CHICAGO — The year was 1977. I was 20 years old, creating advertising supplements for shopping malls, and I had the opportunity to use a new technology—the Exxon QWIP machine.
I would put a piece of paper into a small mimeograph-like machine and put a phone handset into a cradle; then, I would stand in amazement as the paper spun. Four minutes later, an ad produced in New Jersey was visible in Maryland. Wow—a technology that communicated printed matter through a phone!
We’ve come a long way, baby. Today’s opportunities to reach new and existing customers through the new and/or social media can be of great benefit to your business.
They were to ours. Here’s what my wife, business partner and resident social-media expert Jennie Nigrosh has to say about how Facebook and Twitter helped The Green Garmento’s growth:
“From the get-go, Rick and I used our personal Facebook pages to introduce our friends and families to The Green Garmento,” she says. “Early on, Rick posted that we were on our way to the International Housewares Show.
“One of his Facebook friends connected us with a producer for NBC’s Today Show who was covering the convention. We were interviewed at our booth, and the day we returned from Chicago, The Green Garmento made its national TV debut during a ‘Must Have For Housewares’ segment.
“That’s what led me to create company profiles on Twitter and Facebook. I was completely lost, with ‘tweets’ and ‘retweets,’ mentions, who to follow, who’s following, tiny URLs, hash tags and @ signs. It was daunting, I tell you!
“So I did what any sane person would: I hired one of those 23-year-old, tattooed wunderkinds who goes to every social-networking seminar, webinar and meeting he can get his keyboard on. Ours is named Spencer Kent, but there are more like him out there.
“With Spencer’s help, we follow drycleaners to find out what’s important to them. We answer questions and send free samples. We also tweet and post ‘The Green Garmento Dry Cleaner of The Day.’ This helps cleaners sell more bags and get new customers. Money was made without a penny spent.
“We now use Twitter and Facebook to create community events for drycleaners. We recently held a ‘Save Your Clothes, Save Your Cash, Save Your Planet’ food-truck event with Flair Cleaners in Los Angeles. Between Flair, the gourmet food trucks and The Green Garmento, we had a combined 35,000 social-media followers. We created an event listing on our Facebook page and tweeted the event with a link to the page. We also listed the event on various free websites and invited the local media.
“The event created quite a buzz—the media covered it, the food trucks sold out, hundreds of new people were invited to join Flair’s Facebook and Twitter pages so they could find out about the next event, Flair got new customers, and the community now knows that Flair is a Certified Environmental Drycleaner (CED) that offers a reusable-bag program. Again, money was made, and not a penny spent.
“On the consumer side, social media has been invaluable. Since we made a deal with Jersey Shore’s Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino to create an official ‘GTL: Gym/Tan/Laundry Bag,’ our website analytics have improved a whopping 1,200%!
“‘The Situation’ retweets and shares blog posts we forward him about the GTL Bag with links to our website. Since he has over 3 million social-media followers hearing about us first-hand, The Green Garmento has been able to reach an audience we couldn’t dream of getting otherwise.”
The most successful companies—drycleaners or dry-goods sellers—know that good marketing is just as important as delivering a quality product and service. If your business has yet to tap into the potential of social media, there’s no better time to start than now. Why give your competitors a head start?
For more on marketing your business using your business and the social networks, watch your mail for American Drycleaner’s March Issue.