Setting up a marketing budget is important but may seem daunting. We list out the basics to help you get started.
No customers, no business.
We’ve written extensively about how important marketing is for a successful self storage business. It brings in clients that bring fresh revenue, while also boosting your brand. Marketing is a cornerstone of your company’s growth. Knowing where to spend your company’s money in improving it starts with clever budgeting.
Carefully planning your marketing budget gets you the most out of your marketing efforts. We’ll break down the basics of setting a marketing budget while addressing the considerations you’ll have to make.
Starting from the very beginning, a very basic process of developing your marketing budget looks a little like this:
1. Set marketing measurable aims and goals
This is the jumping-off point from which you’ll make most of the rest of your decisions. In doing this, make sure your goals are specific, trackable, and realistic (eg. increase website bookings by 5%). Write them down or keep them in an excel sheet as you move on to the next steps of planning your budget.
2. Set a total spending budget
Your total spending budget should reflect the aims and goals you set out earlier. Depending on which budgeting strategy you’re using, take into account that your overall marketing budget should be between 4-30% of the revenue you want to make. The more results you want, the more you’ll have to spend. Bigger budgets let you target more people in a shorter period and get results faster. It’s a good idea to check out keyword prices (eg. self storage in [your location]) for Google Ads, or targeted audience group prices for Facebook Ads.
3. Decide where to spend that money
Having a total budget set up and getting familiar with the prices of each channel gets you to the next stage - distributing the budget. Decide where exactly (and in which marketing channels) are you investing your time and money. Setting aside some additional money for testing before you go all-in is always a good idea.
As mentioned earlier, your total number figure should reflect your marketing aims and goals. There are a lot of ways to structure a budget, we’ve listed three basic strategies to pursue.
As the name suggests, this strategy is the safest option to pursue. You’ll be looking at spending up to 5-7% of your overall revenue for your marketing spending. While it’ll be the easiest to recoup the cost of, it means you won’t have all the bells and whistles that you might want in a more advanced marketing campaign. Some of the work will ideally be done in-house, which will potentially make it less professional. However, keeping things in-house will also ensure you have the most control over your marketing materials and your campaign.
A realistic budget is the next step up. This tends to be a good option for companies who want to go for a middle ground, letting them outsource while still keeping their overall budget flexible for other expenses. Ballpark figures are spending 4-12% of overall revenue on marketing. You’ll be able to get the help of marketing agencies, who will lend their professional experience and can offer packages for your marketing needs. Make sure that the specific agency has experience handling self storage, and that they can work with your existing goals.
The biggest gamble of the three, it also has the potential to land the biggest splash. You might spend up to 30% getting an entire marketing strategy planned out for you by others, while you’re able to worry about other aspects of the operation. This option obviously bears the highest cost, but potentially the highest reward.
Now that you’ve established a total number, you’ll have to break things down a little more. We’ve covered multiple marketing methods before. Here we’ll focus on the economic cost, how effective each method is for return on investment (ROI), and they’ll eat into your budget. Each has its specific upsides and downsides, and it’ll be up to you to decide which one is right for the budget you’ve selected.
Arguably the easiest one to implement, these include billboards, flyers, and general curbside promotion. It’s easy to implement, relatively cheap, and if done correctly, can be extremely effective, giving you great ROI. The flip side is that you’ll only reach where the physical ads are running, either driving by your facility or seeing the physical locations you are advertising.
Online marketing shouldn’t be overlooked. It requires knowledge of the platform you’re using and a website where customers can book their units. It is quick and cheap to set up, and also lets you have unlimited customer interactions. Keep in mind that online marketing requires either in-house staff to learn how to effectively set up, monitor and optimize campaigns, or you to hire professionals to do it for you. Make sure to track your marketing campaigns.
The benefits of grassroots advertising are twofold: you’ll get your company’s name and logo attached to other events, as well as cultivating community recognition which is good for your brand. This also lets you reach a younger demographic by sponsoring events like charity football games. They’re also a good place to promote any referral programs you’re running, especially at college fairs. Pricing varies between events, and customer conversion will also be difficult to track, meaning ROI is difficult to measure on this form of marketing.
4. Mass media
One more to consider is mass media, such as radio and TV. This has the potential to let you reach the largest audience, and also has the effect of community recognition, if you’re promoting on more local radio or TV station. However, much like grassroots advertising, it’s difficult to precisely track its effectiveness. Furthermore, it’s relatively difficult to set up, can be quite pricey, and aspects of your promotional material may not ultimately be up to you.
Setting up and managing your marketing budget is vital to making sure your marketing efforts succeed. While tracking your marketing methods will make sure your spending doesn’t go to waste, having a clear budget will aid you in making the right decisions with the money your company has.