Eight Costly Storage Marketing Mistakes Which Ones Are You Committing?

Posted by Poppy Behrens on Jan 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM


By Derek M. Naylor

We all make mistakes. They’re part of life and learning. Hopefully, when you make a mistake you learn the lesson quickly and move on. Somebody much wiser than me once said average people learn from their own mistakes, but exceptional people learn from mistakes of others so they don’t have to repeat them in order to learn the lesson.

Therefore, the intent of this article is to share with you some common and costly self-storage marketing mistakes so you can save the time and money you’d surely expend if you make these mistakes yourself.

Mistake #1: Expecting Marketing Miracles

Mistake #1 While proper marketing is proven to work very well, many operators expect a silver bullet to fix everything. This is why understanding your marketing metrics is so crucial. You absolutely must know how much your customers are worth over their lifetime, your cost per lead, and your cost per tenant acquisition. Knowing these metrics will help you frame the results of your marketing in proper light.

Marketing is an ongoing process, not an event. Know your metrics and prepare for a journey to your goals. Results should come immediately, but be reasonable about your expectations.

Mistake #2: Pride

Mistake #2 Pride is a double-edged sword. It’s great to be proud of your facility, staff, and accomplishments. However, many operators let pride get in their way of success. In other words, they want to have high occupancy and income, but don’t want to appear hungry or desperate by doing what it takes to get a tenant.

If you have excess inventory of a particular unit mix, get tenants in those units. You can raise your prices later. Your chances of getting the rent you want goes up exponentially when you actually have a lease signed and a tenant with their stuff in a unit and human laziness on your side. You can’t raise rents on a non-existent tenant.

Mistake #3: Putting All of Your Eggs in One Basket

Mistake #3 I’m certain you’ve heard the saying about putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s not smart in investing and it’s not smart in marketing. Many operators are feeling the pain of putting all their eggs in the “Yellow Pages basket” these days. I can’t predict the future, but I do know the strategies that work best today probably won’t work best five years from now.

Regulations, emerging technology, and consumer behavior will bring us new marketing channels and decrease the effectiveness of what has worked in the past. Sometimes it happens overnight. Those in the Internet marketing world are all too familiar with the “Google Slap.” Those affected by it were shot down overnight and had to rebuild their online marketing strategy. Having other sources of customers during that time proved invaluable.

Mistake #4: Stepping Over Dollars to Pick Up Nickels

Mistake #4 Current economic times and increasing competition have affected occupancy and income for many operators around the country. When this happens, we naturally look to cut costs wherever we can. If you’re only looking at the expenditure and not the return on your investment, it’s easy to look at marketing as something that can be cut out. After all, your lights will still be on and your staff will still show up, right? Keep it cut for too long and you might not be able to pay for them either.

Understand that smart marketing brings you customers and customers bring you cash.

Hear this: There’s no other expenditure on your books that brings you the level opportunity for increasing revenue than the marketing line.

Mistake #5: “Me Too” Advertising

Mistake #5 Too many operators create their ads using the “me too” methodology. They look at their competitor’s ad and say “me too.”

When a prospective tenant is looking for a storage facility, they don’t want to know what makes you the same as everybody else—they want to know why they should choose you over their other choices. In other words, you need to look different, say different things, and tell the prospect why they should choose you over your competitors. If you can cross out your name and phone number in your ads and write your competitors name in place—and the ad is still accurate—you have a problem.

Mistake #6: No Call To Action

Mistake #6 In your marketing materials, you must tell people what to do next and give them a compelling reason to take action. Tests prove that by simply saying, “To reserve your unit, call 123-4567 to receive 50 percent off your first month,” you can incrementally increase your response. Not only are you giving them a promotion, you’re calling them to take action in a specific way.

As simple as this might sound, most self-storage ads do not contain a good call to action with a solid, compelling offer.

Mistake #7: Complacency

Mistake #7 Assuming what you’re doing is the best and there’s nothing you can do to improve is not only foolish, but costly. Operators who believe in testing everything at least once always have a handful of advantages over their competitors. Testing something new might cost you a couple hundred or thousand dollars, but when you uncover something that really works, you’ll always, and I repeat, always recoup any losses this attitude has cost you. The only way you’ll find the golden nuggets is by testing and measuring results of new things.

Mistake #8: “Marketing… Why Do I Need That?”

Mistake #8 Believe it or not, many operators in this great industry don’t think they need marketing—even when their occupancy and income are in the dumps. And I’m not just talking about “Ma & Pa” operators here either. Those who embrace smart marketing today will emerge as industry leaders tomorrow. End of story.

Self-storage has proven to be one of the best real estate investments on this planet. You have an unprecedented opportunity to create income from cash flow and get to enjoy a generous cap rate should you decide to sell.

But, it takes customers to make all this happen. If your marketing is done right, it produces customers and you get to enjoy your decision to own and/or operate self-storage.