Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Providing discounts is a great way to bring in new customers online and even make current tenants happier. Throughout my time writing SEO content for many of our marketing website clients, there are certain types of discounts I can almost count on seeing once their new websites are live.

Common discounts typically include:

  • Lifestyle discounts. Students, military personnel, and senior citizens can usually find some sort of deal on self storage.

  • Promotional discounts. A good example of this is “$1 for first month’s rent (when second month is paid in full)”.

  • Promotional coupons. Many storage facilities change up their coupon offers periodically with deals like 50% off new rentals.

  • Long-term renter discounts. When a renter pays the cost of a multi-month storage rental upfront, facilities often take a percentage off the total as incentive.

  • Free resources. While these don’t save on the renter’s monthly payment, resources like moving trucks, carts and dollies, and unit locks save him some money.

  • Referral discounts. One way that facilities can get more tenants in the door is by providing discounts to current customers for new rental referrals.

Consider a few points first

As you ponder the possibility of creating or changing your current promotions, remember that coupons and discounts aren’t always beneficial to your bottom line. Think about the following questions to decide if now is the right time to give out coupons to new renters.

  1. How does your occupancy look? Discounts are ideal for filling up empty units when you have a low occupancy rate. If your storage business’s units are already in high demand and money is coming in for most of your units, offering discounts can hurt your profits. If you do choose to start offering discounts, take a look at how much you can afford to lose on each unit and decide if it’s worth it.

  2. What’s the average rental length at your facility? Life can be hectic, so it’s no surprise that many customers utilize their storage units for longer periods than they anticipate. The most recent Self Storage Association fact sheet illustrates that the most popular length of time that tenants rent self storage is between one and two years. What does this mean for the discounts you offer? It’s also important to consider your target audience. A college student’s ideal discount will likely look different than that of a seasonal renter of parking space.

  3. What’s the condition of your facility? This question may seem unrelated, but it’s often overlooked by too many properties when they have a serious case of discountitis. You want your brand to be recognized as affordable, but you also need to maintain the image of a clean, secure, and professional facility. If your grounds could use some work in a number of different areas, it may be wise to consider how you can use money (that you would lose by offering further discounts) to give the property some TLC.

Unique discount ideas

I’ve compiled some ideas for creative discounts you can offer at your facility. Notice there are no dollar amounts or percentages below - discount amounts are unique to each facility and business. You’ll have to determine after answering the questions above and looking at your business’s financial reports. Once you’re ready to start offering discounts, try these out-of-the-box ideas:

Feel free to change these ideas however you please. Think of them as a starting point for triggering your discount creativity.

  1. Business Partners. Check out the other small businesses in town, find one that’s beloved by everyone (like the local coffee shop!), and see if they’re interested in a partnership. Offer a discount on rent for those who shop with your partnered business, while your partner provides discounts on its product to your renters. With the right strategy, this can benefit everyone!

  2. Scholarships. Are you in a college town? Great! Try offering your own “storage scholarships” to prospective college students in the area. Try varying your approach, or sponsoring someone in exchange for their efforts. For example, award a storage discount to the student who creates the best new marketing product, social media campaign, or art piece for your brand.

  3. Tenant of the month. A fun and simple way to get your current tenants excited is to randomly select one tenant each month as the recipient of a major discount on rent. You can even feature the win on your social media accounts! This is more of a game of luck, but it’ll keep the spirit of things light at your business.

  4. Social media promotions. Try offering various discounts through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Use your Facebook Page to showcase the discount and earn yourself some more “likes” and “follows” along the way. For instance, try offering your current tenants a discount for inviting their friends to like your page!

  5. Welcome packages. Depending on the size of your town, try being a hospitable greeter to new families who move into the area. Send them a welcome package, complete with discounts and coupons for renting a unit at your facility. This is an old trick of real estate agents, but you can use it for self storage, too!

  6. Cards & letters. Get back to the good ol’ days by sending out personal cards and letters to people in the area (bonus points for handwriting them!). Include recent happenings at your facility and any charitable giving you’ve done laced with a helpful discount on storage. The great thing about this approach is it can be completely customized. Depending on how small your town is, you can get pretty detailed by, say, congratulating recent high school graduates or cheering on your local professional football team. Of course, there are always holidays, too!

  7. Events. Events provide a wonderful outlet for building a sense of community while getting meaningful discounts out there. You can always do the standard auctions and facility-wide garage sales, but feel free to get creative with charitable events. Try teaming up with businesses in town or your local county fair to host a scavenger hunt, talent show, or haunted house. Along the way, consider your target audience and how you can reach out to their interests. Hold a raffle or a drawing so that the winners score great deals on a storage unit at your facility.

As you weigh the pros and cons of offering more discounts at your facility, give yourself the freedom to experiment with slightly less conventional, more attention-grabbing ideas. If you really want an expert opinion, you can even ask your customers what discounts they would like to see!

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Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, you may also like: 3 Brilliant Advertising Campaigns and What You Can Learn from Them, Selling & marketing to the self storage consumer: How to get the biggest bang for your buck, and 5 things to know before you become a self storage owner.