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18 Dec 2023

4 Pieces of Marketing Advice Independent Operators Should Ignore


Gardner Dorton

Content writer for StoragePug.

If you’ve been in self storage for more than six months, you’ve probably already learned that this is one of the most friendly industries in the country.

Operators from competing facilities talk numbers openly, and veterans of the industry always explain to beginners how they got to where they are. It’s a community that builds each other up.

It’s not small, either. Self storage is a massive ecosystem, filled with packed trade shows and neighboring operators. Since it’s such a large and friendly community that also means one thing: there are a lot of opinions!

While we’re sure that everyone trying to help you is well-intentioned, that doesn’t mean that their marketing advice is right for you.

Good advice for some can be horrible advice for others - operators have different resources, budgets, and manpower. So, let’s talk about what advice new, single operators should ignore!

Bad Advice 1: Your self storage facility doesn't need marketing

We often hear this, and while we see what they mean, it would probably be better stated: Don’t go overboard on marketing.

If someone is telling you that marketing isn’t needed at all, they probably don’t have a strong understanding of what marketing really is. Self storage marketing is a lot more than flyers and radio ads; it also includes the digital frontier.

Good marketing can be as simple as having a clean, easy-to-use website. Sometimes it’s more physical, like signage for a facility that isn’t visible from the road. Marketing is all about making it easier for your future customers to become tenants!

It’s important to note: just because marketing is in most cases necessary, that doesn’t mean all marketing is beneficial, or even worth your time and labor. Marketing depends on, well, the market!

We’ll go into what ads, social media, and physical marketing to ignore later.

If someone is telling you that marketing is not worth your budget, politely smile and continue investing in your facility.

Bad Marketing Advice 2: Start a blog

You’ve probably heard this one before. Somewhere in a tradeshow, someone was bragging about all the traffic they’re getting to their website ever since they started a blog, maybe even hired a freelance or full-time blog writer.

This is hard to say as a full-time blog writer myself, but it’s a waste of time and resources.

It’s entirely possible that your website will double its traffic from your blogs, it could even go viral, but that’s not going to help you get more tenants!

The traffic you’ll be getting to your blogs could be from anywhere in the country, in the world even, and it’s unlikely they’re a couple of miles down the road. Sure, a blog can get a lot more eyes on your website, but it isn’t getting more tenants into your units.

And like we said before, it’s a waste of resources. If you’re not paying someone to write the blogs, then you’re spending your own time writing. We know that’s a lot of time and effort firsthand.

If you’re going to spend time, money, or both on your marketing, make sure you can track how it gets your audience to become tenants.

Bad Marketing Advice 3: Have a huge social media presence

Before we get started on why not all social media is worth your resources, it’s worth noting that we are not entirely against social media in self storage.

However, there are a lot of marketing companies trying to sell new operators on social media packages, promising a TikTok following and shares on Instagram.

I’m going to expose the marketing agency underbelly. Those shares and likes you’re getting on your social media since hiring a marketing team, well, they’re most likely just sharing with each other on all of their many accounts. It makes them look good and you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth–You’re not!

Another reason we don’t recommend having a huge social media presence is that most forms of social media are international, and like the blog, the traffic you’ll receive won’t actually help you find tenants.

If you want to invest in having an online presence, focus on social media that emphasizes community, like Facebook.

Social media should connect you more to your community, not the whole world. When you’re posting in local groups, tagging local areas, and promoting local events, that’s how you find new tenants.

Social media may not be a total waste, but a social media manager is.

Download our free eBook here to learn how to create a successful marketing strategy for your Storage Facility

Bad Marketing Advice 4: Set it and leave it

We’ve talked a lot about marketing that isn’t worth your time and resources, but that doesn’t mean marketing isn’t worth the investment; you just have to know where to invest.

Good marketing is strategic, responsive, and regularly checked.

When it comes to knowing what to invest your resources into, we strongly recommend starting with the basics: a strong website, a clean Google Business Profile, and community engagement. There’s still plenty more than you can do to expand your marketing outreach, but a sure footing in the basics can be all you need to fill your units.

That’s where the bad advice comes in. A lot of people believe that the setup is all of the work. In reality, it’s just the beginning.

With your website, you can track the number of clicks and conversions. If your numbers are dwindling, it may be time to update your SEO, or rework your layout. If you’re using self storage software, the odds are all of this information is already being tracked - you just need to access it.

For your Google Business profile, complacency is not rewarded. Be sure to add new, clean photos and make sure that your information is uniform. Your GBP is likely the first impression you’ll have with a potential client, make it count!

Community engagement is harder to measure, though not too difficult to do. If you don’t know where to start, start with something fun! You could have a car wash at the facility that raises money for the local Boy Scouts, or a garage sale that funds local holiday charities. There are countless ways to give back while still getting new feet on your property. If you’re seeing steady or increasing turnout, you’re on the right track!

Continuing and measuring your efforts is crucial. If you’re not going to continue making investments in your marketing, it’s going to let you down! It’s a running machine that needs care and maintenance.

When you measure your efforts remember one thing: progress is progress whatever speed it takes. Keep putting in the work; the payoff could change your business!

When it comes to following marketing advice, the best place to start is with the basics. If it sounds too flashy or even confusing, it’s not the place to begin.

Self Storage Marketing Advice to Ignore for New Operators:

Start with what makes sense, track it, and build from there!

This article was originally posted on the StoragePug Blog on November 28, 2023

Gardner Dorton is a content writer for StoragePug in Knoxville, TN. He attended The University of Tennessee for his undergraduate degree and The College of Charleston for his master's in creative writing. He's dedicated to giving smaller operators a fair chance against the huge players of the self storage industry. When he's not writing website content he can be found singing improv songs to his dog.

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