Why Self Storage Marketing Is Like Peeling an Onion - with Christel F. Land

By Christel Friberg Land on
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Welcome to the first instalment of the Growing Self Storage series brought to you by Stora in partnership with Christel Friberg Land of Clover Four. Over the coming months we’ll be bringing you everything from cost effective marketing ideas for self-storage startups to dealing with late payers and bad debt in a service-oriented way.

Clover Four founder and regular speaker on the industry circuit, Christel dives into the many layers and considerations storage businesses need to make to successfully market their services.

At first glance, marketing a self storage facility can seem like a fairly straightforward exercise. Many other industries have hundreds, even thousands of product lines and pricing constructs. In that sense, self storage is simpler.

What looks fairly simple from the outside, actually has a surprising number of layers underneath. Just like an onion, there are layers upon layers of complexity around how you effectively market a self storage company. In this article I will uncover the most important layers that will serve as the foundation for your 2022 marketing initiatives.

The Identity

Your brand needs to communicate who you are as a company. A large part of the trust that customers feel towards you comes not only from the service you offer but also what kind of company you claim to be.

Are you formal or informal? Quirky or slick? Family friendly or business friendly? Your brand needs to show your future customers who you are and what they can expect from you. In order for your brand to permeate every aspect of your business, your entire team also needs to be clear on what the company stands for.

At its core, branding is about communicating consistently. Perhaps the biggest difference between small business and big business is the level of consistency that their customers experience. And consistency builds trust. That is why branding is just as important to all self storage companies, both big and small.

Your company values and your unique selling points are a great place to start if you haven’t reviewed your company profile in a while. Take a fresh look at it and make sure your brand is conveying your message to the right audience.

Once you have mastered this first layer of the marketing onion, it is time to dig deeper to the next one.

The Educator

If you are operating in the UK or European markets, you will be marketing to a general public who still has a fairly low level of awareness about what self storage is and how it can benefit them.

This means your marketing doesn’t only need to educate the market on why your company is the best choice, it also needs to educate the consumer about what self storage is and what kind of needs you can meet.

Being educational at the same time as being attention-grabbing is often one of the most challenging parts of self storage marketing. The reason for that is that being educational tends to involve talking about your storage services, but to be attention-grabbing, you will typically want to talk more about your customer’s needs and less about your service.

An effective self storage campaign will incorporate both of these elements in a way that is also memorable.

That brings us to the next layer of our onion.

The Memorable

Did you hear about the man in his early twenties who walked past a self storage facility on a Saturday morning and impulse-rented a storage unit? Probably not, because it doesn’t happen very often!

That is because self storage is a needs-based business; when people need extra space, they will get in touch. When they don’t need self storage, all the marketing in the world won’t get them enquiring about our services. That is why it is so important that marketing in our industry has a retention value. Retention can be both physical and mental.

You can achieve physical retention by producing branded giveaways like fridge magnets, bags or pens with your logo and contact details on them. If people hold on to your giveaway, there is a greater chance that they will contact you instead of the competition when they do have a need for storage.

If you are aiming to create mental retention, where consumers remember your marketing campaign for a long time, then your designs should be focused on triggering an emotional response in people who see it. The emotional center in our brain is closely linked to our long-term memory and if you think back to some of the earliest memories you have, chances are they are moments where you felt a strong emotion of some kind.

One way self storage marketers can use this link between emotion and long-term memory is by adding humour into our campaigns. If you can make someone laugh, there is a far greater chance that they will remember you when the time comes for them to rent storage space.

There are of course many other emotions beside humour that you can work with too. And that brings us to the final layer of our onion.

The Converter

Big brands typically have a part of their marketing budget earmarked purely for branding campaigns. These campaigns aren’t aimed at generating enquiries and sales, but at simply putting themselves in the mind of consumers, but it is extremely rare to come across a UK or European self storage company that has a budget for these types of campaigns.

As such, when you are marketing in this industry, conversion is the primary goal, ensuring it is always factored in to your plan and campaign designs. Including a time-limited offer and clearly displaying your web address, online prices and contact details is a great place to start when working on optimising your conversion rate from website visitor to paying customer.

Your Turn!

Did we get the layers of the onion right? Drop us an email to marketing@stora.co and tell us about all the different layers you experience when marketing your self storage site. We’d love to hear about your experiences.

Read the Growing Self Storage series

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Christel Friberg Land

Since joining the industry 20 years ago, Christel has worked at all levels and angles of self-storage. Working with businesses across Europe and Asia she uses that experience to coach teams in sales, marketing and operational excellence, and regularly runs training for Self-Storage Associations. She also runs a web development agency, lending her expertise to the design and build of high converting Wordpress websites.

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