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Plan a year’s worth of promotions
If you made a business resolution for 2019, was it to get new customers? Was it to keep your
current customers coming back?
In either case — or both! — communication with existing and potential customers using e-mail
and social media is essential.
To keep your messages and advertising creative and innovative, I suggest tapping into the
recognized holidays, national observations, special occasions and seasonal occurrences you’ll
find on a promotional calendar (I like
nationaldaycalendar.com but you can use
the Google machine to find others).
When I pitched this article to my editor,
Hal, I sent him the link to my calendar
site and he quickly replied that he had no
idea it was National Bathtub Day. For
proof of concept, I plucked a thumbnail
photo of folded bath towels off the web
and sent it back to him with a sample
offer: 20% off bath towels (valid today only and only for bath towels). Sold it!
Before I go into promotional opportunities, let me be clear about what needs to go into a
promotion to make it most likely to succeed: relevance and value.
Relevance relates to how the holiday or occasion ties to a cleaners. Luckily, most people like
to look good when they party and that’s your forte, plus you’re great at helping to prepare for —
and clean up after — an event.
And here’s the touchy part: everything you send out, from an e-mail or postcard to a
Facebook ad, should feature an offer!
Why?
Now, more than ever, time is a valuable commodity and people expect that the time they take
to read an e-mail or ad, small effort that it may be, will be rewarded. This is the cost of success
and loyalty.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to give away the store! In the towel example above, all that’s
being offered is a percentage off one part of an order.
Sure, some people will limit themselves to just the offer, but many more will bring in other
items as they take advantage of the savings, and, if you use “percent off” promotions, even the
one-and-dones are contributing to your profit margin a bit.
On Facebook, you may be able to get away with sharing information and sending greetings
because of the social nature of the medium, but sprinkle in some offers, a contest or perhaps a
reward for posting a photo taken during a special occasion to keep people interested in
revisiting.
If you send information-only e-mails to your opt-in list enough times, you’ll be sure to get a
lot of opt-outs. Here’s a tip: put a QR code onto printed materials and a “Click here” button on
on-line materials that take people to a landing page where you can go into more depth about
your promotion and do more branding of your cleaners.
Hopefully you, like most retail businesses, already tie into the major holidays with promotions
and in-store decorations, including New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter,
Mother’s and Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Memorial and Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and, of
course, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.
The issue with these “no brainer” holidays is that everyone promotes during them so it
requires a little “brain” to stand out.
For instance, use Valentine’s Day to build a 14-day “We love our customers” campaign filled
with small branded merchandise giveaways and daily specials culminating with, perhaps, a dip-
your-own-strawberry-in-chocolate event on the 14th.
All-American, non-religious Thanksgiving is a great holiday to focus on “Customer
Appreciation” with a loyalty rewards promotion that can be positioned as preparing for the
upcoming holiday season… this is a sure way to stand out from the competition. And don’t forget
that any holiday that brings out mattress sellers is your opportunity to promote cleaning linens,
pillows and household items (consider having your customer show the mattress receipt to get a
one-time savings).
When it comes to really relevant promotional periods for cleaners, Spring Cleaning, Back-to-
School and the bridal “season” are superb.
When March 20 rolls around and Spring begins, let customers know it’s time to “freshen” their
wardrobe and linens, clean winter garments before storing, or clean out their closets and bring
out-dated garments to you to clean and donate to local non-profits.
Take the opportunity in Spring to do some cross-promotion with a neighborhood florist by
having raffles for arrangements featuring living plants.
If you’re recycling hangers and polybags or are a GreenEarth cleaner, you might want to take
advantage of EarthDay on April 22 to tout your eco-friendliness… and consider handing out
seedlings from a local garden nursery with orders being dropped off and there may be some
soil-covered clothing coming back at pick-up time!
Back-to-School is an excellent lead-in to Fall promotions, especially if you have a solid
tailoring department. Choose a time period that works for your area… I have nieces and
nephews going to public and private schools in Southern California and it turns out there are a
lot of different starting dates in August and September.
Consider sponsoring sporting events and the arts at schools with uniforms and bands and
don’t worry if eventually you’re hit up for advertising in a program or calendar as these ads are
typically inexpensive if you stick to a business-card size. For event sponsorships, try to invest
with gift certificates to insure you are the “go-to” cleaners for the school! (Remember that
school kids may well become customers one day.)
The reason I put season in quotes when I mentioned bridal “season” earlier is that there may
be several times of the year that the bridal market heats up in your area of the country.
According to The Knot, typically September (16 percent), June (15 percent) and October (14
percent) are the most popular months for weddings.
Track your cleaning, tailoring and wedding gown preservation sales in your POS system to
discover peak periods then tailor your promotions — pun intended — to these months. Try to get
personal with your bridal customers by taking photos of the couple in their tailored outfits and
posting on your Facebook page and encourage them to post photos of their wedding there, too;
if possible, put the couple’s wedding date in your calendar and mail them a card (if you don’t
have a blank card with your logo on it, call me!) with a “Congratulations!” gift certificate towards
gown preservation in it.
Now comes the fun part: finding interesting and unique “hooks” using your promotional
calendar! Look two to three months ahead to see what holidays and observances are coming up
so that you have time to make plans.
When something piques your interest, figure out how you can promote your business with it
and what media you want to use. For instance, the first Friday of May is National Space Day;
Google “how to make a rocket” and choose a method — the messier the better — to post on
Facebook or be the subject of an e-blast along with an offer to apply to cleaning spills and grass
stains. Be sure to ask customers to post their rocket launches on your page!
By choosing a longer observance, you can stretch the promotional time period to give yourself
flexibility in activities, promotional materials and offers.
For instance, July is National Hot Dog Month, so you might want to give away free hot dogs on
weekends, have a hot dog eating contest, judge hot dog recipes, etc.; then e-mail a photo of a
white T-shirt covered in mustard and ketchup, DIY cleaning tips, a plug for your professional
spotters, and a percent-off offer for cleaning t-shirts.
When you pick from the hundreds of holidays, observances and occasions every year upon
which to launch your promotions, be sure to decorate your store appropriately. Major outlets like
Party City, WalMart and Target will have things for major holidays, but you can save money by
frequenting “dollar” stores and Goodwill… and be sure to store non-perishables for future use if
you have the space.
Finally, don’t forget to track your sales during each promotional time period. Repeat what
works for you and drop what doesn’t… there will always be another occasion to try something
new!

Larry Siegel is a
marketing
consultant/graphic
designer and believes
that “marketing is
everything!” He
specializes in helping
businesses with
branding, bringing in
new customers and
loyalty programs. He
can be reached at (818)
241-3042 and
larrysiegel@charter.net.
Siegel.psd