Marketing is much more than ads, logo’s and brochures, it’s a complete system that needs to become part of your self storage business from the top to the bottom. The key to any marketing program is consistency and this means you need to think carefully about how your business is portrayed to potential and existing customers, from the staff through to the site, not just the ‘marketing documentation’. Here are a few things to consider…
As the business owner or manager, it is your knowledge of the business and the industry that will underline the professionalism of your brand. Are you up-to-date on all the latest developments in self storage, do you know about drop down storage, kiosks and other new innovations? Even if your business does not offer these services you need to understand them in case one of your potential customers asks about them.
Do you network with other people who can complement your business, real estate agents, removalists, chamber of commerce and so on? Do you actively seek trends and information on self storage and ancillary services so that you can make pro-active changes to your business and its marketing based on such information? Your knowledge and expertise can be a valuable part of marketing your business, and best of all, it is relatively cheap to maintain and usually only costs some of your time and a bit of a structured approach to make sure you are not letting it slip.
Have you identified exactly who you are marketing your business to? Different people need storage for different reasons. Often target marketing certain groups will give better results than a scatter gun approach, particularly given that self storage is such a local product and local areas have different demographics and customer needs. If you have chosen your target markets, do you know how to reach them, what media they are exposed to, where they frequent and how you can get your message to them?
More importantly, how are you making sure that when they need storage, your business comes to mind. Have you got a multiple contact approach to your marketing so that your potential customers are getting ‘hit’ by your business from more than one source? Do you measure how your marketing strategies are working? Do you have a referral network, is it working? Referrals can be a major source of new customers when managed pro-actively. Do you have a marketing plan and do you stick to it and evaluate it periodically?
Are all your brochures up-to-date and consistent in their branding and messages? Do you have space calculators and other tools to help storers choose the appropriate storage space? Do you have material that explains how self storage works for new customers? Have you got testimonials and other references from customers, and do you use these in your promotional material? Are you using the Standard Storage Agreements and do you have explanatory documents on the main terms? Do you have electronic versions of your documents that you can e-mail to people? Do you provide a point of difference to your competitors in your marketing material? Do you offer insurance to your customers? Do you appeal to customers in your marketing material and appeal to the ‘what’s in it for me’ principle?
Is your website up-to-date with the services that you offer? How does your website compare to those of your competitors? Are your contact details easy to find including phone and physical address? Do you have useful information available on the benefits of self storage and on-line space calculators? Does your homepage clearly explain why people should sue your self storage centre without having to click for more information? Do you allow for on-line enquiries or bookings?
What incentives are there to get the contact details, or at least e-mail addresses from the people who visit your site? Do you have special ‘on-line’ deals? Do you promote your packaging materials and other merchandise on-line? Is insurance promoted on your website? How will people find your website, is it linked to other sites in your network, is it optimised for local search results with Google?
Your sales pitch
All the marketing in the world is not going to help you if you and your staff do not know how to close the sale. DO you have a documented sales process that outlines the steps involved in understanding the customers needs, matching them up and closing the sale? Are all your staff comfortable and competent at asking potential customers for the sale at the right time, before you lose contact with them (to your competitors)?
Have you identified the specific questions that Storers tend to ask and formulated responses to them that will be different from your competitors? Do you know how to recognise and deter customers that do not fit your business profile? How do you stay in touch with previous customers, do you have a follow-up process? Do you and your staff ask every customer if they need any ancillary products? Do you have a strategy to ensure that every potential customer that visits your site either takes a unit or purchases products before they leave?
If you have answered yes to all these questions then your business probably has a complete marketing program that is entrenched in all parts of your business. If some of these questions got you thinking, then maybe it’s time you thought about your marketing strategy in its entirety and how you could change your practices to improve your sales.
A good marketing strategy is not just about getting people in the door, it’s about getting the right people in the door and having them leave as customers.