Are you a new self storage owner wondering how to promote your business? Or, perhaps you're a seasoned self-storage pro wanting to up your marketing game in order to compete with capital-heavy publicly-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) moving into your territory. Whether you’re trying to capture new business or repeat business, we’ve come up with 12 self storage marketing tips that will help bring in customers – and keep them coming back.
12 Self Storage Marketing Ideas
From online advertising to traditional outdoor media, here are 12 self storage advertising ideas that will put your self storage facility on the map and on the minds of consumers. Of course, hold out for the bonus tip at the end!
1. Create a Website
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at the number of small, mom-and-pop self storage facilities that still rely on the Yellow Pages to bring in customers. When creating your website, remember to keep it simple and make it conversion-focused. The goal here is to get people to pick up the phone, request an estimate, or even book a unit on the spot. So, include pricing information, descriptions and photos of storage options and location details, and contact information. Easy, right?
2. Optimize Your Website
SEO, or search engine optimization, is all about helping people find your website and helping Google rank it. SEO involves identifying keywords that your target audience is searching for through websites such as Ahrefs. Then, you need to use them throughout your website (just don’t engage in unnatural keyword stuffing). Tactics include creating headers and subheaders, meta descriptions, optimized images, linking, and more. Learn more about SEO.
3. Market Your Website
SEO can help people find your website organically, but if you have the budget, it’s also a good idea to pay for some inbound traffic using pay-per-click (PPC) ads. After all, more website traffic equals more units rented! So how’s it work? Well, in a nutshell, Google lets you cheat your way to the top of the rankings using its AdWords program. Every time someone clicks on your ad, you pay a fee. You can also create PPC ads on Facebook, which is a bit more cost-effective; it allows you to market to a specific audience based on details such as location, age, gender, interests, etc. Learn more about PPC.
4. Get Online Reviews
Today, 90% of consumers read online customer reviews before visiting a business, and 88% trust them as much as personal recommendations. So, it’s important to gather positive reviews to convince people that you offer the best self-storage services. Online reviews can show up on your website, or third-party sites such as Google, Facebook, Yelp, and others. Of course, to get positive reviews, you need to offer a great customer experience; every time you delight a customer, you help your marketing. You could incentivize for reviews or simply just ask people to give you one in an email follow-up. Most people won’t mind taking a minute to leave one if they’re happy with your service.
5. Send Postcards
Now that we’ve covered some online self storage marketing techniques, let’s get back to the physical world. Postcard mailers are a great way to let people know about your business. You could blanket neighborhoods and businesses near your facility, or focus on those new to the area that may have downsized and don’t have enough space for all their belongings.
You should also send postcards to customers, perhaps quarterly, once they’ve moved out to keep in touch with them. You could offer a “special customer discount” or direct them to your website for self storage tips. Even if they no longer need your services, they’ll remember you and will be more likely to refer others.
6. Try Billboard Advertising
The outdoor billboard is a classic self storage marketing tactic that still works. It’s an easy, and relatively inexpensive, way to get your brand message out to a large, localized audience. You’ll want to find billboards that are close to your location, in high-traffic areas, and available at a price that fits into your budget. Once you’ve invested in one, keep it simple: Company name, “self storage” (make sure this is the most prominent aspect), directions (if they’re simple enough, e.g., “Just off Exit 10”), and maybe 1-2 unique selling points (e.g., climate-controlled, first month free, etc).
7. Focus on Influencers
You’ve heard of social media influencers, but what about influencers right there in your community? We’re talking about real estate agents and moving companies – folks who regularly speak with people who may be in the market for a self storage unit. Try to cultivate relationships with these individuals and businesses. After identifying targets, you might reach out to them on social media sites such as Linkedin, send them informational packets about your business (and perhaps include a nicety, such as a $10 Starbucks gift card, letting them know their next coffee is on you), or attend networking events that they’re likely to be in attendance at.
8. Get Involved in the Community
You can also meet local influencers, members of the community at large, by getting involved. For example, you might consider sponsoring a local high school team or local philanthropic event. You might adopt a nearby highway (perhaps the one your billboard is on!), or participate in a local festival with a booth. Community outreach is a long game, of course, but it will eventually pay off as you gain recognition within the neighborhood and become the obvious choice whenever community members need your services.
9. Work on Referral Marketing
Referrals are a cheap and effective way to get more business; in fact, most small businesses are known to get about 60% of their business through referrals! So how do you get them? First, you need to ask for them! Of course you’ll get some unsolicited referrals, but don’t be shy – asking for them is much more likely to produce faster results. The best time to ask for a referral is when you've just solved a problem for a renter or made him happy in some way; it's called the "principle of reciprocity." Another way to get referrals is with an incentive; generally, money works best! Maybe it’s a $20 gift card for each referral; or, if the referring party is a current renter, $50 off their next month’s rent. It’s a small price to pay for a new paying customer.
10. Bundle Your Products
Are you selling ancillary products at your storage facility? You should be! This includes boxes, packing material, lifting straps, utility tie-down straps, trailer lock kits, utility knives, furniture slides, mattress bags, dust covers, dolly rentals, and more. If you have this type of gear on-hand, try bundling items. For example, rather than selling boxes individually, put a bunch of different size boxes together with bubble wrap, dust covers, and packing tape and sell them as a bundle to increase your average sale and increase your profits. Create a variety of bundles, since one size won’t fit all.
11. Merchandise Your Offerings
The self storage facility office isn’t just a place for your manager to call home; it needs to act like a 7-Eleven! If you have those ancillary items discussed in Tip #10, put them on display! Attractively merchandising these items will call attention to them, and get customers to purchase items they didn’t even think about beforehand. A good rule of thumb is to devote 25% of the office space to management comfort, and 75% to merchandise.
12. Create a Coupon Book
How about offering customers a valuable coupon book? To get started, create a list of all of the retailers near your facility (restaurants, dry cleaners, oil change centers, etc). Then, approach each business to request coupons for its products or services that you can pass on to your customers. Let the owner or manager know that you get plenty of new residents coming in, and this is an opportunity for them to get their business name out there to these people. You can even offer to create the coupon yourself if you’re so inclined. Once you’ve gotten enough businesses onboard, you can use the coupon book to offer prospects something of value. Consider when a potential new renter calls inquiring about a unit; you can say, “Sure, that unit is available for $X dollars, plus if you stop in to check out the facility, we'll give you a book of local merchant coupons worth $150 – even if you don't rent from us!” That’s sure to get people in your door.
BONUS TIP! Join the Storelocal Cooperative
Feel ill-equipped to begin a marketing program on your own, or are even your best marketing efforts failing to live up to the REITs? Consider becoming a member of the Storelocal self storage cooperative, the nation’s only cooperative created by independent self storage operators. “By simply banding together, self-storage operators can gain a voice and have a say in the future of the industry,” says Travis Morrow, chairman. “Storelocal identifies with the challenges facing independent self-storage operators and offers the opportunity to turn their critical mass into something tangible—a collective of smaller operators that together form a democratic system.”
As a member, you’ll gain access to Storelocal’s products and services that can help with marketing, such as free videos to post on your website, reputation management software for monitoring online reviews, eye-catching digital signage, SEO strategies, and more. The network of members in the co-op are also always willing to share their experiences and successes. Having a problem branding or gaining traction online? There’s also a voluntary Storelocal Brand Program, providing economies of scale and online visibility so you can focus on running your business and finding new customers.