Recently, a dry cleaner asked me: ‘Should dry cleaners bother with Facebook, do you think it has actually brought in any significant amount of business for your clients?’
What an excellent couple of questions!
This cleaner has been frustrated with all the changes going on with Facebook (yes there have been even MORE changes in the past couple months) and has not been having much success with his social media efforts; engagement on this cleaner’s posts have been low to non-existent and obviously he is concerned with how his efforts are converting into Sales, if they are converting at all.
I have a completely different view of social media, one that extends more broadly than just popularity of a page, how many likes each post gets, how many people are reached and how many dollars are put into the cash register.
Facebook is actually a huge social experiment; it’s a social platform. Facebook was initially NOT intended to be a sales or marketing platform, but it has certainly morphed into one since going public with shareholders to answer to and those same shareholders expecting a return on their investment. Still, many of the users of social media platforms barley tolerate commercial activity and tend to rebuff commercial use. So one has to deploy a completely different strategy on social media, the strategy I advocate using is the long tail social approach.
A long tail social approach is a subtle, very subtle commercial message wrapped up in an interesting social way. It’s an informative message with a very soft sell and it takes a long time for a message to sink in before someone reacts. And because social media has no cost associated with it (unless you want to pay to extend the reach of your message, which is another discussion entirely), you can afford to keep placing your message out there as your only investment is time and perhaps a few dollars to license appropriate images.
Selling on social media is completely different than selling with conventional media like print and direct mail. Print and direct mail has a cost per customer contacted in the range of one dollar per customer. To reach 1,000 customers, you’d have to spend $1,000. Yet on social media, I’ve witnessed costs of as low as $7.00 to reach 2,500 people. With costs that low, your thousand dollar ad budget can go a lot farther on social media, meaning it’s affordable to create educational content once again. One can once again afford to create campaigns that inform and plant a seed with a customer today that may bear fruit when the customer has a need in the future. Here is an example of what I mean. Take a look at the following image:
If you were to do this campaign in print and direct mail, you would need to generate $1,000 or more in sales just to cover the costs of generating your message and getting it out there.
The image of the person standing on the skateboard is actually in the public domain, so it did not cost me anything but the time it took for me to Photoshop in the logo and add the text at the top. Then, it took me less than three minutes to post the completed image onto my Facebook page. Actual cost is darn near zero dollars (near zero because time is money, so it did cost me something). As it is, as long as the time I spend creating interesting, education, informative posts and DOES NOT take me away from managing my business, I can afford to invest time into my social media campaigns. The financial cost is so slow I can afford to spend a few bucks here and there and over time my current and potential customers that visit my Facebook page or see the posts that are pushed out to them on their timelines, are gradually exposed to more and more services that my business provides. Over time, my message sticks in current and potential customer’s minds, so when they have a need, they remember and respond with an order.
One can even get back to the good old days where you can create need. I firmly believe the biggest obstacle to building a bigger drycleaning business today is the fact that many drycleaners have forgotten how to sell what our business really provides: a neat and tidy image. As my friend and drycleaner Dave Sabo says: ‘we are in the lazy business’. It’s time to get back to selling the image and convenience drycleaning provides and frankly conventional advertising is not affordable to deliver that message, but social media can.
Expectations being made of social media are high. People expect instant returns, orders to come flooding in. I’m sorry to say, long tail social selling on social media does not work that way. Email marketing, direct mail; text-messaging marketing all might be more suited to the need to generate instant sales and cash flow. Has social media brought in any significant amount of business for your clients? Well, define significant… I have a client that recently had me do a post on his drycleaners corporate Facebook page. The post included four offers and requested customers mention the Facebook offer or show it on their phone to receive a discount on drycleaning services. The total cost of the post was 20 dollars. Within 48 hours, 306 people were reached with the post, 74 were current customers of the cleaner and 232 people were new potential customers. Six people responded with orders that average an after discount total of $27.00 each. Just one order covered the cost of the entire campaign. Within 48 hours, a return on investment of 500 percent was generated. Sure, a hundred twenty bucks may not change one’s life and business in a significant way, but heck, do you know any banks or stocks paying a 500% ROI for a 46 hour time window? And really, one just needs to work and refine this concept to get it to scale to hundreds of orders generated and reach thousands of people and it does happen, I’ve done it before with a beer business I used to own. I managed to double sales of our beer over three months’ time with a total budget of 600 dollars (but please keep in mind, results vary and results depend a lot on your market, your competition, your reputation and more).
Should drycleaners bother with Facebook? Yes, heck YES! But you have to keep in mind it’s a process, a long process. Either invest the time to learn to do it right for yourself, or consider hiring an expert who can work side by side with you, or do it all for you. Then keep a close eye on the results (the Insights tool Facebook provides) and create content that can be occasionally traced back to sales generated to determine if you are generating a return on your investment.