Marketing a Self-Storage Business Today: Insight From Store Space Chief Marketing Director David Collins

David Collins recently joined Store Space Self Storage as its chief marketing officer. In this interview, he shares his industry background, personal achievements, goals for the company, and insight for marketing a storage business today.

August 11, 2023

4 Min Read
Marketing Insight David Collins From Store Space Self Storage

Innovation is a critical aspect of marketing a self-storage business today, whether that business comprises one facility or hundreds. The goal is to develop strategies that entice prospects and convert them to loyal customers. It’s a topic about which David Collins knows quite a bit. In this interview, the new chief marketing officer for Store Space Self Storage shares his background and personal achievements as well as his goals for the company and insight for other facility operators.

Tell us about yourself and your industry background.

My career in self-storage began in 2007, when I started at Public Storage as their director of interactive marketing. Back then, the majority of leads across the industry were being generated through very traditional methods: Yellow Pages ads, television commercials as well as through word-of-mouth. The internet was viewed as more of an irritation that needed attention rather than the dominant force in search that it’s become today.

What have been your greatest career achievements?

Playing an integral part in the self-storage industry’s entry into the digital age was an important achievement at Public Storage. The concept that the internet could drive move-ins and become a significant source of income was largely met with skepticism initially. Other traditional marketing methods, like a billboard or a print ad, were much more tangible, whereas a Google search ad sometimes appeared and sometimes didn’t.

Ultimately, through education and external performance, I was able to build trust and prove the worth of our digital initiatives. Move-in volume went from the low single digits to becoming the single largest revenue driver.

David Collins, Chief Marketing Officer,
Store Space Self Storage

During my tenure at Public Storage, I reinvented the company’s transactional website, launched its first mobile website and eRental online rental-agreement platform, which accounted for approximately 50% of move-ins within one year of launch. I also launched their highly successful mobile app, which gained internal acceptance over time, proving to be key in enhancing the customer experience, leading to higher satisfaction and, ultimately, translating into a higher-revenue customer.

What drew you to Store Space?

Store Space Self Storage has a forward-thinking business model as well as a host of initiatives in process that will see the company grow exponentially in the coming years. CEO and cofounder Chris Harris and president and cofounder Rob Consalvo are two of the sharpest minds in the industry, and have surrounded themselves with a talented, dedicated team that can help the company realize its goals of becoming one of if not the largest privately held self-storage companies in the nation.

What are some of your short- and long-term goals for the company?

In the short term, we’re focused on the basics while the self-storage sector reacts to some of the external pressures that are driving the marketplace right now: softening rates on pricing, higher interest rates and inflation. This will allow us to concentrate on enhancing the guest experience and increasing move-in volume while maintaining our trajectory of profitability.

As we continue to expand our footprint across the nation, our future goals are fundamentally a scaled-up version of our short-term goals. We want to make it as easy as possible for guests to rent a self-storage unit and pay their bill, so that renting self-storage becomes a part of their daily lives—a welcome extension of the home—rather than a necessity fraught with negative connotations.

How do you plan to approach branding Store Space and its products and services?

Store Space already has a strong motto of “Storage That Cares,” so now it’s really a matter of continuing to develop that core messaging and delivering on the promise of an exceptional storage experience for our guests, and creating a workplace environment that challenges our employees to be the best versions of themselves and rewards them for their hard work and dedication.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenges when it comes to marketing a self-storage business?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of just throwing money at Google and crossing one’s fingers, hoping that the ROI [return on investment] outpaces the expenses of paid advertising. We’re exploring ways to become a household name in the self-storage business and create meaningful experiences for our guests as well as exceptional returns for our investors.

What role will technology play in your marketing strategy?

It isn’t a matter of just “keeping up” with the technology at this point, it’s imperative to innovate to stay ahead of the curve. The demand from consumers is louder than it has ever been to create easy, seamless transactions, wherever and whenever they might be searching. We want to be able to deliver a rental in a fraction of the time it takes today and make it so easy and gratifying that the consumer views self-storage as a must-have subscription that enhances their lifestyle.

What advice do you have for other operators that’ll help them improve their marketing?

The most basic advice is going to be to stay attuned to the guest experience. Once you understand the needs of your customers, the rest will fall into place.

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