If you’re a self-service laundry owner looking for some marketing ideas, you’ve come to the right place. If you’re also looking for some basic information about marketing itself, you’ve also come to the right place.This industry has never been known for great marketing. This is more than my opinion; operators throughout the years have echoed this same sentiment to me during various interviews.You may even be surprised at how simple — and effective — some of these ideas can be. If you’re still hesitant about marketing, remember: It’s never too early to try to get an edge on your competitor.The following ideas/advice were submitted by a variety of marketing veterans.FLYERSSome laundry owners have had good luck with flyers. When putting together a flyer, or some type of ad, always keep in mind that choosing the right or “magic” words for the flyer, and your store, is key.It may help to use words such as “free,” “special,” “sale,” and “gifts.” If you’re trying to promote new equipment, think about using “big” when referring to 50- or 75-pound washers.What is the key to a good flyer? Consider the following points:
- Have a main point or offering.
- Make it easy to read.
- Use quality pictures to show off your store or service.
- Include the basics: laundry location, phone number and hours of operation. A map might be helpful.
- Stay away from cluttered messages.
- Use color to make the flyer stand out.
- A multilingual flyer is a must if you have a varied customer base. Printing one language on the front and a different language on the back should do the job.
A flyer may be used as an insert in the local paper. This is an inexpensive way to get flyers out. Some newspapers may even be able to put together the flyer for less than you can do it yourself. It can be advantageous to offer the flyer when something new has happened at your store.In addition to flyers, other “outside” marketing ventures include Yellow Pages listings, increased exterior signage, and even the Internet.Radio or cable TV can reach specific audiences. This type of marketing may scare some off. However, you may discover that there are some price bargains with these mediums. If you are considering this option, note what channels your customers watch while at the laundry.DIRECT MAILGetting your laundry message directly into a potential customer’s hands can be quite effective, especially if your content and timing are right. However, direct mail can be one of the more expensive marketing options.Direct-mail devices can illustrate the simplicity of your operation, while promoting the full range of services you provide. It can also efficiently promote the name of your laundry and help you find new customers.If 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. Quality photos, logos and colorful illustrations are a must.Here are some direct-mail tips:
- If you lack good photos, ask your direct-mail resource what it has in its library.
- When in doubt, stick with the word “free.”
- Stress dollars off, not percentages.
- Keep it simple; use expiration dates of no more than 60 to 90 days with any offer.
- Customer testimonials are a nice touch.
There are a variety of direct-mail opportunities available to you. There are solo direct-mail letters, newsletters, freestanding inserts, postcards, and brochures. Check out the Yellow Pages or the Internet to find direct-mail resources near you.One advantage of direct mail is that you can specifically target neighborhoods surrounding your store. It’s often best to target at least 50,000 homes or more within 3 to 10 miles of your laundry.Some direct-mail-coupon envelope companies cooperatively mail loose, independent coupons from various local businesses to 10,000 homes per targeted zone. When you add up the cost, it’s a greater advantage to use cooperative direct mail or a combination of cooperative/traditional firms.Do your homework when seeking out a direct-mail firm. The firm should be able to share examples of other successful laundry advertisers. If needed, ask the firm to supply testimonials and telephone numbers for other laundry owners, so you can also call them for advice.If you are planning to tackle this task alone, it’s a good idea to send oversized, colorful direct-mail postcards, as well as full-sheet flyers and freestanding inserts whenever possible. The postage is less costly than standard mail, and the items don’t have to be opened for the potential customer to see your offer. Also, use high-quality paper stock for postcards and flyers. This makes the presentation more appealing.E-MAIL IS HOTIf you favor direct-mail marketing, you might want to consider e-mail marketing. There are many companies that will help you build your laundry business through e-mail marketing — from creating a message that’s right for your laundry to tracking your results.The key, of course, is reaching people. With e-mail marketing, you can put together (with the help of an e-mail company) a permission-based list. That means everyone on the list says it’s OK for you to contact them. With this type of list, you already know these people want to hear from you, and are interested in your self-service laundry.Here’s what some of the e-mail marketing companies typically offer:
- templates that can be customized to match your brand/look;
- advice on how to build, manage and grow an e-mail list; and/or
- the tools necessary to get your e-mail delivered.
DO SOMETHINGMarketing can work for all types of laundries. You just can’t hope that your laundry will always sustain customer interest. A solid marketing plan can increase your revenue and profitability beyond your expectations. Isn’t it time you got into the marketing game?To read Part I, click here.