When the self storage industry was in its infancy, marketing was not a big concern. Since there were very few facilities in existence, an owner merely needed to provide a fairly safe and clean environment for the small number of people looking to store their belongings. Over the years the number of available units has grown, as well as the number of people needing storage. Today, there are nearly 50,000 self storage facilities in the U.S. alone. Therefore, the savvy customers have developed much higher expectations, making marketing in the self storage industry a vital tool.
Self storage marketing is the promotion of your self storage business. Self storage marketing is usually always centered on the customer. A recent industry study showed that the reasons people need self storage are that, 44% are moving, 34% don’t have enough space and 15% are people with business needs. Self storage businesses determine what the customers needs are, and implements them into their self storage properties.
A well-known analyst and marketer has divided marketing into four general sets of activities that are common in any business. These activities have become universally recognized as the “Four P’s”, and are often referred to as the Marketing Mix.
.Product: The product aspects of self storage marketing deal with the specifications of the actual features, benefits or services that the self storage properties offer, and how it relates to the self storage renter needs and wants.
.Pricing: This refers to the process of setting a price for the unit, including discounts.
.Promotion: This includes advertising, sales promotion, publicity, and personal selling, and refers to the various methods of promoting the product, brand, or self storage company.
.Placement or Place: refers to how the property gets recognized by the customer.
As well as the standard Four P’s (Product, Pricing, Promotion, and Placement), marketing for a service industry such as self storage calls upon an extra three activities, totaling seven and known collectively as the Extended Marketing Mix. These are:
.People: Any person coming into contact with customers can have an impact on customer service. They must be appropriately trained in the ways of self storage, well motivated and the right type of person.
.Process: This is the process involved in providing a service and the behavior of people, which can be crucial to customer satisfaction and service.
.Physical evidence: Unlike a product, a service cannot be experienced before it is delivered, which makes it intangible. This means that potential self storage customers could perceive greater risk when deciding whether to rent. To reduce the feeling of buyers’ remorse, and improving the chance for a rental or reservation, it is often vital to offer potential customers the chance to see what a service would be like. (Site visit)
For a self storage marketing plan to be successful, the mix of the four “P’s” must reflect the wants and desires of the self storage consumers in the target market. Trying to convince a market segment to rent something they don’t want is extremely expensive and seldom successful. Marketers depend on marketing research, both formal and informal, to determine what consumers want and what they are willing to pay for it. Marketers hope that this process will give them a sustainable competitive advantage. Marketing management is the practical application of this process. The offer is also an important addition to the 4P’s theory. As in any business, the idea of marketing is to promote the business – both as a whole and on an individual level.
In the past, self storage as a whole has sometimes had a bad reputation. Oftentimes when people think of the industry they think of the horror stories that are shown on the evening news – the meth lab found in a unit, a soldier’s items being auctioned by mistake, the hurricane damaged storage property, the car used in a homicide being stored in a space. Unfortunately for the storage industry the every day good things that occur are just too mundane to draw attention. This is one reason why positive marketing on a national level is extremely important. Self storage organizations, private, statewide and nationwide have all become very important in the positive marketing for all self storage owners and managers. Many of the larger private self storage organizations put on large conventions to increase the awareness of the self storage industry. This allows owners and managers to meet, exchange ideas and learn some new techniques. Positive feedback nationally will always help locations on the local level.
Most self storage companies today have a customer focus. This implies that the company focuses its activities and products on consumer demands. Generally there are three ways of doing this:
.The customer-driven approach consumer wants are the drivers of all strategic marketing decisions. Every aspect of a market offering, including the nature of the product itself, is driven by the needs of potential consumers. The starting point is always the consumer
.The sense of identifying market changes—being one step ahead of the competition will enable you self storage business to succeed.
.The product innovation approach—using that crystal ball to be able to take into account customer needs vs. what will be profitable for your business.
In the field of business, self storage marketing is a broad term used to describe marketing in the self storage industry. Don’t confuse self storage marketing with self storage advertising. Self storage advertising is only one function of self storage marketing. Besides self storage advertising, there are other functions in self storage marketing like, sales of self storage, communications, pricing, market research and more.
The market will bear what research has been done to meet the customer needs. Figuring out which site should have climate controlled units, RV parking, drive up or stacked units will show in your occupancy rate. Being able to provide the customer and the local market with what will sell is the goal.
Direct self storage marketing is a function and type of marketing. Two main definitional characteristics distinguish direct self storage marketing from other types of self storage marketing or self storage advertising. The first is that it attempts to send its messages directly to self storage consumers without the use of intervening media. This involves unsolicited commercial communication with consumers or self storage businesses. The second characteristic is that it is focused on driving purchases that can be attributed to a specific “call to action.” This aspect of direct self storage marketing involves an emphasis on trackable, measurable results regardless of medium.
“Bulk mail” is the most common form of direct self storage marketing. Bulk mail is sent at a reduced rate specified by the post office. Different areas or lists are used to decide where the mail will be sent. Telemarketing is the second most common form of direct self storage marketing. Marketers use random or selected telephone numbers to try and reach potential self storage customers. The third type of direct self storage marketing is, email marketing (including spam). This type of self storage marketing will soon pass telemarketing as the second most common form. While annoying, many people are drawn into the spam email by offering a promise, a discounted item or other “too good to be true” item. It’s very inexpensive and only takes a few people to fall for it to make a profit.
Prospecting customers through direct marketing and advertising can prove to be very beneficial to new self storage companies that might have a new site open. It has been shown to be highly effective to make yourself known in an affirmative way to the surrounding area and neighborhoods. By presenting yourself and your company in a positive way, the good deed will come back to you in rentals. You want to make sure that the area that your property is in knows that you are proud to be a part of the neighborhood.
Direct self storage marketers use other media such as;
.Package inserts- commonly referred to as “stuffing”, package inserts can be as diverse as cereal boxes to cigarettes to diapers to instant mashed potatoes. Recipes, mail away promotional items and offers are some of the things that might go in a package insert.
.Magazines- glossy ads that catch the readers eye—There is a magazine out there for any type of hobby, hairstyle, fitness, glamour, gossip, travel, sports, boats, cars, families, babies, women, men, weddings, teen life, gay life, muscles, cooking, lifestyles, storage, consumer goods, decorating, seasons, clothing, shoes, lingerie, non profit organizations, gentleman’s, dogs, cats, pets and more.
.Door hangers- relatively inexpensive and used to target specific areas of your town or city. Whether you have a large student, elderly, retired, middle class, young families, etc. the inserts can be tuned to fit the type of market you are trying to reach. A door hanger can be one piece of paper or many sheets put into a plastic bag hung on the door.