RIPON, Wis. — Marketing your Laundromat doesn’t have to be hard. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. But it does need to be targeted to be effective.

Yet the vast number of Laundromats don’t do any marketing. In fact, a 2016 Coin Laundry Association survey showed that 36% did no advertising, which was up from 30% the prior before, and of those who did, 23% used social media and 22% had a website.

FINDING THE STARTING POINT

Laundromat owners need to consider a few things when determining their marketing strategy. First, how they will meet customers’ expectations and engage with customers, keeping in mind what other retailers are doing with their marketing strategies, particularly if those retailers are where their Laundromat customers shop. Many of the largest brands are using data to predict the needs of customers and fulfill their expectations instantaneously. They are also driving customer loyalty through rewards programs.

While most businesses spend 8-12% of their budget on marketing, most Laundromats spend less than 3%. That doesn’t mean that store owners have to spend more, but it does mean they need to spend smarter and learn from the best practices of other retailers.

Secondly, Laundromats don’t necessarily need a website, but they do need a digital presence, such as a Facebook page, so people know the business is legitimate, and know their business hours and what services they offer. For those Laundromats using social media, it’s important that they understand their demographic and look at the age of customers they are trying to attract when determining whether to use Facebook (used by an older audience) or Instagram (more of a millennial or younger audience).

A Laundromat owner should always search for their business online and see what shows up. It is important they claim their Google and Yelp pages. If customers check in, Yelp will automatically create a page for the store and autofill information, often times showing wrong business owners. Owners need to claim their page, add store hours and photos, and monitor reviews. Claiming their Google business page and monitoring reviews there is equally important.

EMBRACE TECHNOLOGY

Thanks to technology like payment systems and apps, today’s store owners know who their customers are, how much they typically spend, which machines they prefer, what day of the week they usually come in and more. With all this data, store owners can send specific messaging to existing customers based on their current behaviors.

But how do you start doing that? First, define your brand. A study has shown that most customers don’t even know the name of their Laundromat, but rather just its location. Determine the promise your Laundromat is making to potential customers. In other words, what sets it apart from its competition? Why would Laundromat customers want to change their behavior and try a new store? It could be things like having air conditioning, offering free Wi-Fi, or having larger machines or rewards programs. Then keep that as consistent messaging in all marketing campaigns.

Secondly, choose your marketing goal. Is it new-customer acquisition, engaging current customers to make them more loyal, or providing value to existing customers? Based on that goal, determine the best way to deliver that message.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!