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Marketing: Getting Back to Basics (Conclusion)

SAN FRANCISCO — While every dry cleaner has good intentions of effectively marketing to their clients and prospects, marketing is too often pushed down the priority list. This is often due to daily demands of running a business, or tight cash flow that can be loosened by cutting an easy-to-lose expense item. However, just as often, it is due to procrastination caused by the lack of a creative plan.

One way to overcome inertia and procrastination is to get back to marketing basics, and do it with a committed vengeance. Once the framework is in place, the program is much easier to manage and maintain. None of these basics are revolutionary, but all are proven. 


The profiling discussed previously will help guide appropriate ways to reach your target audience.

Print Media — Print media may have lost favor in recent years but the publications that still exist are highly targeted. Weigh the potential against the cost. Now that fewer people read newspapers, print publications may be affordable for you to reach the traditional customer still reading their news. Business executives may be reached through the local version of a “Business Times.” Remember: It is not the quantity of people you reach but rather the quality as compared to your target match. 

If select print media is indicated, negotiate for the best possible positioning in the publication. For example, the top right-hand corner on Page 3 has been historically the most productive spot.

Radio — Several dry cleaners have reported successful marketing via radio despite the prevalence of ad-free radio. Each station can provide detailed psychographics of their listeners by time of day and by specific program. If they don’t offer this in the sales presentation, push until you receive it. Do not just trust your instincts or those of the sales rep. The process of matching customers and listenership profiles has become more scientific, so take advantage of the expertise.

Television — Most dry cleaners believe TV advertising is too expensive. With the capabilities and targeted reach of cable TV, this is no longer the case. If you have not checked TV rates for your market lately, you should do so. Like radio, the psychographics of viewership by time of day and by specific program are available to you. Matching your best customer profile with targeted TV shows is both affordable and effective. Don’t assume you know what your client base watches, and don’t assume that they all record their favorites for later viewing.

Electronic Media — So much has been said and written about electronic media that it won’t be repeated here. 

  • Follow the rules of SEO (search engine optimization).
  • Add interesting content that will make your audience want to continue receiving your messages.
  • Send to a targeted list.
  • Provide for an “opt out.”

Signage — Signs are an investment. With all investments, the cost-benefit analysis is critical. Don’t be short-sighted by undercutting the initial cost and thus short-change the future benefit of impactful signage. 
The appropriate branding and visibility are critical to a successful marketing campaign through signage. Budget accordingly, and amortize it over the life of the sign. 

Review the visibility both day and night and from all possible angles. One way to do this is to string red plastic tape in the exact location of the proposed sign and determine if you can “see” it from all angles. Another is to temporarily mount lettering that is in the size proposed and test the farthest distance away that it can be read. 

Vans — Vans have at least as much marketing significance as utilitarian inventory transport value. Remember this when choosing the style and design of your vans. This obviously applies to new vans but also to old ones as well, which need to be upgraded periodically to match your image.
Don’t forget to print your logo and contact information on the roof! To prove the value of this signage, go to a second-story window to see the most visible part of the van.

Displays — In-store displays are one of the most overlooked marketing tools available to dry cleaners. The captive audience of customers can easily be reminded of things that they need done for them that you can do. This can be accomplished by using flat-screen TVs displaying a consistent professional message, or physical displays of specialty services, i.e. UGGs, bridal gowns, household textiles, handbags and hats. 

Ensure the displays look professional. One note: Most CSRs (and other people) do not have this skill. A professional look can be achieved by hiring the designer who does the displays for your favorite store. You might be able to barter cleaning for this surprisingly affordable service.

Contests — All of the efforts that I’ve discussed can be enhanced when supplemented by contests. They are usually contests for members of your team, but they can involve customers as well, i.e. best Halloween costume or the cutest pet.


Whatever resonates with you can be planned in a dedicated afternoon. Then implementation becomes a matter of managing the action plan, the assignments, the timelines and the accountabilities.

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].