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Think Like a Marketer (Conclusion)

The story you tell on social media matters

CHICAGO — Much has been written about the role of social media in marketing plants, but dry cleaners who don’t pay attention to this crucial part of their outreach plan not only are not only failing to connect with current customers in a meaningful way, but are missing out on future customers.

In Part 1 of this series, we examined how cleaners should approach marketing in their overall budget, and in Part 2, we looked at how treating customers as individuals in a marketing plan can build up business. Today, we’ll finish up by showing how having the right mindset when it comes to these marketing platforms is the first step toward success.

Going Social

Social media is all around us, and dry cleaners who can leverage this type of communication will find themselves far ahead of their competition, says Dave Coyle, team leader of Maverick Drycleaners, an online group focused on marketing and advertising ideas and concerns of cleaners. Still, it’s important to remember why people use social media in the first place — and it’s not to look at advertisements.

“Part of marketing is to tell a good story,” he says. “Social media can be used to tell the story of the business, including spotlighting team members, services and special offerings. But it can also be used to tell the story of your clients — how much time they have saved, how great they feel in their clothing, and how safe they feel having you sanitize their household items. Make sure you are always telling a story using social media, rather than always selling.”

“Targeted social media is, I think, your best bang for the buck,” says Diana Vollmer, managing director for Ascend Consulting Group, “but it needs to resonate with the customer. The delivery is relatively inexpensive, but the design of it is critical.”

Also critical is the choice of which social media platform to use for specific audiences.

“All social media is targeted at what I’ll call tribes,” Vollmer says. “These are people with similar needs, wants, lifestyles, and so on. Part of the profiling effort identifies those tribes, and then you can sell specifically to them through whatever media they’re enjoying at the time.”

A key part of marketing is keeping track of where the intended audience is, Vollmer says, because that can quickly evolve. Different age groups and demographics tend to flock to different platforms.

“With millennials, for instance, it changes a lot,” she says. “When a millennial channel like TikTok becomes popular and well known among other generations, the millennials will abandon it for something that’s more esoteric, something that they feel is just them until that becomes overpublicized. It’s important to stay on top of the most utilized media for each of your target tribes. You might have five or six or more tribes that are good customer segments for you, but they need to be marketed to differently.”

Take the Time, Make the Effort

This constant undertaking of keeping track of the desires and habits of your customer can seem overwhelming at times, but it’s necessary to keep up with your clients. When dry cleaners feel they are “too busy” for marketing, they are putting their businesses at risk.

“If a cleaner said they were ‘too busy’ for marketing, I would ask them if they’re too busy to become extinct?” Vollmer says. “Would they rather be in business or extinct? It’s one of the most important things that they can do.”

Vollmer believes that part of this hesitancy comes from a failure of owners to delegate the responsibility of their day-to-day cleaning task to staff members so they can focus on the items only they can tackle.

“If they’re not using their talents to their highest and best use, they’re cheating their own company and themselves,” she says. “The owners need to be applying their brains and their management instead of the brawn. And I’ve talked to so many people who are getting on a truck out of pure necessity because they can’t find help right now. They should spend half an hour trying to find help, instead of eight hours driving a truck.”

Coyle agrees with this assessment: “‘Too busy’ means the operator is working in the operations of the business too much, and not spending time working on the business.”

Cleaners might not be able to get their marketing and operations under control with a snap of their fingers, but over time, applying the right focus to the right areas can make a huge difference.

“The solution is simple — but not easy,” Coyle says. “First, create marketing systems that work to increase operational cash flow. Second, use this new cash flow to invest in key team members who can give you the freedom to work on the business. Third, find the joy in helping your team members to grow, and finally, optimize your financials.”

For Part 1 of this series, click HERE. For Part 2, Click HERE.