Finding Your Target Audience in Self Storage

June 12, 2024

Graph line going up, background of maps and billboards
6 min

Marketing for self storage is like trying to find a few hundred-dollar bills in a haystack - definitely worth doing, but much easier if you know where to look.

According to the SSA’s 2023 Demand Study, slightly over 11% of households use storage units. That means 9 out of 10 people (give or take some toes) are not interested in your services at all. 

Of the remaining 11%, many already have a storage unit, and you’re fighting uphill to convince them to change to you.

Marketing can also be expensive. No matter what method you use, you’re at least investing your time into pursuing it, so you need to pay attention to what sort of return on investment you’re getting.

So how do you find your customers without shotgunning your marketing budget across your whole town?

You need to understand your target market.

You’re looking for people who:

  1. Currently need storage
  2. Have reason to choose you
  3. Will be satisfied with your facility

This article will break these three 

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Who Needs Storage?

You’ve probably heard of the 5 Ds of self storage (some say 4, I’m sure someone out there has 7). Death, divorce, downsizing, disaster, and displacement - reasons someone might suddenly need a lot more space.

These are still very common reasons someone might need to rent a storage unit, but there’s a sixth (fifth? eighth?) reason that has been growing - Stuff. People are simply running out of room for all of their stuff.

Part of this is because housing has grown more and more expensive. People can afford fun toys like RVs, kayaks, or mountain bikes well before they can afford a larger garage to put them in. Storage units are also much cheaper than a bigger house or a new garage or attic.

One way to target your self storage marketing is by thinking of other places your customers might need to go. We recommend operators set up a referral program and visit local businesses to pitch it - check out our local business outreach guide to learn more!

Pug Pro Tip: Think about what your current customers are storing - you may find a strong vein of demand that you hadn’t seen before.

Who Will Choose Your Storage Facility

This one can be a bit tricky. No operator wants to think their facility might not be the best choice for every renter - just like I know my daughter would be the greatest chess grandmaster in the world, you know, if she wanted to be.

Even if you do have the greatest facility in the world, you won’t be every renter’s first choice. Why not?


Self storage isn’t a glamorous industry. People aren’t shopping around for luxury brands like they do with clothes or cars. We solve problems - which is why we do well even in bad economic times.

Renters choose from a small list of storage facilities that are convenient to them. The vast majority of your customers will come from less than 20 minutes away, according to the 2023 SSA Demand Study.

If you’re in a more competitive or densely populated area, the distance will be much shorter than that. It’s tough to convince customers to drive further to rent with you because they don’t know much about self storage.

Target Audience Building for Self Storage2

While that may be frustrating, it does help you narrow down your marketing. You don’t need radio ads or billboards blanketing the state - you just need to aim for the area within 20 minutes or less of your facility.

In fact, you can narrow down your targeting even further. Think about the populated areas around you, and target people who:

  • Might work near your facility
  • Might commute past your facility
  • Send their kids to school near/past your facility
  • Visit popular areas near your facility

If your target audience is visiting areas around your facility anyway, they’re much more likely to rent with you than if they’d have to drive out of their way. Follow any major roadways your facility is on and consider marketing to people who may travel that road.

However, Google does not like to rank you for keywords including areas that you are not located in.

No amount of self storage SEO wizardry will get you to rank well for an area that Google deems outside of your range. Again, this is frustrating, and you can still market in those areas, but going hard on SEO in a town you’re not in may not be the most effective use of resources.

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Who Will Be Happy Storing With You?

Those 5 Ds from earlier and not usually happy events. Even if someone is simply moving - even if they’re moving into their dream home! - they’re going to be stressed. They’re going to be in a hurry. They want you to help solve their problem quickly.

Then, if they find out later that your facility wasn’t actually a good fit for them, that’s a problem.

Maybe they don’t have the money for the premium unit you put them in. Maybe they needed climate control and you don’t offer that. Maybe they need to visit their stuff all the time and you don’t have 24/7 access.

They may stay for a while anyway, and you may make some revenue. But they’re not likely to stay for long.

And they won’t recommend your facility to anyone else.

A bad Google review will cost your facility more over time than you make from that renter. If you get 10, 15, or 20 bad reviews? That could do irreparable damage to your business.

In our Sales 101 for Self Storage Managers eBook, all the experts told us the same thing: your primary goal is to help the customer. 

You’d rather not get a rental than get a rental that turns sour.

In summary, don’t target an audience that won’t be happy renting with you. If you’re a premium facility, don’t try to convince people you’re the most affordable option, and vice-versa.

Who is Your Target Market?

“Target marketing” is usually about demographics, age groups, personality types, cultural groupings, and other ways of breaking down the market.

For self storage, though, your target market is “people who need storage.” 

A shoe brand may target young people in certain age brackets, but it’s much more beneficial for you to target people in an area.

The target market for a self storage facility is:

    • In need of storage - think of reasons people use your storage facility, and try to find areas and other businesses that might overlap. Find the neighborhoods your tenants often come from and do a flyer marketing campaign there. Start up a referral program and focus on businesses that often deal with your customers.
  • Near your facility - You aren’t going to convince many renters to drive past a dozen similar facilities very often. Focus on the renters for whom you’re the best option first, then worry about expanding to nearby towns. 

  • Want your product - Don’t try to convince people you’re something you’re not. Focus on building a great reputation in your community by being the most helpful facility in town. Provide value to your customers - then ask for a Google review or a referral for your trouble.

If you’re ever not sure who the target audience for your marketing efforts should be, think of the people who already rent from you. Where do they live, what are they storing, and how much are they paying - you’ve got a lot of information already in your self storage software

If you think through the best ways to use that information, you can turn your marketing budget into even more rentals.

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