Benefits of an Integrated Marketing Plan & How to Get Started
By Alyssa Browning
Marketing is an essential function of every business- even local ones. You may have the nicest self-storage facility or the best customer service in your area, but without marketing, few people will know about it. Furthermore, a common misconception about marketing is that there is only one way to do it, but that isn’t the case. In fact, there are many ways to market your business from digital and online marketing, to traditional marketing to hosting events at your facility. So, which classification is the best? Some may say online marketing while others say to stick to the tried and true. However, the bare boned truth is that to have the most successful marketing campaign in today’s fast paced and ever changing world your marketing campaign should be dynamic and include elements from each area of marketing. According to Ken Turley of Easy Storage Solutions’ marketing department “Utilizing a balanced marketing approach, with a focus in online and traditional marketing methods, makes the difference between a mediocre facility and a highly successful one. With a balanced approach you can reach every type of demographic and can truly cast a wider net to attract more business to your self-storage facility consistently throughout the year”.
First let’s examine what each of the different marketing types entail. Digital & Online marketing include more than merely having a website- though having a website is also important. It includes search engine optimization (SEO), Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing (SMM), content marketing (blogs), and even email marketing. Each of these components of digital marketing ultimately make it easier for people to find your website which makes it easier for them to become your customer. On the flip side, Traditional Marketing would include newspaper ads, billboards, radio spots, word-of-mouth marketing, and television ads. While these are tried and true they are not as effective alone as they used to be. Finally, an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Plan is the term that describes marketing across different channels to create a cohesive marketing message for your tenants and potential tenants alike.
Benefits of an IMC Plan
The benefits of creating an integrated marketing communications plan go on for days. To begin, spreading your message across multiple channels allows you to reach a wider base. For example, if you only run a newspaper ad you may reach an audience that is more keen to reading the newspaper, however, you may miss out on the audience that skips the print and reads news on the internet instead. This is where your IMC plan would come in. If you run an ad in your local newspaper as well as create an online advertisement you are able to reach both audiences. You might say “well, my target market is the younger generation and they don’t care about traditional marketing.” To that, you may surprised to know that 51% of “millennials” still search the newspaper for deals and coupons (Olenski, S., 2013). That’s not to say that internet advertising isn’t important though because 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when looking to make a purchase (Hubspot, n.d.). In addition to allowing you to reach a wider base your IMC plan makes your approach multi-dimensional instead of one dimensional. Essentially, using multiple channels fosters engagement for your facility and gets people more involved, so they make their decisions based on emotions and wants rather than cost.
Another benefit of having an IMC plan would be the ability to keep yourself at the forefront of your target audience's mind. The self-storage industry is a need based industry, meaning that people don’t typically rent a storage unit if they don’t need one. That being said when they do need one you want to be the facility they immediately think of. You can do that by utilizing “touch points”. Touch points refer to the amount of times you interact with a customer either through an advertisement, phone call, referral, or other method. You want to be the facility they remember because they have seen you everywhere. Your marketing plan, if prepared correctly, should give you plenty of opportunity for “touch points”.
Now you know that having an IMC plan is important, and you have an idea of why, but you are probably asking yourself, “how do I get started”. The next step is to begin actually creating your plan. To do this you need to set a target market, determine your overarching goal, create a strategy, and then create goals and tactics to help you reach your overarching goal.
To begin, your overarching goal is your main goal for your business. For the self-storage industry your overarching goal may be to have 90% occupancy for your facility by the end of the year.
Your strategy is the approach you plan to use in order to reach your overarching goal. This shouldn’t be confused with how you will reach your goal, because that comes later. An example of a strategy for reaching your overarching goal could be to get your facility more involved in the community.
The next step is to determine what smaller goals you can utilize to support your strategy and overarching goal. If you want to become more involved in the community so you can increase your occupancy rate to 90% by the end of the year you may decide to host an event at your facility quarterly. Hosting a quarterly event supports your strategy and your goal by getting involved with the community which in turn creates awareness about your services.
The final and equally important step is choosing your tactics. These are the actionable steps you take to reach your goals, support your strategy, and ultimately reach your overarching business goal. This is the section where your IMC plan really comes into play, because this is how you advertise your facility and your events. For example, some tactics for this scenario could include hosting an easter egg hunt in April at your facility. In order to host the event you could choose to market it via flyers at schools, the local newspaper, and online advertisements on your website and on Google Ads. This utilizes more than one type of marketing (thus utilizing an IMC plan) and also supports all strategies and goals by getting involved in your community, and increasing awareness of your services. This keeps you at the front of their mind, and may trigger people to realize they do need a storage unit even though they didn’t know it before.
Keep In Mind
Keep in mind that as you are planning your approach and determining how you want to market your facility it is important that all of the tools at your disposal be used as a funnel to get people to your website. Your website is the section of your IMC plan that physically gives you the lead. For example, say you moved forward with hosting your event and marketing your facility through many different channels. Now you have people that are interested in your facility but they aren’t sure where to proceed. If you give them the clear opportunity via your website to contact you or rent a unit online (this capability is provided through ESS’s self-storage management software & website) then you are more likely to get that tenant. If you don’t have a website or don’t have online rental capabilities you may be losing a lot of potential tenants to your competitors who do have those resources.
Also, keep in mind that the marketing mix that works the best for your business is something you will have to figure out and tweak over time. You may begin with a website, referrals, and a few billboards, but as time goes on you may realize your billboard isn’t helping and opt to spend that budget on Google Ads or other PPC advertising. The key piece of your IMC plan should be getting your leads to your website so they can rent a unit. Aside from that, you are able to choose the plan that works best for you, your business and your target market.
Hoffman, J. (n.d.). The Ultimate Guide to Prospecting: How Many Touchpoints, When, and What Type. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/the-ultimate-guide-to-prospecting-how-many-touchpoints-when-and-what-type
HubSpot. (n.d.). The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics
Olenski, S. (2013, September 16). Why Integrated Marketing Communications Is More Important Than Ever. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/steveolenski/2013/09/16/why-integrated-marketing-communications-is-more-important-than-ever/#548efa1c41ab