PEMBROKE, Mass. — Want to do something to perk up your business without spending much money? Try flyers, otherwise known as mass circulars. One 8 ½-by-11 sheet with appropriate copy, placed in a good spot, can do wonders. This time-tested formula has lifted many a low-key business from average to good.
The first rule is to keep the copy simple. Unpretentious is the flavor. Such an offer will stick out from full-color brochures. Include the following: your identification, logo, slogan, one photo, and a headline. Limit to one side of one page; no one has time these days to peruse multiple-page efforts. Use white paper, because colored stock lowers readability.
Write a grabber headline, and make sure it tells a story: the reason customers should choose your laundry. The story unifies the page. For example, your story is that the Laundromat is a time-saver. Even families with washers and dryers can save time. So perhaps the headline could be “Let Us Save Your Time.”
Or try “We’re the Laundromat for All Your Clothes Cleaning Needs.” Then tell an appropriate story. Feature a picture of your driver handing laundry to a woman at her front door, with the caption, “It’s so easy this way.” Or include a photo of a customer walking out of the Laundromat, captioned, “I’m going to have a cup of coffee while the Laundromat does the work.” Every aspect of the flyer should support the story. Remove anything extraneous.
Don’t be afraid of “white space.” For instance, resist the urge to include every service you offer. Nothing dulls more than a bullet listing of a dozen lines.
Unify the form with a border. Or, even better, use a line of bubbles floating from a washing machine at the bottom of the page.
Make sure your store’s contact information is large and easy to read; don’t make the browser have to squint. Be sure to state clearly where you are and provide clear directions for how to get there. “On Main Street opposite Friendly’s” would be perfect.
Rather than having this flyer created professionally, ask someone you know with artistic talent to draw it up. You can do the job yourself. If you’re lacking art talent and computer skill, perhaps you can enlist your children, a friend or an employee to be the graphic designer. Another idea is to approach an art school and offer the assignment as a student project. Even if you pay someone to do the project, make sure you oversee the work. After all, you know exactly what you can offer the marketplace.
It might seem counterintuitive, but having something of handmade quality is often more effective than a professional, glossy offering. A low-tech effort emphasizes your individuality and separates you from appearing “corporate.” Finally, people will appreciate the homespun effort.
OK, let’s say you’ve created a marvelous flyer. How do you use it? For starters, put flyers up on every public bulletin board you can find, including those at coffee shops, groceries, libraries and town centers. You never know when your flyer will spark some interest. It could be that a newcomer sees your mailer, and he has discovered where to clean his clothes. Or an executive sees it and thinks, “This is a perfect solution for our busy family, especially with the wife complaining all the time that she can’t do everything.”
Locate apartment buildings or rental houses that do not offer laundry services and insert folded mailers under the windshield wipers of every car in the parking lot. Repeat this effort at different times, because you never know who’ll be there and when.
Sometimes the local chamber of commerce or similar community organization gives packets to new residents. Arrange to have your laundry’s flyer inserted in a packet. And blanket adjacent towns that do not have a Laundromat.
Try a controlled mailing of 500. Create a list based on your knowledge of town affairs. Perhaps one section of the town is lower-income and therefore has a higher customer potential. Unfortunately, bulk mail will probably not work, because you won’t do enough volume. So you’ll spend $225 for stamps. That’s not an unreasonable amount.
Now, it is true that most advertising mail is tossed into the “circular file.” But that’s because they are mass-produced slick offerings. Browsers just might give yours a look since you created it by hand.
If the effort works—you gain a half-dozen customers—try it again in six months with a different controlled mailing.
Finally, it is important to keep records of the number of pieces mailed, the money spent, and the results. That way, you will be able to analyze the figures and understand what works.
Hand out flyers at appropriate places. Such venues are primarily spots where there are a high percentage of renters. The list includes unemployment offices, welfare facilities, senior citizen centers, AA meetings, and job training sites. You might say something like, “I just want to offer you a place where you’re welcome to come in anytime and wash any clothes you need. Someone is always there, and that person is always up for a talk.”
Another possibility is to hand out your flyers at community events. A college concert, a town fair or a road race might work. Of course, you’ll have to have a clever quip ready. One could say, “Of course, you’re not interested in cleaning your clothes right now, but you will need me some day.”
Blow up the flyer in size and hang it on the wall of your laundry. Or put it up as a sign in the parking lot. Or paste it on a sandwich board in front of the store. After all, if you did a nice job, you want everyone to see it. There is never an end to flyer uses.
Alongside today’s multimillion-dollar ad campaigns, the flyer seems miniscule, even puny. But such low-tech marketing just could be your key to success.