Okay, so I realize that the idea behind the subject for today clearly isn't rocket science - or is it? How do you work around them? It can seem like rocket science if you don’t know the answer!
Let’s just get a few things out of the way here. Do self-storage aggregators get under my skin? Yes. Can they be helpful to some facilities depending on their particular marketing situations? Certainly. Can aggregators harm your online presence? You bet. Do we HAVE to use the aggregators in order to gain an online presence? Absolutely not.
I've talked to countless aggregator sites over the past several months. They all have the exact same selling technique. Trying to convince you that without them you will simply get lost in cyberspace and no customer will ever find you! They can not only provide you with an amazing listing for your business, many times with pictures, maps, etc, BUT they will also give you PRIME web presence! (Never mind the fact that they are using that same marketing technique on every facility they talk to. How exactly can everyone be given the prime listing?) And the best part is... all of this can be done for the low, low price of $9.99 per month (plus the added $29.99 fee for each referral they send your way)!
Now I do understand how this may sound like a great business relationship. Especially if you have no website or your website has a poor web presence. Admittedly, I am very fortunate. My facility owner had our website developed many years ago when our doors were first opened so I have a very well established website which I have since taken over maintenance. Also, my area is quite small and there are few storage facilities in my area that are competing for my web presence. So yes, my situation is unique. But I still have to question the use of self-storage aggregators and paid listing sites.
There are so many free listing options on the web that I have a hard time with the concept of actually paying for one. So my question for you today is... Do you know how your facility is being represented online? Have you checked those listings for accuracy? Have you done a Google search of your own facility name lately? I realize that until one knows "how" to work around the aggregators you may seemingly have no other choice but to work "with" them. That's where I believe our Aggregator Debates are leaving something to be desired - Education.
How do you work around the paid listings and aggregators? First of all, let me say this. Just because you do not have a website does not mean you do not have a web presence! You do!! Here is a great place to start:
Do a Google or Bing or Yahoo search of your facility name. Take a close look at what you find. Do you see a Google Map listing? If so, have you claimed it? You need to. And while you are at it, make sure the map location is correct. Check out all the listings that you find. Is your information accurate? If not, claim the listing and correct the errors. Now, go to www.getlisted.org and enter your facility name and zip code. This one may surprise you. I’m sure you will see many listings that you did not realize your business name was linked to. Check each of these carefully. Does the website link actually link back to your website? Is the phone number correct? And most importantly has the listing been claimed? If not, well you know the answer by now… Claim it!
Claiming the listing is easy. There is usually a prominent button on the listing asking you to “Claim it” or “Is this your business?” Most of the time you will have to set up an account with the search engine in order to claim the listing and make changes. This is FREE. There is absolutely NO NEED to provide credit card information or to sign up for the upgraded listings. And also please note, even if your information is accurate, you still need to claim the listing to ensure that no other third party will claim it in your place and possibly change your information without your consent.
Now, this is just the beginning but we have to start somewhere, right? Aside from establishing your own website, which given the many low cost and even free options for websites today this is within every facility’s reach, the next most important step is to make sure that every listing, map and search engine is representing your business with accurate information. Your customers ARE looking for self storage on the internet! Let’s make sure they find YOU!