In 2013 the professional carwash industry experienced a new wave of growth expected to continue through 2015. Currently the U.S. carwash industry includes nearly 15,000 establishments with combined annual revenue totaling nearly $6 billion. As the industry continues to expand, it’s important to remember that with this success comes increased competition.
One overlooked tool in small business owners’ arsenals is a smart and consistent marketing strategy. Today’s consumers see thousands of advertisements each day. In order to run a successful carwash business, a consistent marketing strategy is crucial to setting yourself apart from your competitors. Marketing companies with decades of experience in the direct marketing industry help businesses reach consumers through hyper-local direct mail and digital media campaigns. Here are some tips to keep in mind for a car care business when developing a strategic marketing mix.
Direct mail advertising
Design: When your customers visit a carwash establishment, they are often in a hurry, which typically applies to the rest of their day as well. Consumers live fast-paced lifestyles and have limited spare time. That said, it is crucial to keep ads simple and to the point.
Avoid overcomplicating and overcrowding the ad by limiting the amount of copy and font types used. A captivating headline and concise sentences keep consumers focused on the offer and lead them toward the action you want them to take. As a best practice ads should feature no more than three font types, including a large bold font to distinguish the offer, while allowing your company name and key phrases to stand out from the rest of the information. It is important to exercise restraint when designing your ad.
When it comes to colors, begin by choosing one or two main colors based on your product, corporate image and your target audience. Warm colors are energizing, while cool colors are refreshing and bright colors can help emphasize excitement. The simple addition of color will enhance the appeal of the coupon and make it stand out from the endless number of colorless ads consumers receive.
To be effective, the offers you send to consumers must be clear, self-explanatory and have a high perceived value. In addition to being eye catching, ads should entice consumers to read further, elicit a desire for your products or services, and motivate them to take a specific action. Proper format and content are key elements for increasing the return on investment (ROI) and reaching the ultimate goal of having your target audience choose you over your competitors.
Content: While a well-designed ad may appeal to consumers and raise brand awareness, an enticing offer and a specific call to action are what will ultimately give them a reason to use your services. Rather than using a certain percentage off, consumers are more likely to be interested when the offer features a specific dollar amount in savings or includes the word “free.”
It is also important to include an expiration date on the ad to create a sense of urgency and give them a reason to act now. The expiration date along with any other restrictions should be simple and clearly displayed to avoid confusion.
Combining these direct mail tips with an online and mobile marketing campaign will allow your business to have direct and personal communication with local consumers in the mail, on their mobile phones and online.
Mobile and online integration
Taking advantage of mobile marketing can be a smart business decision for carwash owners as consumers increasingly use smartphones while on-the-go to interact with businesses and make buying decisions. Engaging consumers with mobile and online offers makes it convenient for them to find your latest deals, your nearest locations and stay up-to-date with your business.
Leveraging social networking sites: Business owners can no longer get away with only having a Facebook page to gain an upper hand over the competition. In order to be successful, establishments must actively engage with consumers. Publishing a consistent flow of relevant content can help enhance your online presence while engaging a target audience.
By regularly posting useful content with easy-to-personalize messaging, your followers will be more apt to engage with and share your content. It is important to keep in mind that, depending on your product, the messaging in your marketing mix may need to be educational rather than promotional and provide a clear value to the target audience.
More often than not, a consumer's first reaction to an ad is going to be, “What’s in it for me?” To catch his or her attention and drive a response, your message should focus on the benefits he or she will enjoy by making a purchase from you. Furthermore, properly tracking your ROI and utilizing the information to determine the best strategy on social media will help lead to more effective marketing materials in the future.
The power of SMS (short message service): Sending SMS offers with special discounts and coupons is another way to connect with loyal customers in real time and give them access to instant savings. It is an extremely cost-effective method to reach your consumers. Some of the advantages include instant delivery to consumers, ease of customizing campaigns to the needs of your SMS subscribers, as well as a high open rate. Almost every SMS sent is opened, compared to emails that usually sit in someone’s inbox.
These messages should contain less than 160 characters and typically feature coupon codes or offers, as well as instructions for redeeming them. Mobile couponing delivers a strong ROI because it reaches customers who have asked to receive offers and delivers those offers directly to them on their phone. At the same time, having a presence on a mobile app allows businesses to reach consumers who are ready to take immediate action and access special offers when they make a purchase.
Creating an effective campaign requires time and effort, but the payoff can be huge. With patience these efforts can improve a marketing strategy, help a company gain a competitive advantage in the market, and provide customers with added value.
Chris Conlee-Rimlinger became senior vice president of marketing in November 2010, and she has more than 20 years of marketing and sales experience. Conlee-Rimlinger’s responsibilities include marketing and art functions for Money Mailer Corporate. Conlee-Rimlinger has worked for Senomyx, ConAgra Foods and Pepsi-Co, and she has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from San Diego State University, an MBA from Pepperdine University and lives in Costa Mesa, Calif. For information on Money Mailer, visit www.moneymailer.com.