TNSSA panelists discuss the ins-and-outs of self-storage marketing

Allen Baxter, Grace Anderson and Alan Washburn listen as TNSSA director Melissa Roberts introduces the panel discussion.

From guerrilla tactics to Google AdWords, marketing was the topic du jour at Tuesday’s 1st Quarter luncheon of the Tennessee Self Storage Association.

During a panel discussion at The Chattanoogan, attendees heard from Allen Baxter, a manager with A Plus Storage in Nolensville; Grace Anderson, of Absolute Storage Management; and Alan Washburn, who owns four storage properties in Tennessee.

While many self storage owners focus on customers who are going through life changes, Washburn pointed out that it’s also helpful to focus marketing efforts on the service providers who are involved in those changes. Among other things, his company places ads in the offices of divorce attorneys and builds relationships with homeowners associations.

“Most people don’t like HOA’s, but we love them because they don’t let (residents) store stuff,” he said.

Anderson said many of Absolute Storage’s marketing efforts are property-specific, but said they work to cultivate community presence by allowing non-profit groups to use their properties as drop-off locations for things like coat drives or school-supply drives.

When it comes to sponsorships and community outreach, she added, “A lot of that is really driven by our property managers and what they’re involved in.”

In that regard, the panel also emphasized the ability of employees to provide a marketing boost, particularly by their involvement in the community. Baxter, who was recognized as the 2016 Manager of the Year, said it’s helpful to serve on municipal committees and government boards.

“When they think of storage,” he said, “you want them to think of your face.”

While marketing focuses on accentuating the positives, Anderson suggested that owners should also get feedback on their negatives. She said inviting a non-employee — perhaps even from another company — for a tour will sometimes highlight problems or issues that owners have overlooked.

“Be open to that feedback,” she added. “Take it to heart and then put (those changes) in place.”

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