In spite of what you may be hearing from some bloggers and Internet-marketing providers (people who think the Web is the only way to get information), 65 percent of new customers to self-storage still use the Yellow Pages (YP) to help them choose the right facility for their belongings.
When times get tough, people want the best value without sacrificing quality. If your usual customer is a value shopper rather than a price shopper, you have to use every possible opportunity to advertise your specials. Almost every self-storage facility has a special offer—senior or military discounts, free locks or rent, or free use of a truck for move-in. You don’t have to give away anything more than usual to capture these potential tenants, just expand your YP opportunities.
Most of the major YP publishers have coupon sections in their directories, and your representative will most likely try to sell you on the value of coupons. However, if you ask for studies on how YP coupons have performed in delivering new customers, they will likely not be able to prove the coupons’ value. This lack of hard data gives you the upper hand in getting the best deal on this additional advertising.
YP rates typically go up 2 percent to 5 percent every year, but your return on investment (ROI) doesn’t increase at that rate. When negotiating your YP advertising, use that information to ask for a coupon page to increase ROI—and start by asking for it for free. You may be surprised at the response. If that doesn’t work, let your rep know you’re willing to pay very little to test something that may not have proven value.
In a directory where the storage heading is particularly crowded, a coupon gives you an additional place to advertise―again, provided the price is right. Here are some pointers about making these coupons work for you, plus pitfalls to avoid:
- Be specific in your offer, for example, “$15 off first month’s rent.”
- State the conditions: new customers only, limited to certain unit sizes.
- Print an expiration date on the coupon. Make it the same date the directory expires.
- Be sure your display ad indicates that you offer a coupon. Use a color icon, if available, so it is noticeable.
- Print “One coupon per customer,” “New customers only” and, if applicable, “Not valid with any other offer.”
- Keep the coupons or make note of their redemption so you can track the success of the program.
- If buying coupons in more than one directory, print a code on each so you can track the specific directory’s performance.
- Include a small map on the coupon so customers don’t have to refer back to the display ad under the storage heading. It’s a subtle way to show concern for the customer’s convenience.
Increase Your Internet Advantage
If you’ve purchased a listing on one of the Internet YP sites, consider adding a hyperlink that says “coupon” or “special” if you can. It may cost a bit more, but an extra link may give your ad higher placement and could give you an advantage over competitors who don’t offer a deal.
IYP sites provide the customer with a link to an information page. If you choose not to use a coupon but mention a special on your facility website, be sure the information is on your landing page. Occasionally, an advertiser will mention a special, but when the customer logs onto the website, he can’t find information or, worse, he sees “No specials currently available” or “Come back again for future specials.” This is the kind of mistake that will alienate prospective customers and drive business to your competitors.
If you get a good deal for a coupon from the Yellow Pages, make sure you track it. If it works, renew it. If it doesn’t, nothing gained, but nothing, or very little, ventured.
Sue Weinman is vice president, yellow page services, of Michaels Wilder Inc., an advertising agency specializing in Yellow Pages, Internet marketing and talent recruitment for the self-storage industry since 1989. For more information, visit www.michaelswilder.com.