Because self storage provides many solutions for a wide range of challenges, the possibilities for marketing it are diverse and rather exciting. And it is a booming sector, so right now is a good time to consider new promotional ideas. If you are a self storage professional looking to market your business, you will appreciate the opportunities the industry currently offers to grow your talents.
Now is a good time to take self storage marketing to new levels
Self storage is currently riding a wave, partly thanks to the role it has played coming to people’s rescue over the past couple of years. Market activity was very healthy in 2021, and the development of new storage facilities continued, particularly in southern regions of the country. Along with that, storage street rates have been growing strongly, with many types of units seeing double-digit year-over-year rent increases in some cities, per Yardi Matrix data. It’s a thriving industry to be involved in right now.
The pandemic increased self storage’s profile. People who had never used self storage before were downsizing or moving into more cramped households, and they suddenly discovered its advantages. And companies that had to vacate physical premises turned to self storage as a place to keep their spare office furniture, filing cabinets and products. Some even found they could switch their operations successfully to mail order, and warehousing using a storage unit gave them the flexibility they needed. All in all, therefore, self storage’s customer base has grown and diversified, giving its marketers an exciting range of new opportunities.
Increasingly impactful ways to market self storage
Marketing for self storage has traditionally tended to be quite ‘in your face,’ using short messages on advertising hoardings and the walls of facilities to catch the attention of passing motorists. But you may have noticed that facilities are increasingly looking more attractive, and some are built with architectural devices to increase visual impact — clocktowers, lighthouses and even giant candles are fashionable! With the industry able to implement such fun concepts, and at relatively low cost, anybody in the marketing side of operations could have some exciting ideas to work with.
The profile of the storage company you work for could be key to the direction your marketing takes. For instance, an upmarket facility in California may have specialist wine storage — and be designed in the local Mission Revival style — so you could lead your promotions with this aspirational theme. Alternatively, when marketing a storage facility in recreation-loving Texas that provides spaces for motorhomes and pleasure boats, you can lead with these attractive motifs. If your company is revamping its premises, you might even get the go-ahead to realize your ideas in 2D or 3D form!
Never forget you’re serving a local community
Self storage has long been called a ‘3-mile industry,’ getting most of its clients from a small catchment area. And its reputation as a community service has grown, as more people come to appreciate its benefits, increasingly attractive buildings get developed, and city halls realize that converting vacant ‘eye-sore’ suburban retail sites to storage facilities is a win for everybody. So, you might feel some very positive vibes as you start to think about your marketing strategy for the local community.
Additional ways of drawing in the locals include eye-catching flyers that you leave in cafes and even murals on walls in the neighborhood — so consider getting arty! If your company is just moving into an area, get to know the community associations and maybe find a local celebrity to open your new facility. Self storage can afford to take itself not entirely seriously, so don’t discount using humor. Manhattan Mini Storage — which grew to be NYC’s largest storage space operator and recently sold its facilities for almost $3B — was famous for its witty slogans: “New Yorkers aren’t better than anyone else, we just dress like it!” typifies their community-specific approach.
Become your own techie!
The tried-and-true methods of self storage marketing have been supplemented with modern strategies. We don’t need to tell you how important social media is right now, so max out your skills using the top platforms and make the most of the reach they can give you. Finding and using relevant social media ‘influencers’ is also an interesting marketing strategy these days. Word of mouth has always been important in self storage promotion, so consider turning existing customers into marketers by starting a referral program that offers them rewards if they get you more clients.
People swapped face-to-face contact for more time online during the pandemic, and many will see the convenience of continuing in that way — contact-free procedures, unmanned facilities and valet self storage services all trended. So, your company’s website will be an even more vital portal for marketing, and even the smallest mom-and-pop operation should have one. Hire professional web developers if your budget allows for it, but it’s easier than ever before to teach yourself how to develop a website. You can then easily make tweaks to it as new marketing ideas occur to you.
Take your marketing straight to video!
Visual cues are often much more readily absorbed — and remembered — than written ones. Creating your own videos is more feasible than ever now, and there are resources that can help you. Video-sharing platforms are increasingly used like search engines, and they are already set up to be easily viewed, including from smartphones, so you’re potentially reaching out to a huge audience. Videos can foreground branding very effectively and are also good for articulating the emotional aspects involved in any product — for example, the stress-reducing benefits of self storage.
Consider making videos with helpful content showing people how to choose the right storage unit, how to stack their stuff in there and so on. Then promote your business in the process. There are always possibilities to add subtitles with phone numbers and other key info, further putting your message across. To make your video, consider taking on the presenting role yourself or find somebody in your company who would jump at the chance. Charm and sincerity always go across well — and, as they say in showbusiness, if you can fake that then you’ve got it made!
With the self storage sector well placed to respond to a variety of needs in a changing world, its marketers are in a great position to respond and to further develop their talents. And those skills are transferrable. With the investment the industry has received and its incentives to modernize, it looks as if it will continue to be strong this year. This, along with the many aspects of self storage that encourage a flexible and light-hearted approach to business, offer good development opportunities for professional marketers right now.