Traditional Marketing Methods That Still Work

June 21, 2023

Towering billboard with storage facility advertised
8 min

So much of marketing has moved to the digital frontlines, where a strong website and SEO are your greatest weapons, but is that all there is to it now?

What about old-school marketing?

Traditional marketing is still alive and well in the self storage industry! Yes, it’s crucial to have an accessible online presence, but flyers and billboards have been getting the job done for a much longer time. Are they still effective? What’s the right mix?

Traditional marketing is much more involved and puts you where the REITs could never go, in the heart of your community. 

Here are a few time-tested traditional marketing methods that can still work in the right markets today:



Direct Mail

Direct mail is still one of the more straightforward and effective marketing tools out there. There’s a reason large brands never stopped sending out direct mail, in the right market, it can really work!

In fact, 42% of people open direct mail and read it and 73% of consumers say they would prefer to be contacted by direct mail rather than digitally. 

It’s important to have a short, bold message, so you aren’t demanding too much of your reader. Direct mail is a great way to get some eyes onto your brand, but what you do with those eyes has to be quick and informative. 

Things you should include in your direct mail:

  • Your brand name
  • Your location
  • What you’re offering
  • Amenities
  • Website URL
  • Phone number

That’s all you need! Someone doesn’t need to hear the full story of how you founded your facility, they need quick details that won’t lose their attention. 

It’s important to remember that you’re renting to real people, and people trust people!

Pro Tip: Direct mail doesn’t work for every market, and in a lot of cases self storage is doing away with direct mail, but targeting communal places like apartment complexes or retirement communities can be effective if done right!

Download our Self Storage Marketing Playbook eBook here for free.

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Another classic form of advertisement is the trustworthy billboard.

A billboard gives you an instant audience, with guaranteed eyes looking at your branding every single day. In fact, 71% of people consciously look at billboards.  The downside? Not all those eyes are storage customers. With billboards, the territory means you're often paying for attention that won't convert.

While a billboard is an obvious candidate for getting exposure and some new leads, that doesn’t mean you need to place them all over town. In fact, the closer to your facility, the better. You could have the best billboard in town, but someone is still not going to want to drive more than a couple of miles for storage because there probably are closer options. But, it can help people in your neighborhood find you!

A billboard can be the perfect chance to show off your hidden facility! Are you tucked away behind a tree line or behind a business park? A billboard can show future tenants exactly where you are.

Some markets aren’t right for billboards, but they can work great in smaller, rural markets.

In most cases, you’re really only going to need one billboard, maybe two. That one billboard can give you exposure, with more conscious readers than nearly any other marketing medium!

Remember, billboards are a long game. You’re advertising to everyone hoping that when they need storage, they’ll think of you.

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Promotional Products

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Everyone loves free stuff, full stop. 

Much like the billboard, you can be strategic about where you give out your promotional products. 

For example, give the restaurant down the street a bunch of your pens for the wait staff to use. Now everyone who goes to that restaurant will see your name and information! The cost of a box of pens will come nowhere near the value of the exposure you’ll get.

Give t-shirts to new tenants, and send branded tumblers to local real estate firms! All of these things could give you outreach that you can’t otherwise purchase. 

Branded promotional products to give away:

  • T-shirts
  • Water bottles
  • Mugs
  • Useful keychains (like a bottle opener or container)
  • Notebooks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Golf towels
  • Umbrellas

Promotional products are a great way to spread your brand without stepping on toes. Everyone loves a gift!


Business Cards

The odds are if you’re reading this right now, a business card needs no introduction. There’s a reason they’re so popular– they work!

Aside from having cards to give potential tenants who visit the storefront, you’ll be able to pass out your information in totally new places and on the go!

There are a lot of businesses that will display your business cards by the counter, like coffee shops or diners. Connecting with local businesses not only makes you a community figure but allows you to access their influence as well. 

Do people love that coffee shop? They’ll trust you more when they see your business card on the counter!

Places to leave business cards:

  • Coffee shops
  • Diners
  • Public bulletin boards
  • Banks
  • Laundromats
  • Gyms

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Referral Incentives

Word-of-mouth marketing is still the most effective way to reach new tenants to date! People simply trust other people more than they do a brand, and having champions fighting for you in your corner can spread your facility further than it could ever go before. 

Give your current tenants a little incentive to spread the word about how much they love your facility. A lot of facilities will give discounts on the next month’s rent, or some people offer cold hard cash to tenants who bring in a new renter. 

Your investment will always have an immediate return from referrals!

Referrals give you something that you can’t buy– a vouch for your services. Hearing that you run an ethical, clean facility from a friend will mean a lot more than seeing that as your slogan online.

It’s important to remember that you’re renting to real people, and people trust people!

Pro Tip: You can offer referral incentives to more than just your customers. When you’re dropping off business cards at your local businesses, tell the employees who work there! If someone can make an easy $50, they’re much more likely to recommend your business.



Following the trend of our first few marketing methods, flyers are an old-school technique that is still successful when done strategically. Flyers aren’t for everyone, but for more crowded markets they can be effective and easy. 

What do you need to include in your flyer?

  • Your Facilities name in large font
  • Your address 
  • Your contact information
  • Featured amenities
  • Special or average rates
  • Website URL

Now that you have your flyer filled out with all of the vital information, it’s time to decide where the best place to put your flyers is! While a telephone pole is a tried and true classic, there are many other options to keep in mind!

Flyers work well in more urban markets, like mid-range cities to metropolitan areas. Be sure to always place fliers near your facility!

The best places to post a flyer are:

  • Community bulletin boards
  • Coffee shop bulletin boards
  • Local universities and colleges
  • Laundromats
  • Apartment complexes
  • Bus stops

A flyer is a cliché for a reason—because it works!


Get Involved in Your Community

The best way to connect with your community is to be in the community!

You have an opportunity that REITs don’t, the ability to connect with a community that you know and love. Don’t just be the storage facility down the street, be the facility that sponsored last week’s little league tournament, or the facility that sold girl scout cookies at its office.

There are so many ways that you can become a community figure. One thing that we love to recommend is partnering with a local charity, offering them a free unit, or collecting donations on their behalf. 

We’ve seen facilities offer up storage units for people to drop off their donations. Giving back and being involved in your community is often a small sacrifice, but the reach it will give you locally is invaluable!

In fact, one of our clients Aloha Self Storage is extremely involved with local charities, hosting huge collections and donation events in the year to support their causes. Philanthropy is more than marketing, it's a chance for your facility to show its humanity and to connect more deeply with those around you.

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Another client, ACCESS of Wilmington, is involved with local sporting and recreational leagues, focused on giving those with physical disabilities the ability to participate fully with their peers. They do this by partnering with manufacturers of all-terrain wheelchairs and building fields for their players. That's more than marketing, that's connection!

Show your community that you’re not only a safe place for storage, but an active member that gives you an edge that the big names can’t buy.

Other ways to connect with your community:

  • Sponsor little league games
  • Sell coupon books for local school systems
  • Host car washes
  • Put on movie nights at your facility
  • Sponsor local recreation leagues
  • Hand out free water on college campuses
  • Have your staff volunteer wearing your branding

Remember, you’re a local business!

Pro Tip: Connect with your local Chamber of Commerce. Not only is it good for them to know you and vice versa) but they will have intimate knowledge of the resources available for local businesses, the local community, and any opportunities for networking or sponsoring.

Traditional marketing is not dead!

There is still so much opportunity offline to spread your brand. Every marketing method we’ve listed has proven time and time again to have solid returns on investment when used in the right markets. 

Using just one or two of these marketing methods could instantly give you an audience that you never had before.

Have you conquered the digital marketing space already? Now start with your neighborhood!

Want to learn more about marketing your self storage facility like the big brands? Here are some of my other favorite posts!

At StoragePug, we build self storage websites that make it easy for new customers to find you and easy for them to rent from you.

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