ISS Las Vegas 2018: Storage Industry poised for another strong year of Acquisition and Occupancy

Over 3,500 self-storage attendees gathered at ISS Las Vegas. Here’s the prevailing consensus: 2018 is shaping up to be a strong year for self-storage but no organization – whether it’s a first-time owner, multi-location facility (1 to 4 locations), or an established REIT – has the luxury of resting on its laurels. Owners and self-storage digital marketers need to be fastidious in their efforts to improve profitability and occupancy, given the increased levels of competition across the industry.

That said, there are many self-storage digital marketing strategies to impact occupancy and profitability, and the odds of making these opportunities work for your facility are better than playing the slots.

Read on to learn:

  • Highlights from Kurt Krejny’s presentation on Prioritizing Self-Storage Digital Marketing Efforts (and Budget) to drive Self-Storage Revenue
  • Top 4 Insights from ISS Las Vegas 2018
  • Where else you can find the Linkmedia 360 Self-storage team at upcoming industry conferences

Self-Storage Digital Marketing Master to the Masses: Kurt’s Findings at ISS Las Vegas 2018

Kurt Krejny presented in front of a packed house last Wednesday during his educational session on ‘Prioritizing Your Digital Marketing Efforts (and Budget) to Drive Self-Storage Revenue’. In case you missed his dynamic presentation in Concorde A at the Paris Hotel & Resort, here’s what was covered:

  • A proven self-storage digital marketing approach that can be applied to any organization, regardless of the number of locations
  • Which tactics work best regarding impact, level of effort, timing and costs
  • Case studies and the steps it took to increase website visibility and revenue
  • Tools that will help you identify areas to improve your online user experience
  • Industry benchmarks and analytics dashboards to inform ongoing budget and channel decisions

Both practicing pros and first-time owners had something to gain from Kurt’s systematic approach to self-storage digital marketing and occupancy. It piqued the interest of attendees, and from the candid conversations Kurt had, observed opportunities, and shares three takeaways for teams looking to make the most 2018 has to offer:

  1. Operators don’t have the time or resources necessary to outrank competitors that are effectively optimizing for SEO and local listings on a consistent basis.
  2. Social media marketing is considered a mixed bag among owner/operators. Some embrace it, others begrudgingly post finding it to be a necessary evil, while some don’t see the tie-in at all between strategic posting and the impact on reservations. Chat bots (like Facebook messenger) are an effective way to connect with customers 24/7 on social, but some operators don’t necessarily have the resources to completely capitalize on opportunities these communication channels offer.
  3. From an AdWords perspective, operators are aware of the opportunities that exist to impact occupancy and compete in their given markets. The operators that are running Google AdWords campaigns internally typically hit a plateau in bid positions after a period of time, while budgets stay consistent. For those operators, a strategic partner helps get them over that hurdle.

Self-Storage Insights Straight from Vegas: 4 Insights Your Marketing team needs to know

The sessions our team attended included everything from SEO 101, to granular recommendations for marketing pros. Our recommendations take both sides of the self-storage marketing divide into account. The 4 biggest opportunities our team uncovered will help your team, regardless of the number of locations in your organization.

1.) Market During Your off Season – We’re approaching the busy summer season, so keep this recommendation in your back pocket until fall/winter. Seasonality impacts self-storage occupancy levels, and by allocating marketing dollars during your slowest times of year, will carry over into rentals during not only those lagging periods, but also during your peak time of year. Marketing your facility during slow periods can seem counter-intuitive to facilities with limited budgets.

Need proof? Consider Kellogg’s cereal. During the Great Depression, Kellogg’s did the counter-intuitive and marketed its brand aggressively. After the Depression passed, consumers remembered the Kellogg’s brand and messaging, and the strategy paid dividends for the company. They didn’t cry over spilled milk, and neither should your facility during slower periods.

2.) Encourage Referral Traffic – It’s not what you know, but who you know, and this mentality applies to building a robust referral network. People hold their friend or loved one’s recommendations in high regard. If the endorsement doesn’t come from a source close to the consumer, they’re liable to consult unbiased user reviews on Yelp, Google, social media, and other sites.

Referral renters offer the lowest cost per lease available to self-storage marketers and are a clear opportunity to positively affect occupancy levels. Trust isn’t a commodity that can be purchased, which is why referral traffic is so lucrative and cost-effective. But there are ways your team can encourage more referrals, not only from customers, but from local businesses:

  • Take a grassroots approach and visit local businesses, apartment buildings, college campuses, etc. and hand out referral cards, food, or other incentives to encourage interest and visits
  • Provide a cash bonus to ALL customers who refer a friend or family member to your facility
  • Take photos of referral customers (while providing their POV) and post them on social media channels your facility is active on and on your owned content assets, like your blog to show the level of trust customers have in your facility

3.) Own Your 3-Mile Radius and Focus on the Local Customer – At least 75% of your customers either live or work within a 2-mile radius of your facility. Your local customer is vital to your self-storage facilities occupancy success. Having a strong local presence will help your facility stay top-of-mind in your local area. Implement the following to be a local standout:

  • Create hyper-local content that speaks to your immediate area (local community guides, tips for movers, piggybacking on local community developments, infographics, incorporating video)
  • Citing, claiming, and managing your local listings to make sure your NAP+W (name, address, phone number, website) are up-to-date and accurate to local users. Look to have an accuracy score of 80% or higher. Check to see where your facility stands
  • Adopt a mobile-first approach and make sure your site loads quickly and is optimized with the mobile user in mind
  • Consider adding a Google 360 tour of your facility to maximize local listings potential, and helps serve as a unique differentiator among your competition

4.) Collect as many Favorable Reviews as Possible – Tying into encouraging referrals, reviews will not only help your facility appear within local map results, will also act as a signal of trust for customers unfamiliar with your facility. Intuitively, people choose the business that has the most favorable average star rating and greatest number of reviews. The same intuition applies to self- storage. To earn the coveted 5-star average, do the following:

  • Respond to all reviews – favorable or not. It will show that your facility at least attempts to make the situation right and customers appreciate the effort. You can’t win every customer over, but reasonable customers will see that your facility cares enough to respond to inquiries
  • Be transparent and show unit prices and availability online. In addition, don’t charge fees for online reservations to encourage customers to finish the leasing process, and not bouncing from your site
  • Focus on a customer-centric experience from the front desk manager to easy online bill pay

Self-Storage Digital Marketing Insights, Las Vegas ISS style

Did our collective insights match up with what your team discovered at ISS Las Vegas 2018? Our team recognizes the opportunities for self-storage marketers, but wins won’t come easy, given competition from REITs expanding into local markets, and intense competition between facilities in markets where REITs are absent.

We’ll continue reporting self-storage developments as we travel to conferences throughout the year. Your team can find Phil Smith from the Linkmedia 360 self-storage team speaking at SSA Indiana’s annual meeting.

Not attending SSA Indiana? Still have questions for the team? Contact us and we’ll help your facility make the most of 2018.

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