Marketing a boat/RV-storage facility can often be much more challenging than promoting traditional self-storage because you’re trying to reach a smaller niche market. The key is to zero in on your facility’s benefits, and then build the right marketing strategy.
There are many marketing tactics you can employ. Following are a few to help you streamline your efforts. Try one or two of these and test what works for your business.
First: Know Your Image
You don’t need to have all the best facility features to market your boat/RV storage, but you do need an accurate understanding of how certain features are perceived by the community. If yours is a budget offering and your prices are only possible because of the simplicity of your operation, there’s nothing wrong with that. RV and boat owners who are most concerned with price will be drawn to you. On the other hand, if you’ve gone through the work of installing amenities such as wash bays, electricity and water, it’s important to spread the word about those services through your marketing messages.
Think about how you stand out from other local boat/RV-storage facilities. If a potential customer called you right now and asked why he should choose you, what would you say? Make that your selling point. When you write your website content, choose verbiage that draws in the type of renter you’re trying to attract.
Seek Laid-Back Environments
One of the best ways to get acquainted with your potential customers is to get on their level. Many boat and RV owners are outdoor enthusiasts, so where do you think you’ll find them in your community? One owner took his boat out on the lake, handed out water and lemonade, and attached a flier for his facility.
Look for opportunities to meet vehicle owners and their families. You’ll start to develop long-term relationships with them, which is precisely what they’re looking for.
Host Related Events
Whether it’s a community car wash or an RV and boat show, you can satisfy current renters and draw new ones with one sweep. You can hold events on your property or off site, but the key is to bring people together for a fun activity.
Frame the event as an opportunity for your tenants to network with other vehicle owners in the area. Chances are they’ll do half the work for you when they spread the news to their friends and family. You can get as involved as you’d like, hosting games for their kids or simply handing out refreshments.
Foster Local Relationships
If you don’t provide conventional storage units along with your parking spots, have you established a referral system with local storage facilities? Another good strategy is to partner up with nearby dealerships, mechanics and businesses that wash RVs and boats.
An often underused tactic, partnerships are a cost-effective way to spread the word about your facility. You’ll please your customers by directing them to your needs, but you’ll also gain business when partners send them to you for services they don’t have.
Create a Resource Catalogue
If your city doesn’t already offer these kinds of resources on its website, you can step up to the plate and earn authority in the industry. Gather information about all the local businesses related to RVs and boats, and then compile it in one place. You can post it as an extra page on your website (which Google will love), pass a printed copy along to those businesses, or leave it out in your office. It seems like a small step, but by helping your leads, you establish the trust they need to rent with you.
Blend ‘Tried and True’ With ‘Exciting and New’
When it comes to marketing your boat/RV-storage facility, what’s most important is to test new methods, discover what works for your store and continue tweaking as times change—all while preserving a consistent image of your business. From your website to your marketing materials to the way you meet local owners, you can change your strategies while holding on to your brand. Above all, your goal is to make the community think of you when they think of boats and RVs.
Insight From a Boat/RV Storage Owner
Acton Indoor RV & Boat Storage is in Los Angeles, a city with a serviceable population of nearly 10 million people, one where boat and RV storage is very competitive. Facility owner Mike Groff must constantly evaluate his strategies and adapt to the changing needs of his market. I spoke with Groff about his challenges and how he surmounts them.
How strong is the competition for RV and boat storage in your area?
Naturally, with this population, a good amount of healthy competition comes with the territory. Our biggest challenge is the fact that we’re priced higher than the discount facilities and the “big-box” companies, so we need to convince our customers how the higher prices make for a better experience.
We also know where our advantages lie. We’re a family business and have been for more than 50 years. Versus the competition, we’re positioned as the independent company with well-maintained facilities, top equipment and, above all, solid customer service. Our customers are appreciative of that blend of business.
What marketing efforts have you considered for your facility?
We have a good mix of marketing. Whether it’s online strategies, print media or supporting local events, making sure that a good image is projected to the public is so important. In this new age of technology, it’s equally important to have a solid, user-friendly website that fits your brand. Our site projects a nice image and can also provide intelligent data that we utilize to make decisions in other marketing areas.
From our experiences, we’ve found that it’s most important to identify what’s working for you and what isn’t. It’s crucial to keep in touch with the results because things change each day and you have to run with the change.
Have certain approaches been more successful than others? Which ones?
For us it has been best to employ modern-day SEO [search engine optimization] technology and good old-fashioned print-media advertising. We’ve found that being diverse with our approach works, so we definitely try not to stick with one tactic. You have to be diverse but also willing to try different avenues.
What, do you feel are the added obstacles in marketing RV and boat storage vs. conventional storage?
Generally speaking, it’s a real commitment for the customer. We must do our best to convince the caller of the advantages of storing with us. There is a lot of “upselling” that needs to be done because of the cost. It’s our job to convey the message and help the customers understand how they can actually benefit from the higher price tag. At the end of the day, we have to stay on top of the game and move forward.
Amy Daniels is the content writing manager at StorageAhead, which offers personalized marketing website services (WebReady or WebWorks) and management software (StorEdge). She combines self-storage industry research, powerful Web marketing strategies and small-business experience to cultivate the growth of facilities nationwide. For more information, call 913.954.4110; visit www.storageahead.com.