We know, that you know, self storage has weathered * gestures broadly * all of this remarkably well. Occupancies are high, rents are increasing, and business is good. 

(Which, let’s take a moment to remember early 2020 when it felt like the world as we knew it was ending. The market opportunity that self storage is experiencing right now is phenomenal.) 

You might be wondering, “Why should we worry about marketing if I’m sitting at 98% occupancy?” Glad you asked. 

In this blog, we’ll look at how properties can leverage this “the market is good” opportunity to re-think some of their tried and true strategies and keep the momentum going in 2022. 

Automation + Labor Shortages

We get it, we went to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, favorite boutique, favorite __________ and they had a “We’re Hiring (just like everyone else)” sign up. Just like…everyone else. Self storage, and every single business right now is feeling the squeeze of how hard it is to find new employees. 

We’re a marketing company, not a talent acquisition agency, so our advice on this topic is through a marketing lens. First, build a brand presence that is attractive to prospective employees (more on that below, but for you skimmers, feel free to skip ahead). 

Second, if you can’t hire new team members for your onsite staff, perhaps relying on automated solutions that don’t require onboarding will ease the burden. Translation: online leasing isn’t new, but perhaps it’s new to your property. Rather than a leasing agent asking Rosie Renter to sign on the dotted line on 14 different pieces of paper…what if Rosie could lease online when she visited your website for the first time? Think about it, it’s easier for your property’s team, AND Rosie. Win-win.  

Automation + Digital Advertising

We believe in data-backed digital marketing which is why we don’t simply say things like “spend more on digital advertising!” We say, “spend more efficiently on digital advertising.” It can be tempting when things are so glass-half-full to drop your digital advertising spend. But, most savvy marketers don’t do that. Why? Well…this answer might feel like a tangent, but hang in there. Have you ever heard of the tortoise and the hare, and heard the phrase “slow and steady wins the race.” This logic applies to more than Aesop’s Fables, it can also apply to marketing. A smaller, steady, digital advertising budget keeps your brand in prospect’s minds and keeps you in the Google auction advertising universe. Meaning, your advertising won’t need 2-3 months to ramp up when you need to fill occupancy fast. 

But, it’s not just spending tiny amounts here and there like you’re a flower girl throwing rose petals down the aisle. It’s about spending in the right places. How do you do that? Back your digital marketing budget with automation. If you work with a MarTech provider, ask them if digital advertising budget allocations are decided daily by a machine, or monthly by a human strategist. (Cheat sheet: you want them to say daily by machines.) You have the bandwidth to test and research new strategies, so now is the time to optimize your marketing with artificial intelligence. Read this blog to learn more. 

Build That Brand

Re-branding during a times-are-terrible market is tough. You’re probably trying to scrounge up leads any way you can, defending why you need a marketing budget in the first place, AND doing all of the deep reflection and dreaming necessary to make sure your brand feels authentic to your company from the inside out. No thanks. 

So, if occupancy is high, and leads are rolling right in, why not take this opportunity to truly rethink and re-envision your company’s brand? We know that Gen Z and Millennials care about a company’s stance on social issues, both as consumers and doubly so as employees. They want to feel good about where they are investing both their time and their money. There might be things your company already does, that you could be bragging about a bit more and bringing out in your branding to show that you’re a company that cares. It’s the holiday season, so this feels like a great time to ask: does your company have any kind of charitable giving program? Can you start one? This is dual purpose both as a tax write-off, and a show of your brand values through actions. Added bonus? This can even help with staffing shortages that we hit on earlier by taking a stance with your brand, you’re more apt to attract and retain employees who are aligned with your brand values.

If a full re-brand isn’t for you, think of areas that you aren’t sharing your brand presence to the best of your team’s ability. Well-built brands are consistent in every. single. space. Make your brand shine by examining your presence to make sure it’s consistent in look, feel, tone, voice, messaging, and experience. Here are two areas to consider when thinking about brand consistency: 

Get Tactical With Your To-Dos

Since you aren’t busy running marketing fire drills every week, and you’ve updated how you measure…now is a great time to get really tactical in identifying things you’d like to try, and things you want to up-level, and to put together communication plans for crisis circumstances that are unfortunately expected. 

Raise the Roof: Huh what? Typo there. We meant raise RENTS. As in, are you? Should you? Are your competitors? We know this is a fine balance, but just sayin’, is now the time? THEN, use marketing to attract renters (to your vacant units) at this higher rate. 

Update: On your website, in digital ads, and on your Google My Business listing, there is an opportunity to include photos, and other creative assets. Go check them out, if you haven’t recently. Have you been using the same assets for the last ten years? Yikes. They need to be updated. Budget and plan to update these in 2022. Updates could include things like high-quality property photos, or drone footage (like Storage Star in this case study). 

Prepare: Unfortunately, natural disasters like wildfires, hurricanes and 100-year storms have been happening more frequently. These events impact your renters, and your property communication efforts. Take stock of the kinds of disasters you might encounter in 2022, and put together a communication plan. So that when you get there, you have the right tools in place. Here is our Marketing in a Crisis Checklist to get started. 

Bottom line: Now is a great time to up-level all your marketing assets, and plan for the future, so take stock of what you have and what needs to change. 

Get Inspired

Comparison is the thief of joy, so we’re not sharing this to compare, we’re sharing it to help generate ideas on what is possible. Check out this recent case study all about San Diego Self Storage’s website redesign to get some marketing inspiration for 2022.