By Debbie Lamb
For many self-storage operators, vehicle storage is an excellent source of revenue. However, unlike some ancillary offerings, such as packing supplies or climate control, this service requires its own marketing program. After all, if your potential clients have no idea you offer boat and RV storage, how will you fill units?
The most important aspect of any marketing program is to know your target customer. Before you start a new campaign, you need to uncover what your customers want, then offer more than they actually need to get and keep their attention.
For example, boat/RV-storage customers are more influenced by amenities, convenience and heightened security than are traditional storage customers. Most will also store longer: an average of 24 months. These renters will often travel farther than the 5-mile market radius of a traditional storage customer. Some will choose facilities up to 15 miles from their home, or even a property that’s close to a highway or recreational area. Plus, boat/RV storage is still in demand in most markets.
Reaching these potential customers requires a different approach. One reason is you’re attempting to attract a smaller demographic. Also, the type of storage you offer will make a difference. A facility that only has outdoor vehicle parking with minimal security will promote its services differently than one that has indoor parking with robust amenities.
Regardless of the level of storage you offer, your marketing program should include a mix of online and offline components. Let’s take a look at a few strategies you can use to bring new customers to your boat/RV-storage offering.
Now more than ever, a good online-marketing program is vital to draw new people to your storage facility. This includes everything from developing a great website to promoting your services via social media. Here are some things to consider:
Promote boat and RV storage on your website. It’s critical to have a quality, functioning website that promotes your self-storage facility and the amenities you offer, especially considering that more and more people are searching for storage via their smartphones than on a desktop computer. You might have a completely mobile site similar to your regular website or a responsive website that adjusts to the size of the user’s device without affecting the legibility and quality of the content.
Next, create separate landing pages that detail your facility’s boat- and RV-storage options. Use the URL for these pages on your offline promotions and fliers. Add a call to action, perhaps in the form of a button that links to the facility’s reservations page, call center or chat service.
You can also make your website a destination and reference point for boat and RV owners by creating a section specifically for them. This could include content on topics such as how to store vehicles during the winter, or how to prepare them to go back into the water or on the road in summer. You might add a “tips” section, which can include traveling information for RV owners or boating-safety advice. You can also create an online directory of partner businesses so renters have references for other boat or RV services in the area, such as mechanics and retail stores that sell related products.
Use search engine optimization (SEO). Make sure you’re using the latest SEO tactics on your website, such as content creation, keyword search and schema markup. Research the types of keywords boat and RV owners use and add them to the content of your Web pages. Also use SEO “behind-the-scenes” components such as alternate text for photos, and meta descriptions and tags on all of your pages.
Create linking with your offline partners. If you have relationships with other boat and RV businesses in the area, ask them to list you as a partner on their websites, with a link to your website. In return, you can add their name and link to your “partner companies” page.
Purchase pay-per-click campaigns on Google. You can even buy ones that are specifically geared toward boat and RV owners. Make sure the copy of each ad is specific to your amenities and services.
Talk about your RV or boat storage on social media. Take pictures of your boat/RV-storage areas and add them to your social media pages. Post great content, information and images to draw customers. You can also use Facebook- and Twitter-promoted posts to entice potential customers to your boat/RV-storage landing pages.
Offline tactics for boat/RV storage aren’t going to include traditional print ads and billboards. While these do work for some storage owners, it’s time to think outside the box with targeted programs, such as direct-mail campaigns, exhibits at boat and RV tradeshows, and others that are more demographic-specific.
The key to a great marketing program is to advertise to your audience. Get to know your renters and understand their needs. A good way to do this is to hold gatherings at your facility, or sponsor or exhibit at special events, such as a local boat show, which your target customers will attend.
Another excellent offline tactic is to build partnerships with other boat and RV businesses, such as boat docks, camp grounds, car clubs and dealerships, marinas, or vehicle-repair shops. Ask if they’ll distribute information about your facility and amenities to their customers. To encourage referrals, you can reward your new partners with a cash incentive or gift card for every customer they send your way. You can also set up a discount program for customers who purchase from these businesses. This will encourage referrals on both sides of the relationship.
In all your offline marketing, remember to promote the amenities that cater to your audience. If you have outside vehicle-parking spaces, then it’s important to talk about security features such as lighting, gated access and video surveillance. If your facility has indoor storage with electrical hookups, focus your marketing efforts around these features. In addition, your property might offer other extras for these renters, such as free ice, public restrooms with showers, or vehicle-wash bays. Include these perks in all of your marketing messages.
A good marketing program will be a mix of online, offline and word-of-mouth advertising. Not every tactic will work well for every facility. Work with an agency that can help you boost your online marketing, website design and behind-the-scene organic or paid components. Be diligent in learning more about your potential customer base and reaching out to other businesses in your community with which you can partner. Test different components, and then expound on what works for your individual site.
Debbie Lamb is a content-marketing specialist at Linkmedia 360, a full-service, digital-marketing company that provides marketing and lead-generation solutions to self-storage operators. For more information, call 877.843.1091, visit www.linkmedia360.com.