Digital marketing is the future, right?
As someone on the frontlines of digital marketing for the laundry industry, I certainly believe that to be true – but that doesn’t mean you should change your current methods of promoting your business just because I said so.
At the global level, perhaps the answer to that is yes, especially considering the world in which we now live. Leading companies are deeply invested in their digital presence, and they all want to be on the bleeding edge while seemingly leaving the past behind them.
But what about the little guys – the sole proprietorships and even the local, multi-store operations? Does the trend hold true? Are we really moving toward a digital-only future? I want to explore these questions and provide a few recommendations to help you make the past and future of marketing work for your laundry business in the new year.
Let’s Talk About Tradition
In the simplest terms, traditional marketing is something like a print ad, a print magazine article, a newspaper ad, or even a billboard or in-house poster. They’re recognized by all as being simple but effective ways to spread a message – at least in theory. At the very least, they’re beneficial in terms of tangibility and for longer attention spans.
To be fair, there’s something about them that’s hard to give up. If you’re announcing a sale at your laundromat, why wouldn’t you put up some posters describing the sale? They can convey information to the customers who may not follow your online presence. It’s a safe bet – and fairly inexpensive.
However, the benefits don’t really extend beyond the customers who are already in your store – and the same applies to most types of traditional marketing – known today as “disruptive” marketing. This is due to the fact that these methods are often intrusive – think billboards or a commercial – or they have a very finite usefulness. The paper, ink, time and money you put into these efforts creates a one-and-done advertising chance, and then you’re on to the next thing.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s entirely possible to create a robust and profitable marketing campaign with physical, traditional marketing collateral. But the costs typically outweigh the benefits when you use this method alone. That’s why I want to dig deeper into modern digital marketing and make the case for those who may be lagging behind.
Digital Marketing’s Potential
The list of traditional marketing efforts is fairly limited. You could cite and probably compile the entirety of “old school” marketing efforts in a matter of five minutes, even if you’re not a marketing professional – because you’ve been on the receiving end of these measures for years. By contrast, here’s a quick list of just a few ways in which digital marketing can be used to drive new customers to your laundromat business:
- Content marketing
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Affiliate marketing
- Pay per click
- Video marketing
- Display advertisements
- Marketing automation
- Chatbots and instant customer service
And these are just what we have right now. More innovations pop up each year, and they continue to change how businesses reach new customers – and this applies to any size business in virtually any industry. Plus, these are all interchangeable, and there are multiple ways to use these techniques to create a profitable marketing campaign.
For example, many businesses combine local SEO strategies to get in front of customers in their areas, while also creating highly targeted PPC campaigns to help find and follow-up with potential customers. In addition to all of this, well-written and precisely timed emails can help close new customers or reengage former ones. All of these can be used to drive traffic to any business – be it a single-location laundromat or a multi-store, wash-dry-fold operation.
Why do these work so well, especially when compared to traditional efforts? Here are a few reasons:
- They’re cost-effective. Each of these marketing efforts are cheaper to create and maintain than many traditional efforts. They also tend to have a higher ROI, even for small businesses.
- They’re value-heavy. Many digital efforts focus on creating a stronger business-customer relationship. A well-informed audience that’s loyal to your brand will keep coming back to your business, especially if you deliver a high-quality service.
- They’ve virtually instant. Need to put up an online ad? Or post a blog article? All you have to do is find the right platform and create it. There’s almost no waiting around, which means you can start winning customers and optimizing your marketing immediately.
- They offer long-term benefits. Most digital marketing assets can be created as “evergreen” efforts, meaning you can leave them up for the long term. As long as they continue to educate your audience and attract new customers, you won’t need to adjust very much.
- They’re sharable. Most digital marketing assets are shareable through social media and other networking websites. More shares mean more exposure and more business.
- You can assess and improve. Traditional marketing efforts typically lack any kind of analytical backing, at least beyond the promises sold to you upfront. Tools such as Google Analytics can help you see what’s going on with your website and provide insight as to how you can improve.
The Way Forward
I’m not saying that everyone needs to abandon the old ways of marketing – far from it. I still see some value in the traditional ways of doing things, and I highly doubt these methods will ever truly disappear.
However, if you want to really compete in today’s business environment, you need a digital presence. As we move into 2020, we’re just getting further and further into the future that is digital marketing.
Now is the time to start catching up and moving ahead – no matter what you do or who you are.