Self storage is a great business to be in. In fact, 2020 data shows that nearly 1 in 10 households has a storage unit because they’re reducing clutter, have limited space, or just have a small home. Regardless, the market is on fire.
Of course, there’s an elephant in the room: That’s the REITs. These publicly traded Real Estate Investment Trusts are bigger, have more brand awareness, and possess more buying power. So how do you as an independent owner compete? It often comes down to marketing.
21 self Storage Marketing Ideas
Whether you’re trying to capture new business or generate repeat business, we’ve come up with 21 self storage marketing tips that will help bring in customers – and keep them coming back. Of course, in this day and age, it all starts with the internet and developing an online presence. Here are a few things you can do to make an impact online
1. Optimize Your Website
You have a website, right? Most of us have moved beyond Yellow Pages listings to bring in customers! But, is it optimized? 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.
2. Market Your Website
SEO can help people find your website naturally, 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.
3. 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 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.
4. 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.
5. Use Holiday Promotions
The holidays are always a great time to promote your business. Special promotions and deals around Memorial Day, Independence Day, and all the rest are always attractive to people. Of course, Christmas is the big one – and we’ve written the blog on it! Check out 12 Seasonal Storage Marketing Ideas for Christmas. Many of these ideas can be reconfigured to work for other holidays as well.
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. Offer RV & Boat Storage
Is RVing and boating popular in your area? This specialized offering can bring in great profits. After all, many people can’t store their RV or boat at their home due to neighborhood or city regulations, and other storage options are expensive. Read more about the evolution of RV and boat storage and why it may be a consideration for your facility.
8. Focus on Community 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 attend.
9. Get Involved in Your Local Community
You can also meet local influencers and 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.
10. Use Available Resources
It’s not always easy to know what you do, especially when you’re first starting out. So, get in the habit of using outside resources available to you. Maybe it’s a podcast you listen to on your morning commute, a blog you subscribe to, or just a good book. There are many self storage experts who have done this before, and they want to share their successes (and failures that you can learn from). We highlight 12 great self storage resources in this blog.
11. 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 or her 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.
12. 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! There are a lot of ancillary self storage products you can offer to consumers, so put them on display. 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. 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. Check out our blog on merchandising products like a pro.
13. Bundle Your Products
If you’re offering ancillary products at your storage facility, 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 profits. Create a variety of bundles, since one size won’t fit all.
14. Give Your Facility a Makeover
If you have the cash to do so, a facility upgrade may be worth your investment. Today, many storage facilities have been renovated (or built) to offer more pleasing aesthetics, with fancy designs that invite customers into the door. Glass, greenery, vertical structures, and more are all meant to attract customers who would have normally seen self storage as nothing more than “extra space.” Read more, and see an example of one self storage facility doing it right, in our blog Trends in Self Storage Building Design.
15. Become More Customer-Centric
A customer-centric approach is defined as “a strategy and a culture of doing business that focuses on creating the best experience for the customer, and by doing so builds brand loyalty.” In self storage, we used to just focus on storing belongings. But today, we need to up our game, and that means making the customer the center of attention. This is accomplished by making sure the company’s philosophy, operations, or ideas are all designed to keep the customer satisfied.
With a more customer-centric approach, you can earn more money, gain better customer retention, get more repeat business, acquire more positive reviews, and more. Read about it in our blog, Benefits of a Customer-Centric Approach to Self Storage.
16. 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.
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.
17. Train Employees Thoroughly
Putting training on the backburner may seem like a frugal way to keep costs down. However, unengaged or untrained employees can lead to dissatisfied customers (and an unhappy staff). Be sure to make training a priority by starting off new hires right and giving them learning opportunities along the way. We cover this in-depth in our blog 5 Benefits of Self Storage Training. We also provide some tips to do training right!
18. Promote Your Business as an Ecommerce Hub
Unlike brick-and-mortar businesses, e-commerce businesses simply sell and ship their wares online. Their biggest concern? Where to store their goods in between collection or production and shipment. Many have worn out the space in their basement, garage, or attic, and need an affordable place to keep their products. That makes self storage an ideal choice. Learn more in our blog 7 Ways to Promote Ecommerce Storage at Your Facility.
19. Increase Your Security
Let’s face it, the number one thing most customers want is for their stored items to be safe and sound. However, theft of self storage facilities is on the rise. So, improve your security and promote it heavily. You might consider a system like Nokē Smart Entry. It transforms traditional self storage units into smart units, allowing tenants to access the facility and their unit using their smartphones.
Even more importantly, Nokē Smart Entry units are hard to break into. It takes a lot of effort and skill to master this kind of theft, which means facilities with Nokē Smart Entry technology are not targeted by burglars. Read more about the security system with our free ebook.
20. Attend Self Storage Events
Networking and learning from others in the self storage business is one of the best ways to grow your knowledge (and contacts). There are always self storage events going on across the county, so seek out some in your area or check our self storage events page.
21. Join the Storelocal Self Storage 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.
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. There’s also the voluntary Storelocal Brand Program, providing online visibility, and the Storelocal Protection Program offering a protection plan for your tenants. All this, and you can become a member today for just $59.95.