Self-storage exec talks millennial marketing

Be there. Be real. Be efficient.

That was the millennial marketing strategy highlighted at the Tennessee Self Storage Association’s quarterly meeting last week.

The event’s keynote speaker was Daniel Ruble, vice president of marketing at CubeSmart and a University of Tennessee-Knoxville alum. Ruble said that by 2025, 50 percent of U.S. income will be from millennials, defined as the generation born between 1982 and 2000.

While they’re sometimes viewed negatively by older generations, Ruble said millennials’ most significant distinction is simple — their lives have been defined by the technology revolution. The average millennial, he said, has eight connected devices, compared to five for the average Baby Boomer.

What does that mean for marketing to those customers? First, a digital presence — including a well-designed website with pricing information — is crucial. “This is really the cost of entry,” Ruble said. “Millennials expect it.”

Second, it’s crucial to have a strong presence in search engine results. “You have to be presented as a viable option when that customer is in ‘hunt mode,'” Ruble said. He advised attendees to verify their Google Business page, and to consider buying paid search results.

The marketing guru emphasized the importance of authenticity, and said it’s crucial to pay attention to online reviews. When a negative review is posted, he said it’s important to respond quickly.

He also said self storage owners should ask for positive reviews, including handing out cards that explain how customers can leave a review, and following up with an email.

Finally, he said, owners should be efficient, possibly even discouraging some customers from renting. As an example, he said owners might want to avoid marketing to college students if their facilities are mostly full. Instead, they should focus on attracting customers who will be more likely to rent for a long term.

And even as millennials see the world differently, some things never change — like many customers, Ruble said, they love a good deal. “(They) tend to gravitate more toward the units that have some sort of free rent tied to it,” he added.

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