Self-storage may not be a new industry, but it is one that is rapidly reshaping its operations to suit a progressively more modernized customer base. In order to stay competitive with your self-storage facility, you'll need to keep an open mind, embrace current marketing trends, and most importantly, have a well-defined set of marketing goals. Your main focus should revolve around the following points:
Step 1 Learn about your environment
Play the customer to nearby competitors for pricing and occupancy rates. Regularly updating this information will prove invaluable to your own marketing decisions. Note any features or upgrades that would aid your storage facility. Learn what you can about your competitors' tenants and look for trends. Learning all you can about the market in which you'll be competing will lend focus to your marketing strategy and bring you closer to your own potential tenants.
Step 2 Connect with the community
The major purpose for your marketing efforts is to spread awareness of your brand. Register your facility at the local chamber of commerce. Seek out local businesses and forge relationships with the owners. Surprise someone with morning donuts, and leave a few business cards in the box. Offer to trade fliers to post in your respective offices. Not only can these relationships lead to mutually beneficial marketing agreements, but some of these businesses might need self-storage at some point.
Step 3 Connect with the industry
Many self-storage managers are so focused on rental rates that they miss great opportunities to share ideas with peers in the field. Blogs and forums dedicated to self-storage are plentiful, and in addition to introducing new ideas into your own marketing campaign, these venues are excellent places to spread awareness of your facility. Aggregates like Google Reader make it easy to digest information from your favorite blogs—a practice you should introduce into your daily routine.
Step 4 Get involved
We live in an age of austerity, and as such consumers aren't satisfied with their businesses if they aren't giving back. Active participation in the community will ensure that your facility stands out and has an impact on the lives of potential customers. Host a charity event or a kid-friendly holiday bash, inviting participation by local businesses. Contribute to toy drives and food pantries.
Step 5 Take your facility online
The web is here to stay, for better or worse. Businesses across every industry are utilizing web practices for everything from advertising to operations. Keep up with the market by creating a web page to act as the face of the facility. Simplicity and speed are key in web design. Cut down on complexity and load time on your home page by limiting content to 2-3 pictures and important information like pricing and location. Such information should be accessible in one click or less. For new tenants, include online reservation for a smooth move-in. For current tenants, online billing capability will ensure prompt and easy payment.
- SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the method behind getting increased visibility for your web page on search engines. Algorithms and link evaluation methods employed by major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! vary slightly, and becoming familiar with them will improve your ability to boost your rankings in the search results.
Step 6 Put your facility on social networks
In addition to making yourself known in the community, be mindful of the networking opportunities online. Put your facility on free social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+ to connect with consumers and industry peers alike. Through business search services like Yelp and Google Places, you can literally put your facility on the map. Offer incentives for tenants who review your facility through these services.
- Today's consumers seek goods and services primarily through online channels. Listing on self-storage search aggregates like SpareFoot.com brings tenants and storage facilities together in a simple marketplace for minimal cost.
Step 7 Track your results
Marketing is largely a trial-and-error process, so procedures for tracking and learning from your efforts are key. Constantly test and tweak your various marketing approaches, and record the changes you made and the feedback you receive. Make a point to collect tenant feedback indicating where and how they heard about your facility, and what factors led to their decision to rent with you. With this information, you can decide which marketing methods have worked for your facility, which need some tweaking, and which need to be cut from the budget.
- While there are many new avenues for marketing your facility, don't forget the universal importance of customer services. Time and again, this is a major factor that separates a storage facility from its competitors.
While trying out new marketing strategies can become overwhelming, remember that the overall purpose of marketing is not to maximize brand awareness, but to improve your move-in rate. Your facility could populate every television commercial in the area, but if your efforts aren't positively reflected in your occupancy rate, they could instead act as a drain on your storage facility's budget.