This article originally appeared on the Inside Self-Storage blog.
When it comes to developing a marketing strategy for your business, chances are you’re worried about two things: money and who your message is reaching. Grassroots marketing can be a solution to both of these concerns. Rather than casting a wide, overarching net, your storage facility will target a small group of individuals using affordable solutions. The goal is that those individuals will organically spread your message to a larger audience.
Building success in the ever-changing environment of marketing and promotion can be an overwhelming task. But by keeping some basic rules in mind, and by practicing some of these simple suggestions for starting a grassroots campaign, you’ll soon see a boost in both your market share and your income.
If you’ve never developed a marketing strategy of any kind, then understanding some of the most general rules can be a great way to begin. A well-designed campaign, grassroots or not, succeeds upon three important guidelines. Coincidentally, they all start with “C”:
Consistency: Always be consistent with your message. Consistency breeds a sense of reliability within your brand and your company. Alternatively, constantly changing your message hurts you, can cost you money, and makes your company seem unsure of its purpose.
Cost: Be aware of your budget when planning out your strategy. Some things will cost money and others will not. Either way, know where your money is going, track what methods are providing you with a significant return, and discover which strategies you’re wasting your resources on. Then you can adjust accordingly.
Communication: Marketing, no matter the type, boils down to making a connection through clear communication. Determine the types of media your target audience is most likely to be exposed to. This audience will be dependent on your location, your demographic, and the people you rent to, be it families, college students, or otherwise. Stick to these forms of communication as an integral part of your plan.
Consider these above guidelines when creating your plan. Then, as with all marketing or business-related decisions:
Gather all of your resources and outline how you will tackle the process, what each step will cost, and what outlets are best for the audience you wish to reach.
Decide how you will measure the results of your efforts. As your campaign builds, make allotments for the things that work and cut out the things that don’t.
Be careful not to start and stop; doing so will only hurt your message. Continue on your planned path, adjusting as the need arises.
Grassroots marketing is about being creative with your resources and trying the non-obvious solutions. The strategies below are easily-achievable ways to launch your grassroots campaign. Each will affect your market in different ways and target a select group, so be sure to use the ones that pertain directly to your plan and demographic. Some are free, while some will cost you a small price. This list is not, of course, exhaustive, but it certainly can get you started.
Getting people to start talking about your services is one of the best ways to get word of mouth exposure among a large audience, and there’s no better place to start than with your own customers. Offering a referral bonus to existing renters when they refer a friend is one way to spread your reach.
Imagine that every one of your tenants knows 3 people who are in need of a storage space. For every 5 current customers who refer a friend for the bonus, you’re getting 15 more. In theory, the practice is exponential, bringing you more and more customers for every tenant who takes advantage of the bonus.
Continue to target your current customers and their acquaintances by offering giveaways or raffles for units, locks, or a free month’s rent. Attracting potential customers to your property to take part in the event will do wonders for getting your name out there and, at the same time, get you some new customers.
Make a game out of the event, giving people tickets and pulling the names from a hat or similar system. Provide first, second, and third runner-up prizes ranging in degrees of value. This method will attract a wide range of people since everyone likes free stuff. Now you’ll be reaching more people than before.
By providing some money to a local little league baseball, hockey, or football team, you could get your business’s name on their jerseys. Now you’re reaching families who might be moving to a new home or seeking a little space for better home organization, and your exposure is increased every game.
If a championship game between the local moving company and the local storage facility isn’t up your alley, try instead sponsoring a local event, like a rummage sale or charity event. For little cost to you, you can get an ad on a flyer that is handed out to thousands of people.
Today’s market is using the internet more often than not to find and purchase goods and services. Your company needs to be available in online markets. Your website only goes so far in promoting your company, so looking for other ways to corner the market in your area is important.
The self storage industry, as you know, is a pretty close-knit group of people. Those looking for storage are probably utilizing services like moving and truck rental companies. Consider linking yourself with these other local businesses and services by using uncommon social media outlets to promote your business online, like LinkedIn or Pinterest.
Nothing beats word of mouth in the world of marketing. If your customers are telling other people about how great your business is to rent with, then those people will put their trust in your customers’ opinions and experiences. That is invaluable.
This goal is what grassroots is all about. What can you do to start a lasting and effective conversation about your business among your target audience? Follow the rules of good marketing and try out some of the above ideas. It will get your plan going and let you know what strategies work. The rest is, hopefully, helping the new tenants when they come in.