The self-storage industry has been one of the fastest growing industries in the United States for 4 decades. In fact, between 1998 and 2012, the number of self-storage facilities more than doubled and there are now 25 million storage units in the United States.

With over 48,500 primary self storage facilities in the nation, your prospects have a lot of choices. You need strong marketing that conveys why your self storage facility is the best choice for your prospect’s needs.

Here are 5 ways you can improve your marketing & drive more leads to your self storage business.

  1. Create a referral program
  2. Invest in a mobile website
  3. Build customer personas
  4. Form strategic partnerships
  5. Track, analyze & tweak

1 | Create a Referral Program

The best way to get new leads and convert them to sales is to have an existing customer pass your name on to their friends and family. Create an incentive that entices your customers to talk about you. You could give a customer 50% off of one month’s rent for referring one customer, or a free month’s rent for referring three. If your customers come into your facility, have them complete a referral form with a family member or friend’s name and contact info so you can reach out and introduce yourself. The best part of implementing a referral program is that there’s virtually no cost to you.

2 | Invest in a Mobile Website

81% of all smartphone searches are for local businesses and services, but 60% of SMB websites aren’t mobile friendly. These stats prove that it’s critical for your self storage business to have a mobile website. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, your on-the-go prospects are going to move right on to one of your competitors’ websites and give them their business – even if your facility is more up-to-date and your prices are lower. Consider this scenario: a man’s company offers him a nice bump in salary, if he’s willing to immediately transfer from their New York office to their North Carolina office. He’ll have to move out of his house in to an apartment until he and his wife can find a permanent home for their family. Halfway in to their road trip to NC, they realize that they forgot to look into storage facilities for the furniture that won’t fit into their new home just yet. They pull out their smart phones and call the first self storage facility that comes up. Because the website isn’t mobile friendly, they can’t find the phone number fast enough. They move on to the next website, which is mobile optimized. A click-to-call button pops up. They press it and connect with the owner. They reserve a storage unit and continue their drive.

3 | Build Customer Personas

Customer personas (sometimes called buyer personas) are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you keep track of who you want your business to appeal to and they help your customers relate to your business. It will guide you in developing marketing initiatives that resonate with your target market and drive them to call you. Developing customer personas helps you know exactly the right time to reach out to your prospects, too. Take college students, for example. When they go home for the summer, they have a lot of stuff to pack and bring with them. However, if their hometown is too far away to drive they’ll have to stick some stuff in storage. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to try and bring a mini fridge on a plane. If you know who your customers are, you’ll know that you should start your outreach around March so they have a plan in place once school ends in May.

4 | Form Strategic Partnerships

Here’s a common scenario. Two women are moving into a new apartment. They probably could move their couch and their dressers on their own, but it would go a lot faster if there were more hands on deck. They persuade their family and friends to help haul boxes by promising a pizza once the last box is in the new place. If your self storage facility has a business relationship with a pizza place, they can send business your way and vice versa. Try giving all new customers a coupon for a free pizza at a local pizza place. This will drive business to your partner and serve as a word-of-mouth tactic for you. Partnerships are mutually beneficial and will expose your self storage business to an entirely new group of people. Also, if your business comes as a recommendation from a business owner that a prospect already has a relationship with and trusts, you’re more likely to get that business.

5 | Track, Analyze & Tweak

Your marketing budget probably doesn’t have 6 zeroes on the end of it. (If it does you should be writing these marketing tips so we can all get there.) As such, it’s important that you make every single dollar you spend on marketing count. Call tracking helps you determine exactly how many customers and dollars each of your initiatives brings in. Put a unique call tracking phone number on your mobile website, free pizza coupons and referral forms. When the call tracking number is called, the call is automatically transferred to your main phone number. The incoming phone call can be handled as usual. The only difference is that you’ll get a call tracking report that shows you exactly which of your marketing initiatives drove this phone call. When you analyze your call tracking reports, you’ll be able to see exactly what’s working well for you and it will guide you if you need to make any changes.

A good marketing plan can bring new customers to your self storage facility by the dozen. These are all examples of things you start doing today to get new customers. While they may require some planning or an initial investment, none of these tactics are difficult to implement. As you get these going, you’ll reach new prospects like never before.