Last week we looked at where to find potential marketing opportunities that keep your name in front of your customers or potential customers. This week, we’ll join “Chad” as he moves forward in the process.
Chad has both a dry cleaning store (Cleaning for You) and a laundromat (Laundry Too). He’s fortunate they are next door to each other in the same shopping center, so he can combine events and promotions when it is appropriate. He put together a small team that included employees from both shops to discuss marketing ideas. In the end, they chose to launch three of them this year, with an eye to expanding next year.
It was important to Chad and his team that the events represented the personality of the company (friendly, community-centered, and dedicated to quality work). As a result, they chose different types of marketing events.
April 15 – National Laundry Day
August 19 – World Photography Day
November 14 – World Diabetes Day
Since they were beginning their planning in January, they pushed their first choice to April to allow time to get organized. Then they spaced the other two with the same amount of planning time. One event ties in with their business goals. One event will involve customers and potential customers in a fun way. One will address a community problem, and one which some of the employees themselves either suffer from or have family members who do. This is a good mix of events and checks many boxes in the company’s branding box.
Event #1 – National Laundry Day
The one thing everyone agrees on when it comes to laundry is that nobody likes to do it. Having an event centered around a chore like that lends itself to both humorous and serious approaches. It was also a great way to make sure everyone knew what services Chad’s company offered. The planning group brainstormed ways to inform people and also get them over to the shopping center.
The Lead Up:
Begin promoting the day at least 3 weeks early on Facebook and through email newsletters.
They ordered banners to be put up in the days leading up to the event.
Any orders going out through the dry cleaning plant had hang tags promoting the event.
Any Wash-Dry-Fold orders had information with them.
They booked a company to put up strings of pennants in the parking lot to denote something special was going on.
They approached a local radio station and asked them to be present on the day, broadcasting live. Since they advertise on this station, it was a natural move.
Throughout the day, random customers at the laundromat would suddenly be told their loads that day were free. Those prizes would be announced by the disc jockey in the parking lot so people would be drawn to the store hoping to win.
Tours of the dry cleaning plant would be offered, so customers and potential customers could see what it takes to turn out a great shirt or other garment. The radio person would go on one of the tours, and no doubt be amazed and talk about it on the air.
Attendees would be invited to enter to win dry cleaning or laundry services. They would have to include an email address, thus adding to the store’s database for future marketing.
A home delivery van would be on display, and customers invited to sign up for the service on the spot.
Customers would be encouraged over the radio and in other informational pieces to bring in their gently used clothing for donation to a local charity. The radio personality could have some fun with this describing the kinds of clothes coming in, and challenging listeners to bring more. (All garments would be cleaned by the company before donation.)
To add to the festive air, and as something else for the radio announcer to talk about, local food trucks would be invited to set up in the parking lot and sell their foods.
What was Expected
Being the first event they were trying, the team hoped that it would raise awareness of their location, their services and their concern for the community. If it moved the sales needle for the day, that would be great. But marketing is not always about sales; it’s about building relationships. The first event would open that door. Subsequent events would build on it.
Event 2: World Photography Day
Everybody likes to share their photos! The team decided that since a lot of their customers (and other people in the community) traveled frequently, they’d draw attention to the company by saluting the great images they brought back.
The Lead Up:
Using the contacts they made the first time around, and the lessons they learned, the team used the same techniques for this event, with a few alterations. Facebook, social media, fliers, banners, email and other communications in advance.
Because photos are visual, it didn’t make sense to have a radio station on site, so they switched media.
They made categories by age of photographer (children, teens, seniors, etc.) to make it more accessible, and offered prizes of gift cards purchased from local craft stores, bookstores, movie theaters and other venues.
They would provide a place to tack up the photos, so everyone could get a look at them.
They invited the local paper to send someone to be the judge of the best photos—thus guaranteeing good coverage.
They asked the local library to allow the best photos to be displayed there for a week after the event.
Photos were shared on social media and in the subsequent email newsletters to show the skill of their customers. Then, to show their own skill, they also ran before-and-after images of items they had cleaned (wedding dresses, coats, difficult heirloom items) or a pile of clothing before-and-after their Wash-Dry-Fold service.
What was Expected
Building community relationships is a slow process. Holding a feel-good event like this one has different goals from sending out coupons to get people to try your service. Their hope is to bring people to their location who might never have been there before because of the tie to a hobby they love. Then, when they need dry cleaning or laundry, an image of Chad’s company will snap in their minds.
Event #3: World Diabetes Day
There is a subliminal impact when a company holds an event that has nothing to do with sales, and everything to do with the community’s well-being. An event that focuses on a particular physical condition is a prime way to be involved and show you care.
The Lead Up:
Again, the team went back to the contacts they’d already made and utilized those that made sense. Social media, outdoor signage and pennants, email and texting messages, fliers and hang-tags. Of course, the event was mentioned in any advertising they were doing.
But the subject of diabetes is large, and there are already community organizations that put their efforts into combating it. They made natural partners. They also can help get the word out via various channels. In this case, the team approached radio, newspaper and TV stations for public service announcements about the event. These are usually free, if it is in the public interest.
The local chapter of the Diabetes Association was eager to be on site for the event. They would bring with them all kinds of educational materials, recipes and resources to hand out.
A local wellness clinic would set up tables to do blood sugar checks for people, many of whom fear they might have diabetes, but don’t know how to find out. A quick check would lead to a list of resources, as necessary.
Customers and other members of the public would be invited to participate in a cooking contest for diabetic-friendly recipes. A local chef, himself diabetic, would be the judge. The prize would be dinner at his restaurant, in exchange for the publicity he received by participating.
A physical therapist from the wellness clinic would have chairs set up and would lead people in simple but effective chair exercises, demonstrating to them how easy it is to improve fitness and lose weight—two risk factors for diabetes. She’d set the demonstrations to music to make them fun.
Other local organizations that were tied to the diabetes theme were invited to have tables at the event to give out information or run demonstrations.
What was Expected:
Notice that, unlike the other events, this one never moved people inside the shop or laundromat. It’s not that kind of marketing. This is brand-building and community relations. How does that make the company more successful?
If you’ve ever had a friend or loved one suffer from a difficult condition, you know the appreciation you feel for anyone—individual or company—that supports research, assistance or provides information about that condition. It’s a gentle sway toward the company, not a stampede due to a sale.
A big win all around
At the end of a year, Chad and his team have achieved some remarkable things.
They’ve learned how to hold an event marketing their company and pulling in customers.
They’ve made valuable contacts in the media, retailers and with community organizations that they can call on in the future for other events.
They’ve begun to make a name for the company in the minds of the whole community that goes beyond dry cleaning and laundry.
They’ve also gotten into the habit of working as a team and drawing on ideas that employees come up with.
Individual team members have been given responsibilities beyond their normal jobs, and they’ve learned to run with them.
In short, Chad’s team is energized and tighter than ever. He’s now looking forward to next year’s marketing calendar.
In our third installment, we’ll talk about where you go from here. You’ve taken the challenge to do some creative marketing, you’ve done the work… now what?
Becca Anderson spent 17 years in public relations, advertising and corporate PR before joining Fabricare Canada in 2000. She was named editor in 2013, and welcomes feedback about the magazine via the contact form on this site.