Are you wondering what community-based marketing is and if your self-storage company should invest in this strategy? Then you’re in the right place!
Community marketing is an organic opportunity to build more meaningful, long-term relationships with your prospective and current tenants. Despite the digital transformations we’re all experiencing, consumers still want to feel recognized, valued and important. They view their personal spending as a reflection of themselves and the communities in which they belong. When you make intentional connections and provide strong support and customer service, you’ll understand the power behind the community outreach and why it’s imperative to your modern marketing strategy.
If you’re unsure whether community marketing can be an effective strategy for your self-storage business, consider these huge advantages:
You’ll avoid being completely reliant on web-based marketing. While digital advertising is undoubtedly an effective approach, it’s exceedingly competitive, challenging and uncertain. It’s important to diversify your marketing funnels so you have peace of mind when inevitable, unexpected shifts happen with search engines and social media platforms.
You can create brand advocates. Community members heavily rely on each other for product and service recommendations. Give your self-storage brand the opportunity to be a part of these conversations. Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools still used today, and a community approach helps you capitalize on it. This’ll inordinately strengthen your customer retention and organic growth.
You’ll offer a better customer experience. By getting to know your customers on a personal level, you’re promoting brand authenticity. This’ll help you better understand your demographic, which’ll improve your marketing as well as other operational initiatives related like gathering customer feedback and making improvements. This helps your team deliver the best possible customer-service experience.
You’ll connect your staff and brand with customers. Establishing meaningful traditions that engage customers and staff allows your business to develop an authentic, two-way “conversation” that creates a positive, community-driven atmosphere at the point of the rental. This also gives you the opportunity to ensure customers feel recognized and heard.
A Starting Point
If you’re unsure where to begin with your community-marketing strategy, start with a referral program. This is one of the most effective ways to increase your self-storage tenant base while generating local market insights and organic growth.
Another idea is to host an event like a food or toy drive. When building your community, it’s important to recognize the corporate social responsibility in creating opportunities for engagement, relationships and giving back. Hosting a drive will help you do that. It’s also a great way to optimize your digital footprint by gathering content, connecting with organizations on social media platforms, and building your brand awareness as a whole. Content is a crucial part of your search engine optimization (SEO) ecosystem, and it’s important to take advantage of opportunities like this.
At San Diego Self Storage, we’ve found real value in the community outreach. For example, we’ve designed a “Community Giving Project” that has contributed to the success of our overall marketing and SEO strategy. Every year, all 20 of our facilities are given the opportunity to present a monetary donation to a local charity of their choice. We have our facility managers hand deliver the check to the desserving organization. This not only humanizes the donation experience, it gives team members a sense of pride and responsibility. This is an annual, consistent project our customers have come to know and love.
Now that your creative are spinning and you’re feeling encouraged about implementing a community-marketing strategy for your self-storage business, it’s time to execute your first campaign or event. It isn’t as difficult as you may think, especially when you take the time to do these key things:
- Map out your goals and objectives. Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” It’s critical to establish a plan for your community marketing.
- Decide on a budget. Make sure it encompasses all variables of the campaign or event, so you’re prepared for unexpected costs.
- Set a timeline. First, choose a date or set of dates that best aligns with your campaign or event type. For example, if you’d like to host a holiday toy drive, launch it in November.
- Know your audience. Research and identify your target market and make sure your campaign or event will resonate with them. For example, maybe your self-storage facility is in a city with a high homeless population. In this case, creating a charitable event that benefits local shelters could have a powerful impact.
- Get noticed. Decide on marketing materials and strategies that’ll bring awareness of your campaign or event to customers. Consider posting Facebook and Instagram ads, hanging banners outside your facility, adding a call to action to your digital-marketing materials, creating content for social media, emailing your list, etc.
Once you’ve established these details with your team, create a shared document containing all campaign specifics including dates, budget, communication calendar, action items, and other pertinent information. This’ll keep everyone organized and set expectations for each member. You’ll also be able to reference this document in the future, so you won’t have to plan your next event from scratch and can make necessary improvements.
Expecting to boost sales following a community-based campaign immediately or event will set you up for disappointment. It’s important to understand that this is a long-term strategy that requires more patience and dedication than other types of advertising.
Also, keep in mind that all self-storage facilities have unique demographics, budgets, marketing tools, etc. When creating your ongoing plan, stay true to your brand and mission. The more you empower your customers and make them feel like an integrated part of your business, the quicker you’ll harness the true power behind community-based marketing.
Jacqueline Jenner is the digital marketing coordinator for San Diego Self Storage, which operates 20 locations in California. She manages the company’s social media, spearheads marketing campaigns and supports branding initiatives. Jacqueline is knowledgeable about marketing trends and able to capitalize on changing conditions in an adaptable manner. To reach her, call 858.453.0888, ext. 105.