By Alex Kane | Oct 19, 2011
Your self-service laundry has been built and is in a good location. The machines are kept in working condition, and the interior is clean and comfortable. The signage is proudly displayed and the doors are open. Is that enough? Perhaps that’s enough to keep the place running and the lights on, but to really keep the coin boxes (or the bank account) full, a marketing campaign is crucial to keep the customers coming in.
Although there’s nothing better than a highly visible and well-known location, there is always room for improvement in market share – and that’s where marketing can help. For those not familiar with this aspect of the business, this may seem like a daunting task, and it may feel like hitting a moving target. However, following a few simple guidelines can make your marketing effective and bring more people in the door.
1. Keep it simple. You’ve heard this cliché a thousand times, but in marketing, it’s really a golden rule. Advertising is based on a fleeting moment of attention. Most people have their guard up for marketing and are not interested in getting a full-blown sales pitch for something that they are not interested in. A simple message, without too much detail, is the key to catching someone’s eye.
Keep your marketing copy short and concise. “Bullet points” of just a few words each are one way to ensure that message is short and sweet. Your phone number, address, hours of operation, and website are all good things to include as well.
2. Know your audience. Who are the people who will benefit from and frequent your coin laundry? Where do they live? What forms are marketing are they already receiving? Ensure that you get the most “bang for your buck” by advertising where you will reach the most potential customers possible.
Is there a specific ethnic group in your market that should be a focus of your marketing? Perhaps you can find a local newspaper or some other advertising vehicle with which this particular group identifies. At the very least, adding advertising copy or a tagline in that target group’s native language or even certain graphical elements to your marketing campaign can help you connect with this important audience.
3. Focus on the unique. What makes your laundry better than the competition? Is it the cleanliness of your store? Is the number of large machines? Is it the convenient location? Do you offer WiFi? Do you accept credit cards? Anything that sets you apart and above the competition should be a prominent message within your advertising. Use your uniqueness to your advantage to convince people why they should frequent your location over the “other place.”
4. Use iconic images. People’s brains make quick and easy associations, and you should use this to your advantage in your advertising pieces. Don’t make them wonder what type of business you are advertising. Think of the marketing as a blip in which you have two seconds to make your point. Use iconic images, like a washing machine or laundry basket, so that people can identify what services you are providing. This, along with your business name, are important “must haves” in your design.
5. Track effectiveness. Developing effective marketing is an ongoing process, full of trial and error. Not every marketing campaign will be a grand slam, filling your business with customers. Track every piece that you create and try to associate how effective each piece has been. Change your ad copy slightly each time. And advertise in several different media. After all, you don’t know what will work best if you never change your message delivery.
6. Include an offer. There is a concept in marketing design called the “call to action.” This is the next step the reader will take – hopefully to visit your store. One of the easiest ways to nudge that call to action along is to give the reader a clear-cut reason to visit your coin laundry. Coupons and limited-time offers are great ways to encourage people to try out your business.
Also, merely printing the traditional “dotted line” coupon in an advertisement will encourage people to clip the ad and keep it handy for a potential visit to your business. If you can keep your marketing in the customer’s hands long after the newspaper has been relegated to the recycle bin, you’ll have a better chance of success.
Also, if your laundry offers a wash-dry-fold service, you may be able to offer a Groupon or similar coupon arrangement. Groupon.com is an internet phenomenon in which users sign up to receive an e-mail announcing an offer each day. The offers are usually a 50 percent savings from normal pricing. For example, you can offer $40 of wash-dry-fold for $20. Some laundry owners have had success with this program, and some have not – but it’s certainly worth considering.
Once your marketing has gone out, keep an eye on your store’s traffic. I have found that it is easy to spot the customer who is new to your business. You will see them walk in and then pause to look around the store to figure out where to start.
These new customers are the fruit of your marketing labor and should be nurtured to become valuable, continuing customers. If you can, spend a few extra minutes to welcome them to your laundry, demonstrate how to use the equipment and answer any questions they might have. They will appreciate this personal touch to help them navigate an unfamiliar laundry.
Of course, these days an article on marketing is incomplete without mentioning the internet. Print advertising, though still important, should be complemented by a strong web presence for a complete marketing approach. The use of technology today, with items like smartphones and GPS units, enables people to find services whenever and wherever they need them. A full discussion of internet marketing is beyond the scope of this article, but it cannot be ignored in creating a complete marketing program for your business.
Using the simple guidelines outlined here can help you to create a marketing plan that will increase your customer base. As mentioned above, this process of marketing is much like hitting a moving target and should be an ever-changing development to see what works. Keep your marketing fresh at all times by revisiting these concepts frequently and tracking what works for your business.
The right message in a good location can certainly help keep your machines turning!