Messenger Xtra: How to Utilize the Down Season to Attract Better Leads
By Amy Daniels
What if there were no such thing as a busy season or down season?
Currently, these two terms tend to translate into “the good times” and “the bad times” for storage facilities. Around this time of year, your facility is probably rounding out its busiest season and easing into a down period. I would like to encourage you to approach this time – not with reluctance – but with an eager perspective.
Mike Poynton, owner of digital marketing company Paradise Social, wrote an article for the Costa Rica Star to assist small business that thrive on seasonal tourists:
There doesn’t have to be a busy season or a down season. Instead, the busier months are your time to manage the larger quantity of leads coming your way. Meanwhile, if you’re intentional about marketing and how you use your time in the down season, you’ll have no problem attracting better leads.
This process doesn’t have to be complicated, either. We’ll explore three simple tips to help you take full advantage of the slower season.
#1: Refine your marketing strategies
The down season, though it may be frustrating when looking at profit alone, is the savvy businessman’s good fortune. It’s the perfect time to truly review your previous tactics and determine what needs tweaking moving forward.
Poynton mentions that the down season is the ideal time to identify trends, analyze statistics, send out “thank yous,” and formulate or adjust your marketing strategy for the next high season. Whether you’re headed into your market’s down season or you’re in the middle of it, now is the time to take advantage of what would otherwise be a discouraging drought in business.
Along with reviewing your marketing strategies, you have a few more opportunities that come with your increased free time. If you haven’t already, consider how any of the following could help you start the next busy season with your best foot forward:
Conduct employee evaluations. Rather than squeeze in performance reviews during the more chaotic seasons, this down time is ideal for conducting thorough evaluations. It’s a chance to have some one-on-one time with each of your employees to discuss their opinions, provide positive reinforcement, and address weak points in their management and/or selling skills.
Complete an audit of your business. Analyze several factors of your business. Hone in on particular areas that need improvement, whether that’s more competitive amenities or a smarter budget. Doing this task every year will greatly improve every part of your business in the coming years.
Do some housekeeping. In the months leading up to the busy season, you should be preparing for the influx of customers – not scrambling to complete your taxes or suddenly deciding to make an upgrade to the facility. Consider what you need to tackle in the next year and do it. You’ll free up your mind for more pressing matters when the leads start coming in.
#2: Strengthen your website
Your website is one of your best assets. It helps prospective customers find your business and learn more about you, and it packs a powerful return on investment. If you don’t already have a great website in place, now is the time to work with professionals to gain your competitive edge.
The down season is also a prime time to make improvements to your website. Are there any pages that your site is missing to provide the best user experience possible? Google’s recent efforts – particularly its Hummingbird update – reward sites that offer helpful information in intuitive ways. Spend some time to coordinate with your website provider’s marketing team and SEO experts to address your opportunities.
Keep in mind that the best time to care about your ranking in SERP is before you’re hoping to dominate your local market. Google tends to take approximately 30-60 days before it re-crawls your page and adjusts your ranking. The down season provides ample time to get your site in order before the busy season hits again.
#3: Manage your reputation
When I’m concentrating really hard on a certain task, I have a tendency to bite my lip. I only know this fact due to people telling me, because in moments of intense focus I’m not worried enough about my facial expressions to notice.
Perhaps this sort of thing happens to you during your busy season. While you’re generally providing good service and distributing marketing materials, the many facets of everyday business can make the big picture a bit fuzzy.
While you’ll still be accommodating customers and communicating with leads during the down season, the decrease in business allows you to intentionally make improvements to your facility’s reputation. This step will pay off even during the slower months, and you will reap the benefits exponentially once business picks back up. What all does that involve?
Getting involved in the community. Donate to charity, sign up for volunteer work, and/or host an event. And then? Get publicity for it. See if your local newspaper or your website provider will write some press about your facility’s activities. You’ll help the community and earn brand recognition all at once. Take advantage of any publicity by requesting links back to your website from the referring sources, which will provide natural SEO.
Showing appreciation for your customers. If your leads aren’t biting, make sure that you’re satisfying your current customers. Show them that you appreciate their business with coupons, referral programs, monthly raffles, or customer appreciation events. Satisfied customers will be more likely to refer their friends and rent with you longer.
Maintaining social media accounts. Surely you’ve been managing your social media presence when things are bustling at your facility. Even if your leads aren’t visiting the office during the down season, they’re still logging into their social media accounts. Stay in contact year-round, consider offering Facebook-only deals, and be the first company they think of when they start to run out of space around the house.
Utilizing strategic partnerships. During the down season, think about the fact that it’s someone’s busy season. Who would that be in your community? Try It Local, a business similar to Groupon, encourages owners to find local businesses that complement their products, allowing both companies to benefit from the other’s peak periods.
Gathering customer reviews. At StorageAhead, we constantly encourage facility managers to ask for reviews from their customers. Just this month one of our clients in Destin, FL, StorageOH.com, received three times as many phone calls as the average facility. Why? Even though they rank second in organic search, they are the only facility in the area with plenty of positive customer reviews. If you spend the time to gather these reviews, your website success will improve in any season.
The benefits of a long-term perspective By approaching the down season with this attitude, you adopt a long-term and thoughtful perspective on your storage facility’s business. Over time, as you perfect these processes, the scare of the down season will lose its power. While your competition wallows in what they perceive as “the bad times,” you’ll continue building your base of better leads and – soon – customers.
Amy Daniels is the content writing manager at StorageAhead, the leader in self storage web technology. She combines self storage industry research, powerful web marketing strategies, and small business experience to cultivate the growth of facilities nationwide.