By Stephen Bean | Aug 17, 2011
I have always been a big believer in the truism of life that says if your fundamentals are valid then all the rest is simply a matter of detail. In other words, errors in your premise will always result in errors in your conclusions. And the light at the end of the tunnel will most likely be the train coming at you.
One of Murphy’s laws states: “If your facts are wrong but your logic is perfect, then your conclusions are inevitably false. Therefore, by making mistakes in your logic, you have just a random chance of coming to a correct conclusion.” Murphy was a cerebral guy.
Collecting quotations has always fascinated me. It’s amazing what you can learn about marketing from the intrinsically valid musings of others, no matter who they are or what they do or did or when or where they lived. The key words here are, of course, “intrinsically valid.”
So, I thought it would be interesting to point out how you can actually learn a heck of a lot about marketing from a variety of non-marketers.
This is true because marketing is nothing more than a slice of life and the valid principles that apply to living a proper and successful life apply just as well to developing and enacting a proper (and hopefully) “Houston, We Have Lift Off” marketing program for your laundry business.
I’ve actually collected perhaps a few thousand quotes over the years and have selected 10 of the best ones that can be used to easily shape your frame of reference and help you to market your laundry more effectively.
I’ve intentionally chosen these quotes from a diversified (some will totally surprise you) list of people specifically to illustrate my point that creative, applicable and usable guiding marketing principles can be derived from a wide variety of sources.
It is amazing what you can learn about marketing and consumer buying behaviors in general from all sorts of folks who may not even be marketers.
I’ve mentioned numerous times in my articles that great marketers are highly creative, and creativity has its foundation in curiosity. So, being curious about what other savvy people have to say about life in general will serve you well in this respect.
Here we go…
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
– Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
We entrepreneurs reside in a very real business world, which may or may not be what we want it to be or think it is. Nonetheless, it is exactly what it is, and wise marketers adjust to it and go with the flow and don’t create a false illusion as to the business environment they live in.
Some folks unfortunately do, which is counterproductive by spending their time believing things will be what they want them to be. There is a difference between facts and beliefs.
Hope is not a strategy, and wishes don’t do dishes. Fighting reality does not pay very well. When developing your marketing plan, learn to put yourself second intellectually and emotionally.
You operate a business to make money, so your advertising must be loved by the target recipients. What you think is unimportant because you are not the customer. Big Al must be right. After all he’s an Einstein.
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”
– William James (1842-1910, American psychologist and philosopher)
Nobody goes through business life undefeated – not even Bill or Warren (Gates and Buffett, that is). Business ownership is commonly experienced as difficult. But, once you accept the fact that it’s difficult, it ceases to be so because you simply don’t expect otherwise.
It’s not what happens to you but how you react to what happens to you that really matters. Why not try to view uncomfortable experiences as teachable moments. It’s a good choice to make. In other words, ask yourself what is this difficulty or problem really trying to teach me.
Perhaps it’s dealing with a demanding and difficult customer or employee or an advertising campaign that simply is not working that can teach you patience and tolerance and respect for the point of view of others. The teachable moments are as endless as the problems we encounter. Be thankful they exist.
“Patience is the weapon of the winner.”
– Ennio D’Agnillo (my tailor)
Ennio is a terrific guy and, in my humble opinion, the world’s best tailor. He’s owned and operated his small business for decades. He is originally from Florence, Italy, where he learned his craft. I’ve been a loyal client of his for more than 35 years, and his shop is not even in this country – it’s in Windsor, Ontario, which is just across the river from where I live in Michigan.
He does such a good job making clothes that it’s worth crossing the border to be the beneficiary of his handiwork. In fact, a lot of his clients come from Michigan because of the exemplary old-school service and quality he offers.
When you learn to make clothes, you must learn patience. Ennio learned this principle well as a young man in Italy. It takes time to create something expertly. He deals with different styles and different customer preferences, different garments and, of course, the clothes must fit beautifully.
When you operate a coin laundry, you also must practice patience. This applies to your employees, customers and obtaining positive results from (and experimenting with) your marketing program.
For example, if you utilize television advertising, you must understand that repetition is far more important than reach. So you need to be patient with your advertising by using the correct spot frequency. There are many situations when operating a coin laundry wherein you will find that patience is truly the weapon of the winner.
“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to your commitment to excellence, regardless of your chosen field of endeavor.”
– Vince Lombardi (1913-1970, legendary football coach)
Notice that Vince did not say commitment to perfection. He said excellence. Striving for perfection is a no-win proposition because nobody can achieve perfection consistently. Don’t try.
However, striving for excellence has the advantages of offering you realistically achievable goals and also providing you with positive reinforcements for the good things you accomplish, which is very satisfying.
So, give up the idea of owning the “perfect” laundry business and just work towards making the enterprise excellent as perceived by the customer. Taking this path will be much healthier for you emotionally and physically, and in the long run it will enable you to view the business and the business world in a more realistic manner.
“Why do people press harder on the buttons when they know that the battery in the remote control is dead?”
Have you noticed that within the laundry industry the nature of advertising stays pretty much the same? It’s often not very exciting. I guess laundry owners just think, “Hey, it’s not a glamour industry, so what amazing advertising statements can I possibly make about it?”
If you think that way, you are placing your business into the dangerous category of being viewed as a commodity, in that all brands are essentially the same – like salt and pepper and sugar.
You must view your laundry as being totally unique, and advertise it as such. It is unique because only you own it. If you don’t point out your unique selling features, customers will simply view your business as just another “ho-hum” self-service laundry and react accordingly.
So, if your marketing program is not working, don’t continue to press the same buttons over and over again with dead batteries. You need a revolution, not an evolution. Refresh your creative buttons by replacing the batteries because the old batteries are flat out dead. Get new ones.
“Success in any endeavor requires single-minded attention to detail and total concentration.”
– Willie Sutton (1901-1980, famous bank robber)
Willie did extremely well in his line of work as an “illegal withdrawal specialist” and actually achieved the status of a major celebrity. Supposedly, he ran off with an estimated $2 million in ill-gotten gains throughout the course of his career.
But Willie was, by no means, just a typical criminal. He was described as extremely polite, very intelligent and a total gentleman. In fact, one victim actually said, after witnessing one of his robberies, “It was like being at the movies, except the usher had a gun.”
He was eventually apprehended and assigned to Attica prison with a sentence of well over 100 years, but somehow he managed to get paroled.
When set free, he traded on his notoriety by writing two very popular books. He even appeared in television commercials for Connecticut’s New Britain Bank & Trust Company, where an announcer wrapped up the TV spots with the line, “Tell them Willie Sutton sent you.”
What can we learn from Willie? The lesson is to find enjoyment and satisfaction in your work, because if you do, the probability of success increases exponentially.
Willie loved to “go to work” and said, “It’s rather a pleasant experience being alone in a bank at night.” When asked why he robbed banks, he replied, “Because I enjoyed it, I loved it. I was more alive when I was inside a bank robbing it than at any other time in my life.”
It takes all kinds of drivers to fill up the freeway, and you can learn something different about driving from watching all of them.
By the way, when asked about the best way to make a living, Willie once replied, “Go where the money is… and go there often.” There’s a lesson there.
“Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.”
– John Mellencamp (singer and songwriter)
It’s very exciting to own a business and be your own boss. But that is only the first step. Once you have the business, you have to operate it properly and on a consistent, efficient and effective basis.
Did you know there is a big difference between being efficient and being effective? Being efficient does not necessarily imply that you are effective. It just may mean that you are totally systematically organized, but it does not always indicate that you effectively get good results.
When owning a laundry, life surely goes on long after the thrill of building (or buying) the laundry is gone. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that merely owning the laundry will ensure its success. You must make it successful by being efficient and effective.
I recall a great line from a western movie, where the old cowboy said to the young cowboy, “Just having a gun won’t make you a gunslinger, son. You gotta know how to use that gun.” Ditto, when owning a laundry business.
“This too shall pass.”
– Biblical folklore
As the story goes, an Eastern monarch once instructed his wise men to invent a sentence for him, which would be true and appropriate at all times and in every situation. After much thought, they presented him with the phrase, “And this too shall pass.”
How true that is, and it applies equally to good and bad times. Business can be good, and we often tend to conclude it will remain so forever. Conversely, business can be extremely challenging, and we often tend to conclude that it will remain so forever. Both conclusions are false.
My mother used to jokingly say, “Don’t worry about your health, it will go away.”
Laundry owners need to be aware of – and buy into – the concept that the only thing that’s constant in business is change. So, you must continually adapt your marketing and advertising strategies to take those changes into account.
After all, if the economy, the business world and markets never changed, there would be no need for marketing or advertising agencies. As Babe Ruth once said, “Yesterday’s homeruns don’t win today’s games.”
“Growth and comfort seldom ride the same horse.”
All growth of a personal nature requires that you deal effectively with discomfort and ambiguity. The formula is quite simple: if you avoid discomfort and ambiguity, you avoid growth.
There is a fundamental principle of psychology, which states that the frequency of a behavior is a function of its consequences. In other words, we as humans tend to not repeat behaviors that result in discomfort.
Often, that makes complete sense. For example, you don’t stick your finger in the electrical socket because you have likely learned that it will lead to a shocking experience. You also don’t cross the street if the traffic light is red.
However, when dealing with uncomfortable business situations, like thinking outside the box on a marketing campaign, do you simply revert back to your noncreative default position and go with the same old bland approach because it’s more comfortable? If you do, it can hold you back. This applies to all aspects of business ownership.
Successful business owners take calculated risks despite the fact that they are uncomfortable. That’s exactly how most financial success and personal growth is achieved. It takes practice and is not easy, but you can learn to do it.
“If you even dream of beating me, you’d better wake up and apologize.”
– Muhammad Ali (famous boxer)
Healthy self-confidence is essential to be successful in business, and your store, along with its marketing program, should reflect that.
Former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca was a master of this technique when he appeared in television commercials. In so many words, he said, “If you can find a better car than a Chrysler, buy it.” People loved his self-confidence and vulnerability because of the manner in which he displayed it.
The key is to display it properly by sending the appropriate message not only to your marketplace but also subtly to your competitors. Ali was not only arguably the greatest prizefighter of all time but also a heavyweight champion in his understanding of people.
Want to become a marketing bruiser? Become immensely curious and soak up knowledge like a sponge from a myriad of diverse sources. After all, marketing savvy is far too important to obtain only from marketing gurus.