Local market research and competitor analysis is vital for positioning your facility to retain high occupancy month to month. Though the word “research” may conjure images of a lengthy and involved process, it doesn’t have to be if you’ve got the right software and strategy in place for your business.
To be clear, market research and competitor analysis address two different ways to collect information for better serving your customer:
Market research allows you to learn about your target market, based on information like neighborhood, age, income level and other relevant demographic information.
Competitor analysis allows you to learn about businesses in your area doing what you do, which might be capturing the interest of that ideal customer. Competitor analysis allows you to decide the ways to differentiate your business, or trends among successful competitors that you haven’t considered.
Identify Market Opportunities and React
Instead of imagining market research as surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups, recognize that it can also include the collection of relevant data from tools you’ve already got in place.
4 Quick Ways to Learn About Your Market
- If you already have tenant data in your property management software, you have an excellent starting point for locating other potential customers who fit the profile of a tenant. Ad platforms frequently offer “lookalike” audience creation so that they can place your business in front of people who fit your ideal customer profile.
- Tracking user engagement on your website with Google Analytics — and user behavior with a heat mapping software — will present you with detail about what is popular or helpful for that ideal customer. You will be able to gauge which pages and page features drive site visitors to reserve or rent.
- Ad insights will also indicate which features those who engage with your ads have in common. Maybe your ideal customer resides 3 to 5 miles from your facility, maybe that distance extends to 7 miles.
- Use your marketing automation software or email tool to promptly follow up with customers, asking about their experience and requesting feedback. Consider reaching out to tenants right after move-in, so you can capture insight about why they chose your business or why they are happy with your business. It’s a bonus if they share their positive feedback online or on Google.
Starting with Competitive Analysis
Before you immerse yourself in analysis, be aware that competitor research gets you familiar with what matters to your customers, but it is not a substitute for contacting and researching your local market.
Compare your facility to others within a five-mile radius, because this is mostly likely where the majority of your customers are coming from. Who else gets stacked beside your Google Maps result? If you zoom in closely, whose pins are listed just around yours? Those are the businesses that deserve your analysis and attention. When analyzing competitors in your market, important things to look at include:
- Price of comparable units
- Specials or discounts being offered
- Features that differentiate the facility
- Reviews and published feedback
- Hours of operation for easy access
In most markets, you will be competing with REITs. These competitors are much larger, can market much more aggressively, and can offer very low prices. Their strategy may not look just like yours, but it’s important to consider what they’re doing and create a strategy to compete. These large operators are still competing for the same customers, so it’s important not to discount them as competitors.
Tip: If you use marketing tools like SEMRush, Spyfu, AWR Cloud, etc., you can access information such as competitor search rank, website changes, traffic, keywords, and ads.
Apply Research When Setting Pricing, Specials
One of the more important ways to edge out your direct competitors is to offer the best rate or smartest special on the unit sizes that matter most to your customers.
Stay one step ahead of your competition by conducting price comparisons often. Though flexible pricing will depend on your occupancy rates and the needs of your target market, you should stay aware. Your rates and deals may not always be the best out there, but a conscious effort to avoid being way off of the mark is crucial. As it relates to your digital marketing efforts, your potential customers are comparing you to two or three other websites; and you don’t have to lose that lead you worked hard to get on your site solely because of a small price difference.
If you become the facility with the highest rates among your local competitors, you will likely see a decline in site activity. For Google, your less-than-desirable rates mean you aren’t as relevant a search result for Google searchers. Users are likely to bounce from your page back to Google — signaling their inability to complete the task of renting or reserving storage space. This can eventually translate to a slouch in search rank.
There is a lot of complicated data that you can find and mine. If you have been to the trade shows, you have probably heard all about it. While all of the data is good — even the hard-to-get data — don’t overlook what you have that can be easily accessible and may be just as valuable.