Making 2014 Your Best Year Yet

There are seven marketing strategies which are essential in making 2014 your best year yet, creative positive perceptions and grow your business.

1. Positioning: Present your dry cleaning services in such a unique way which appears to be superior to your competitors. Remember, whatever you do, you can do it better and be different to position yourself for success. Small businesses compete with large national chains by offering interactive support and advice for free, while most chains charge for support. They make their stores more inviting by offering stimulating environments and treating their customers as guests instead of numbers. Positioning involves your selection of services and the ways you offer them. It involves price; having to decide whether you’re going to position yourself as a discounter or a premier dry cleaner who stresses quality over price. A tag line is essential to help you position yourself against the competition. For example, “Quality You Can Feel, Service You’ll Appreciate” is a popular expression of the mission of a dry cleaner. Positioning involves guaranteeing your customer’s satisfaction and how you let customers know you have a guarantee. What is your strategy when a customer is not satisfied? How do you handle it?

2. To position yourself for success,∑ decide who your perfect customer is. Most dry cleaners target people who have money, will pay a premium for better service, give good references and know they need the type of quality or service offered. Keep in mind that there are several types of customer lists you can prospect from: new homeowners, residents by area, age and income, responders to direct mail and businesses.

3. There are several online product strategies you can use to obtain inquiries and leads by offering free cleaning, giving discounts online and in e-mail, building a customer list and using search engine optimization to make sure you show up on the first page of search engine listings.

4. Your pricing strategy should include two factors: costs vs. profits and what your customer is willing to pay. You determine this by looking at your competition, testing, plan for long term profits, keep good records and by starting higher and then lowering your prices.

5. Your promotional strategy is a trial and error experiment where you test different options. For most retailers “buy one get one free” will get you better results than 50% off or ½ off. Dollar amounts off get better results than percentages. Think of ways you can cross sell and upsell customers to buy more variety, more often. You can build store traffic with contests and sale days.

6. All of these strategies culminate in the ultimate promotional strategy, loyalty. By definition, loyalty is “modifying behavior over time to develop lifetime value from the customer and profits for the company.” Loyalty is built by realizing customers are in different stages in the buying process. Some spend more and shop less. Others come in frequently but do not spend a lot each time. Keeping track of frequency of purchase, the last time they came in and how much money they spend is the foundation for an effective loyalty building program.

7. The final strategy is creativity. Many shop owners get bogged down with putting out fires all day and fail to think outside the box to develop creative strategies to build business. One creativity formula is called SCAMPER and it stands for Substitute, Combine, Add, Modify, Personalize, Eliminate and Replace. Assemble a group of employees and management and sit down for a couple hours. Think about what you offer and what you can add, modify, personalize, etc. to what you’re already offering to make you stand apart from the competition. Sometimes a third party can help facilitate your creativity session and help you come up with creative new ways to do business.

By working on these seven marketing strategies you will incrementally increase your business in ways that will give you customers for life and a larger bottom line.