CHICAGO — One of the first steps in hitting a target is to know what that target looks like and where it’s located — and modern marketing practices have taken this lesson to heart.
While the “shotgun” method of marketing might have been more effective in decades past, when point-of-display ads, radio, TV, billboards and newspapers were about the only options, today’s consumers can be reached in many different ways — and have come to expect a much more sophisticated approach.
To accomplish this, customer profiling is one of the most powerful tools dry cleaners can use to connect with their clients in the way those customers increasingly demand — as individuals.
Groups of Individuals
“Customer profiling makes your marketing very efficient,” says Diana Vollmer, managing director of the Ascend Consulting Group, based in San Francisco. “It allows you to target the most receptive audience — the people who want and need your services and can afford them.”
Thanks in large part to online browsing, shopping and viewing habits, individuals leave a bigger trackable “footprint” than ever. Marketing profiles can leverage that information to allow businesses to target increasingly refined groups with a more personalized message. This information has powered the individualized marketing efforts younger generations have come to require — and this is the group that dry cleaners need to reach to grow into the future, Vollmer says.
“There are almost 400 million people in the U.S.,” she says, “and, according to the demographic studies, less than 10% of those people have ever even used dry cleaning, and a much smaller amount than that, by far, do the majority of dry cleaning. So, it’s crucial to find out who those people are, what they want, what they need, and what their passions and their lifestyles are. That’s what profiling is about.”
There’s no single way to reach customers, Vollmer says, and one of the benefits profiling can provide to a business owner is being able to choose the most targeted and economical methods to reach specific groups. Social media, for instance, might be great to connect with younger people, but classic methods can still be effective for messaging older groups.
“Many households have different generations within them,” she says, “and you’ll find that these generations have a different profile of what services they use, what they watch and what they read. Younger people, for example, just don’t buy newspapers because they get their news online. However, if you look at the demographics of newspaper readers — which are shrinking by the day — you’ll see that they match older, more traditional drycleaning customers, and it’s a more affordable way to reach that particular generation.”
Vollmer cautions that cleaners who resist these modern marketing tools to grow their client base do so at their peril.
“If you’re trying to bring in somebody new, you have to take a new approach,” she says. “In a sense, that’s true of any generation, but it’s urgently true for our industry with these young generations. They just don’t think that dry cleaning is for them, unless maybe there’s going to a wedding or prom or another one-off situation. But those one-off situations are good opportunities to bring them in as customers in the future.”
Come back Thursday for Part 2 of this series where we’ll ask one of the most important marketing questions of all.
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].