Video tours of real estate and resort properties have long been used in those industries to help market their products, and many are finding it can work just as well for self-storage.
“In 2021, customers are busier than ever before,” says Ian Lopuch, partner, Carlo Development LLC, the company behind Smart Self Storage, which is based in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “Moreover, due to our global pandemic, many are experiencing a great deal of change and stress. Customers deserve a frictionless and easy experience. We view our videography as part of the customer journey, ultimately saving our customers so much valuable time.”
Kodi Churchill, marketing manager for The Storage Group in Orlando, Fla., says videography can be used to market your self-storage business by providing:
Virtual tours of your property
Examples of your unit sizes
Highlighting community events
Highlighting your ancillary services, including familiarizing them with your retail store
Personal presentations from you and your staff
Educational/informational content marketing, such as a “How to pack” video
The Value Of Video
“It’s a very important tool to engage your audience digitally,” says Churchill. “Some people don’t like reading as much; they are more visual. It increases understanding and conversing rates.”
Other industries have been using video to highlight their product for years, but the storage industry is relatively new to the medium. “Video marketing has been somewhat lagging in the self-storage industry,” says Christine DeBord, director of marketing with Janus International in Temple, Ga. “What we’ve seen mostly is video size-guides that help people decide what size unit to rent.”
Adam Mackie, senior director of self-storage for G5, a marketing company located in Bend, Ore., agrees. “We haven’t come very far from the days when Yellow Pages ads were the main source of advertising,” says Mackie. “The last few years, we’ve started to see video content to help build brand identification.”
However, last year changed everything. “COVID-19 accelerated things, and everything migrated to a remote digital model,” says Mackie. “Most of the self-storage industry is looking at ways to interact in a digital format.”
DeBord adds that video marketing goes hand in hand with the current trend for contactless rentals. “We can create brand and feature videos that tell who we are, what we do, and what makes us different,” says DeBord. “For example, we can do a security walk-through video of the site.”
Producing Good Content
Mackie says to produce good video content you should take these steps into consideration:
Planning and production: What content are you going to produce? You can use drones to highlight a tour of your entire facility, have customers do testimonial videos on site, or have staff members talk about your brand values and why they like working for the facility. For production, it is relatively easy to produce a decent video. “Smartphones have made amateurs almost professionals,” says Mackie. “You can get professional apps to help make your videos presentable.”
Distribution: Where are you going to put it? According to Mackie, you should look at putting some video on your website. “That is your digital store front,” he says. As well, you can explore creating a YouTube channel for your videos. “YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world next to Google,” Mackie adds. “You can also use email marketing campaigns using the list of email addresses you’ve developed.”
Tracking effectiveness: To track effectiveness, ask yourself these questions: What’s the return we’re getting? How are we reaching users? How is the video increasing traffic to our website? How is it enhancing and leading to a return?
Lopuch’s company has been using drone video to highlight his properties; the first video was for a facility in West Sacramento. Lopuch is a YouTuber in the finance industry and has 74,000 subscribers and 5.9 million video views on his site, so he knows the value of good video to a brand. “I decided to leverage my passion for videography at our company, and it has performed handsomely,” says Lopuch. “After we produced the first drone video in 2016, we produced drone videos for all of our self-storage facilities.”
The Necessary Equipment
If you want to provide a drone video of your site, industry marketing experts suggest that you hire a professional. Lopuch explains that his team works closely with the videographer on storyline, background music, and editing.
“For our professional drone videos, we have outsourced our video production,” says Lopuch. “We hired a local drone videographer as we always believe in giving back to our local communities and have given him our creative online and script.”
DeBord recommends hiring a professional for the drone, which can be done affordably. If you write your own script and pay them for the voice over, you can likely create a drone video for $2,500 to $5,000, depending on your market.
Per Chuchill, if you can work it into your marketing budget, it’s always advisable to hire a professional to do your videos. Experts agree that you can do more harm than good if you publish an amateurish, shaky video. However, equipment has become more affordable and provides professional quality. And if you do your research on how to shoot professional looking videos on sites such as YouTube and other sites, you can do it yourself.
Mackie reminds owner-operators that no matter who is shooting the video, your property should be in top shape. “Make sure there aren’t any moving trucks, people unloading or loading, your dumpsters aren’t full, and there are no boxes lying about the property,” says Mackie.
The most popular videos on Churchill’s sites are ones that appear authentic, personable, and live. “You can record off Zoom if you’re targeting a specific audience,” Churchill says. “They are professional videos and make it appear clear to play on a high-definition laptop.”
For outside and inside shots of the retail store or the office, you can either hire a professional videographer or do the filming yourself. You will need the following:
A high-definition iPhone, Android, or small camera
Stabilizing equipment and a tripod so the video doesn’t appear shaky
A separate noise blocking microphone
Apps, such as the free iMovie application or Adobe Premier
DeBord estimates that you can get quality equipment for about $1,500 total, but you could spend up to tens of thousands of dollars.
According to Churchill, if you are shooting outside, you should take into consideration:
The time of day – Shooting early in the morning or right before sunset is not as bright as shooing at high noon.
Last but not least, DeBord cautions not to make the videos longer than five minutes. Remember that the goal is to hold your audience’s attention and not adversely affect loading times on your site.
Publish Your Video
When your video is ready, you can publish it on:
Your business website
In email marketing campaigns or newsletters
“I really hope more facilities start doing videos,” says DeBord. “It’s really a great way to engage with today’s audience.”