With more and more competitors all around you, you may be asking, what can I do to set myself apart from the rest and get noticed?
The Usual Suspects
Where permissible by zoning codes, one of the best options is additional signage. Remember to keep signage PERPENDICULAR to the road, not parallel. If you have a building sign consider a pylon and vice-versa. Signs should be clean and contain a great deal of “white space”. The message should be very simple, and if you have a long or confusing name, just go with STORAGE or SELF-STORAGE as the emphasis and minimize your name. Use some kind of unique identifier that your phone callers can associate with your store such as, “we have two American flags on either side of our sign”, or our sign is the ONLY sign with a red border (make sure that is true). Frankly, if my competitor had a red border, I would put one on my sign and then put two flags on it maybe you can steal the thunder from your competitor.
When additional signage is not possible, then it may just be time to clean up the old sign. Just like everything else that is outdoors 100% of the time, your signage may be taking a beating from the weather dirt, soot and sun fading are the most common sign ailments. You may be able to cure the problem with a good washing, or more aggressive decay will require repainting.
Check the bulbs if the sign is lit. I can not tell you how many signs I see that are dim because bulbs are burned out, dim from age and even some have bulbs that are missing. I know of one operator who pulled the bulbs out because they were burned out, and two years later, the bulbs have not yet been replaced! Imagine that! Bulbs, particularly fluorescent tubes require regular replacement to keep them bright. If you use incandescent bulbs, and you have several, try using different colored bulbs along with the white bulbs.
Not only is flag raising patriotic, it can be good for business. If you are plagued with restrictive signage limitations, or of you made a site selection mistake and you are off the main road, try a HUGE (yes, expensive) flag. The further the building is off of the road, the larger the flag and pole. My rule of thumb is 5′ of pole for every 10′ foot of BUILDING offset. That means a 50′ setback will require a 25′ pole, and the pole is only going to be 20″ off of the road. If you really goofed, and you are behind another building, you may want to consider a 50′ pole and a corresponding sized flag. Speaking of “setback”, get your wallet out.
You may not need a permit for the American and a State flag, but you should definitely understand your local ordinances before you order the flag. I also recommend professional installation for any flagpole over 20′.
Treat your flag with respect. Observe flag etiquette and know how and when a flag should be flown. Understand lighting requirements, folding and half-mast protocols. You can really make people mad when you disrespect a flag.
Think Outside The Box
How about a few ideas that are a little more ‘over the edge'?
Inflatables. Gotta' tell you, I LOVE those giant balloons. Once again, know your local limitations, and consider going right to the max. If there is no specific ordinance, then ask for forgiveness instead or permission. I prefer those that look like a dirigible, but there are all kinds of creative ways of getting balloon attention. If your town has a sports team, try a licensed inflatable mascot, with STORAGE HERE on the banner. Remember, “size matters”. What may look huge in your lobby when you unpack it can be pretty dinky 100′ in the air. Use streamers off of the balloon when possible. Bright colors will tend to get noticed, and the more sophisticated balloons can even be lit.
Think about setting yourself apart from the competition. If your store needs a facelift, try clean bright colors as an accent. More than one store in the US has fluorescent orange trim on the building. I do not suggest this image killing technique, unless you are desperate, but it sometimes really is all about the money. Are you afraid your competition will not like you? It is a “puppy eat puppy” world out there and if I am not getting referrals from my competitors, then I owe them nothing. Prepare for battle. Arm yourself with the best and biggest “get noticed” weapons possible. What about fluorescent green, yellow and orange doors? I am talking about colors that hurt! Then to add insult to injury, let's get some lights on those babies!
How about human directionals? Remember the old sandwich boards? Do you have kids? Put them to work out front with a big box that says STORAGE. I am talking about a HUGE box. Make sure they have suntan lotion and plenty of water they should be good for several hours without a break if properly equipped. Hey, it got me spending money in college, or are you just too proud to have your kid work for a living? If so, then your occupancy is above 93% or you just do not want it bad enough. How about a couple of flag wavers?
While I am not an advocate of exploiting women, one of the most successful campaigns I ever ran was in Las Vegas. A bright orange bikini clad curvaceous woman, tanning on a Corvette convertible with the lights on and stereo blasting rented 12 spaces in one Saturday. There was a banner on the ‘vette that said “CHECK OUT MY SPACE” .
Old large bobtail trucks can be purchased reasonably, or an old U-Haul truck. Paint the truck with signage, or even a big arrow if your store suffers from confused identity or sits off the road. The truck can be parked in front of your store if possible, or even on or down the street from your store.
If your office needs attention, try having a canopy erected over the office. You can use bright colors such as blue, green or burgundy and still look very professional. How about painting the curb and gutter if permitted. If not, then how about a bright orange driveway?
FOR THE MEEK MAY INHERIT THE EARTH, BUT THEY ARE NOT LIKELY HAVE HIGH RATES OR OCCUPANCY.
For those of you who just want a little attention, and prefer the subtle approach, consider some of the following, less ‘edgy'…
Plant flowers around the base of your sign. For those of you who want to live on the edge, plant red ones, for the rest of you, green will be very discreet.
Purchase a neon “OPEN” sign for your window (facing the street).
Put up Christmas lights around the window, for the daring put them up EVERYWHERE, in mass quantities. If you have a tree in the yard decorate it as though it were Christmas. This is particularly effective in June or August. Icicle lights around the roofline make a good attention getter, if you are feeling bold. A Santa Claus human directional may even make the local papers (if you call them with a hot tip).
Hire a string quartet and rent a HUGE amplification system. Got guts? Hire a band from the 70's.
Sandwich board signs with catchy phrases. Or, OUTRAGEOUS sayings.
C _ S T O M E _ S: What's missing? U R
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LAST TUESDAY WAS FREE RENT DAY
Offer your parking lot on a Saturday for a high school or church car wash fundraiser.
Purchase real estate yard signs with your amenities.
Hang colored streamers in your lowest tree branches. Over the top toilet paper your own trees and blame it on the local juvenile delinquents.
Contact the local police department and offer your facility for drug dog training, if they say yes, make sure you issue a press release (with pictures if they will allow).