CHICAGO — Do you market your self-service laundry? Is marketing overrated or underrated? Those who took the latest Wire survey offer a lukewarm response toward marketing. RATING YOUR EFFORTSApproximately one-half of survey respondents market less than most operators or don’t market at all (37.5% “market less than most operators,” 12.5% “don’t market”). Nineteen percent say they market as much as other operators, while 25% claim to market more than most operators. Six percent market more than any other operator.Fifty-eight percent of respondents believe their marketing efforts are worth their time and effort (41% “yes, with some exceptions,” 17% “yes, without a doubt”). Thirty-one percent say their marketing efforts aren’t worth their time and effort (24% “no, with some exceptions,” 7% “no, without a doubt”). Eleven percent aren’t sure if marketing is worth their time and effort.PLENTY TO OFFERRespondents were given a list of marketing tools, and asked if they had used any of the tools. Here is a list of the tools along with the percentage of respondents who had used them: in-store giveaways (prize drawings, free snacks/drinks, etc.), 46.7%; free/reduced-price washing and drying, 56.7%; newsletter/brochure, 6.7%; newspaper coupons/ads, 36.7%; loyalty programs, 16.7%; holiday-related activities, 10%; and direct mail, 26.7%. Thirty-three percent selected “other,” and listed a variety of tools they had used, such as register tapes, TV spots, Yellow Pages, Web sites and billboards.Thirty-six percent say free or reduced-price washing and drying is their most successful tool.SOCIAL NETWORKINGThirty-four percent have utilized the Internet and/or social networking (Facebook, etc.) in their marketing efforts. Forty-one percent haven’t gone this route, and 25% say they may explore these options in the near future.Despite the availability of a wide variety of marketing tools, every respondent believes that good world-of-mouth advertising is better than any marketing effort.WATCHING YOUR DOLLARSOperators are fairly divided about how difficult economic times impact their marketing budget. Thirty-one percent of respondents say their marketing budget is treated the same as any budgetary item during a difficult economic period. Twenty-four percent say their marketing budget is one of the first things slashed when money gets tight, while the same number say their marketing budget is one of the last things slashed. Fourteen percent say their marketing budget is the first thing slashed when things get tough, while 7% say it’s the last thing slashed.While the American Coin-Op Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers' viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.Subscribers to the Wire e-mails — distributed weekly — are invited to participate in an industry survey each month.