Powerful Marketing Strategies to Help Your Business Compete with REITs
I was forced to look for a new hair salon last week; and, because of my obsession with my hair (and many other things), I spent two days Googling, looking at websites, Facebook pages, surveying friends and friends of friends (otherwise known as influencers), and checking out some local publications. Did I care if it was a big corporate franchise or a local salon? Not really. I just want what I want! With a personal service business, I tend to shy away from the big players because I don’t always feel the same connection that I do with a local business. Just like most people, when I’m spending my money on a service, I want to build relationships, feel appreciated, and get the best value.
By now, you’re probably wondering, “How does this in any way relate to a small self-storage operator competing with an REIT from a marketing perspective?” Allow me a little more license. Hair salons and self storage both provide a service. What people are looking for in one service business, they’re looking for in all of them. The key is that you need a solid marketing plan so that your potential customers can find you. If you’re going to compete with REITs, it’s time to get serious about your marketing strategy.
You Can Achieve Big Results on a Small Budget
We all love big budgets, but with diligence and creativity you can have a dynamic marketing campaign in spite of a small budget.
While searching for a new salon, if I discovered a site that was confusing and difficult to navigate, I closed it and moved on to the next one. A website is not an option, if you want to compete. It needs to be high-quality and user-friendly. Images should be clear and content should be engaging. Information has to offer value and be readable. Potential customers should be able to find what they’re looking for in no more than three clicks. If they have to spend too much time trying to understand your features, calculating the amount of storage space they might need, or trying to rent space online, they’ll find a more user-friendly site.
Optimize Your Website
To ensure that your competitive and your web pages appear in Google’s and Bing’s top results, successful keyword optimization is paramount. Remember,
“the best place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google.” unknown
I previously mentioned that I Googled local hair salons. I can assure you that I did not even once look at Page 2 of Google. I may have missed a great salon, but I had plenty to choose from in the top results. If you want to reach your target audience by way of organic search (unpaid search results), it’s critical that you use the right keywords. Your keyword research toolkit can include Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Google Correlate. The ultimate in keyword research is the SEMrush Keyword Analytic Report. You can request a free report from FineView Marketing. In it you’ll see your competitors’ best keywords, discover new organic competitors, observe position changes of domains and much more.
If you want to reach your target demographic, a social media presence is vital. I spent a lot of time looking at the Facebook pages of local salons. I read reviews, looked at pictures, and checked dates to see if their posts were recent. Potential self-storage tenants will do the same thing.
Don’t waste your resources; define your target audience and post content that speaks to them. Is your target audience industry players and influencers or prospective customers? After you’ve determined your audience, think about the following points.
- What social media sites are most worthwhile for your activity?
- What is your posting schedule?
- What type of content should you post?
- What is your brand’s voice?
- What information should be in your profiles?
If you want your social media presence to delight your audience, be distinctive; write killer content. I read lots of content on the salon sites and pages; if it wasn’t engaging and original, it didn’t grasp my attention. Don’t just imitate your competitors. It’s a good idea to check out competitor content for inspiration, and then do whatever it takes to stop your followers in their tracks.
Write a blog. According to Neil Patel, named one of the Wall Street Journal’s top influencers on the web, “You’ve seen me and thousands of other marketers talk about how to make a blog popular. But if you don’t set up your blog correctly, you won’t do well no matter what kind of marketing you do.” Use team photos and photos of your customers. Behind-the-scenes photos and videos are always engaging. Embed videos in your blogs. Be creative; educate, address problems, offer solutions. It’s easier than you think, and it will help you to compete effectively and break through the rest of the social media clamor.
I did glance at a couple of local publications, and saw some ads that caught my eye and some that didn’t. I did see that some salons had extras like, clothing and jewelry boutiques and skin care services.
Market to your community. Engage prospective customers on a local level around your physical store location. Capitalize on the potential in your local market. Don’t get caught in the web of trying to use the same strategies as the big players. You don’t have the same budget, but you can see the same success.
- Become familiar with your area and your competitive radius.
- Join the local chamber.
- Host an onsite event focusing on a charity or non-profit.
- Use marketing collateral to share your business.
Understanding your neighbors and the behaviors of potential customers living in the surrounding area will help determine the best marketing mix and where to focus your efforts. The REITs cannot do these things as effectively or as quickly as you because the decision-makers are not local.
Your takeaway from this should be that you don’t need a huge budget to be a huge success. It does take diligence, perseverance, and a positive attitude (along with the perfect keywords).
By the way, the salon that I finally chose is a delightful local salon that is a perfect fit. It has an attractive, user-friendly site where I can conveniently make online appointments, lots of good reviews on social media, captivating content on both the website and Facebook, ads in local publications, excellent customer service, a fun boutique and a fairly reasonable cost. Win-Win!