Sep 19, 2023
Co-Founder, CEO, Client Support
My first job out of college and grad school was down in Miami, Florida. I was tasked with planning marketing campaigns for all sorts of big advertisers. Life insurance, consumer packaged goods, and finance clients were unknowingly trusting a 23-year-old with hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing spend. It was 2009 and my gray-haired colleagues naturally assumed the young guy was qualified to manage a new phenomenon they’d discovered advertisers would pay for - “digital marketing campaigns”. Placing banner ads, creating countless landing pages, measuring online impressions, the job was a high-stakes learning firehose that kept me glued to my office chair many a late night. It was a great learning experience. For the next six years, before I fell in love with real estate, I helped clients leverage marketing tech to attract and convert customers online.
I’m grateful now for the lessons I picked up in those years. I was able to apply them in advising commercial real estate owners leveraging tech to improve leasing across industrial, office, and retail for the next 6+ years. Combining that experience with the expert knowledge of our team here at Cubby, as well as the advice from an incredible group of industry advisors and clients, we’re building the self-storage platform that makes growth simple. As mentioned on this blog previously, we take our responsibility to help operators price, market, manage, and measure their self-storage businesses seriously. Helping our clients efficiently market (IE drive more high quality leads) is a big part of what we do and something I appreciate isn’t easy after those formative years early in my career.
In this comprehensive blog post, I’ll introduce the critical aspects of marketing your self-storage offering to consumers. Understanding your audience, attracting potential customers, and converting them into loyal renters are key components we'll delve into. Let's get started!
Define your ideal customer profile
The first step any self-storage marketer needs to take when marketing a facility is to define the ideal customer profile.
Location: Focus first on the population within a 3 to 5 mile radius of your facility, as the vast majority of renters prefer facilities close to their homes or businesses.
Within that area, research demographics of potential renters. Consider segments like small businesses, college students, outdoor enthusiasts and boaters, divorced or separated individuals, and customers in the process of moving.
If your facility is already up and running, make sure to take a hard look at your current tenants. Where do they live? What items are they storing? Do you have businesses renting? Identify patterns among reliable tenants to create ideal customer profiles.
Note also the tenants you’d like to avoid in the future. Look at renters that have rented for short periods of time, struggled to pay on-time, or those that have caused issues. See if you can spot patterns among these renters and use those observations to inform how you narrow and filter your marketing efforts in the future.
Audience sizes: With this list of potential renter profiles, try to understand the population size of each group.
Understanding your customer's attention
The second step is to identify where your ideal customer profile’s attention lies. If your target profile is military service men and women, are there popular bars and restaurants they frequent? Are there online communities where they congregate? Make a list of the places where you might catch their eye.
Cultivate awareness and attract attention
The third step is to take action to grow awareness and attract your potential customers.
Online marketing & advertising:
Search engine optimization: As a local business operator in 2023, you must master search. This is the channel where nearly all consumers with intent to rent a unit will start their search. If you’re not appearing in search results for your location, you have a few things to take care of before you can reliably influence your lead flow, and thus your revenue. For a more in-depth SEO guide, check out this helpful guide.
Search engine marketing: Once your SEO is optimized, it’s likely a good idea to start thinking about paid advertising. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is distinct from organic search. Google has loads of tools and resources to get you started here.
Once your SEO and SEM is directing traffic to your website, there are additional channels to boost your reach and impressions. Facebook has some great tools like “custom audiences” that are worth exploring. We’ll dive deeper into how to get the most out of additional channels in the future.
Stay up to date with emerging channels! We've experimented with clients on channels like Amazon, which allows you to target users who are likely to be moving based on their purchase history with display ads all over the internet. While this example currently requires $12k/mo minimum spend, there are always new tactics available to the curious marketing mind.
Store visibility is still one of the most important awareness drivers available to you as an operator. Make sure to maximize the visibility of your signage and keep your facility looking clean and approachable.
Partner with local businesses frequented by your ICP: Forge partnerships with local businesses, like those bars, restaurants, real estate brokerages, furniture stores or food banks, and see if there’s something you can offer them as a partner that’s valuable to them in exchange for referrals, signage, or cross-sell opportunities.
Sponsorships and Awards: Consider sponsoring local sports teams or causes you're passionate about. Participate in local business awards to gain recognition and increase brand visibility.
Community Focus: Adopting a community-focused mindset will help you connect with your target audience. Engaging with local events, charities, and partnerships will enhance your visibility and trustworthiness.
Converting leads into renters
Fourth, converting leads into renters is absolutely critical to making the most of the work you’ve done to attract those folks:
Simplicity and Speed: Keep the renting process simple and fast.
Your website should be lightning fast and mobile optimized. Your checkout process should be as minimal as possible. If your management software requires more than 10 fields be filled out before you can rent a unit online, you’re not capitalizing on all the work you’ve done to get a potential renter onto your website. We regularly see operators who are losing out on thousands in additional revenue because their websites are too onerous when compared to the competition.
Walk-in & phone rentals should be seamless as well.
Guiding Customers: Guide potential renters to the right storage options that best suit their needs. Your website should provide a way for visitors to quickly identify the right storage unit size and features.
Marketing your self-storage business effectively is crucial for attracting and retaining renters. By understanding your audience, constructing ideal customer profiles, and using the right channels to reach them, you can drive your business to new heights. If you have questions about how to approach taking control of your lead flow, we’re here to help! In the upcoming blog posts, we'll explore pricing, management, and measurement aspects of your self-storage business. Thanks for joining us on the journey!