Prairie Portrait: Bill Hipsher of USstoragesearch.com
Name: Bill Hipsher
Bio: A decade-plus of real estate development somehow led to Director of Business Development for USstoragesearch.com in Omaha, Neb. In a growing internet company we all wear many hats, so even though my title says Director of Business Development, I also direct our social media, digital engagement, SEO and copywriting teams, and working with these teams is what I enjoy the most today.
Title: Director of Business Development – Usstoragesearch.com
Residence: Omaha, Neb.
Intro music: "Little Talks," by Of Monsters and Men.
Silicon Prairie News: At last check, USstoragesearch.com had a couple of new products in the works. What's the latest with those?
Bill Hipsher: Our development team, led by Brandon Taylor, has been pushing hard and will meet a Sept. 1 deadline for our most exciting new product, which will be launched at the major industry trade show in early September. The core group here is constantly brainstorming, and we are branching out into new areas too, utilizing the technologies we developed for USstoragesearch.com. To make this site work there really were no plug-ins. The number of pieces Brandon and his team had to develop to make this site work are staggering. Many of those pieces have potential in other areas that we are excitedly exploring.
SPN: It's been more than a year since USstoragesearch.com partnered with Storage.com and announced the impending hire of 10 employees. What has been the impact of those big moves?
BH: Storage.com has been an awesome partner who has seen double digit month-over-month growth for more than a year and can now be considered the third largest self storage website. The growth of Storage.com did lead to the hiring of more than 10 new employees throughout several departments as anticipated. USstoragesearch.com has really benefitted the most from this partnership by having a new, much different platform that diversifies how we do business. Storage.com is also just one of more than several thousand sites USstoragesearch.com powers self storage searches on today.
SPN: What's the best piece of career-related advice you have ever received, and how do you put the wisdom to use today?
BH: Tough one. I’ve had several strong mentors who have shared great advice over the years. I had a boss whose experience outweighed mine in every way who really empowered me on a project about 10 years ago. I struggled with parts but he kept telling me, “I have to stay at 30,000 feet” for two reasons. First, so I would get in there, learn and get things done on my own. Secondly, this allowed him to maintain focus on the big picture. He could have micromanaged, but it would not have helped me and would have distracted him. Every day I find areas I could jump into (upwards and downwards) but remind myself that, overall, I and the company are best served by remaining at as constant an altitude as possible.
SPN: Your duties at USstoragesearch include directing the company's social marketing, which (judging by Twitter and Facebook) often features fun and interesting items not specifically related to the storage industry. What's the rule of thumb for determining what should and shouldn't be shared by the company on social media?
BH: Development of our social media strategy and presence is still in its infancy. In just the last year we built out a strong, dedicated team just for social media and content creation. To build the team we took a different approach than we had in the past, looking at journalism and English majors to fill needs in social and other digital engagement areas. The rule here with our various social outlets (and several blogs we run) is that the topics must be engaging, helpful and something you yourself would consider sharing and/or bookmarking. Otherwise, our authors have very few “off-limits” topics. So far common sense, a watchful eye and smart hires have kept us from having to implement any steadfast rules.
SPN: I know this is a bit of a stretch, but I've been dying to ask … Storage Wars: hate it? Love it? Don't follow it? What's your take on the show and the impact, if any, it's had on your specific niche within the storage industry?
BH: Purely as a viewer it is on my DVR list. However, I haven’t had time to watch much of the new season. Within the industry it’s been met with mixed reviews. Storage operators really don’t like the auction process and wish it wasn’t a part of their business. Auctions are a cost center for operators, which they would prefer to do without. On top of that, selling people’s possessions on TV for entertainment value doesn’t sit well with many operators. Many people losing their belongings have fallen on hard times, like so many Americans have the last few years. There are plenty of operators who will not glamorize this unwanted part of the business and whose sign you will never see on one of these shows. However, the three storage auction shows have put a business rarely talked about socially on the radar of millions of Americans for a little while now.
Credits: Photo of Hipsher courtesy of Hipsher.
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