CHICAGO — The widespread use of the Internet and proliferation of mobile devices in today’s society has given self-service laundry owners plenty of ways beyond the traditional to reach their communities and promote the services they offer.
But whatever tools you use, traditional or otherwise, their true value lies in their ability to aid you in identifying your target audience and helping you understand what motivates them to use your business.
For a self-service/service business like a Laundromat, what basic questions should its marketing answer for customers and potential customers?
“I think it is, are they really getting the most reach within their geographic footprint?” says Jennifer Schulman, president and founder of Fortune Web Marketing, a full-service online marketing agency.
Her firm specializes in things like website design, search engine marketing, content marketing, e-mail marketing, and social media marketing, but also has a full print design department capable of handling anything from truck wraps to business cards.
“Most of the time when we speak to owner-operators, especially at shows like the Clean Show, it’s more like, ‘How can I let people know what I have? How can I tell them that we are the most state of the art, we have the amenities that they need?”
That starts with having a website presence, says Schulman, plus social media marketing is very important to businesses like coin-ops.
“The key performance indicators depend on the goals the specific owner has,” whether it’s brand awareness, customer acquisition or customer retention, says Dennis Diaz, lead marketing guide for digital marketing company Spynr. “The common denominator there is the amount of impact you have with your campaigns.”
Spynr specializes in working with Laundromats and dry cleaners, and focuses specifically on online marketing, website development, and building search engine/social media strategies. Before joining the firm, Diaz worked several years as a marketing director and loan officer for a laundry-focused financing company.
The success of any marketing effort lies principally in how many people are engaging with or viewing your content.
“At the end of the day, I think the main goal for all of your marketing efforts is acquiring an audience that you can speak to, and speak to over and over again,” Diaz says.
PRACTICE THE FUNDAMENTALS
There are some fundamental steps to marketing a business successfully. Chief among them is knowing your target market.
“This is where you can tie into the research process of understanding all of the nuances of a buyer persona, an ideal customer of yours,” Diaz says. “And understanding not only how they work within your Laundromat but also what other type of content do they read online that’s outside the industry.”
Do some digging, then develop your message around your neighborhood’s favorite activities or destinations, for example.
“There are the obvious targets, people who just need a coin-op Laundromat in their area,” Schulman says. “Are you close to a university? Are you close to corporate housing? Are you close to a lot of apartment buildings, and do those apartment buildings have laundry services in them? All of these pieces of information are available online.
“With just a few moments, you can do a lot of research, and with that research, you can really refine the targeting of your advertising.”
All of the things she mentioned can be targeted in social media ads relatively inexpensively, she adds.
Once you’ve identified your audience, educate them on your business benefits.
“Let’s start with your facility. Pictures speak a thousand words,” Schulman says. “We’ve met several owners lately that have massage chairs in their facility. They have state-of-the-art Wi-Fi. They have televisions. They have high-end vending machines, things of that nature. All of those things can be marketed so easily in a few words and just one picture.
“A store owner should ask themselves, ‘What differentiates me from my competitors? Is it my facility? Is it the amenities I have in my facility? Is it my pricing? Is it my customer service? Is it the fact I give a special offer to first-time customers?
“It might be all of the above, but every single one of those points, down to each individual amenity, is a marketing experience and should be exposed, not only to your current customers to keep them loyal and coming back, but to prospects as well.”
“Consumers are definitely aware that businesses create agenda-driven content, so they’re not likely to respond positively to ‘salesy’ content,” Diaz says. “Businesses need to start developing better strategies to build authentic relationships with their audiences.”
And what you see as benefits in your business may not necessarily connect with customers, he adds. You need to “unravel” what people actually want from your laundry.
“I think the best way to first unravel that is to take a look at your social media reviews online, find out what the pain points are, and effectively develop what those benefits are based on that,” he says.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion!