Steve Lucas is a principal and chief operating officer for The Storage Group, a provider of website development, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, reputation management, software development and more. In his 35-year career, Steve has held many business development and leadership roles. His systematic approach to business creates internal and client-based efficiencies that result in long-term business success with lasting relationships. Toy Storage Nation is grateful to slow Steve down long enough to get some straight answers to straightforward questions about marketing for the RV and boat storage industry …
Can you summarize your education and career progression and how it led you to the storage industry?
Steve Lucas received an associate’s degree in business management from the University of Central Florida. He then embarked on his professional journey in 1993 as a Caribbean operations project executive director in the San Juan Marriott Pool Project. While working on this project, he was appointed to oversee and perform major engineering/construction building projects and open offices in San Juan, Puerto Rico. With over 20 years in construction under his belt, Steve transitioned to storage in 2013 and has been full throttle ahead ever since. Throughout his career, he has made a name for himself in the digital marketing sector upon completing a $1.5 million project and managing the largest contract in the history of the company.
What services does The Storage Group provide? Are there different services for RV and boat storage operations vs. basic self-storage?
The Storage Group is a digital marketing firm specializing in cutting-edge self storage technology products and services. We ensure industry success and improve customer experience through website design, digital marketing services, search engine optimization, and software development for the storage industry. We pioneer, innovate and create. Our experts develop proven digital marketing strategies catered to your needs. With extensive search marketing research, we drive client success through their websites. The services we provide are:
- Progressive website design and development
- Digital marketing and advertising
- SEO, PPC, social media and blogs
- ClickandStor® Online Rental Suite
- ClickandStor® Online Directory
- Competitor Pricing Analysis with market intel™
- And more.
The Storage Group marketing services seamlessly integrate with vehicle storage and the self-storage industry. These services are ideal for both operators of self-storage and RV and boat storage facilities.
Can operators “wing it” when it comes to marketing? What are the pros and cons of doing so?
It is most beneficial to develop a well-rounded marketing strategy for your business to perform the best it can. Companies that “wing it” most likely will not get the results they hope for and could potentially harm their business or miss out on many customers. With marketing, it’s vital to understand all of the in and outs. With search engine optimization, an expert level of skill is needed. Making mistakes here could lead to penalties so you will want to be very educated on this skill.
Some facilities may choose to build their website but you will need to be very careful here. There are some easy website builders out there but many of them lack the components to create a well-performing and optimized website. If you know your target audience well and have a skill for graphics and creativity, you could create your social posts. Keep in mind, the experts usually know best.
Local listings are one place where I would not recommend going alone. Cleaning up and creating your listings can be very time-consuming and some simple mistakes could send your rankings plummeting. Google Ads can be created by anyone. The cons of this could see you spending way more money than needed. An expert PPC strategist will know exactly what to do to get the most leads for your dollars.
Do you spend a lot of time educating your clients to direct them to the most strategic marketing tools for their business?
Absolutely! During each performance review, we go over the client’s current data with their online marketing but we also go over what else they could be doing to make their results better, what goals they have for the future, and how to achieve those goals together. We strive to help them understand the results they are getting from the products they are receiving from TSG and offer solutions for improvement as needed.
What are the key elements of establishing a marketing plan? Does it change according to the size of a facility, the location or other independent factors?
Yes, the marketing plan can change depending on multiple factors including location, population, competition in the market, if your facility is newly built or underwent a name change, and more. All of these factors help in determining the correct marketing plan for your location.
Are they any marketing “mistakes” that you see operators making on a consistent basis? The storage industry is unique, you have several owners and operators with different backgrounds, location demographics, and more. Several storage owners believe a website is enough but there is so much more out there. Several digital strategies catapult a storage business such as running the market intel to competitively price your units. PPC, utilizing local listings and being aware, and always working on your digital reputation. While the storage industry isn’t known to have eye-catching and engaging photos, customers WANT to see photos of your facility, units and property. They are storing their valuable items. Not utilizing the market intel tool to competitively price your units.
Do you have a basic list of do’s and don’ts?
- Online rental tool with secure website
- SEO so you can be found
- Local listings to increase trust
- Get reviews on Google and respond to them
- Claim, complete and continue to update your Google Business Profile
- Check your website speed and performance (it matters!)
- Monitor your website for Spam
- Submit your website to search engines and be sure to monitor these accounts ● Track analytics, ranking reports, insights and more
- Forget to claim your Google Business Profile
- Buy backlinks
- Get a rental tool that’s not user friendly
- Have an unsecured website
- Do anything that might penalize your rankings
What are some quick tips for a business owner to improve their skills in marketing? Track updates and algorithm changes for SEO. You will also want to be very familiar with Google’s best practices. Keeping up with Google’s documentation will help you to do what’s best for both your website and your Google Business Profile. Stay active on social media with regular posts. Be sure to study up for the best times to post and more. Learn about website reporting tools and how to monitor them. From Google Analytics to Google Search Console to Google Insights to Bing Webmaster tools, you will want to stay very aware of all the information provided.
Do you have examples of how marketing can impact the success of a business? Did the pandemic affect the way storage operators do business? And, if so, do the lessons learned still apply today?
The pandemic drastically affected self storage. Pushing self storage from in-person to online rentals payment tools and contactless rentals became the norm in the industry. This trend continues today.
Lastly, when you’re not focused on The Storage Group, what are your favorite ways to unwind? Do you have any favorite outdoor activities that you participate in regularly?
I enjoy traveling to festivals and events in my RV with my wife and dogs. You can also catch me fly fishing in the warmer months!
Stake Your Claim in Toy Storage
Learn more about all aspects of developing and operating a successful RV and boat storage facility at the upcoming Toy Storage Nation Executive Workshop, June 16, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Denver/Boulder, Colo., where Steve Lucas will lead a presentation on marketing strategies for toy storage operators. Limited seats are available for this one-day accelerated, intensive workshop, led by the industry’s most experienced professionals. Learn more and REGISTER NOW