Ever tried to DIY something you definitely shouldn’t have? Hopefully it wasn’t installing your home’s electrical wiring using a “For Dummies” book, or worse - pulling your own tooth via a YouTube tutorial. There are some things that you just shouldn’t do yourself. Pulling teeth is one of them. Designing your self storage website is another. When there are big risks involved, it’s best to call in the professionals for expert help. But how do you know what’s safe to DIY for your storage business, and what isn’t?

I recently wrote an article for the Inside Self Storage (ISS) blog with tips for self storage owners on when to outsource marketing and went to do it yourself. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting your storage brand online, this blog post can help you decide when to roll up your sleeves and tackle a marketing project yourself and when to call in the pros. Check it out below!

Your website

Quick! What’s more important: your facility’s website or its curb appeal? Many would argue that the quality of your website is more important than the way your facility actually looks to passersby. The customer experience no longer starts when a person walks through the front doors of your business: it starts online. Most customers will find you by Googling “self storage near me” and checking out your website to see if it fits their needs. If you’ve got a superior website, they’ll be sold before they ever step foot on the property.

Our pick: Don’t! Even if you have a family friend who designs Wordpress themes in their spare time, or a nephew who’s a computer geek and willing to work for free, your self storage website is too important to be left to chance. It’s your virtual storefront. It’s the heartbeat of your business online. Only self storage web marketing pros can integrate your software with your website effectively so that leads can reserve, rent, or move-in online.

A book on HTML & CSS, a laptop, and a notebook.

Your social media

Are you on Facebook? If you are, you’re probably familiar with how social media marketing works: brands like your storage business post content occasionally, sometimes with little updates about their business, an eye-catching photo or video, or a coupon for new customers. If you’re already comfortable using social media as a tool to connect with friends and family, it can be a fun (and did I mention free?) marketing tool for your self storage business.

Our pick: DIY! You don’t have to be a social media marketing pro to create a Page for your business and start posting. If you’re a small business, it’s easy to get going fast. But if you’re a big brand, then you might need a little help from the pros. Either way, there are tons of free online tools to help you get started and learn to market your business on social media. (Ahem, like our awesome free guide to marketing your self storage business on social media - all in under 30 minutes a week.)

Your pay-per-click ads

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising works just how it sounds: you pay only for users who click on your ads. You’ve probably seen PPC ads on Google: you search for “self storage in Shakopee, Minnesota” and paid search results show up first, ahead of organic search results. They look just like normal search results (other than the little ad symbol on the top left), and the business owner only pays whenever someone clicks on the ad. If you’re not ranking well in search or you’re fighting your way to the top in a saturated market, PPC can be a great way to jump the line and get to the top of search results where online traffic will see you. So should you DIY it?

Our pick: Don’t! While PPC can be a powerful marketing tool, paid ads like Google AdWords and Facebook Ads can be a little tricky if you’re not web-savvy. Designing your ad takes a little research and some know-how in order to reach your target audience, and it can get expensive if you haven’t done your homework. Search engine optimization (SEO) experts can help you get the most bang for your buck. If you’re working with a web marketing team (like storEDGE!), their SEO team can help you design your ad for optimal results while still staying within your budget.

SEO spelled out in Scrabble letters on a wooden table.

Your reviews

Have you ever left a review for a business online? Whether it was for your go-to coffee shop or your favorite date night restaurant, one star or five stars, you’re probably familiar with how sites like Yelp and Angie’s List work. Customers rate their experience on a five-star scale and leave tips and comments for other potential customers online. Reviews can absolutely make or break your business, and it’s essential for business owners to keep a close eye on what their customers are saying about them online. You don’t have to be an expert marketer to ask your customers for reviews, monitor your star rating, and respond to comments. You just have to get organized!

Our pick: DIY! With the right technology, managing your reviews online is a cinch. There are tons of review aggregators that make it easy to manage your review rating across sites like Yelp, Facebook, Google, and Angie’s List. Check out storEDGE’s free resources for tips on managing your online reputation, or browse blog articles with advice on how to get more glowing five-star reviews or respond to negative comments with grace.

Your online business listings

Remember the Yellow Pages? Now, there are hundreds of online directories and navigation apps (like local listings, online maps, apps, GPS devices, social networks, and search engines) that help consumers find the businesses they’re looking for online. If you own a storage facility and you’ve never checked on your online business listings, unfortunately, it’s more than likely that there is incorrect or outdated information about your storage business online. (Especially if you’ve bought an old property and flipped it, or if the facility was rebranded.) So why does this matter? If you ignore missing or outdated listings, you could be frustrating customers who can’t find your business through online maps or tried to contact you using an outdated phone number.

Our pick: Don’t! Since there are so many places your business is listed online, it’s best to call in the pros for help with managing your online business listings - unless you want to spend days in front of your computer. At storEDGE, we call this citation management. Here’s how it works: first, a citation management software tool scours the internet for all of your business listings, identifying which ones are correct and which are outdated or missing. Then, instead of spending hours updating hundreds of online business listings manually, self storage owners enter their correct business information once, and the software algorithm updates and maintains all of your business listings from that point forward across all of the most popular online directories. Pretty nifty, huh?

A white desk with a notebook, coffee, and teapot laying on it.

Your grassroots advertising

I’m talking about outdoor marketing and advertising around your community. This could be signage around town or on bus benches, taxis, or public transport, as well as billboards, posters, and signage in front of your property. It’s eye-catching, it’s affordable, and it works. There are tons of options for visual advertising around town - you’ll just want to get your facility’s name in front of your target customers. Because outdoor advertising is such a simple, easy way to market your storage brand, you can get creative and still stay within your budget. You can even try temporary marketing inflatables, like feather flags, air dancers, or balloons.

Our pick: DIY! Grassroots advertising is most effective when you don’t overthink it. Keep your outdoor signs simple, consistent, and easily visible. Place them in high-traffic areas where your target customer will see them often, and make sure your sign always looks nice and new. If you’re a local to the community, you’ve already got expert knowledge of the best places around town to place signs.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, you may also like: What is Google Analytics - and how can it help your storage business?, How to create and maintain your self storage website, and What’s the ROI on your self storage marketing efforts? (Infographic).