For many self-storage operations, marketing campaigns are a chief way to communicate with potential customers, reinforce the brand and acquire new tenants. Unfortunately, today’s connected world makes for a very noisy marketplace! To be heard and gain a competitive advantage, you must get creative and differentiate your company from others. You want to grab attention and engage your prospects, or your messaging will be lost. The following six steps will help you create amazing campaigns.
1. Set Your Goals
What do you want your marketing campaign to achieve? Be as specific as possible. “Increase rentals” isn’t enough. Are you trying to improve your website’s page ranking? Do you have a specific unit size to fill? Are you attempting to increase awareness in a new market? Are you trying to promote a new amenity or add-on service?
Set parameters for your goals. Time is the most common, as marketing campaigns lose their effectiveness. Your campaign should have a set timeframe.
2. Set Your Budget
Keep in mind that campaigns delivered one time through a single medium rarely produce desired results. The best marketing follows an overarching theme that can be leveraged over time. It uses multiple variations or elements to tell a story.
While there’s no magic number for your message frequency, using multiple mediums will generate a higher return on investment. Your budget should be based on your goals and competitive position in the marketplace.
3. Identify Your Target Market
Not all your customers are the same or have the same needs. Self-storage may be a simple, straightforward business, but its users are diverse and complex. To be effective, your marketing campaigns need to speak to specific groups and their desires.
For example, if your facility is in a residential area, your messaging will be different than if you’re in a commercial area. Maybe your facility is near a popular lake, ski resort or university. Understanding your market demographics allows you to speak directly to specific customer types and raise your response rate. It also helps you identify where to place your marketing for the biggest impact.
4. Create Killer Content
Now that you’ve identified your target customers, walk in their shoes! What value can you deliver that helps them improve their business or solve their problem? Today’s consumers are more informed than ever. They’re not just seeking information about your service, they want to know you’re the expert in self-storage and be assured you’re delivering the best advice and service for their specific needs.
Customer-driven content informs and engages your audience while offering genuine solutions to their pain. It also builds brand awareness that associates your business with value. That turns customers into brand ambassadors, or advocates.
Ambassadors advertise your facility to their network of friends and associates because they like your brand and believe in what it provides. This word-of-mouth is an effective way to reach a much larger audience. Building advocates is important because they have the power to influence purchasing decisions of people with whom they’re directly and indirectly connected.
Great content builds relationships with your customer base. Your marketing campaign can include many types including blogs, newsletters, videos, lead-generating offers, traditional advertising, e-mails, pay-per-click ads and social media posts. Providing consistent, engaging content is one of the most effective ways to build confidence and trust with your audience.
5. Include a Call to Action
When creating your campaign materials, give people a reason to ask for more information or take action, such as clicking through to your website for a special offer or other content of value. For example, you could offer a guide on how to properly pack a storage unit or store a boat for winter. Remember, your customers are looking for content that solves their needs, so offer information that speaks to them.
6. Track and Test
For online campaigns, you can use Google Analytics to track your digital marketing effectiveness. This free Web tool will help you analyze your website traffic, including the source of online leads. For direct marketing campaigns, you can use call-tracking numbers and specific offers to track success. Tracking your key performance indicators will tell you which campaigns are working best and help you build better ones in the future.
Finally, don’t forget to test, test, test! Whether it’s a small or large campaign, evaluate your content and offer before you spend your budget. By testing your campaign and tracking results, you’ll improve your response rate and return on investment.
Shari Sutton is president of Sutton Watkins Advertising & Marketing Inc. and its MMS Division, which focuses on self-storage and multi-family housing. She’s been a respected agency principal since 1998, with expertise in digital advertising, marketing and senior management. Shari serves as marketing director for Nevada-based StorageOne, overseeing the direct and grassroots marketing efforts of 12-plus facilities, and has additional self-storage clients in California, Michigan and Ohio. To reach her, call 702.270.2147; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.suttonwatkins.com.