What type of marketing do you do? More and more coin laundries have turned to direct-mail advertising as a viable source for creatively increasing their revenue. Maybe it’s time for you to take a second look at this marketing tool.There are many different ways to create and utilize an effective direct-mail advertising campaign. Direct-mail devices can illustrate the simplicity of your laundry operation while promoting the full range of services you provide. Your direct-mail marketing campaign can share the benefits of your coin laundry and explain how it’s still a current and valuable option, especially at a time when people may be buying less home laundry equipment. Direct mail can also efficiently promote the name of your laundry and help you find new patrons.SENDING A CLEAN MESSAGEIf affordable, it’s best to hire a graphic designer, marketing agency or direct-mail marketing team to design your direct-mail campaign, rather than create something that might look unprofessional. Your direct-mail device needs to convey the right message.Use quality photographs, logos and colorful illustrations. Remember, today’s customers tend to read advertisements that include colorful photographs and logos that are supported by strong headlines and great offers. You must be able to capture potential customers with strong visual presentations. Use your best interior photographs, showcasing a clean and spacious area.If you don’t have any photographs, ask your direct-mail resource what they have in their library. Even without pictures, the good news is that your piece can be successful just by offering a few coupons, discounts or promotions.When in doubt, “free” always grabs one’s attention. It helps persuade current customers to remain loyal, and it gets new customers to give your washers and dryers a try. Consider offering a free box of detergent with a customer’s first wash load. If you offer drop-off drycleaning service, think about offering one free shirt cleaning after every three shirts.Stress dollars off, not percentages! With drop-off drycleaning/laundry services, customers will react much more strongly to dollars-off discounts and incentives. Percentage discounts are not perceived to be as good of a deal. Try offering a “$1 off” coupon.Try to avoid excessive disclaimers and rules for what is not included in these offers. Keep it simple with something like, “Coupon expires 10/05/08.” Use expiration dates of no more than 60 to 90 days.KEEP IT AFFORDABLELook at the variety of direct-mail marketing and advertising opportunities available to you. You can create solo direct-mail letters, laundry newsletters, freestanding inserts, postcards and brochures. Check out the Yellow Pages or the Internet to find direct-mail resources near you. Resources range from full-color, glossy direct-mail magazines with other services and retail businesses that help make the entire piece more valuable to envelope formats with myriad advertisers.With direct mail, you can specifically target neighborhoods surrounding your laundry. It’s best to target at least 50,000 homes or more within three to 10 miles of your business. At approximately three to four cents per home, direct-mail marketing is extremely affordable, as opposed to solo direct-mail campaigns that can cost between fifty cents to one dollar per home. Direct-mail coupon envelope companies like Valpak and Money Mailer cooperatively mail loose, independent coupons from various local businesses to 10,000 homes per targeted zone. When you add up the costs, it’s a greater advantage to use cooperative direct mail or a combination of both.It may be more cost effective to use companies that offer several services and do everything for you. These direct-mail companies offer complimentary marketing consultations, artwork, and professional photographs, mailing lists, printing and postage all in one package. Some offer detached address label cards and other solo direct-mail options. Many of these companies also offer programs targeted to new area homeowners.Their marketing consultants can share examples of other successful laundry advertisers. If needed, they can supply testimonials and telephone numbers from other laundry owners, so you can also call them for advice.No matter what direct-mail resource you go with, explore annual agreements with direct-mail programs throughout the year to ensure consistency, maximize results and reduce costs.SAFETY IN NUMBERS OR THE POWER OF ONE?If you are going the solo direct-mail route, it’s a good idea to send oversized, colorful direct-mail postcards, as well as full-sheet fliers and freestanding inserts whenever possible. The postage is less expensive than standard mail, and unlike envelopes, they don’t have to be opened for the potential customer to immediately see your offer. Use a high-quality paper stock for the postcards and fliers. They’re more durable and appealing. For solo direct mail, you’ll need to write the copy, create the artwork, determine your targeted markets, and hire a local direct-mail house to handle the mailing.Many local direct-mail houses will help you create, print and mail the piece, while charging you for all of these comprehensive services. If you give them your own customer mailing list or tell them the ZIP codes or neighborhoods you want to target, they can easily facilitate solo direct-mail campaigns for you.TRACKING AND EXPECTATIONSDirect-mail marketing really works, especially with the repetition of strong offers. Like any form of advertising and marketing, it usually takes a long-term investment. Visit with your direct-mail consultant to set realistic expectations. Direct-mail coupons are trackable, but the important thing is getting your name out there and establishing your coin laundry as the clean choice among all the others.