Physical Marketing: Self Storage Flyers, Billboards, and More

September 15, 2023

self storage flyers and marketing
8 min

At StoragePug, we love digital marketing, but that’s not the only way you can reach your customers! 

Small self storage operators can find themselves torn between the old marketing tactics that got them where they are today and the new tactics that the REITs are using to gobble up new business.

Which offline marketing techniques still work?

In this article, we’ll go over the different types of offline self storage marketing and give you the verdict - which ones should you try, which ones should you skip, and which ones might work under certain circumstances!


Self Storage Signage

In all marketing, you need to understand the path a customer took to end up renting with you. This is called the customer journey. It may seem simple - they walked into the office, I rented them a storage unit, job done!

But if you want more people walking through those doors, you have to understand everything from the first moment that customer became aware of your existence.

According to the 2023 SSA demand study, the two most common ways a customer finds their self storage facility are A) online and B) driving past.

Physical Marketing Self Storage Flyers, Billboards, and More2

These two methods comprise somewhere north of 70% of rentals!

The first physical marketing step every self storage operator should take is ensuring that people driving by think of your facility as a good option for storage.

That means you need to have an attractive storefront, yes, but even more important than that is having good signage! People should know what your business does, what they can expect to pay, and the type of experience they’re going to get (think affordable to premium).

Download our Self Storage Marketing Playbook eBook here for free.

If possible, make some of your amenities visible from the street. Powerful lighting, for example, can show passers-by that your facility is safe and welcoming even at night. We’ve had many operators suggest cleaning the units that face the street to a higher degree than the others, though we’ll cover this later in the storefront section. 

Have a big, clean sign right by the road, especially if your storage units are hidden away by trees or other buildings. A branded moving truck is another great way to let customers know you're there.

If your facility isn’t on the main area roads, you could miss out on this huge demand-generating source. This is where billboards come in!

Self Storage Billboards

Self storage billboards may seem low-tech and outdated, but they are better than a lot of options at actually finding your target audience. Your renters come from a small area around your facility, and billboards target a geographically similar area - provided you choose one near your facility.

Billboards still work at getting a simple message across. This is especially true if your audience sees them often, like if the billboard is on someone’s way to work or home.

Good news for storage facilities, because “I saw it on the way to work” is one of the biggest ways renters found their facility. 

Physical Marketing Self Storage Flyers, Billboards, and More3

However, a prominent billboard can eat up your marketing budget fast. The cheapest billboard you’re likely to find will run you more than $500 a month, and that number spikes quickly if you’re in a dense area. 

If you want a digital billboard that has multiple pictures, an eye-catching graphic, and changing offers, that’s going to cost you over $1,000. For larger operators, that’s well within reach, but for a small facility, this monthly drain might not be sustainable.

Like with any marketing expenditure, the benefit must outweigh the cost. If the other option is twenty units sitting empty, investing in a billboard is the right choice!

The value of a billboard changes drastically depending on how well your message converts those eyeballs into rentals. Here are a few things to think about when trying to increase your billboard conversion rate:

  • Audience - Is your billboard being seen by people who are likely to rent with you? If you’re advertising too far out, no one is making the trip to store with your facility.
  • Appeal - Does your billboard showcase the best parts of your business? This could be amenities, deals, or even just attractive photos showing how clean and neat your storage facility is.
  • Deal - While the biggest benefit of a billboard is showing potential renters that you exist, having a great deal advertised can only help. This gives people a reason to choose your facility over another if the two are equally convenient.

More eyes on your billboard aren’t always better. If you’re advertising on interstates that pass through your town, a good percentage of those people may not be residents of the area, but you’re still paying to have them see your billboard.

Local roads with high volume are generally going to be your best bet.

Self Storage Flyers

Direct mail lets you cut out any viewers that don’t live in your area, because you’re sending your ads directly to the residence of people near your facility!

The downside? People tend to throw those mailers away. You also have no way of knowing who might need storage. Still, if your flyer finds someone who is about to rent a storage unit, you can sway them to choose your business!

Download our Self Storage Marketing Playbook eBook here for free.

The US Postal Service estimates that you can send 500 mailers for about $800. The USPS also offers a direct mail program that allows you to target specific geographic areas - which is ideal for self storage, as our customers aren’t going to drive across town to store their things.

Unfortunately, only about 10% of the total populace use self storage at all. Then, assume more than half of those already have a storage unit. That means you’re looking at 2-3% of your marketing money going to people who may actually need a storage unit.

With flyers, we’re hoping to establish our business in the customers’ minds. If someone gets your flyer and immediately comes to rent, great! But that’s a low-percentage gamble. 

The odds are good they get your flyer, recycle it, and go about their day. The most likely positive scenario for your business is that in a week or two, when they’re frowning at the mess in their garage, they remember your flyer.

Self storage flyers can work, but generally, there are more efficient ways to spend your marketing budget.

Business Cards

Business cards are a small expenditure, compared to some of these other physical self storage marketing tactics, but if used correctly they can be a huge help!

Business cards are small paper handouts that have your business’s name and contact information. There’s usually a bit of room left over for some marketing text - like your self storage referral program!

This is an affordable way to get people thinking about your referral program. Referrals are a fantastic way to generate new demand - people trust their friends’ recommendations far more than anything your marketing could communicate.

You’re looking at $10 for 100 basic business cards. That means if you print a thousand and get one single rental, you’re still doing well!

Business cards are easy for other local businesses to hold on to and give to people who might need storage. Of course, they’re only going to do this if they’re interested in your referral program (or you’re just a really cool person), so business cards only make sense in tandem with referrals.

Business cards aren’t bad if you have no referral program, but they aren’t a marketing asset if all they have is contact information. Give people a reason to rent with you by including your referral info too!

TV & Radio

TV and radio are great marketing tools for someone not in self storage. If you’re selling food, cars, travel, music, or any of a million things that aren’t totally localized, radio and TV can help.

People don’t want to go out of their way for a storage facility. They will, under the right circumstances, but convenience is king

This means most of your customers aren’t going to drive across town to store with you. There’s probably a closer, similar option (and the general public doesn’t know what makes a good self storage facility vs a bad one). 

TV and radio can also be prohibitively expensive compared to the other physical marketing options we’ve mentioned above. 

5 ways ebook

With a TV and radio ad, you’re not only wasting money getting in front of the 90% of people who aren’t going to ever use self storage - you’re wasting money on the majority of people in a given viewing/listening area that are too far away to ever rent with you anyways!

In general, we don’t recommend spending your marketing money to get your business on the airways. Those dollars can do a lot more good elsewhere.

Physical vs. Digital Advertising

The physical advertising methods listed here can definitely bring you leads and renters. In fact, twenty years ago they were the only way to do generate demand!

But now, digital advertising has eclipsed physical advertising in self storage. 


Only 10-11% of people use self storage. That means 90% of your effort is being spent on people who don’t use your product. Then, of the remaining 10% that do use storage, only those who live or travel near your facility are going to choose your business.

That’s a lot of wasted effort! 

Instead, you can target your marketing at people who are actively looking for self storage. Digital self storage marketing is generally more efficient than physical marketing because digital marketing can target people who are shopping for your product.

Google ad campaigns, for example, show your advertisement to people who are typing “self storage near me” into their browser. Self storage SEO gets your business in front of those people without a direct cost (though not without effort). 

This is what makes digital marketing such a good investment. More of your money goes to getting in front of customers, rather than the general public.

Physical marketing can still provide a good return on investment! You just have to make sure you’re showing your ads to the right audience.

And you need to make sure your facility makes people want to rent with you! The last pillar of physical marketing is your storefront.

Marketing Your Storefront

Whether you put it under operations or marketing, you need to dedicate some funds to keeping your facility looking nice and neat.

Remember, a large portion of your customer base will come from people driving by the facility - if they drive by and think your facility looks rundown and unsafe, they’re not going to leave stuff they care about in your self storage units. 

Download our Self Storage Marketing Playbook eBook here for free.

Your storefront affects digital marketing and billboards, too. When you showcase your facility in ads, there’s only so much that cleaning up can help with. If your signage is old and faded, your buildings are sagging, and your lot is covered with weeds, that’s hard to hide in the photos.

When working with a limited budget (and who isn’t), focus on the parts of your business that face the road first. That means cleaning and refinishing the doors that face the street, employing a yard work company, upgrading or fixing your gate, offering free wifi in the lobby etc.

Don’t spend all the time and effort to bring people to your facility only to watch them turn around!


Physical marketing, including self storage billboards, flyers, business cards, and signage, can all work to bring customers to your business. 

Remember, though, that about 80% of your total customer base will come from either online sources or from driving by the facility. These numbers are averages from across the country, so in your particular facility they may not be accurate. If you’ve found flyers or radio ads to really work in your area, by all means continue.

Just be certain to track the return on your investments. It’s easy to keep spending money on marketing without ever noticing that your customers are actually coming from other sources.

By tracking your marketing expenditures, you can invest more heavily in the ones that are most efficient, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You’re working with a limited pool of demand, and not every customer can be reached by every channel.

Some customers don’t use online sources, so you need some physical marketing to be an option for them. A prominent sign in a good spot may well do the trick! 

If you’re working with a small budget, focus on your online presence and your facility signage. Do these two well, and you’ll be well-positioned to capture your share of the market.

For more Self Storage articles, take a look at:

Market like the experts with StoragePug's Self Storage Marketing Playbook!

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