If your storage facility is located near a college campus, bringing in new customers should be as easy as a freshmen level music appreciation class. However, as many self storage operators know from experience, that’s not always the case. If your storage facility isn’t attracting as many college student renters as you’d like, you might chalk it up to increased competition due to an over-saturated market or just a lack of demand from your local university. Whatever the case, there are plenty of ways to get the nearby student population to pay attention to your business. And don’t worry, none of them involve giving away free beer.
Advertise on Social Media
College students are a bit of a captive audience, so while you shouldn’t underestimate the advertising power of some well placed flyers, you also shouldn’t ignore the one place they’re really looking: social media
. Be sure to have a solid presence on at least two social media platforms. Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat to create dynamic content that’s relevant to college students. Always make sure this content is student specific. This means using familiar images like photos of students on campus or a graduation cap to send the message that your business is geared towards university storage users.
Offer social media based incentives and promotions, like a special discount for liking your facility on Facebook or a weekly trivia contest with giveaways. Finding a way to get college students to follow you on social media will build an audience and earn you new business.
Increase Your Presence on Campus
Build relationships with individuals and groups on campus who can help you find opportunities to set up booths at student events and connect you with resources like online student forums. Focus on campus administrators who are involved with housing, student life, study abroad programs or campus events.
Be sure to make contact with student leaders as well. Getting in touch with the editor of the campus newspaper, for example, is a great way to build a relationship with someone who has the ability to give your business a voice. Just imagine the brand recognition you could get from being quoted in a university magazine article about students moving out of the dorms at the end of the semester.
Offer Amenities That Matter to Students
Take a walk around your storage facility and picture yourself as a college student. What appeals to you? What doesn’t? When reviewing the features you currently offer at your storage facility, ask yourself how they benefit college students. Some amenities that a university storage user might look for when renting a storage unit include online bill pay, 24 hour access, portable storage, moving truck rental, moving supplies and climate control.
If you already offer plenty of features that appeal to college students, highlight these in your ads. If you don’t, make an effort to add these amenities to your facility. Students look for a storage experience that’s easy, affordable and approachable. You can make the student storage experience easy by making sure that college renters know that leases are month-to-month and don’t require long term commitment. You can make it affordable by offering student specials like one month free or the entire summer up front at a low rate. You can make it approachable by letting students know that your facility welcomes and appreciates business from the university.
Create a Student Section on Your Website
When college students look for storage units online, what do you think they type into the search engine? You can appeal to them by devoting a section of your website to student storage needs. Including words like “college” and “university” on your website is a good start, but mentioning the specific college or colleges that your facility is near is even better. If a student clicks on your website and sees the university they attend mentioned, they’ll know right away that your business is catering to their needs.
In addition to prominently displaying university specific language and images on your website, include information like storage tips for students or size guide videos
to make their experience with your website and your facility even easier.
Advertise to Parents Too
Most students aren’t paying for tuition and living expenses on their own, so it stands to reason that they probably won’t all be paying for their storage units out of their own pockets either. Keep this in mind with everything you do when it comes to renting to college students, from getting Mom and Dad’s contact information on the lease to communicating specials and discounts. Focus some of your advertising efforts on the parents of college students in addition to the college students themselves. This means targeting parents with paid Facebook ads, making contact with campus administrators who can get your facility’s name in places where adults will see it and considering the needs of parents when evaluating the amenities that your facility offers.
By engaging with the student community and tailoring your business to cater to their needs, you’ll be sure to graduate from local storage facility to one of the most recognized businesses in town.