Marketing Your Self-Storage Rentals
June 12, 2023
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Tips For Effective Self-Storage Marketing
With summer fast approaching, self-storage investors are prepared for the typical seasonal upsurge in customer interest.
However, getting the word out about your storage units isn’t always as easy as posting your vacancies and waiting for the renters to come.
If you own a self-storage facility, you need an effective marketing strategy to ensure high occupancy throughout all seasons. You’ll always have customer turnover, so it’s worth the extra work up front to promote the benefits of your self-storage units, including security, size, amenities, 24-hour access, or other features.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can develop, implement, and improve your self-storage marketing tactics.
Determine Your Target Customer
Every business plan should start with a target customer profile, and self-storage businesses are no different. Before launching any self-storage ads, first determine the population you believe would be most interested in renting your storage units. Then, study that population. Why are they seeking storage? What are their wants and needs when it comes to storage units? Where are they located? Your goal should be to determine why self storage is attractive to the audience you’ve chosen. How can you design your business to serve these customers?
Here are some stats about the storage unit clientele in general to consider as you develop a target customer profile:
- Self-storage facilities tend to serve communities within 30 minutes or a 3–5-mile radius. This means your target customers should primarily be local people.
- Customers range from their early 20s to retirement age, but the median age for a self-storage customer is 58.
- In general, customers tend to fall in middle and upper-middle income brackets.
- Self-storage customers are often in the midst of moving, house shifting, divorces/separations, between university semesters, etc.
Part of determining your target customer should be assessing customer needs and demand. For example, if your facility is located near a major university and you plan to target the out-of-state student population there, these students most likely won’t need or pay extra for climate-controlled units or electricity. However, full-service storage (i.e., valeting belongings to and from your facility) may be attractive to students without cars on campus.
Define a Marketing Strategy
Next, it’s time to plan and lay out all the details of your overall marketing strategy. How will you get the word about your units out in the community? What will you do to maintain your public image as a reputable and high-quality business? What will you do initially to attract your first renters?
A good first step is to create a company website (which we’ll talk about more in the next section). Additionally, since most storage facilities rely on drive-by marketing, investing in a billboard off the nearest interstate or even simply hanging signage around your facility where drivers can read it is a good way to attract customers. Storage facilities also tend to attract local customers, so traditional paper marketing is another option. If you’re targeting university students, for instance, posting flyers on bulletin boards around campus could generate initial interest.
Once you have a customer base, email marketing and email campaigns are a successful way to keep current customers and encourage previous ones to rent from you again. Research has shown that previous customers make up at least 41% of the current self-storage market, so following up with old customers could be a consistent source of revenue.
Lastly, be careful to avoid wasting time advertising your units where your target audience isn’t likely to find them. For instance, if you’re aiming to rent to a local community of retired people, don’t spend all your time posting on social media, as older demographics aren’t as likely to be active on those sites.
Create or Update Your Company Website
Search engine optimization (SEO) can increase your overall impact and visibility online, and it usually starts with a carefully curated company website. In fact, it is arguably more important to maintain an online “front office” than a physical one.
Your company website should allow prospective renters to apply and reserve units, sign leases with digital eSignatures, pay rent and fees, choose an insurance policy, and everything else they need to set up and maintain their rental agreement with you.
You can also use your website as an opportunity to create and curate original content. First, use a keyword search tool to find keywords that your target audience would use, and use those keywords organically in engaging website content. Be sure to include high-quality photographs of your facility and storage units.
It’s also a good idea to get your storage rental business verified on Google Business so that renters can view your profile and verify that your company is legitimate. Google Business is a free tool you can utilize to customize how your storage facility appears on searches and on Google Maps. You can also use the site to list your units and connect with customers.
List and Advertise Your Storage Units
Just like residential landlords, storage facility owners rely on listings and advertisements to keep their units filled year-round.
Every listing should include information about the unit’s size (length and width dimensions), type (indoor- vs. outdoor-access, full-service vs. traditional, etc.) and amenities (electricity, climate-control, etc.). Be sure to include photographs of vacant units along with measurements so that customers can visualize the space and decide which size will best fit the items they intend to store.
Where should you list your storage units? There are several options for listing these online. You can of course list your vacancies on your website as well as on self-storage-specific listing sites. Storage-specific directories are the best place to list your units as they get thousands of visits each month from renters looking specifically for storage units. SpareFoot is the largest online marketplace for marketing storage units. If you don’t own a facility but still have space you’d like to rent for storage, you might also find success on Neighbor.com, a peer-to-peer storage marketplace that allows nearby “Neighbor hosts” to store belongings for others in the same neighborhood.
You’ll want to list on as many of these directories as possible so that your units appear more than once on a single search query. This strategy helps increase your company’s visibility when customers search for nearby storage units online.
Market on Social Media
Social media marketing is often cited as a successful strategy for property owners of all kinds. At minimum, it’s always a good idea to create a Facebook profile so that browsers can view your availability and post reviews about their experience with your company.
However, social media in the storage industry is often best for building traction and credibility for your business, not necessarily listing units or networking with current customers. The storage industry is not one that requires frequent interaction between customers and owners. That being said, using social media to creatively market your storage units to new customers is a great strategy to add to an already well-developed marketing plan.
Start a Referral Program or Review Campaign
If you already have a dedicated client base and are looking to invigorate your marketing tactics, consider setting up a referral program or review campaign. These strategies are two of the best and most effective marketing ideas for storage facilities.
Referral programs reward renters who recommend your services to other prospective storage renters who sign a lease with you and/or rent for a certain length of time (e.g., three or six months). For example, you could offer current customers a discount on their monthly rent for the next three months if they refer your company to another renter who signs on. It’s a great way to jumpstart word-of-mouth marketing and reward loyal customers at the same time.
Review campaigns are similar in that you are relying on loyal customers, but this time you’re asking them to write an online review of your company. Never pay for reviews, as this plan can backfire if search engines suspect your reviews aren’t legitimate. Instead, invite tenants who have already expressed appreciation for your business to write a brief review, and provide them with a link to do so via email. According to G2, 90% of buyers are more likely to convert into paying customers after reading reviews, and even a few positive reviews can drastically increase a customer’s likelihood to sign a lease with you. A review campaign is therefore a fundamental way to establish credibility and boost your entire marketing approach.
Developing a successful marketing approach for your self-storage facility will certainly require a substantial amount of time, effort, and careful analysis. But you don’t need a degree in marketing to learn how to promote your units in a positive way online. By following the tips in this article and regularly revising your marketing approach as needed, you already have a head start on optimizing your online presence and filling your units.