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Marketing: Getting Back to Basics (Part 1)

Procrastination no match for action plan built on tried-and-true promotional methods

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.

When suggestions are presented, common responses are:

  • “I’ve done that.”
  • “We used to do that.”
  • “I know how to do that – my parents did it when I started working with them.”

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 best way to appeal to clients and prospects is to give them what they want when they want it and how they want it. To determine what those wants are, it is essential to study the dry cleaner’s best customers and identify relevant motivations and lifestyle interests. 

You already know a great deal about them. Ask your team to write everything they know about a given customer, and you will be surprised at the length of the list.

That list is useful, but it can be supplemented more scientifically by profiling those customers. The profile will give you an aggregate picture of their primary purchasing motivations – both those of which they are aware and the more subtle “wants” they may not be aware you can provide.

Any ad agency can profile selected customers to determine what is most important to them. Once you have the profile, focus on giving both your customers and their clone target prospects what they want. Your source can provide the names and contact information for the target prospects. 

This psychographic motivational detail will provide a sound basis for the focus of marketing messages.


To keep top-of-mind status with your clients and prospects, communicate regularly with them.

This communication must focus on them, and what you can do for them. A quick test for customer focus is to count all of the “you” and “your” words in the message. That number should be at least three times the number of “we,” “our,” “I” and “me” words in the message. 

Some of the most successful ways to communicate with your customer base and prospects include assigning segments of your clientele to each customer sales representative.

For example, customers with names ending in A through D are assigned to CSR Sally, E through L to Thomas, etc. This gives the sales reps an opportunity to get to know specific clients so they feel comfortable talking to those clients and cross-selling appropriate services. 

If Jane knows Mrs. Jones has a dog she adores, it is natural for Jane to suggest that the dog’s bed needs bi-monthly cleaning and its winter sweater should be cleaned for storage at the end of the season. Through conversation, Jane will also discover that Mrs. Jones’ favorite charity is holding a fundraiser soon and she will need to look her best, so she will want her dress ready in a timely basis. In such a case, Mrs. Jones will undoubtedly feel Jane really cares and will be even more loyal to the company because she and her lifestyle are understood. 

Each CSR should contact the clients in his or her assigned group periodically on a specified schedule to convey information important to the customer. 

Divide the total customer base using a rating system based on current expenditures. The relationship development effort will vary by the designation, i.e. your business will give more personal attention to “A” clients than to “B” and “C” customers. The “A” clients may get a phone call (depending on their favored way to communicate). The “B” group may receive a newsletter or e-mail instead. The goal is to increase the share-of-wallet of each client. 

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

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