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October 29, 2018
Marketing is most effective when you tailor messages to specific customers. A cookie cutter approach won’t increase the value of your self storage investment.
Instead, think of self storage marketing as matchmaking: you want to match the right message with the right customer. Start by identifying the types of customers you want to have at your facility and crafting a message that resonates with them and addresses their unique needs and concerns.
To do this, you need to build buyer personas, which are fictional representations of your ideal customers. To create a buyer persona, learn as much as you can about your current customers and self-storage customers as a whole.
Then, segment your customers into groups and build a buyer persona to represent each group. Finally, tailor a message for each buyer persona based on what you’ve learned about them.
A message delivered to potential customers using language and graphics explicitly geared to them.
Building buyer personas can take time, but it is well worth the effort. Begin by gathering information about different types of self storage customers and how they use storage facilities.
Surveying your current customers is a great place to start. To encourage customers to complete the surveys, you might want to offer an incentive or discount.
To standardize answers and make the surveys easy to complete, use checkboxes with predefined responses whenever possible.
However, be sure to include an “Other” option with a space to fill in the information so you can capture data you may have missed in your list of predefined answers.
Finally, include an open-ended question or comment area to gather additional information customers might wish to share. If you’re able, conduct personal interviews, which can uncover more detailed information than a written survey.
Here are lists of information you may want to gather, along with some predefined categories. You’ll want to have separate surveys for individuals and business customers.
Other ways to gather information is to ask questions via social media and listen to the answers, read online reviews for storage facilities (not just yours), and look at your website analytics and management software.
All of these provide information on your customers and potential customers. Also, search for articles written about self storage customers. Here are two good ones to check out:
Who Are Our Customers?—includes a standard profile for the typical self storage customer as well as profiles for customers in urban, suburban, and rural markets.
Which Customers Should You Target? —discusses profiles for homeowners, business vendors, military members, and students.
Segment Your Customers Into Groups and Build Buyer Personas
Once you have a significant number of completed surveys, separate your surveys according to the reasons why customers leased a storage unit from you. This allows you to begin segmenting your customers according to their needs.
Now, take the surveys for one segment and look for commonalities among the respondents.
Are they mostly women or men? Do they fall into a specific age range? Do they have a common income range? Do they use the same type of social media? What amenities were most important to them? What kinds of units did they rent? For how long?
Let’s suppose a group of individuals rented storage from you because they wanted to declutter. Using the surveys, you discover that most of these customers were females, aged 55 to 64, had an income range of $50,000-$74,999, and owned a home. They primarily used Facebook and Pinterest for social media and rented a 10x10 unit for an average of 12 months.
They cited security and climate control as the primary reasons they chose your facility. You now have data to build your buyer persona for someone interested in decluttering!
Experts recommend giving each buyer persona a name to make it more personal and to help you imagine communicating directly with this person. In our decluttering example, let’s give our persona the name of Mary. Now let’s flesh out some of the details about Mary using our imagination and the information we’ve gathered via the survey and other methods.
Example Buyer Persona: Mary is a 58-year-old homemaker and has an empty nest for the first time. She wants to clear out some bedrooms now that her children are out of the house and make a crafting studio for herself and a home gym for her and her husband.
However, she wants to keep her children’s belongings in case they ever want them. She’s looking for a safe and secure place to store these things. One of her primary concerns is security. These childhood memories are irreplaceable!
Using this information, you can now craft a message tailored explicitly to Mary. Having an image of who you are talking to will make this easier to do. By communicating directly to Mary, you’ll find yourself using different words, graphics, and headlines than you would if you were writing to a small business owner.
You’ll also showcase the facility features that were most important to Mary. This is why building buyer personas is a form of matchmaking. You’re matching your marketing message to the customer who uses your facility for a specific reason.
As you work through the data you’ve gathered, you’ll build different buyer personas for all your different types of customers. This will allow you to craft effective and customized marketing messages for each of your target audiences—people who are moving, wine enthusiasts, members of the military, students, small business owners, and so forth.
You’ll also learn the types of social media they use, which will determine where to run your ad campaigns. You’ll also be able to identify keywords for each audience. In short, you’ll end up with a plethora of useful data that will drive your digital marketing program.
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