National Clothesline
Adding purpose to your marketing
‘If you build it, they will come” may work in the movies, but it really doesn’t apply anymore to the drycleaning industry.
Savvy small business owners are recognizing the need to reach out to the local community to help promote themselves and find prospects.
The 5th marketing P. Most business owners are familiar with the four Ps — product, price, placement and promotion. But to remain relevant in today’s market place, you need to add a fifth P — purpose.
Purpose, in this case, means giving back to the community and using your cleaner’s brand to make a significant difference in the lives of others. It will allow you to develop a greater community presence and connect with customers and engage them at a deeper level.
Purposeful research. According to the Edelman Good Purpose brand study, 87 percent of Americans believe brands and consumers could do more to support good causes by working together. And 62 percent feel corporations need to integrate good causes into their day-to-day operations than simply giving to them. The study also found that consumers have a better opinion of companies that integrate good causes into business regardless of why they do so.
Making a difference pays. The Edelman study also proved that making a difference in a community can also make a difference in that company’s bottom line. They found that companies that lead with purpose and incorporate good causes are turning profits. In fact, these businesses outperform the general market 15 to 1 and their revenues have grown four times faster.
Giving back works. Big companies such as Walmart and Target have known the benefit of giving back to the local community for years. And while few small business can give back at the same level that major corporations do, they can still make a difference in the local community and see big benefits for it in their bottom line — and on their tax returns.
Community involvement can help your small business compete against the big budgets and volume discounts of the big guys. It gets consumers to shop not only on price and selection, but also personal relationships within the community.
Getting strategically involved. There are countless ways to get involved in your community and enhance your local presence. But just like your other marketing elements, you need to be strategic about it to be successful. Tie in with charities that are in line with the drycleaning vision or purpose.
Try to choose nonprofits that somehow relate to your business or that would be of interest in your target market — possibly resale shops or charities that supply dresses for prom and homecoming for inner-city girls.
Look for charitable opportunities that provide meaningful exposure to large groups with members of your target market. Also, don’t forget to choose a charity that interests you personally so your desire doesn’t go down after a few months.
Ways to get involved. Once you have decided on the charity or charities that make the most amount of sense for your business to support, you need to determine which efforts will do the most good for you and your chosen nonprofits. Many charities already have plenty of programs and fundraisers in place that you can support right away. You most likely will not need to produce a full program from scratch.
Here is a brief list of some tactics to get your brain flowing on possibilities:
Join a local business or service group. Become a member of a local group such as your Chamber of Commerce or Rotary. They offer plenty of opportunities to get involved in the local scene and expand your contacts beyond the limit of your circle of friends and business associates.
Sponsor a youth sports team or league. Compare the prices of a few jerseys and the goodwill value you will receive in return to that quarter-page ad in the local newspaper mentioning your support.
Volunteer your space and time. Most cleaners do not have much space in their facilities, however, if you own the property or have a good relationship with your landlord, you might be able to volunteer an area of the parking lot for a food drive, clothing drive, food pantry or blood donation drive. You and some of your staff (in uniform) should be a part of the drive and be around to meet some of the donators.
Teach a class. Many local colleges love to have professionals possibly teach a workshop. This can be anything from “what you should consider when buying formal attire” to “ how to extend the life of your current wardrobe.”
Host a community event. Get involved in a local holiday parade, community festival, create your own fundraising ball or underwrite a performing arts organization.
Attend your customer’s events. If your customers are actively involved in charity fundraisers, plan to attend. This will lock in good faith on your end and open your networking to a whole new area of prospects.
Check with places of worship. Many churches, synagogues and mosques have ongoing service projects where your cleaner could visibly contribute time and resources to help build a strong loyal affinity between your brand and the organizations members.
Still can’t decide? Try volunteermatch.org. It is a great site to help match volunteers with the needs to the local community. I used this site to match me up with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the organization Feed My Starving Children.
Everyone wins. Businesses that step forward in times of need or celebration show the local community that people mean as much as profits do. Getting involved in your local community can provide a huge boost to your cleaner’s public image and your bottom line.

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.