Ever think about how a riot starts? Out of nowhere, large crowds of people rise up and strike out at someone or something that’s invoked a collective rage. It may even start out as a peaceful protest, but then before you know it, something’s on fire and windows are being shattered. Chaos ensues. Madness. Pure, unadulterated energy that’s being funneled into making some kind of statement.
How does that kind of thing just happen?
Allow me to clarify something up front: I’m not actually advocating that anyone, anywhere, or for any reason actually start a riot. There’s more than enough evidence to show that riots are much more harmful than helpful, and I really don’t want to start anything that could be misconstrued. I’m simply using the analogy of a riot starting to make you think about a few things – and I hope it grabbed your attention! (It’s not every day that you see anything about riots in PlanetLaundry.)
However, more importantly, I wanted to pique your interest regarding a rather significant issue for our industry: How does any group of people get so fired up about something that they actually take action? Better yet, how can that happen for our industry? Or your business?
Let’s table the riot talk for a bit. Instead, let’s talk about starting a large movement that has our industry – or your business – as the epicenter. Let’s discuss the “how” and “why” of making that a reality. Less burning cars, more wet clothes. Less shattered windows, more shattered sales goals. Now we’re talking!
How do we build all of this? Campaigns. Digital campaigns, to be precise. I’m not talking about high-end politics here, I’m talking real-life application that educates, inspires and sells. A well-planned and smartly executed digital campaign can lay a foundation for any part of the laundry industry to build on for years to come.
Of course, a huge group of people doing anything together doesn’t happen in a vacuum. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of influences that motivate people on a daily basis, and asserting yourself as one of those forces is intimidating. Unfortunately, that intimidation has left a lot of potential customers unserved, and it’s frustrated more than one business owner along the way. Let’s change that. I want to attempt to boil down the complex art of digital campaigning in hopes that it helps us all find the right way to approach and sell to new customers. Who knows, we could generate quite a crowd.
Pick Your Purpose
First and foremost, you need to answer one important question: What do you want people to do?
That may sound a bit manipulative, but I promise it’s not. I’m not saying that people will always do what you want them to, but you always want to start with the end in mind. Take some time and write down your goals. If you’re going to start a campaign, you first need to determine the purpose. Do you want more wash-dry-fold/pickup/self-service customers? Are you trying to raise awareness about something you’re doing – like an event or mission? Or do you simply want people to notice you exist? There are a lot of options here, so don’t limit yourself. When you know your campaign’s true purpose, you can better plan how you actually want to proceed.
This is a short but crucial point, but it will make or break your online efforts. If even you don’t know what you’re supposed to be campaigning about, then how do you expect anyone else to? Be honest with yourself and set the bar high – after all, you’re here to achieve something.
Build Out a Promotion
Once you know why you’re campaigning, you need to start looking for something that others can get excited about. At this point, let the creative juices flow. You can use simple things like a discount or reward program to spark interest. Or, you can attempt to build your reputation as an expert. Maybe your aim is to let people know about the charity effort you’re putting on. Whatever you decide, the floor is yours. Use it shamelessly.
Pool Your Resources
Before you fire off your promotion too quickly, my biggest piece of advice is actually to check your enthusiasm at the door. Far too many decision-makers simply start up a campaign without considering the position of their audience. Big mistake.
What do I mean by that? Everyone you reach with a campaign will approach it differently, and there’s no foolproof way to catch them all. However, the more targeted your message can be on a particular subset of people, the better off you’ll be in the end. For example, pushing people to your website is a different animal than closing a sale or letting people know about a promotion, and it pays to approach each motive separately. I’m not saying you can’t do all of those at the same time – just that it’s difficult in even the best circumstances. You’re better served to boil down your online promotions’ motives with one of three questions:
1. Am I trying to attract people?
2. Am I trying to convert a visitor into a lead?
3. Am I trying to close a sale?
Knowing whether you’re attracting, converting or closing can help you determine the right materials to use in any given situation. For example, social media and paid advertising do well for attracting site visitors, a landing page or well-written blog article can help you convert visitors into leads, and the perfect email can close a sale when sent at the right time. If you never stop to consider where your audience is coming from, you may end up allocating the wrong resources to your campaign. Your campaign would be done before it began.
Follow Through on Your Promises
Checklist time. You’ve figured out your purpose, built a promotion and figured out the best way to allocate your resources. Congratulations, you’re campaigning like a pro!
The final element to remember with campaigning is that at the end of the day, everything boils down to a promise. You, the campaigner, are promising something to the campaigned. Whether you’re showcasing a charity event, a discount or an awesome customer experience, you absolutely must follow through. Even if you get a lackluster response to your efforts, your reputation is at stake. Think about things in the long term, and keep your small crowd happy.
Present a promise, then follow through. Once you do, it’s time to go back to the drawing board for the next campaign (and then the next one).
Let’s get back to the riots for a second, shall we? When a riot starts to form, somehow, someway, people in a large, uncoordinated group hear about something and then care enough about it to take action. That type of energy is rare. It happens slowly, and it needs to build over a period of time before the clouds burst. Digital campaigns are the same way. Patience is your biggest ally. You will stumble. You will lose motivation. Just keep going. I promise, it’s worth waiting for in the end.
I really, truly believe that the laundry industry is at an eleventh hour of sorts. More and more business owners are trending away from traditional campaigning methods and moving to the digital realm. Websites are being updated, social profiles revamped and email newsletters are ramping up. We’re moving in a competitive and exciting direction that shouldn’t – can’t – be ignored.
The clock is ticking, and a crowd is forming. Let’s start a riot!