Lauri Longstrom-Henderson was quite happy being semi-retired after many years in the self-storage industry. And then she received a call from Mini-Storage Messenger Publisher poppy Behrens asking her to come back as the Director of Sales & Marketing under the publishing company’s new ownership. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Longstrom-Henderson wasn’t always on the publishing end of the industry. In fact, the formation of the publishing department didn’t occur until after MiniCo’s products division was successfully up and running. And that’s where Longstrom-Henderson began her self-storage venture in the products division as a sales representative under the supervision of Pam Irwin. Eventually, after leaving the company for a brief period, she returned as the product sales manager. Her introduction to publishing came from assisting with the product catalog and Self-Storage Now!, which Longstrom-Henderson recalls initially served as a quarterly marketing newsletter for the company’s expanding products division. In 2002, Self-Storage Now! was transformed into a standalone magazine geared toward self-storage management.
Back in 1979, when Mini-Storage Messenger was established as a monthly newsletter that provided the developing self-storage industry with important business-related information, it was primarily distributed to self-storage owners and operators who were MiniCo Insurance policyholders. Over the years, its page count, issue frequency, and number of subscribers continued to increase. Growing demand for industry-specific educational materials led the company to eventually launch its own publishing department in 1988, creating additional trade publications while expanding Mini-Storage Messenger’s offerings.
During her time as product sales manager, Longstrom-Henderson began establishing lasting relationships with other self-storage professionals by attending the various industry trade shows. Ultimately, it was her sales prowess, gregarious disposition, and amiable interactions on the trade show floor that caught the attention of MiniCo’s former publisher. She was recruited to replace an exiting Irwin’s support.
“It was very important for me to have her blessing,” says Longstrom-Henderson. To her relief, Irwin was very supportive of her pending transfer to the publishing department, assuring her that she was destined to be in ad sales.
After learning the ropes of print advertising, Longstrom-Henderson grew the company’s flagship magazine to new heights. She was responsible for pushing Mini-Storage Messenger from “saddle stitch to perfect bound” (a stapled magazine to a thicker publication with a spine) as the result of her sales acumen and rapport with industry vendors.
Although she stepped away from advertising sales for several years, moving from Arizona to Colorado and focusing on self-storage marketing before volunteering as a court-ordered child advocate for Mesa County, Colo., since 2019, Longstrom-Henderson remained entwined with the industry through her husband, Eric Henderson, who’s been an active member of the self-storage community since 2003. In fact, she frequently attended trade shows with him to catch up with her numerous friends and former colleagues.
Presently, Longstrom-Henderson has abandoned semi-retirement and is thrilled to have returned to Mini-Storage Messenger as the director of sales and marketing. “I’m exactly where I want to be to finish out the rest of my working years,” she says. “It’s my final journey, and I want to ensure Messenger stays ‘the original voice of the self-storage industry.’”
Longstrom-Henderson is eager to rekindle the relationships she’s built since 1996 and form new ones and plans to continue to find motivation and inspiration from Successories posters, several of which have adorned her office walls over the years.
“They really speak to me,” she says. Her favorite features an eagle and this quote: “Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.”
A Clear Vision Thanks to Hardy Good, founder and former owner of MiniCo Inc., Mini-Storage Messenger (MSM) has been “the original voice of the self-storage industry” for more than 40 years. And Longstrom-Henderson, along with the entire MSM team, have made it their mission to revive and modernize his initial vision for the magazine by growing the publication and making it the “one-stop shop for industry news.”
“We want to continue to be the glue that binds the industry,” she says, “and welcome the next generations with open arms in their environment, which is digital.” With self-storage being a more generational industry, with family-owned businesses passed down to younger kin, it’s becoming increasingly more important to provide offerings within the digital landscape they are accustomed to and tend to favor.
“People are on their phones, so that’s where we need to reach them,” she adds. “Advertising has to be attractive to younger audiences.”
To that end, Longstrom-Henderson mentions that Messenger will have expanded advertising opportunities as a result of its recent acquisition by StoreLocal Media. One clear advantage for current and prospective advertisers is the planned implementation of ROI tracking that will provide data about their marketing initiatives with Mini-Storage Messenger and its other publications in their print and digital formats. Advertisers will be able to analyze their results and adjust their marketing campaigns accordingly. With that data in hand, an advertiser may be able to improve their reach by increasing their ad size and/or frequency, adjusting their message, or selecting a more prominent position within any of Messenger’s various publications.
All print advertisements will still be automatically included in the magazine’s digital version, and there will be new advertising opportunities within the magazines as well. For instance, Messenger intends to bring audio and video components to the digital magazine, both of which provide advertisers the opportunity to provider readers with richer, more immersive content.
“Self-storage is becoming more complex,” says Longstrom-Henderson, adding that “old school is out the door.”
Get Results! As far as advertising goes, she is adamant that vendors need to “keep their name out there” if they want results. With self-storage being a relatively small and tight-knit industry, which she feels is more like a business community or village, Longstrom-Henderson believes that people may forget or wonder about a company that they don’t see or hear from on a regular basis.
“It’s all about branding,” she adds. “Advertisers need to be in both print and digital.”
Longstrom-Henderson also emphasizes that vendors should advertise their products and services regardless of the economic climate, stating that cutting down on the marketing budget to save money during a recession is a mistake. “Advertising will help your company survive and gain more business,” she says. “There are budget-friendly ways to market.”
Through her new position at Mini-Storage Messenger, Longstrom-Henderson intends to assist companies with achieving their marketing goals in practical ways. “We want to be their greatest tool,” she says, noting that being respectful of a company’s budget and needs is her forte. “I plan to help them make smart decisions and discover ways to grow their businesses within their budgets.”
All of Messenger’s current and prospective advertisers are encouraged to reach out to Longstrom-Henderson at (800) 824-6864 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And be sure to stop by the Mini-Storage Messenger booth at the upcoming trade shows to celebrate her return!
Please join the entire MSM staff in welcoming her back to the magazine and the self-storage industry!
Erica Shatzer is the editor of Messenger, Self-Storage Now!, Self-Storage Canada, and the annual Self-Storage Almanac