CHICAGO — While most business owners understand that marketing is a necessary part of competing for new clients’ attention and keeping existing ones, it’s not something everyone enjoys. Cleaners who ignore this critical area of their business, however, or don’t understand how their marketing is performing, can find themselves falling behind the competition.
This was the theme of “Measure Your Marketing,” a webinar recently hosted by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI). David Coyle, industry marketing coach of Maverick Drycleaners and owner of In The Bag Cleaners in Wichita, Kansas, presented some of the most important things he believes cleaners should keep in mind — and why they might be hesitant at first to do so.
“Frankly, a lot of business owners and entrepreneurs, myself included, don't like to be held accountable,” he says. “When we talk about something like measuring your marketing, a lot of that marketing is directed by us. And sometimes we prefer to have the blindfold on and hope that what we're doing is OK.”
Coyle believes that having structure can actually be a liberating experience: “If there’s no feedback, no measuring, we’re not really going to explore. There’s so much that can be done in marketing if we look at what’s working and what’s not.”
Coyle started by recounting an old marketing joke that holds a lot of truth — and pain — for many: “A man comes in and says ‘50% of my marketing is working, and 50% is not, but I don’t have any idea which 50% is which.’”
This leads, Coyle says, to simply guessing at what works. “It’s like throwing a dart at a dartboard, but with a blindfold on,” he says. “Sometimes we're lucky, and we hit the board. Sometimes we're really lucky and get a good number. But it's not the same as pulling off the blindfold, setting up and aiming for that bullseye.”
And going to an ad agency is no sure bet to increase profitability, Coyle says.
“What happens is that mystery continues, because most ad agencies don't want to be held accountable for the lack of results they provide. They'll talk to you in vague terms about impressions, views and click-throughs. A lot of these things can give a slight indication of the attention that your marketing's getting, but it will never tell you anything about how the cash drawer is impacted. For us to properly measure, we need to connect the marketing tactic to what happens with the cash drawer. What sales can we attribute to that marketing activity?”
These business owners end up viewing marketing as a cost, he says. “And, like most items on our profit-and-loss statement, we try to lower costs.”
Coyle says that many dry cleaners believe that marketing is almost like putting money into a slot machine and hoping for a payout. When the results start to be monitored and measured, however, that dynamic changes.
“It starts feeling more like a vending machine than a slot machine when you do it right,” he says, “and you start to see marketing is more of an investment, rather than a cost. You put $1 into the sales vending machine in the form of marketing, and you get $8 in sales out. As long as you keep getting that return, you'll look around all day for all the $1 bills you can find. When you tune it in, measure it and know it's working, you know that it will continue to work.”
The effects of a properly tuned marketing machine also go beyond the day-to-day profits, Coyle believes.
“The most successful people have the largest time perspective,” he says. “While most of your competitors are just trying to get stuff done that’s due today, you can begin working on the new clients you're trying to attract next week and the clients that you're trying to retain. While they're treading water, getting tired while trying to get today's stuff done, you're planning ahead, weeks, months, in some cases, quarters and years in advance. The person who is going to come out ahead is the one who feels they control the levers in advance of when they need the desired results.”
Come back Tuesday for Part 2 of this series, where we’ll examine some of the building blocks of effective, high-performance marketing.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].