Gabfocus Episode 57 | Does Grassroots Marketing Work in 2024?

Gabfocus Episode 57 | Does Grassroots Marketing Work in 2024?

It's tough to compete against bigger competition, so you need to find ways to set yourself apart. Getting back to the basics of grassroots marketing and focusing on what resonates in your local community can make you stand out from the REITs! Join us as we explored tips and tricks for marketing like a local.

Featured Speakers: Stacie Maxwell
Moderators: Tommy NguyenMelissa Huff

Category: Marketing
Focus: Owners, Operators, & Managers
Aired: February 29, 2024
Duration: 1:42:22


If you don't have time to watch the whole session, here are some of our favorite parts:

  • At 10:00, our expert discusses the importance of marketing in 2024 as demand slows and competition increases.
  • 13:20, Stacie discussed how smaller businesses can differentiate themselves from the REITs, and not by competing with slashed rates.
  • Starting at 18:20, Stacie discussed the importance of networking, referral programs, onsite events, charity, and sponsorships.
  • At 21:15, our guest talked about how you should want customers to remember your brand when it comes time for them to need storage.
  • 21:55, our expert started discussing how to streamline your referral program.
  • Around 24:45, Stacie talks about the feasibility of grassroots tactics and how much time you should set aside to plan and activate them.
  • At 28:30, our guest covers how to organize an onsite event, including how to best showcase your amenities to guests.
  • 29:50, Stacie touches on hosting successful yard sales at your facility to bring in more visitors.
  • 33:20, our guest discusses liability issues with events and how you can make sure that your insurance covers any potential issues.
  • 35:00, Stacie highlights how you can identify what resonates the most in your community so that you can focus on specific topics.
  • At 39:10, our guest talks about how to still use grassroots marketing even if you have a remotely managed location.
  • Starting at 43:00, Stacie discusses ways that you can measure the success of your grassroots tactics.
  • Around 46:30, our guest talked about all the different uses for QR codes to enhance your grassroots tactics.
  • 49:10, Stacie discussed how to actually create a QR code to use at your business.
  • At 58:00, Stacie talked about how to specifically use QR codes as part of your referral program to increase lead intake and follow-up.
  • 1:00:00, Stacie started discussing how much time you should spend doing grassroots marketing along with how to manage that time.
  • Around 1:09:00, our guest talked about how to effectively use your time when visiting other businesses in your community.
  • 1:11:40, Stacie covered how you can get video testimonials for your business.
  • 1:13:50, Stacie answers the question of the week!


Gabfocus Takeaway

As our industry starts to normalize following the peak years of 2020-2022 and demand for self storage slows, making sure you are marketing your facility and standing out from the competition is more important than ever. As a small, local business, you may not be able to compete by slashing rates like the REITs, but you can leverage your position as a part of the community to differentiate yourself. Get out in your community and network to figure out what matters to other businesses and potential customers, then use that knowledge to drive your grassroots tactics. A solid referral program, onsite events, business partnerships, and so much more can be used to truly market like a local in your community. Then, when customers need storage, you'll be the first stop on their list!

What are Gabfocus Sessions?

Gabfocus Sessions are virtual workshops for self storage owners, managers, and operators. Brought to you by the team behind Gabfest: StoragePug and Lighthouse Storage Solutions.

Each session features hand-picked industry pros who will dive deep into relevant topics surrounding our industry, share best practices, and explore trends in the market. It's our hope that these sessions help you navigate your self storage business better during these uncertain times.

Want to learn more about self storage? Join us on select Thursdays for Gabfocus.

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Questions Answered in this Session

  1. How important is marketing in 2024 compared to the last few years?
  2. Why should owners and operators revisit marketing basics?
  3. How can grassroots or local marketing set small businesses apart from the REITs?
  4. What are some grassroots or local marketing tactics that you've found to be successful?
    1. Why should operators use grassroots and local tactics?
  5. Which of these tactics are both simple and cost-effective?
  6. How do you use these tactics to build your brand recognition?
  7. How can you identify what matters most to your local community?
    1. Why is this important?
    2. How do you use this info to inform tactics?
  8. How do you measure the success of your grassroots marketing?
  9. How do you bridge the gap between offline to online marketing?
  10. Should operators spend effort and time on social media?
  11. What are some successes you've seen in mixing grassroots and digital marketing?
  12. How can you build effective local backlinks with grassroots marketing?
  13. Why is a mix of both grassroots and digital important in 2024?
  14. If your marketing budget was $500, which grassroots tactic would provide the best return on investment?

Live Poll Results: What tools are most important to provide to your employees?




Meet Your Speakers

Stacie Maxwell

Stacie Maxwell

Universal Storage Group


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Resources from this session

Awesome Quotes

“Once your operation is in place, you can become more dynamic with your pricing, but that requires data. You need some method of being able to record the data that you need to know whether your price is in the right place - whether you need to move it up or start giving some concessions.” - Warren Lieberman
“I never want to downplay to what someone else is doing. I'm better than they are, then I'm going to be worth a higher price. That's what value is. If you go out to a restaurant and get really good service, would you go back? Yes! What if it was pricier? You'd still go back because you got better service and a better product.” - Jim Mooney
"It's good to be informed on your competition. I don't want to ignore them, but I don't want to respond too strongly to them either." - Warren Lieberman
"We did a survey of 10,000 facilities on their pricing. We found out that two-thirds of those operators didn't change the price of a single unit of the course of a month." - Warren Lieberman
“Rate increases and value pricing are the number one ways to grow your revenue.” - Jim Mooney
"Tenants in more convenient units tend to be less price sensitive." - Warren Lieberman
"The size of the unit is only one aspect of what people are willing to pay for." - Warren Lieberman


Foundational marketing strategies to have in place - whether leasing up or stabilized:

  • Website
  • Set up listings (Yelp, Google My Business, Apple Maps)
  • Social Media
  • Establish Local Partnerships

Lease up marketing strategies:

  • Lead Generating Strategies (like digital ads)
  • Aggregators (Sparefoot, Storagefront, etc.)
  • Awareness Campaigns (like billboards, flyers, and sponsorships)

Your average customer value
Find the average stay length of all tenants. Next take your economic occupancy and divide by how many units you have. That will tell you what the average customer pays.

Multiply the average length of stay by what the average customer pays, and that's the average value of a customer.

For example, if a customer stays for 12 months and pays $100 per month, then their value is $1,200.

Your average lead value

Figure out your closing rate (or conversion rate) i.e. how many leads do you turn into tenants? Multiply that by your average customer lifetime value to figure out what your leads are worth. 

Pro Tip: see which lead sources are converting the best. It may be that certain sources have a higher conversion rate, so those leads are worth more to you than a source that barely converts.

Typical Lease-up timeline

According to our panelists, it's typical to see a 3-4% increase each month, putting your facility at 36% after the first year, and 72% after the second.

Alternately, you can look at your lease up goals through the lens of your units, aiming for 20 units rented per month.

For Nick and StorageMax, they pro forma their economic occupancy at 85% with their sweet spot at 92%.

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