Marketing Frustrations

Posted by msmessenger on May 1, 2016 12:00:00 AM

Six Steps To Refresh Your Efforts

Marketing is a long process of trial and error. You won’t know if something works until you try it out, and even then it can be difficult to track which efforts are working. Successful marketing hinges on creativity, strategy, and data, so it’s no wonder storage operators can feel overwhelmed when they try to juggle all the aspects of marketing with the day-to-day operations of their facilities.

If you’ve been reading blogs, articles, and tips on marketing, and you’ve been trying to implement them with little success, it may be time to step back and refresh. Whether you don’t know what to do, you feel like you’ve lost your creative edge, or you’re simply tired of trying strategies that don’t work, revamping your efforts can be easy when you break the process down into steps.

Step 1: Get customer feedback through your renters.
Any person in a creative field will quickly attest that it may be time to get out of your own head when things are feeling stagnant. Writers critique each other’s content, designers review projects together, and marketers brainstorm new ideas as a team. Even if you’re the solo marketer at your facility, the creative process doesn’t have to be a solitary one.

Analyzing customer feedback can help you realign what and where to market. When you gather feedback via surveys and reviews, ask yourself questions such as: What kind of terminology do my customers use? What features are important to them? Where are they looking for storage? You may find that the feature you’ve been focusing on is not what your customers find to be your best selling point, or you could find that the terminology you use in your marketing doesn’t translate well to your customers.

Gathering this feedback can be simple. First, check the feedback that already exists in the form of online reviews. Then, get more feedback by putting together an online survey, making the reviews section of your website more prominent, and spreading the word. You can promote reviews on social media, through in-person interactions, with giveaways, and during customer move-ins and move-outs. Your renters will appreciate you hearing them out, and your entire marketing approach will get a fresh perspective.

Step 2: Get professional feedback through outside perspective.
Getting customer feedback is a great first step. To get even more feedback, I recommend balancing renter perspective with professional perspective. Professionals can help you solidify your strategy and improve your approach, telling you what’s worked for them, what you’re doing well, and where you can improve.

There are many viable means you can pursue for getting a professional opinion. One good place to start would be with your website design company, but it doesn’t have to stop there. You could also consider hiring a few hours of a consultant’s time or pitching your marketing campaign to a local university as a class project.

Students, consultants, freelancers, and web design experts can look at your messaging and approach and pinpoint what needs improvement. When you combine the customer feedback from your renters with the professional feedback from an outside perspective you’ll have plenty of ideas, opinions, and practical ideas you can use to give you a whole new outlook.

Step 3: Give your facility website a refresh.
If you’re marketing at all, you can’t ignore online marketing. Whether it’s print ads, social media campaigns, or good old business cards, every marketing material you release needs to lead your customers somewhere to take the next step. In the self-storage industry, your website is one of the most effective ways to urge leads to step toward renting with you.

Maybe your website is dated or you had a friend piece it together with a free template years ago. If your website is uninspiring or hard to navigate, that could be a large reason behind a lack of leads. Website redesigns can drastically alter the look, feel, and function of a website. So, if you’ve been considering a new or redesigned website for a while, you can use it to transform your marketing approach.

A quick Google search will produce many options for companies that can help you. Once you choose a team that fits your needs you can work with them to mesh your opinions, your facility’s branding, and their design eye. The finished product will be something you’re proud to lead customers to and something that your customers will be happy to find.

Step 4: Experiment with marketing campaigns.
One of the easiest ways to refresh your marketing is to think short term or seasonally. It can be difficult to choose a message if you feel like you’ll be stuck with it indefinitely, making you feel paralyzed before you even begin. Instead, break down your marketing into campaigns. You may quickly find that your ideas will start flowing freely again.

Thinking seasonally doesn’t have to mean summer versus winter promotions. You can think in terms of busy season versus slow season, the months leading up to an event at your facility, or even the holiday season.

The term “campaign” doesn’t have to be intimidating. What you’re essentially doing is setting a focus for your marketing for a short period of time. You could market your vehicle storage during the winter (when vehicles often sit in driveways anyway), highlight your customer service approach after a manager wins a local award, or try a crazy idea that came up during a brainstorming session. Some of the best campaigns started out as a shot in the dark and ended up being just what that brand needed for their marketing.

Step 5: Determine your highest ROI projects.
Successful marketing involves data and analytics. It’s perfectly okay to experiment with campaigns and try something that seems a little out there, but you want to make sure you aren’t losing leads in the process. Tracking ROI is about more than measuring what you’re spending; it’s a measure of what you’re spending versus the amount you earn when a lead becomes a customer.

Use your website and social media analytics, tracked phone lines, and CRM data to see which pages people are visiting and which marketing approaches are working. Start a spreadsheet to track interactions, leads per marketing channel, how interested leads find you, and general feedback from customers when they move out. Look for trends over long periods of time and assemble a list of marketing ideas that seem to pack the highest ROI for your facility.

You want to find a good balance. When you find a few key areas where you’re confident that your money is being wisely invested you give yourself the flexibility to try new marketing approaches while ensuring that you’re bringing in a steady flow of customers.

Step 6: Make time for your favorite projects.
While high ROI is always important, it’s also imperative to listen to your instincts regarding what you enjoy doing. For example, some storage operators love Facebook and Pinterest; therefore, using those social media platforms is a natural choice for them. Other operators loathe social media altogether, so posting the bare minimum to keep active online allows them to focus their attention elsewhere.

Marketing is a creative endeavor, which is why it’s important to pay attention to what you naturally gravitate to. Trying to force yourself to use a certain approach can quickly lead to burnout. What’s more, your customers will sense the lack of authenticity in your marketing. If you hate certain aspects of marketing but you exert yourself to the limits because you once heard this method was important, you’re not going to get the results you’re seeking and you’ll resent the process every step of the way. That will inevitably lead to stagnant marketing.

When you carve out some time in your marketing to do the projects you naturally love (and you can do so without guilt because you’re still investing in your high ROI projects), your marketing will be genuine, your customers will relate to you better, you’ll enjoy marketing more, and you’ll reap better results.

Find A Balance
When you take care of these areas, you allow yourself to be inspired throughout the marketing process. Once your mind is clear, you have a new perspective, and you’ve found what you enjoy doing, it will shine through in your marketing.

Remember that marketing is about getting people excited to become your customers. When you’re excited along the way, you’ve already won half the battle.

Amy Daniels is the content manager at storEDGE, the leader in self-storage web technology. She combines storage industry research, powerful web marketing strategies, and small business experience to cultivate the growth of facilities nationwide.