Messenger Xtra: Storage Directory vs. Facility Website: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Poppy Behrens on Apr 18, 2015 12:00:00 AM

What’s The Difference?

Gone are the days when a storage facility operator’s marketing plan consisted of nothing more than a membership with the local chamber of commerce and placing an ad in the local phone directories. Today, however, there many additional marketing avenues required to be successful. The main two, of course, are listing facilities in storage directories and creating a website to promote the storage operation.

Some operators may find this topic dated, and chances are those operators have been listed on directories and running a website for a long time. If you’re one of those operators, congratulate yourself because you’re doing your marketing right. If not, read on to learn what each can do for you and what the differences are between them.

The Pros and Cons of Using a Storage Directory The main thing to know is that a storage directory is focused more on the consumers and less on the facilities. A storage directory is an online collection of facility listings that a consumer can search through. From the directory’s listings, consumers can find facilities that cater to what they’re looking for and narrow their selection.

Because multiple operators are included in these listings, it’s more competitive for facilities. But when it comes to improving your facility’s visibility among consumers who are just beginning to consider their storage options (that is, those who may not know your facility exists), a directory can be very helpful in promoting your operation.

Directories list the most important information about each facility. In addition to name, address, and phone number, facilities may be able to provide price ranges, unit sizes available, services offered, web addresses, and at least one photo (The amount of photos that directories allow vary, but in general, it’s limited). Also, directories give consumers the ability to rate and post reviews of facilities so other consumers can do comparisons.

Some directories may charge facilities to be included in their searchable database. How those directories are charged can vary from a per-click, per-call, or per-reservation basis. If the directory charges on a per-booking or per-rental basis, the amounts can change from a straight fee to a percentage.

The Pros and Cons of Using a Website

Today, the majority of consumers expect a business to have an online presence. Think about this: If your prospect is under 60, they almost never use a printed phone directory. If you can’t provide your prospects with a web address for your facility, they will either assume you don’t exist or that you don’t do business properly. Very few businesses today—even one-person entities—can be successful without a website.

A website enables storage operations to provide a consumer with information about the facility, the ability to view the property and individual units, as well as the opportunity to contact the operator directly. A website can have functions that directories don’t, too, such as mapping and multiple photos of the facility—perhaps even video or 3D tours. There can also be links to various social media pages for the facility, such as those from Facebook and Twitter, and staff photos (if appropriate) so consumers are familiar with the team.

With a facility website, not only are you in control of the information that gets posted, but there aren’t other facilities for you to compete with in the same space. On top of that, you’re able to have more visible calls-to-action areas on your website that can convert prospects into tenants more quickly.

Of course, cost comes into factor with a website. Unless you have someone in house to build and design a website for your facility, you’ll typically have to hire an outside firm. Website development and design isn’t cheap either, but it’s typically a one-time expense and a worthwhile investment for marketing.

While some storage operations may only have the budget to do one of these, the best way to market your storage facility is to use both avenues. That way, you’re reaching the storage consumers who don’t know you exist while also representing your facility on your terms and providing a place for potential tenants to take action. Remember that digital marketing is all about combining multiple opportunities in order to see the best results.