He came up with the idea of creating a rap music video for YouTube to promote his self-storage business. A musician friend wrote and performed the funky song titled, “Get Your Move On,” which includes a talking puppet monkey, a slew of backup dancers and catchy lyrics like, “Nah, this ain’t no Storage War, cuz we got the prices you’re lookin’ for … It’s R to the A to the Y Self Storage.”
The humorous two-minute video—which creatively runs down Ray’s services—is linked on the company’s website and also is plugged during a 30-second commercial that runs on cable TV. Ray spent about $2,000 to make the commercial and video. He said the project was well worth it.
“We got quite a bit of traction and have over 100,000 hits on YouTube,” Ray said. “We were pretty pleased with that. We go around and people talk about it all the time. It’s name recognition. It’s hard to gauge really how much business you get from something like this, but anytime you get people talking about your business, that’s always positive.”
Is YouTube Right for You?
So, could YouTube be a marketing tool for your self-storage business?
With more than 1 billion visitors each month, it’s hard to ignore YouTube’s potential marketing power. Donna Wilson, operations manager at Brentwood, CA-based Denos Communications, said today’s self-storage operators need a strong social media presence. She’s seen an uptick in the use of YouTube videos by self-storage operators.
“Sometimes more people are visually learning about the self-storage market than reading about it,” she said. “Specifically with YouTube videos of properties, it definitely helps create and promote the atmosphere for the end user. They can see how the facility is in reality versus just reading about it.”
YouTube videos don’t have to be flashy; they can be as simple as interviews with the business owner, tours of the property, customer testimonials or interviews with industry experts. And owners don’t necessarily need a big budget.
“With YouTube, there are so many different types of programs out there that can help enhance a personal video,” Wilson said. “When you upload it, you can take out the (shaky shots) and add music and background. People can try and figure this out without having to spend a lot of money.”
The SEO Boost
YouTube videos can help self-storage businesses with their search engine optimization (SEO), with appearance on the first page of Google search results being the main objective, Wilson said.
Companies can accomplish this through link-building. After posting a video on YouTube, they can place a link to their website in the video’s “text description,” which immediately embeds the video on their websites. Those who like the video can embed it on their websites, and each embedded video is a link to the video’s YouTube page. The more often that businesses post relevant material to YouTube and other social media platforms, the more Google recognizes them as an industry experts and the higher their search rankings will be.
“Helping SEO is what a lot of people strive for when doing online marketing,” Wilson said. “They want to bring people to their website; it helps keep them relevant in the rankings. So if someone is looking for self-storage in North Carolina, for example, you want to be on that first page (of search results)—not the second or third.”
Do Videos Bring More Business?
However, Wilson acknowledged it’s difficult to measure whether YouTube videos actually are creating new business and revenue for self-storage owners.
“You have to try and figure out: Did you create a new business relationship based on that video?” she said. “You’d have to probably ask everybody who calls or comes in, ‘Hey, how did you hear about us?’”
That would help owners decide where to spend their marketing dollars—whether it’s a YouTube video, the Yellow Pages, a flyer, a print ad, a billboard or a commercial.
A ‘Negligible’ Effect?
Bob Copper, partner in charge at Birmingham, AL-based Self Storage 101, thinks YouTube videos can’t hurt a self-storage business, but they might not really help it either. He runs a consulting firm for the self-storage industry.
“I don’t think it hurts if you have the time and the inclination,” Copper said. “But I think the effect on your business is going to be negligible, because even if you have a bunch of hits, probably 99.99 percent of those people aren’t ever going to be customers. You get hits from people in Japan.”
Copper said self-storage remains primarily a neighborhood business.
“Somebody who sees our video from 15 miles away isn’t going to store with us,” he said. “They’ll pass 40 other self-storage properties on the way. They’re not going to come to you just because they saw a YouTube video, because it’s still by and large a bricks-and-mortar business.”
He said that while YouTube videos are fun, owners need to stick to the basics—a good website, a clean property, well-trained managers, a good location and good signage.
“All those things still matter in this bricks-and-mortar business,” Copper said. “It’s not a virtual business. You have to have good curb appeal.”