CHICAGO — Cleaners who are still relying on traditional marketing methods — newspaper, TV, radio, etc. — might be missing their most valuable potential clients. Today’s marketers can find an amazing amount of information about consumers and use it to craft messages that resonate with their audience. By building customer profiles, marketing can be much more targeted, effective and efficient.
In Part 1 of this series, we examined what customer profiles are and how they can be used by cleaners to reach their audience, and in Part 2 we found ways to answer the question of who their customer are and what they want. Today, we’ll conclude this series by seeing what goes into making an effective customer profile.
Building the Profile
Most cleaners already collect the data that they need to get the profiling process started, says Diana Vollmer, managing director of the Ascend Consulting Group, based in San Francisco, so it’s a relatively simple thing to initiate.
“It starts with any combination of names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses — anything that you have in your data file already,” she says. “Then, that simple data set is put through the process of profiling.”
Part of that process is done by online programs — called web crawlers or spiders — that use internet search engine data to build a picture based on your customers’ behaviors. Other information can come from activities such as streaming media profiles. The information is heavily weighted toward spending routines, recreational activities and professional habits.
“This information is aggregated, so you don’t see the exact profile of one individual,” Vollmer says. “What you do see is an aggregate profile of your best customer or the customer group you want to be profiled.”
These profiles are sometimes called “personas” or “lifestyles,” depending on the company collecting the information.
“It’s quite simple for the dry cleaner to provide the raw data. And then the rest of it comes from the profile providers,” Vollmer says. “The results are used to craft meaningful communication, offering something for everyone. Without it, you are trying to offer something for everyone, and that doesn’t work as well as trying to offer the products that fit the lifestyle.”
Customers Want to be Targeted
Big retailers, such as Amazon and Apple, have trained entire generations of consumers to expect more from their interactions with companies — and this behavior has trickled down from megacompanies to Main Street.
Cleaners who are able to leverage this information to build targeted marketing approaches will do more than build their client base, Vollmer says; they’ll build a loyal following.
“When a customer thinks that you’re speaking directly to them, when you know them and can anticipate their needs and wants, they will be loyal,” she says. “And if you’re doing a good job of supplying the things they need, they don’t have time to look for anyone else. So, by habit, they become loyal.”
The key, Vollmer says, is being able to target a customer based on their individual needs rather than as an anonymous group.
“Talking to them one on one, knowing them like a friend or family member, is where the strength lies in profiling,” she says. “You know what they’re likely to be doing and how pressed they are for time, and what’s probably going to resonate with them. That’s what this profiling provides. And so, you can talk to them in a way that’s just like ‘Cheers,’ where everyone knows their name.”
Starting the Profiling Process
While simple surveys can help build a picture of a client base, marketing professionals can assist dry cleaners in building a truly accurate and detailed breakdown of the people who will become their best customers. While such an undertaking can seem overwhelming at first, Vollmer says there’s nothing to fear.
“It can be intimidating, but it’s actually a relatively simple process,” she assures. “The analysis of the profile — and how to fit it into your business practices, once you have it — is the area where cleaners can feel a little bogged down. There are companies that not only create the profiles, but also coach cleaners in the use of the profiles and how best to put them to work.”
The best place to start, according to Vollmer, is to determine how comfortable a dry cleaner is with handling their marketing efforts.
“A lot of big firms will build profiles online, so, if you’re technically skilled, you have a world of options,” she says. “If you’re at the other end of the spectrum and need some hand-holding, then I would say go to a small firm that either specializes in profiling, a marketing firm that has access to the profile, or a consultant who specializes in this area so they can actually get a path through to successful marketing.”
When speaking with a marketing company, Vollmer believes that if the subject of profiling isn’t addressed, a cleaner might be with the wrong company: “If the marketing firm doesn’t bring up profiling, they are not current on how to reach customers.”
For Part 1 of this series, click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].