Less than ten years ago the self-storage advertising world was drastically different. Facilities rarely publicly displayed their prices online and companies were still naming their facilities with the front section of the yellow pages in mind. Most online advertising was manually updated and lacked details. Flash forward to today and self-storage owners are testing the waters of self-storage aggregators, using them as a method to obtain online leads. While it’s important to utilize some of these marketing tools, it’s a good idea to start with what’s in your tool box already.
Utilize built-in marketing features
Does your management software integrate with an online advertising system? Certain self-storage software comes with the ability to integrate with a reservations feature and/or your personal website. How does it work? You upload information about your facility in your software which is then listed on sites like U-Haul and eMove, which display real-time inventory and room rates. Customers browse online through different facilities in their area until they find a facility that fits their needs. Customers are able to make a reservation 100% online and you are instantly notified through your software. Customers expect information in real-time, self-storage operators should conform to this expectation if they haven’t already.
Enhancing your online listing
Once you’ve enabled your online listing through your management software, it’s important to make sure you utilize as many of the features as possible. Fill out the details like hours of operation, telephone number, facility features, etc., but also make use of any current discounts or specials. Running a 10% off special for students this summer? Advertise it! You never know what might be the draw that brings your next customer in. Have any unique or distinguishing features? Make sure to display that information. Most importantly, upload a variety of photos. The biggest mistake I see self-storage owners make is uploading only one generic photo of their facility. Post pictures of your facility, your different units and your staff. People love seeing people! Once they’re up there, don’t forget to keep photos of the facility and staff current.
Understand your customer base
After you’ve optimized your online listing, it’s important to keep track of your efforts. You want to focus your ad dollars in the right areas that provide the best ROI (return on investment). Look for a marketing module that allows you to ask various questions to all new customers at move in. Consider creating questions such as “how did you hear about us” with specific answers, e.g., company website, online advertising listing, friend, block party flier. Knowing specifics on where your customers are coming from will help you tailor future marketing efforts. If many customers find you online, for example, you know it’s important to keep updating and maintaining your website. Certain management software have this function built in. Before purchasing an additional program, check to see if your software already includes this feature.
Like the idea of having a software that integrates with an online advertising feature? Consider the WebSelfStorage Business Platform.
Ready for more? If you are using an online advertising feature but don’t have your own website, this is your next step.
Caitlin Long is an operations analyst for the U-Haul Self-Storage Affiliate Network, where she works with self-storage affiliates across the U.S. and Canada. She’s also the editor of the Self-Storage Swap, a newsletter for independent self-storage owners and operators, and managing editor of the Self-Storage Insider, a blog for the self-storage community keeping readers “in the know.” She started blogging four years ago and hasn’t stopped since. She can be reached at Caitlin_Long@uhaul.com.