Marketing your self storage business can be an extremely arduous process especially in highly competitive markets. There are a million things to consider, tons of misinformation and a lot of bad opinions. Fortunately, this article will provide you with 5 things to consider and implement in your marketing campaigns that will help you make more effective decisions as your marketing efforts progress.
Analytics isn’t just a fancy word for reporting anymore, its a must have for anyone that is serious about marketing their self storage business. You can’t market a self storage business by relying on gut instincts, you have to market based on the numbers. If you don’t have analytics, you cant effectively make decisions based on the numbers. It’s as simple as that.
There are many platforms out there for providing analytics – all with different feature sets and claims to fame. But, the most well-known of these platforms is Google Analytics, which is what we prefer and recommend to our clients.
This free tool allows you to monitor and track everything that occurs on your website. By leveraging the data and information this tool provides – you can easily identify sticking points in your sales funnel, figure out what campaigns generate the most leads and calls for you, as well as get even more granular : tracking the effectiveness of different ads and calls to actions. Using call tracking technology (talked about next) you can even use analytics to track the calls coming in and where they are coming from.
2. Call Tracking and Recording
In our experience, a majority of self storage facilities experience far more calls than walk-ins and online bookings. Consumers have questions, rapport is built and sales are generated primarily on the phone. Because of these simple facts, call tracking and recording has to be a critical point of measurement in your sales and marketing process.
Call tracking has a variety of benefits and works like this. First, you get a collection of phone #’s together through the tracking software. You then assign each individual number to something you want to track such as a billboard, direct mail piece, or even for online advertisements. All of these numbers seamlessly forward the calls to your regular sales #. As calls come in, the call tracking software will track the call into your analytics platform, crediting the call to the ad that generated it. This allows you to determine which marketing you’re spending money on generated the most calls and at what cost per call – allowing you to make more effective decisions when deciding where to allocate your marketing budgets.
Call Recording is a second feature typically provided by the platform, this allows you to record and go back and listen to any calls that came into your facility. This is advantageous in a number of ways, but to us the most valuable aspect of it is in sales training. Just because you are getting a high volume of calls doesn’t necessarily mean you are selling as many of those calls as you could be. By listening to the calls of the customers you didn’t sell, you can gain insights into what was said or not said that may have impacted the sale.
For example, you may be wondering why in May you are only selling 11% of the business coming in, when in previous months it was more like 25%. By listening to the calls, you can learn things such as your price is too high compared to the competition, or that one of your competitors has a move in special that people are opting for. Maybe you just hired a new CSR, and they are struggling with rebuttals to certain questions these are all things that can occur during your sales process that you wouldn’t necessarily know if you aren’t recording your calls and reviewing them consistently.
3. Correlation Isn’t Causation
Despite this very statement being drilled into my head growing up, at times, I am still guilty of making this simple mistake – much like many of you are as well. A pattern that manifests itself over a specific period of time demonstrates correlation. But these patterns don’t show that events were caused by one another.
For example, if you started a new marketing campaign in Spring, and the number of leads you generated shot up dramatically during that period over what you generated during the winter, could you say that it was because the ad campaign was awesome? No you can’t – not directly.
You have to consider multiple factors. As you know, the self storage business is a seasonal business – with the spring and summer months producing a dramatic influx of new customers during these periods. To properly determine if your campaign was more effective this Spring as opposed to last spring you have to compare the data to previous years during the same time frame. In addition, don’t just decided if your sales declined the marketing campaign was a dud, you have to also consider all the other variables that go into your sales funnel. Maybe lead generation was way up, but your conversion rate went down.
Having strong analytics data and call tracking and recording give you the tools you need to get to the true answers in a measured and data-driven way.
4. Measurement Doesn’t End With A Sale
One of the most common mistakes I find self storage facilities making is that their data stops when a sale is generated. This is a terrible mistake and can lead to struggles with things like higher than average move out rates, poor online reviews and very low word of mouth referrals. Surveys are a great way to build up this post-sale measurement data and Google Forms makes it simple to collect and compile this data passively.
The Google Forms tool is a freely available tool (part of Google Docs) which allows you to create surveys and questionnaires and then compile it into relevant measurement information. By utilizing entrance & exit surveys and making them part of your regular practices (I recommend including them on the emails you send at move in and move out, with a few sprinkled in between) you can gain insight into your facilities strengths and weaknesses from a customers viewpoint.
This data will in turn provide you with valuable insights into where you need improvement as well as where your business strengths lie. By adapting your business around these insights, you will find that over time your customer satisfaction will increase – which in turn will lead to better online reviews and more word of mouth referrals.
5. Many A Mickle Makes a Muckle
Many A Mickle Makes a Muckle is an age-old scots saying that makes a valuable point. Self storage has several main markets that everyone focuses on: homeowners, students, small businesses and military personnel. Everyone who markets self storage understands and competes for these markets it’s where the “bread and butter” is… or is it?
Sure a majority of customers will fit into one of these categories, but because everyone knows this, it also means that reaching these potential customers as a self storage business means your competing with every other self storage facility out there. Sure they are the biggest demographics, but they are also the most expensive to market to. Try focusing on smaller niche markets to build up the same amount of sales at a lesser rate.
There are several great examples of other “niche” markets that fit into self storage. For example, does your marketing focus on Spanish speakers at all? Your ads should be focused and be based in Spanish. This is a typically smaller group that most self storage marketers will overlook. Perhaps you are in an area that is on the rise or decline – if this is the case then focusing your marketing efforts on partnering with moving companies. I could go on and on with examples of different niches to market to within an area, but ultimately what works varies by market. Pay attention to your local demographics, and build niche campaigns around what you see in your area.