International companies have a lot to teach us about marketing. They’ve mastered the art of grabbing an audience’s attention and selling a product or service – which is at the core of all marketing efforts… always!
In this column, I want to highlight some of the winningest strategies employed by companies who play on the world stage. Although you may not be on the same scale as these companies (yet), I firmly believe you can steal some of these international tactics for your own laundromat’s marketing strategy.
Don’t Start Price Wars
Look at how Apple – one of the largest companies in the world – treats its pricing model. It could try to look at competitors like Samsung and Google to see how they price their phones, but it doesn’t. Instead, Apple shows a sometimes shocking disregard for pricing that others would consider “reasonable,” and offers its phones at the cost of a mid-range laptop.
The exact pricing model can be said for any number of international companies: they charge the customer for the total value of the product with few exceptions.
It’s easy to focus on winning customers through marketing. What I mean is that it’s easy to focus on customer acquisition at the expense of all else.
The thought process here is typically quite simple: more customers mean more revenue, which means greater profits. However, the math is actually much more complex, as you most likely know from your own business.
Customers cost money to acquire, no matter what avenue you take to get them. Whether you’re sending out mailers, blasting ads on social media or buying real estate with substantial foot traffic, you will pay money in some way to acquire those customers. If the money customers spend (for all time) in your business doesn’t exceed the amount it takes to win those customers, you’ve just realized a negative ROI for your efforts.
This brings us back to avoiding price wars. Such skirmishes occur when two or more businesses seek to compete strictly on price. Assuming all other factors are the same (such as location, facilities, etc.), the “winner” likely will be the one with the lowest price.
Although this sounds good in theory, remember the math we just discussed. You’re already fighting an uphill battle, and that’s before you realize it’s difficult to keep customers motivated on price alone. No one knows that better than Warren Buffet, who shared this powerful insight:
“The single most important decision in evaluating a business is pricing power. If you’ve got the power to raise prices without losing business to a competitor, you’ve got a very good business. And, if you have to have a prayer session before raising the price by 10 percent, then you’ve got a terrible business.”
So what’s the takeaway for your laundromat?
Stay away from price-based competitiveness, at least as the primary lens through which you view marketing. Instead, try to find innovative ways to differentiate yourself and your message so that it resonates – a concept we’ll discuss more in the next section.
Speak to Your Audience in Their Own Language
International companies have to be aware of their own language, as well as the languages of the countries in which they do business. Unfortunately, there are plenty of instances where businesses have turned simple mistranslations into unwittingly rude advertisements. Although most of these mistranslations end up being humorous mistakes, it sends a strong message with regard to how to speak to your business’s audience – speak to them in their own language.
This means a few things.
First of all, many people in our country speak languages other than English. Marketing your laundromat in the native tongue of others can be one path toward winning new customers that shouldn’t go unexplored.
Secondly, talking to your audience in their language is more than encouraging global inclusion – it’s an axiom that has practical application in your marketing.
You need to find a way to speak to your audience in ways that make them want to listen. To accomplish this, you’ll need to start a conversation, listen to what they say, and then respond in a way that builds a cycle of trust over time.
However – and I can’t stress this enough – audience analysis and building take time. Dialing into your audience is a process that involves demographic research, establishing clear customer personas, and the creation of highly catered and engaging content. Those are the vehicles all successful companies – large and small – utilize in their marketing. From there, the cycle matures and can develop lifelong customers.
The key is to find ways to listen to your customers.
Listening is at the heart of any worthwhile dialogue, and online conversations are no different. Listening in person requires your ears, while listening online means using your eyes and mind to understand where others are coming from. So, for business owners, it’s all about getting to know who your customers are, what they talk about online, and how to connect with them. If you can achieve this, you’ll be playing in the big leagues.
Elicit Emotional Responses
Remember Geico’s popular hump day commercial? It was hilarious.
What about the ASPCA’s famous collaboration with Sarah McLachlan? A classic tearjerker.
Playing on people’s emotions is a marketing tactic as old as time. It dates all the way back to the ancient Greek’s “pathos” – and was used well before anyone every put a name to it. Of course, this persuasion tactic is still in use today, and laundry businesses have a unique opportunity to use it within their marketing campaigns.
After all, laundromats are a huge part of life for millions of people worldwide. It’s where they meet with neighbors, do their homework, check their budgets and complete other daily tasks.
In short, it’s where many people often have real-life experiences. Those experiences are what connect people with each other. And they’re what open the door for emotional responses, even to something as simple as doing one’s laundry.
But here’s the kicker: emotions cover a broad range. While we naturally think of the basics – like happy, sad or mad – you can dig much deeper and find a more refined way to evoke other human emotions:
And the list goes on and on. So, the next time you begin a marketing campaign, think about how it will touch your target audience’s emotions. If you can frame your idea into a compelling story or deliver your message with vivid language, you’ll stand a better chance of tugging at your audience’s heartstrings.
Although a successful marketing campaign is never guaranteed, you can rest assured that such a promotion will create a lasting impression in people’s minds.
All in all, I hope you (1) found these insights helpful, and (2) use this as an invitation to continue uncovering innovative ways to grow your laundry business, even if from unexpected sources.
Studying highly successful international companies and borrowing from their strategies can be a winning plan. Certainly, try out a fresh approach to your own marketing by using the tips outlined above; however, always keep an eye out for what’s next as well.
Marketing continues to change – and so must you and your business.
As seen on PlanetLaundry.