Advertising is so much more than creating pretty materials. If you’ve bought ad space for your company and didn’t see an immediate jump in leads, you know this fact is true. Both marketing and advertising are about establishing a mutual connection with your customers.
In order to be successful, several factors have to come together: you have to understand how you stand out against your competition, communicate to leads how your product solves their problem, and you have to tap into what matters most to your target market in order to be heard.
"Advertising is more than creating pretty materials. It's about establishing a mutual connection with your customers."
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While there are many unique and powerful advertising campaigns out there, let’s take a look at three examples that may be particularly inspiring for self storage operators:
What better place to look at brilliant advertising than right in your own industry? Manhattan Mini Storage offers nearly 20 storage facilities in the NYC neighborhoods of SoHo, Chelsea, Midtown, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Harlem, Upper Harlem, and downtown Manhattan.
With NYC parking spots costing almost as much as a cheap home in Chicago, the Manhattan population needs space. Rather than creating dry, simple ads and hoping they appeal to their market, Manhattan Mini Storage is bold with most of their advertising efforts. They know the issues their market faces, and they aren’t afraid to make light of it. Check out the messaging they use on the homepage of their website:
This playful tone shines in much of their advertising, too. If you perform a Google image search for their advertisements, you’ll find several pictures of billboards and signs with all sorts of relatable and entertaining quips.
Rather than leaning on storage marketing jargon and adhering to a strictly professional attitude, Manhattan Mini Storage doesn’t shy away from the types of thoughts their customers are already thinking, even if it might at first seem off-color or edgy.
There’s a good chance you aren’t located in the heart of New York City and that some of their tactics wouldn’t work well in your market. But there are some key pieces of Manhattan Mini Storage’s strategy that you can use to inspire your own campaign ideas:
Depending on the type of market you’re trying to tap into, following some of these tips could be just the sort of refreshing element your advertising needs. Manhattan Mini Storage’s approach certainly isn’t for everyone, earning itself a reputation for being provocative and receiving headlines like “Manhattan Mini Storage Insults Half of NYC.”
But even if you disagree with their messages, consider how your facility can amp up its advertising efforts by speaking up, spreading laughs, or even challenging some people’s opinions if you think the payoff is worth it.
Advertising doesn’t have to be sexy or daring to be share-worthy. In fact, some of the best campaigns were created to combat this very notion. Take Old Spice’s “Smell Like a Man” campaign as an example.
Their biggest competitor, Axe, has long aired commercials showing men using their products and attractive women flocking to them because of it.
There are a lot of potential problems with this kind of advertising, but the main one in Axe’s instance is that it misses the mark on the largest portion of their audience: women. Women account for 85% of all consumer purchases and they’re usually the ones buying body care products, whether it’s for their boyfriend, husband, or son. Do you know any women who would want to promote the above image for the main man in their life? I didn’t think so.
Old Spice combated this trend when they created a commercial that spoke directly to women while still relating to their main demographic: men. Take a look:
Now compare this commercial to a typical one for Axe:
I actually had to show that particular ad because almost none of Axe’s commercials would be appropriate to share on this blog. So, which of these two brands do you think a woman would be more likely to gravitate toward?
Old Spice manages to appeal to the main decision makers in its market without alienating its customer. After all, the “smell like a man” tagline is highly appealing to men. The over-the-top, theatrical commercials and quick wit enrapture both genders, making them appealing to both men and women. What can you take away from this strategy?
Watching these videos, you almost forget that Old Spice makes shampoo, deodorant, and body wash and you enjoy the ads simply for the entertainment value. But Old Spice is never inconsistent with their brand image.
The result? When a man (or woman) strolls down the aisles to pick up hygiene products, they remember the name Old Spice and the positive feelings associated with watching their ads, making them more likely to reach for and purchase the product.
If your storage facility has tried creating ads in the past, I’m betting you’ve honestly thought once or twice, “How am I supposed to make self storage exciting?” As I mentioned before, it’s a product that many customers understand. And sometimes it can be hard to turn it into a funny, relatable, and share-worthy advertisement.
Another industry that deals with this problem is insurance. You know, that thing that the government requires you to purchase in order to drive a car, and the service you hope you never have to use.
It’s no wonder Geico has a cute CGI gecko, AllState personifies “mayhem” as a sarcastic troublemaker, and Aflac uses a duck with an memorable, albeit annoying, catchphrase. Now enter Progressive’s spokesperson, Flo:
She’s goofy, friendly, and unabashedly passionate about insurance. Commercials depict her trying (and failing) to be cool, attempting to get cats to play basketball, and singing “I’ll Stand By You” to promote Progressive’s loyalty program.
Car owners have embraced Flo. They want to know more about the comedian behind the character and even go as far as to dress up as her for Halloween. All the while, Progressive has created a likeable character that both promotes their brand and puts a smile on their audience’s face while doing it.
A comparison of insurance to self storage may be the most relevant: competition is high and the product is fairly straightforward. So what can Progressive teach you as you develop the best campaign for your facility?
You don’t need to create an over-the-top character or hire a comedian to get the benefits that Progressive has seen from their advertising. But by understanding what your customers think of self storage and addressing it honestly with a smiling face, you immediately make your facility more personable than the standard listings your customers will find.
Along with the takeaways from each of these advertising campaigns, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind as you strengthen your self storage marketing and advertising efforts.
*Think about the emotional benefits of using your product. How does it make your customers feel? Many purchasing decisions are made on an emotional basis. Are you appealing to that just as much as the practical benefits of your product?
Stay true to your brand with all of your marketing and advertising efforts. If you decide to go out on a limb and try an exciting new campaign, think about how that message fits in with the overall image of your facility. If customers didn’t like a certain ad, would you still stand behind it?
Capitalize on your success. The best spokespeople for your company may very well be your happy customers. Are you making it easy for them to spread the word about your facility? Are you keeping them engaged even after they become paying customers?
In a Forbes article about the most unforgettable ad campaigns of 2013, William Gelner of 180 LA shared the following food for thought: “The holy grail for advertising today is the same as it’s always been: to rise above the fray of soulless sales pitches and become part of culture. Not just being recalled or remembered but hitting a nerve and becoming both share-worthy and meaningful. The best brands get that. They aim higher.”
So whatever you decide to try out for your next advertising campaign, think beyond the words, images, and medium. Get inspired by Manhattan Mini Storage and know your audience, consider injecting humor, and join the conversation your customers are already having. Take a tip from Old Spice and find your decision makers, show how your product solves a problem, and create content that’s easy to share. Try out Progressive’s approach and understand public perception of your industry, be authentic and honest with your customers, and give customers a face to remember you by.
But ultimately, try out what you think is best. Dare to experiment (and fail sometimes, so long as you learn from it). Think beyond the visual. Create psychological arguments and make your product a part of your customers’ culture. Then they’ll be more eager to make your product a part of their life.