Marketing ideas for self-storage facilities are a frequent topic in this "conversation," in part because it's such a large component of what I do for Inside Self-Storage these days, but also because storage operators are having to be more savvy and creative in this area. So I watch to see what tactics different companies are using and share them in the blog. You never know: One of these fresh ideas just might be your ticket to success. So here's the scoop on a couple of cool things I've noticed recently ...
Space Station Self-Storage in East Providence, R.I., has worked out a very smart arrangement with Brown University. I read it in the Brown Daily Herald, the university's Resident Life publication.
Just before summer, the college holds an online lottery to award 600 vouchers, worth $60 each, to students for summer storage. The voucher covers the cost of one of three packages offered by Space Station: One package includes two small book boxes and one large box; another includes one large box and one medium box; the third includes two medium boxes and a large box. All include a roll of packing tape.
The students fill their boxes and drop them off at one of several campus locations during May 10-19. They pick them up during a three-day period in September when they return for fall semester. The facility stores the boxes in the interim.
In the past, Brown used a local moving company for this service; but it received a deluge of complaints from students who claimed it took them days and even weeks to get their goods returned to them, and the moving company wasn't responsive to phone calls or e-mails. This year, Space Station steps up to the plate. It's just a few miles from campus, and has offered to be available 24/7 if necessary. It sounds like a win-win situation and a great program.
Being written for the benefit of students, the article does not address the financial particulars of the arrangement with Space Station. But consider that each of 600 students is storing three boxes ... How many units does that fill? And you know the University is going to pay in a timely fashion. Add to that the fantastic community relations, and you've got one unique marketing opportunity.
So that's one. Another marketing strategy I recently witnessed came closer to home. In fact, it actually entered my home in the form of a coupon in one of those Val-Pak mailers.
I've given props in this blog before to 1-800-PACK-RAT for their outside-the-box thinking (no pun intended) regarding corporate marketing. I first noticed they had distributed their storage containers around town by way of promotiongreat! Now they've created a glossy, four-color coupon for the mail pack. Recipients can use it for $25 off delivery or a storage special: the first month's rent for $1 if the customer rents for three months or more. Consider something like this for your storage facility too! It's easy to do and achieves great market penetration.
Finally, I posted an item to our online news feed yesterday regarding SMARTBOX, who is sponsoring Dange Hannifords No. 56 car in Friday's NASCAR Busch Series Circuit City 250 at Richmond International Raceway. Here's another topic we've previously addressed in the blog: This concept of NASCAR sponsorships as a means of promoting self-storage. Honestly, I still don't get the connection between the storage industry and racing, but I tip my hat to these companies for being innovative with their marketing dollars.
So by now you've noticed two of the three above companies are actually portable storage, not self-storage. Hmmmm ... Why is that?
I know some of you view portable storage as a competitor to your business rather than a potential ancillary, but consider taking a tip from some of these guys on the marketing side. Portable storage is attempting to build its market share and, in many cases, attempting to convince users that it's better to let storage be delivered to them rather than drive to their storage. That being said, these companies are being more aggressive in their marketing then many self-storage operations out there.
If you're worried about losing business to the portable-storage service, consider offering it yourself! More and more storage operators are expanding their business to include portable storage. In fact, Trachte Building Systems has just presented two free webinars on the topic in response to interest from traditional storage owners. If you'd like to view a recording of "Self-Storage Goes Portable: Using Containers to Enhance Your Business," visit www.insideselfstorage.com/trachte. The on-demand webinar should be available as of May 7th.
In the meantime, mull over these marketing ideas and consider how to adopt them for your own use. If you've got a sweet summer marketing idea to share, please post it to the blog!