My mates & I often head out for a barbie and some bushwalking on Sunday afternoons at one of the many locations in and around Brisbane. Yesterday, we headed over to Mt Glorious (about an hour north-west of Brisbane) and did one of the Class 2 4km walks. Along the way, it started raining (luckily we had umbrellas – we had anticipated the rain), but the slower walking pace allowed me to take-in more of my surroundings… and I spotted a trapdoor spider’s burrow (photo below; after my signoff).
The way this spider captures its customers (that should really be “meals”) intrigued me – a funnel shaped burrow that insects fall or crawl into in search of food, and a hungry spider waiting inside that captures them. So how does this relate to marketing (or self storage, for that matter)? Simple… it has to do with being appealing enough, or intriguing enough, to entice someone (ie. a potential customer) to come and look. Then you have a very good chance of trapping them (just don’t eat them – I’m pretty sure they won’t store with you then).
Be appealing to the potential customer
So coming back to spiders, what do you have at your facility that’s enticing? Does your facility look inviting – is the grass cut, are the walls free from graffiti and is the driveway unbroken and clean? They say people don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I reckon most people do – I know I do. If there’s graffiti on the walls, cracks in the pavement and weeds growing where there used to be flowers, it doesn’t look very inviting, does it? It portrays a business that doesn’t put appearances & customer service first and, if there’s graffiti everywhere, it portrays an area of lower socio-economic development and in turn, may conjure up images of crime and after-hours loitering (would you store your goods there?).
Be appealing to the potential customer so that they come in for a look …just don’t eat them like the spider does!
In essence, one needs to present a clean, friendly, secure atmosphere. Things need to BE consistent and LOOK consistent. Can you imagine walking into, say, a McDonalds store and seeing, amongst the golden arches and the chocolate-brown panelling & black uniforms, a staff member wearing a green uniform? It looks out of place, because it IS out of place… it’s not colour-consistent. Let’s take a local Storman user as an example – Robina Storage Centre on the Gold Coast. Their website, storage units, office / reception area, letterheads, name badges, trailer and signage all employ the same colour scheme – tones of oranges/reds and blues. Everywhere you look, you see these same colours. Now that’s colour-consistency and brand-consistency.
Provide everything they need
Once you have an inviting place of business that’s clean & consistent, you’ll be appealing to customers (or ‘insects’, if you use the spider analogy) that may stop by to have a look how you can help them with their requirements. So once you have people stopping by, how do you keep them there?
First, you need to analyse the reason behind their requirements. Why do they even need you, or your supplies, in the first place? What are they doing at the time of requiring your services? If it’s self storage, then they’d probably be moving house, or renovating. This is a stressful time – people get sweaty and smelly, services & utilities (electricity, internet, phones, etc) need to be activated / moved and younger kids get bored easily. So what can you do to make life easier at this time?
- Why not team up with a local business to provide a discount massage voucher as part of a move-in kit?
- What about free deodorant (surely there’s a company out there willing to give you some free sample packs for advertising purposes)?
- Do you have an on-site shower that customers can use on move in?
- Can you deduct funds directly from a customer’s bank account or credit card, to save them from having to contact you all the time to arrange payment (and if they’re between houses, where are you going to send the mail to)?
- Do you provide a free courtesy truck or trailer for move in?
- Are there any kids clubs or sports activities nearby? Do you have any kids toys or play equipment at your facility? Maybe a small room with some beanbags and a DVD player for the kids to watch some cartoons or animated-movies?
- Do you provide free chilled water?
- Can customers reserve a space from your website using their mobile phone, in the middle of the night once they’ve finished packing, to save them time?
- Do you provide free fax / photocopy / phone services for those who need to call utility companies to get services switched over?
Find ways to stand out from the crowd
Does your competition offer all of the great abovementioned things? No? Well you’ve just differentiated yourself from the competition. Yes, you may be more expensive than the storage centre down the road, but if the customer really wants a free courtesy truck for move-in (and they don’t offer one but you do), then you know who they’re going to store with… almost regardless of price.
If someone is already keen to store with you, you probably won’t have to do this – but if someone’s price-shopping, make sure you emphasise the differences. In essence, you want to get across the point that “…we are better than the company down the road, because we have this, and they don’t” (just not so brashly, of course).
Keep your customer
Once you have your customer, make sure you keep them – encourage referrals & ensure there’s a feel-good factor. People will always take advice from their friends over some advertisement on the TV. Encourage referrals by offering discounts… “Get $50 off for you and a friend if you refer them to us for storage”, or something similar.
As far as the feel-good factor goes, this can be anything from participating in a tree-planting carbon-offset program, to running solar panels at the facility or even donating $1 from everyone’s rent to a different charity each month.
Make customer’s feel important by sending them an email on their birthday, or casually ask about their hobbies and store this information in Storman so that you can ask them “How their husband’s golf tournament went” a few weeks later. They’ll feel loved, and that helps with customer retention.
This sounds complicated… how can I simplify everything?
- Use Storman to automate the sending of letters or emails to customers.
- Use Storman to track how customers are finding you (online, Whitepages, etc).
- Use Storman to track the cleaning of units so that customers are ensured a clean & tidy environment.
- Use Storman to record customer hobbies, etc.
- Use Storman to inform other staff of who has the courtesy truck/trailer, and when.
- Use Storman to deduct funds when due from the customer’s account or credit card.
- Use Storman to allow online reservations and / or payments.
- Use Storman to call your customers, or send out email / mail merges and see how they’re doing, and whether or not you could be doing anything better to.
- Use Storman to market to past & current storers with discount or referral vouchers.
- Use Storman to find quiet times of the year, and ramp up marketing campaigns a few weeks prior, to ensure they no longer remain quiet – then track those campaigns over time.
Need I go on? Trapping a customer can be as easy as digging a hole and waiting for them to fall in… you just have to make them want to fall in.