Since its inception in 1980, the Golomb Group has focused on the most effective ways to market the many services offered by drycleaners. These include: demographic analysis, new customer prospecting and customer retention programs.
While no one can deny the value of using sound tactical methods to obtain specific marketing objectives, at some point every business must re-access its market position and determine whether the tactics they have used in the past are the same ones they should continue to use in the future.
Why is this necessary?
Markets change. Demographics change. Customers’ preferences change. And their perception of your business in relation to their needs changes.
These are often due to many outside influences over which you have little control. You cannot control the fact that people age and, as they age, their drycleaning needs and preferences change. You know from your own observations, and from statistical surveys, that people between the ages of 35 and 55 years have the greatest need for drycleaning As they grow older, and retire, their drycleaning needs diminish. They may or may not move out of your service area.
Similarly, homes age and as they become older, they often become less desirable to the white-collar workers that are most likely to use your services.
Customer preferences also change. Hopefully, we are coming out of the era when a large segment of the population prefers to dress casually and their employers permit it. The casual look has gone from “No coat and tie” to “I don’t care how I’m dressed.” The idea of being a survivor became so popular that people actually began dressing like refugees. Stores like Banana Republic have made millions selling the “I just crawled out of the jungle” look.
Spending habits are influenced by television, newspapers, world events, government policies, business practices, the economy and many other events, which are beyond our control. While all of these changes are taking place, the customers perception of your business, has and is still changing. As the people living around your stores change, their perception of your business and how it can or cannot serve their needs also changes. This is the one aspect of change over which you have control.
You can control how customers perceive you.
Tactical methods alone will not give you that control. Unfortunately, many cleaners believe that a single newspaper ad, flyer distribution or direct mailer is all they need to bring a flood of customers into their stores. “After all, if I offer 50% off or $10 free drycleaning, won’t people consider that an irresistible offer?”
The obvious answer is, No!
If customers have never heard of you, if they have no perception of the kind of work you represent, they’re not going to come rushing into your store.
These tactics can only be effective when used as part of a long-term strategy, which begins with brand identification. Building a brand takes time, money and a commitment.
Consider the brands you like to buy: Coke, General Motors, Kleenex, Hart, Schaffner & Marx, etc. These are the giants in their respective industries. Business giants are not born. They’re created. You’re likely to buy these brands because you perceive their products to be of high quality. And where does that perception come from? Was it because they offered you “50% off” or “$10 free?” These may have been the triggers that got you to make your initial purchase or even buy a larger quantity, if you were already a regular purchaser. But those kinds of marketing tactics are not why you want these specific products.
You want them: a) because they offer a consistent quality that you can depend on, and b) because they constantly remind you to buy their products through a strategic marketing program. This is what branding your business is all about.