As someone who is in the vended laundry business (or is considering investing in a laundromat), you’re also somewhat – by default – in the commercial real estate business as well. Clearly, understanding this segment of the laundry industry will help you to maximize the overall value of your business.
Now, what if I told you that there is a different type of real estate in which you also should strongly consider investing, and it’s right in front of your eyes every day? It’s “online real estate” – it’s the Web. And it deserves your attention.
Of course, I know very well that you most likely already have a website for your laundry business and maybe even some social media accounts or more.
However, there is always something more you could be doing to capture more customers online. Customers can find you through countless websites these days, and they’ll take your advice and trust you, if you can engage with them.
My goal is to try to introduce you to a few different digital avenues – or “pieces of online real estate” – and explain their significance. Although I can’t get into extreme detail in a magazine column, rest assured that there are plenty of resources out there for you if you’re interested in learning more. Now let’s take a look…
Your Website + A Nurturing Funnel
The vast majority of good marketing practices for laundromats are built on a solid foundation. Your website provides that very foundation for any and all digital marketing. Without a good website in place, you’ll have a hard time engaging in a business-to-customer transaction online.
What does a good website look like? There are plenty of ways to answer that, but I’m going to aim for practicality here.
Essentially, your website should have a logical structure, relevant information that’s helpful to customers, and some kind of collection method for emails or contact information. Those are oversimplifications, but they lie at the core of any website for any business, laundromats included. The rest of what you probably think your website needs – including aesthetics to a degree – are just ways to improve a user’s experience.
But a foundation alone isn’t enough. You need to find a way to engage, which is a process that relies on outside tools. You have to set up your social media, run ads or have effective SEO to draw in potential customers – and all of these are worlds in and of themselves. Even more so, they’re all pieces of “digital real estate” that are available to your laundry business if you put in the time and effort needed to acquire them. Let’s talk about each of these three areas to help you see their potential.
Social Media Engagement
Yes, #laundrytok is most certainly a real thing. And it’s your ticket to the next wave of digital content. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a trend on TikTok of posting life hacks, cleaning tips and laundry shenanigans. Popular videos range from how to clean your baking sheet to impromptu singing. All it takes to participate are some imagination and a cell phone.
However, TikTok is just the tip of the iceberg. Your business has the potential to gain a following on whatever platform your audience may want. All you have to do is define the audience, post relevant content and be consistent in your message. The creativity behind the content you post is all up to you or even an employee.
‘Renting a Home’
Continuing with our real estate theme, paid online advertisements can most accurately be compared to renting a home. When you pay for that space, it’s yours to use (within limits, of course) to bring customers to your laundromat business. But, once the money flow stops, you no longer have use of that space.
The key to success with any digital advertising is to start low and build up your campaigns over time. As you present advertisements to online users, you’ll be able to narrow or expand your audience, thanks to the data provided by ad providers – mainly Facebook and Google. You can even run ads to those who have already visited your website or viewed your content.
But is this effective for laundromats? That depends, and it’s where I encourage further homework on your part. Digital ads may not be incredibly necessary for a local laundromat in a small town. Then again, they’re almost essential for urban stores that face a number of competitors. The takeaway: it’s online real estate that can help your business, but come prepared to spend.
Search Engine Optimization… For Laundromats?
It’s easy to think of search engine optimization (SEO, for short) as a battle for those with massive budgets. However, that’s not the case in 2021.
In fact, locally focused SEO has seen a massive rise in popularity over the last few years and has the potential to benefit any business that wants to stand out on Google.
How does this qualify as “real estate” for your business? The real estate you’re aiming for here is the front page of Google – and it can make or break whether someone chooses your business.
Think of how you search for a restaurant these days (COVID-19 protocols notwithstanding). You likely pull up Google or even Google Maps, and type in “food,” “burgers,” “burritos” or whatever you’re craving. The resulting list or map is ranked, and you can optimize your website for it. Your customers use the exact same method when looking for a laundromat online. So, if your business isn’t near the top, you’re probably missing out.
It’s difficult to distill the potential of digital marketing down to just a few short, punchy headlines. It’s even more difficult to give actionable advice as to how you should pursue them. But I’ve tried my best.
Each of the elements I’ve discussed can provide growth opportunities to your business, no matter where you sit. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom-and-pop laundry operator on the corner or an international corporation. Digital marketing and the coveted online real estate up for grabs is for everyone – and it’s time to buy.
As seen on PlanetLaundry.