So you have a storage facility and you want to lease it up. You hear terms like "PPC", "CPC", "paid ads", "Google Ads", and "digital marketing". Where do you even begin?

Navigating all the marketing jargon can be tricky business. In this very simple guide, we'll try to answer the question: "Should I run Google Ads?"

The guide:

For the impatient: scroll down to the bottom to get right to it!

Pug Pro Tip: This isn't a one-size-fits-all guide.

Before spending (or not spending) money on advertising, we recommend chatting with a professional self storage marketing firm to find the best fit for your growing storage business.

Build Your Foundation

First and foremost, make sure the foundation of your marketing strategy is on lockdown. This includes two very critical elements:

  1. Your Google Business Profile

  2. Your website

We'll cover what it takes to build a solid foundation in a future article. For now, just know that without those two pieces, you'll have a very rocky time with marketing, costing you lots of sleep and money in the long run.

The Rest of the Marketing Toolkit

With your foundation built, you can think about other forms of marketing to drive more tenants to your storage facility. Across our industry, these are the top ways to market your business:

  • Digital (Google ads, Facebook, Bing, etc)

  • Aggregators (Sparefoot)

  • Citations and Listings (Google Maps, Yelp, Apple Maps, etc)

  • Signage

  • Reputation

  • Social Media

  • Traditional (billboards, mailers, radio, newspaper)

There's so much you can do, so focusing on what you know best is always the best practice. In this article, we'll focus on one thing: Google Ads.

Should I Run Google Ads?

Ah. The million-dollar question. Here are a few questions to ask yourself first:

  1. How many units do I have to fill?

    • Arguably the #1 question to ask yourself.

  2. What is my lease-up status?

    • Early lease-up, late lease-up, stable, full

  3. How competitive is my market?

    • Are my competitors advertising? Do I have REITs in my market?

Other questions that will inform your strategy:

  • What is my current occupancy?

  • What is my target occupancy?

  • What is the average lifetime stay of a tenant?

    • Historically, the industry accepts 10 or 12 months as an average stay.

  • What does an average unit cost?

  • What is the lifetime value of each tenant?

  • What is my overall marketing budget?

    • If you don't have one, no worries. A typical budget will range from 2-5% of your gross revenue. There are good reasons to spend even more than that, but this is a good baseline.

  • Should I run ads myself? Or hire an expert?

  • How well do I rank on Google organically? Locally?

A Note on Lifetime Value

Once you know your average unit cost and the average length of stay, you can calculate the Lifetime Value (LTV) of each tenant!

  • Example: a $100/mo tenant who stays 12 months.

  • The LTV is $1,200! Amazing.

  • Now ask yourself, how much am I willing to spend to make $1,200?

    • $100? $600? $1,000? There's no right or wrong answer. It's up to you and your overall risk profile.

    • Of course, lower cost per lease (or cost per acquisition) is always better.

So Should I Run Google Ads?

Alrighty. With a solid foundation and sound strategy, you should be equipped to make the decision to run Google Ads or not. Here are a few example scenarios to see where you fit in!

Pug Pro Tip: Keep in mind that your specific business might not fit in these boxes, and that's ok!

Scenario

What to Consider

  • Units to fill: LOTS

  • Lease-up Status: Early-stage, brand new

  • Competition: Dense, metro market. Lots of REITs

  • Google Ads should be part of your strategy

  • Expect to spend a higher amount during the early stage then reduce ad budget as occupancy increases

  • Units to fill: 20-40 per month

  • Lease-up Status: Late-stage, about 60% occupied

  • Competition: Mid-sized market (ie. Knoxville)

  • Google Ads should probably be part of your strategy

  • Your ad budget should be steady by now and reduced from the early stage

  • Units to fill: 10 per month

  • Lease-up Status: stable, about 85% occupied

  • Competition: Rural, no REITs

  • Google Ads is almost optional at this point

  • Your ad budget should factor in your competitors' sophistication (ie. Are they running ads? Do they have a good website? How is their SEO?)

  • Units to fill: <10 per month

  • Lease-up Status: Full, about 95% occupied

  • Competition: Any

  • Congrats on getting full!

  • Google Ads can help backfill move-outs as you perform rate management but it's absolutely optional

  • Some operators like to run ads year-round even if they're full

Note: we won't be answering the question "How much should I spend on Google Ads". That depends on a lot of the factors outlined above. Chat with your self storage marketing team to find the right budget for you.

If you're still a little lost, no worries. We get it :-) Just grab some time for a check-in with a Pug and we'll send you in the right direction!

Happy leasing up!

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