ATLANTA — There are a lot of parts to building a marketing plan to retain current customers, but today’s dry cleaners have more tools than ever to put these pieces together to build a marketing plan that pays off both today and tomorrow.
During the 2022 Clean Show in Atlanta, Norman Way, vice president of Richmond, Virginia-based Puritan Cleaners, spoke on this topic during his session, “Marketing Out of Your POS.” In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the importance of using the information already in hand to communicate with clients, and in Part 2, we examined ways to build that database to become more targeted and useful. In Part 3, we focused on building a plan to put this valuable marketing data to use and today, we’ll conclude by exploring the steps that go into a successful marketing plan.
Working on the Fundamentals
Way offers the following tips to make sure your email game is as effective as possible:
Use an Alias Email When You’re Marketing from Your POS System — “Don’t use an individual’s email,” Way warns. “I know that Sarah is doing a great job for me, but I don’t want Sarah’s email because, at some point, Sarah may not be the person that’s doing that. Make sure you’ve got something that is generic, so that one person doesn’t lock you out of it.”
Remember the Opt-in Process — “You’ve got the data in your system,” Way says. “You don’t want to send Shawn 50 emails in a month. We might be sending out 50 emails, but Shawn is only qualified for three of those. Manage the data.”
Review the Outgoing Communication — Time spent proofreading is never wasted, he believes: “When you’re sending emails, make sure that you’re not the only one looking at it. Get somebody else to look over it.”
Delegate — Use the talents of the people around you: “You know that person at the store who’s always looking at their phone, or always on their email? They might be a great person who you can delegate to do some of these tasks.”
Have Algorithms to Avoid Over Emailing — “You need some safety check,” Way says. “I don’t want to send out ‘ask for reviews’ to all my customers this week. And it can be as simple as this: Put on the calendar that this week, I’m going to market to the people whose last name starts with A or B. Next week, we’ll market to C and D. What will happen is you will not be overloading your customers with emails. You’ve used the data that’s in your point-of-sale system.”
Bulking Up Your Texting Skills
Another valuable tool in a dry cleaner’s marketing arsenal is texting — if used properly.
“Emails are definitely less invasive than texts,” Way says. “Texts should be communicative, rather than strictly for marketing. I’ve made the mistake of sending texts out about the ‘Wednesday Sale,’ and if they haven’t opted-in for that, people will delete you. If they delete you, none of your other text messages can get out. So be very mindful of that.”
Sending out information the customer wants, however, is a great way to keep the communications line active and appreciated, whether it is about an update on their cleaning or news that they need.
“In Richmond, Virginia, if we get a quarter-inch of snow, the city is shut down,” Way says. “We can send a message out saying, ‘It’s snowing — we’re not going to be open today and we are not going to be out.’ Because it is about the service of their items, we don’t get push back from that. We had a situation where the boiler was down, and we knew we weren’t going to get clothes back. The data is in the system. We got with the customer and said, ‘Due to unforeseeable circumstances, our boiler is down, and we’re not going to be able to get the clothes back to you on time.’”
With the boiler message, Way’s team accomplished several goals: “First, we were helpful. Who wants to make a trip to the cleaner for nothing? Second, we were communicative. And third, we had an opportunity to list our home delivery or other services. It was a reason to get in front of the customer.”
To set up an effective texting network, Way says that a little forethought can go a long way.
“When it comes to text messages, make things easy for people,” he says. “Most of us put in a text message: ‘XYZ Cleaners appreciates you.’ Make it ‘XYZ.com.’ It’s a tiny thing — it takes you three additional characters — but that also makes it a hyperlink. That person can click right through to where you want them to go.”
Keeping people’s schedules in mind can also make texts a lot more valuable.
“When you’re sending a message asking for an action, make sure you send it at a time that matches the action opportunity,” Way says. “If you’re texting Ken to put a bag out for pickup, don’t text him at 3 o’clock when he’s at work, when he can’t put the bag out and will forget by the time he gets home. You’ve got the information in your point-of-sale system.”
Putting Your Game Plan in Place
Because there’s no magic bullet that will automatically give a dry cleaner huge success in marketing, Way believes that owners should see their efforts as a process.
“Pick an item, pick two items, and go back and start implementing those today,” he says. “Don’t make it a daunting task agenda, where you think, ‘How in the world am I going to do this?’ We think we need to go over the mountain to get there. You can take one step, just like Billy Beane, and get on base. That’s the step that we need to take.”
For Part 1 of this series, click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE. For Part 3, click HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].