CHICAGO — Our recent story, More Myth vs. Reality, was inspired by tremendous interest in one of our Wire surveys. Surprisingly, no one commented about marketing in that story. If someone said, “Marketing is often ignored in this industry,” would you agree or disagree?One way to develop a marketing strategy is to survey your customers. Find out what they desire, throw in some creativity, and proceed from there. There are many things a coin laundry owner can do to call attention to his/her laundry and maybe boost profits. Here are just a few ideas.• Offer a discount to customers on your equipment or drop-off service in order to draw them to your store on slow days. Some free food or drinks might attract them on certain days. Publicize whatever you do. Signage helps.• Have you ever tried to create a special experience for your customers? Creating a special experience is more than the service you provide, it’s how you deliver that service. The following things can draw customer attention: unusual furniture, plants, an aquarium, a coffee bar, offering clothing store coupons or even selling clothing.• To promote new, earlier hours, offer some quarters to the first 10 people into the laundry. There’s a good chance that they will put the money right back into the laundry.• You can draw attention to your store by hanging a mural, offering some unusual snacks, creating a store mascot or showcasing some laundry-related artwork. One laundry showcased some art that was developed entirely from lint.• Provide some fabricare education. Find someone to speak on clothing care. Make the session open to your customers as well as the general public. Work with one of your local newspapers to publicize the sessions.• Start a newsletter. Keep customers updated on what’s going on at your store, as well as offering special reminders. For example, remind them about spring cleaning. What about a back-to-school cleaning special? You should consider coupons. A newsletter gives you the opportunity to communicate to your most important market — your current customers.• A simple brochure can promote, and get customers to try, a new piece of equipment.• There are different types of loyalty programs. Have you ever offered a discount to your long-time customers?• Focus on the children. Give away a prize to the child who reads the most books during the summer break. Or you can sponsor an event like an Easter egg hunt. Both of these events can generate a good deal of publicity if you work with your local media.Some owners will boast that they have never dabbled in any type of marketing or promotional activities. For them, word-of-mouth advertising is everything. In today’s competitive times, do you want word-of-mouth advertising to be your only weapon in the battle for bucks against fellow owners?