Anyone who’s ever walked into your laundry has a story behind how they got there, and you’d do well to listen to them whenever you get the chance.
What do I mean?
Try stopping some of the customers in your store, and ask them how they found you. Some will simply tell you that they saw your sign out front and wanted to drop by; if only getting every customer were that simple. Others, in fact, the majority of your customers will probably tell you a much different story. It will be an elaborate yarn that outlines the efforts they took to find you. I’ve heard tales that sound more like a thriller novel than a would-be customer trying to find a place to get clothes clean.
These stories are important because they can be broken down into tangible, useful bits of information that open doors of opportunity for your laundry business. The key here is a simple but crucial one: If you understand the mindset and journey of the people who have found you, you can align yourself so that more people find you in the future.
Just how do you do that? Let’s explore!
If you want to understand the journey a buyer takes, the first step is to know the buyer. The best way to do that is to take some time to generate what’s called a “buyer persona.” Buyer personas are breakdowns of an imaginary person who you think embodies the ideal customer for your business. Using both hard data and speculation regarding demographics, behaviors, motivations and goals, the aim is to create an easily referenceable “cheat sheet” that ensures everything you do is aligned with bringing in your ideal customer. These will look different depending on your location, but the principle is always the same. The more you know your customer, the better you’ll be able to attract new ones.
To create your own buyer persona, you’ll need to do research on your existing customers, identify the trends that link them and then use that information to create a common story. Once you know your customer, you can start trying to address when and where they find you.
In marketers’ parlance, this whole process has a name- “the buyer’s journey.” Over the years, careful research has shown that a potential buyer will usually come to your business with one of three basic mindsets, and it pays to be flexible enough to address all three. These mindsets are referred to as “awareness, consideration, and decision.”
Now, let’s take a look at what this journey may look like online.
Phase 1: Becoming Aware
The awareness phase of the buyer’s journey is for newcomers to your business. During this phase, it’s safe to assume that your visitors are completely ignorant of your business, what you do and what you have to offer. It’s possible the potential buyers just recently heard of your business through an online search or referral and want to know what’s available. Although they’re not ready to use your services or buy anything, chances are they’ll be interested down the line, if they can learn enough about what you do and why you’re important.
The best practice for this phase is simply to educate with zero promotion. Now, you may be thinking, “But I want them to do business with me. What do you mean don’t promote?”
However, that’s exactly the point. In the long term, promoting yourself during the early phases of your relationship doesn’t do you any good. You need to think smaller. Aim to create a trusting relationship with your visitor and ensure that they come back to your site for advice, guidance or anything else they may need. If you do this well enough, when they start considering their options, you’ll be higher on the list.
A great idea to help this process along is to create easy-to-follow, how-to blog posts, and then accent your blog with informative pieces about the laundry industry. Don’t horde information- the more you share, the more your prospective customers will trust you.
Phase 2: Considering the Options
The consideration phase is the second part of the buyer’s journey. At this point, they want to learn about potential solutions to a problem they have, but they aren’t necessarily looking to make an immediate purchase. Again, try not to promote yourself too aggressively during this phase, at least not directly.
Instead of saying, “Come to us and we’ll fix it for you,” you want to say, “Here’s how we fixed this problem, and here’s a few other ways it could be fixed as well.”See the difference? It’s still an effort to build trust while not being overly pushy with your promotion. You’re not only educating your visitors, you’re actually showing them that you can back up what you know with action. It’s the natural progression of establishing yourself as a trustworthy expert in your industry, and it makes it all the more likely they’ll come to you -instead of your competitors- when it’s time to make a decision.
Phase 3: Decision Time
When customers come to you during the decision phase, they’re ready to make a purchase. They’ve done their research, know what they’;re looking for, and now want the best available option. This is where you get to do what you’ve wanted to do all along- promote.
With the visitors you get during the decision phase, you want to make sure they know exactly what makes you stand out from the competition. Take the time to show them why you’re different from your competitors. You can even make comparisons between the services you offer so that these potential customers know exactly what’s available to them. Use advertising campaigns and remarketing techniques to be sure you stay top of mind.
Create direct, sales-oriented blog posts that are easily shareable and which put your business at the center of the reader’s attention. If the trust is there, you’ll have gained a new customer- as well as an ambassador for your business.
There are two final factors to keep in mind with regard to the buyer’s journey.
First, I want to emphasize that this process applies to any setting with only a few minor differences, which typically revolve around content. For example, a rural laundry owner will have a different buyer persona and likely will address different concerns than a laundry that’s based in a large urban area. As long as you cater your approach to your location, you’ll be able to use this process easily and effectively. The persona is created and the journey is taken with the same steps, but considering your audience and situation are key elements to keep in mind.
Second, it’s also essential to remember that a new visitor to your website can come in any of the three phases. While a natural progression through the journey exists, it’s entirely possible for a newcomer to your site to be ready to buy immediately. This is exactly why it pays to be ready in all three areas- you never know how far along people will be on their respective journeys. You don’t want to lose out on potential sales merely because you’re missing calls to action and other key sales-oriented elements.
When you know how customers find you, your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for others to follow in their footsteps. Creating a site that caters to every step can be difficult, but diligence will pay off with measureable growth and brand awareness. Just keep trying to improve your approach in any way you can.