling in a competitive marketplace is all about differentiating yourself from your competition and providing prospective customers a better understanding of what sets you apart.

Knowing your competition is one of the most effective ways you can sell against it. A true understanding of your advantages starts with shopping your competition on a consistent basis. If you really are familiar with the competition in your area, you can communicate your sales presentation to emphasize your advantages. For instance, if you are the only store in your area to offer insulated units and security cameras, it's important to incorporate these features into your presentation. The more you know about your competition, the more confident you will become in selling the specific features of your store.

Differentiating yourself from the competition will also give you an opportunity to overcome customer objections. For example, if a customer is shopping around and only wants to know about price, highlighting what sets you apart from the rest of the market will allow you take control of the conversation and educate the customer on your advantages. If you overcome the price issue by building additional value for your store, price will become a nonissue. The vast majority of customers will store their belongings where they feel most comfortable. Taking the time to build trust and educate your customers on what to look for when using storage will result in the prospect renting a unit the majority of the time.

Your effectiveness increases even more when you customize the sales presentation to point out how your particular advantages satisfy the needs of the customer at hand. Many times, you can overcome an objection based on proximity by pointing out the differences between your store and the closer one being considered. This can be done in a positive way without slamming the competition, but only if you have taken the time to study and know the other locations in your area. Knowing your differential advantages and how you stack up against your competition is one of the most effective ways to overcome customer objections.

When you know your organizational uniqueness, you can incorporate these advantages into your marketing campaign. For instance, customers in today's society are in a hurry and want as much convenience as possible. If you are the only store in your market area that offers a rental truck, moving supplies, appliance dollies, etc., in addition to storage, your marketing and advertising should emphasize these offerings. All communications should point out to the customer, you can "Take Care of All Your Moving Needs in One Place." This is a definite advantage that can be very effective for you if communicated in the proper way. Again, knowing your differential advantages can be a real asset as you incorporate these messages into your marketing efforts.

The advantages you have over your competition can also be used in your overall marketing process. Once you know who your market is and from where they are coming (apartment complexes, pharmaceutical companies, housing communities, etc.), it is imperative to figure out the most effective ways of advertising to these target markets. It is critical you incorporate the advantages you have over your competition as you market and advertise to these key influencers. This will set you apart, especially as you build consistency in your marketing efforts.

As you know, consistency and repetition are two very important keys to an effective marketing campaign. If you have four to five advertising programs working simultaneously, it is amazing how much synergy can be generated between the programs. The synergy usually comes from effectively and consistently incorporating into the advertising the knowledge that you have about your advantages. Over a period of time, if done properly, your key influencers will begin to understand the importance of your advantages and how these features can benefit them when they need storage. This will help to create a steady stream of referrals. Start maximizing your profits today through differentiation!

Brad North is founder of Advantage Business Consulting and specializes in sales and marketing training to the self-storage industry. He has produced two live videos along with a workbook called "Maximizing your Sales and Marketing Program." This invaluable resource will help managers take their sales and marketing programs to a higher level. Mr. North also offers comprehensive on-site sales, marketing, feasibility and operational training to the self-storage industry. For more information, call 513.229.0400 or visit

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