We are bombarded with an incalculable number of advertisements on any given day. Think about it; just on your drive to work you'll hear radio commercials for car dealerships, local events, restaurants, furniture stores, shopping centers, radio sponsors and more. You'll see billboards, bumper stickers, company vehicles, semi-trucks and moving trucks that all display company logos and phrases. And don't forget about the billboards. So, it may seem that advertising for your self storage facility is like casting your net in a huge ocean and hoping to come back up with something.
On the contrary, a well organized marketing plan will lead you to the exact point at which to cast your net. Marketing centers around the research you should conduct within your industry. You should determine your demographic, or target customer. Then you should consider the economy in which your business is located. After thorough marketing, where to place your advertisements will come more naturally.
Advertising is the end result of a good marketing plan. Still, self storage advertising seems to be an illusive science. Many self storage operators can't quite get the right concoction of phone book ads, billboards, flyers, etc. In addition, they wonder which of their advertisements works the best and which ones aren't doing so well for them.
Because advertising budgets usually don't allow you to plaster your business name on every street corner, every search engine, every mailbox, and each radio commercial, a self storage owner has to know where he gets the biggest bang for his buck.
A simple way to find out how your customers heard about you is to ask them. Train your facility managers to ask customers, «How did you hear about us?»
You should keep in mind that it isn't useful to have your managers asking that questions unless you provide them a way to track each response. Give your facility managers a spreadsheet or tracking system so that all the data gathered can be evaluated and reports can later be generated in order to determine what ads bring the largest ROI. Something as simple as a piece of paper with a column for Yellow Pages, Internet, Billboard, Radio, etc so that the manager can tick a mark for the appropriate column will offer effective tracking.
The self storage owner should collect the sheet monthly and stay on top of his marketing and advertising campaign. He can analyze the data to determine what media to which he should allocate more of his budget.
You should also caution your facility managers not to turn a simple question into an interrogation. Some self storage facilities have their managers go so far ask to ask which page number of the phone book it was that they saw the ad. While collecting the data is valuable, it is not intended to supersede the goal of talking with a customer- to gain a new tenant. Asking such pinpointed questions as the page number of the phone book, or time of day when they heard the radio ad could distract the conversation. The focus of talking to customers should be about meeting their needs, not your own marketing needs.
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