National Clothesline
How findable is your business?
What does “findable” mean? It means having your drycleaners visible to consumers where and when they are ready to buy. It also means being found first, before they find your
For drycleaners, this used to be a fairly simple. You would run ads in the local newspaper or possibly send out flyers or postcards and then rely on customers’ referrals. But times are different now.
Today’s customers are different. Nowadays, consumers use an average of nearly eight media tools to research local purchases before they buy one. In addition to seeking proven media like postcards and phone directories, many consumers rely heavily on the web. In fact, nearly 70 percent of consumers start all of their local searches online. This includes mobile searches, where more than 40 percent of mobile phone users search for information on their phone.
Today’s cleaner is faced with more challenges than years past. Drycleaners need to develop a coordinated offline and online marketing program to reach across the myriad of ways today’s digitally savvy and mobile consumers search and shop.
For many cleaners, this can present some tough challenges due to: 1) limited time and resources to implement these marketing programs 2) limited marketing knowledge 3) knowing the most effective places to start and 4) maximizing their return on investment.  
An important step to address these challenges is identifying key marketing components that have the most impact on being findable.
Here are five factors that contribute to being findable. These factors help identify how findable a business is to consumers. The degree at which your cleaner is engaged in each factor will play an important role in determining your overall visibility. The five factors are: 1) brand; 2) physical location; 3) advertising; 4) online presence; and 5) reputation and community.
Brand. Your cleaner’s brand is its unique identity. This includes your name, logo, colors, taglines and much more. This identity helps prospective customers to distinguish you from your competitors.
Cleaners with strong brands attract prospects, bring back customers, and create a powerful advantage in the local market versus lesser-known competitors. By sending consistent messages across various media, your business can build its brand awareness and increase its chances of standing out to your customers. That way, when customers are ready to buy they think of your cleaner first.
Physical location. A cleaner’s tangible presence in the market is more than just its storefront and a big sign saying “CLEANERS” above the door. It includes everything from your route vans being wrapped correctly to sign spinners to your CSRs and route delivery personnel having clean uniforms that promote your brand.
These are the ways you extend your brand beyond the reach of the traditional brick-and-mortar location. Of course, it’s important to have a good location in a high traffic area and clear signage promoting business hours, website, social media and special offers. Sometimes, however, too busy of a traffic pattern becomes counter-effective. Make sure there is a proper egress and ingress for your location off the main road.
Rent should never be a consideration. Cheap rent equals bad location which usually equals the doors being closed quickly.
Advertising. Most business owners understand that advertising is their company’s voice. It is the process of communicating to prospects and current customers their services.
Advertising makes up a single component of the marketing process and uses the right mix of traditional advertising and newer online vehicles to ensure the correct message is delivered to the right prospects at the right time. Drycleaners need to cross-promote using multiple touch points across different forms of media to be effective. Dropping some of the old advertising, like ads in the Yellow Pages, also needs to happen. Be as effective with your advertising dollars as you can be.
Online presence. Online marketing can open up a huge new audience of potential customers. But building a strong online presence means more than just putting up a website and forgetting about it. It entails optimizing web pages for search engines, paying for Search Engine Marketing, setting up a business Facebook page, Twitter, digital directories, mobile applications for both your store and your route (if you have one), maintaining a blog, and email marketing.
Considering new research that shows how consumers are searching for information these days, being found online is more critical than ever. In fact, it is very important to the long-term success of almost any company not just drycleaners.
Reputation and community. Consumers generate word-of-mouth about companies they have experiences with online and offline every day. Drycleaners that listen to their customers benefit not only by understanding how people feel about them, but they have the opportunity to guide the conversation rather than reacting to it.
Through social media, blogs and review sites, your cleaner can help manage their reputation and interaction with online communities. Being involved in the local community offline through sponsorships, memberships, charities and other ways is equally important in promoting findability, goodwill and brand loyalty.
Small businesses, in general, face long odds to survive. According the Small Business Administration, only 70 percent of small to medium-sized business employers survive at least two years, half at least five years, less than a third at least 10 years and a quarter for 15 years or more.
The most important success factor for almost every small business is getting found. So it’s critical that you take steps to increase visibility across multiple channels. By understanding how the five factors of being findable help identify and optimize marketing efforts, you can begin developing your cleaner’s marketing programs that reach today’s customers when and how they are searching for your services.

Neil Schroeder has been in the marketing industry for the past 15 years. He is president and creative director of the Golomb Group, developing direct response, social media, in-house promotions and web site campaigns for drycleaners throughout the nation. He can be reached by phone at (800) 833-0560, by email at neils@golombgroup.com or on the web at www.golombgroup.com.