We are bombarded with an incalculable number of advertisements on any given day. Think about it; just on your drive to work you’ll hear radio commercials for car dealerships, local events, restaurants, furniture stores, shopping centers, radio sponsors and more. You’ll see billboards, bumper stickers, company vehicles, semi-trucks and moving trucks that all display company logos and phrases. And don’t forget about the billboards. So, it may seem that advertising for your self storage facility is like casting your net in a huge ocean and hoping to come back up with something.
On the contrary, a well organized marketing plan will lead you to the exact point at which to cast your net. Marketing centers around the research you should conduct within your industry. You should determine your demographic, or target customer. Then you should consider the economy in which your business is located. After thorough marketing, where to place your advertisements will come more naturally.
Advertising is the end result of a good marketing plan. Still, self storage advertising seems to be an illusive science. Many self storage operators can’t quite get the right concoction of phone book ads, billboards, flyers, etc. In addition, they wonder which of their advertisements works the best and which ones aren’t doing so well for them.
Because advertising budgets usually don’t allow you to plaster your business name on every street corner, every search engine, every mailbox, and each radio commercial, a self storage owner has to know where he gets the biggest bang for his buck.
A simple way to find out how your customers heard about you is to ask them. Train your facility managers to ask customers, “How did you hear about us?”
You should keep in mind that it isn’t useful to have your managers asking that questions unless you provide them a way to track each response. Give your facility managers a spreadsheet or tracking system so that all the data gathered can be evaluated and reports can later be generated in order to determine what ads bring the largest ROI. Something as simple as a piece of paper with a column for Yellow Pages, Internet, Billboard, Radio, etc so that the manager can tick a mark for the appropriate column will offer effective tracking.
The self storage owner should collect the sheet monthly and stay on top of his marketing and advertising campaign. He can analyze the data to determine what media to which he should allocate more of his budget.
You should also caution your facility managers not to turn a simple question into an interrogation. Some self storage facilities have their managers go so far ask to ask which page number of the phone book it was that they saw the ad. While collecting the data is valuable, it is not intended to supersede the goal of talking with a customer- to gain a new tenant. Asking such pinpointed questions as the page number of the phone book, or time of day when they heard the radio ad could distract the conversation. The focus of talking to customers should be about meeting their needs, not your own marketing needs.
If you desire such in depth research, you should hire an expert in the field. Self storage managers wear many hats; however, research and development should not be one of them.
Whether you hire a professional or use your own expertise to determine your customer demographic, knowing who your customers are is key to an effective advertisement.
Research will allow you to know where your customers come from. Self storage customers typically result from several universal, common life circumstances that lead to the need for storage. Some of these events are due to a move or remodeling a home, military service, campus or apartment living, and/or divorce, to name a few.
If you find that a good portion of your customers are due to relocating or moving to a new home then your advertising dollars should go towards areas that this kind of customer would frequent. For example, advertising near home improvement stores will attract customers that are moving or remodeling a home. Advertising in the newspaper near the Classified ads where a home seller or buyer will look is a great way to draw attention to your services. Online advertising with realtor websites and other relocation services will also impress customers to rent with you.
There couldn’t be a more noble reason to need self storage than serving your country. Advertising near military bases will pay off when our country’s men and women are transferred, relocated or deployed. Many self storage operators advertise a military discount, which is an excellent way to thank the men and women in the service.
Students drive the busy season of self storage as they move from campus to apartments and back home with Mom and Dad. It would be a mistake not to advertise in every opportunity campus life presents. The possibilities for advertising to students goes as far as your imagination will take you. From flyers to brightly painted cars to raffles and more, advertising for near campus will bring an exponential return on your investment because students need self storage at least twice per year.
Apartment living often presents opportunities for tenants to store. Tenants never have enough closet space, so self storage becomes a necessity as families grow. Consider your demographic and aim your advertisements to the average age of the apartment community. For example, apartment communities housing a majority of college students require advertising for discounted rates or short term storage for the summer, while apartment communities for young families may do better by highlighting the convenient location and security. Senior living communities should point out the security and care heirloom items will receive while in storage.
Families grieving the loss of a loved one can become overwhelmed by the daunting task of shuffling through inherited items. In many cases, families inherit more furniture than their current homes allow. Or perhaps they want to store their old furniture to make room for the antiques they recently acquired. Advertising aimed at individuals going through such a painful circumstance should be approached with the utmost respect and dignity.
Self storage advertising attracts a wide demographic of customers with methods such as television advertising, radio announcements, direct mail, door hangers, fliers, phone book ads and billboards.
Television is an effective way to target a variety of customers while standing out among your competitors. National broadcasting would be overkill for storage facilities grouped in localized areas. Local broadcasting is less expensive and reaches your target group. A television broadcast should last from 30 to 60 seconds. Effective TV budgets for storage advertising ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 per month. There will also be some production cost which can be great or small, depending on the choices you make for the broadcast. This is an excellent tool for bringing in 50 to 100 new customers per month. A self storage owner should know the value of each of his customers and therefore can easily justify a budget for TV advertising. A self storage business could also consider sponsoring local events or newscasts to receive additional advertising.
Radio advertising for a self storage business is purchased similar to TV advertising. However, radio broadcasts are less expensive than television. Production is usually free. To be effective, radio advertising should be broadcasted during morning and evening drive times. When self storage businesses combine TV and radio advertising, they both become more effective. A self storage facility or company could also sponsor radio traffic reports and weather reports in exchange for advertisement.
Direct mail can produce excellent results, if purchased correctly. It should be purchased in bulk and works best with high saturation. You can count on about .1 percent response on your mailing. The cost should be approximately 3 cents per piece.
Professionally designed door hangers have proven to be a successful means of self storage advertising. Having a professional design the hanger will ensure the best results. You should also use quality material that will withstand outside elements. A laminated 3-by-9 inch, full color hanger with a perforated card at the bottom is the best way to make a good impression on customers. Door hangers cost around 20 cents each and can be purchased in variables of quantities.
Fliers are a great advertising option for self storage owners. Colored fliers can be distributed to realtors, competition, attorneys, insurance companies, auto dealerships, etc and have shown successful results.
Phone book ads are the most common and effective tools used for self storage advertising. Over eighty percent of all customers use the Yellow Pages to contact your storage business. This means that your competitor will have his ad somewhere close to yours. The phone book isn’t a new idea and everyone knows they need some sort of advertisement here.