It’s time to get very personal … with your customer. Don’t be offended, but your marketing has nothing to do with you. It’s not about your brand or your services or your amazing special offer that has worked for years.

More than ever, marketing is completely about your customer. The rise of mobile has created customers that are more demanding than ever. Consumers have all the power, and they hold it in their hands, ready to access exactly what they want, when they want it. When those moments come, you have to be there. The better you understand your customer’s journey, the more precisely you can connect and deliver exactly what they are looking for.

Consumer empowerment

When did customers get so complicated and demanding?

The rise of mobile has empowered consumers. Let’s face it: With great power comes great expectations, and your customers expect a lot.

Did you know that over 50 percent of smartphone users grab their phones immediately after waking up? Actually, it is estimated that American adults spend over three hours per day on their phones. This constant access means that wherever they are, whatever they are doing, whenever they want, they expect to find what they are looking for.

Creating customer personas

Before you can even begin to decide on the best online marketing strategy, you have to understand your customers. I know, you probably think you do. But, it is critical to create customer personas. Your marketing must speak to different personas on a very personal basis. There is no set-in-stone, perfect number of customer personas to create. You just want to create enough personas so you have a lot of information. From here, you can align your sales goals with the exact personas you’d most like to target.

The first question to ask is: Who are your best customers? Are they farmers driving big trucks or grandmas in Cadillacs? Are your best customers millennials looking for the best deal, or are they retired men in luxury vehicles?

Start by identifying your current customers, and then construct a profile summary and add their personalities, interests and behaviors. In the beginning, this will feel a little like playing make-believe, and I’m guessing you may even feel silly, but you’ll be amazed at the details and opportunities you will find as you force yourself — and maybe your staff — to complete the exercise. Once you’ve profiled your current customers, create personas for customers you’d like to attract.

You’ll want to include demographics, such as age, occupation and status, and then brainstorm where that persona goes to for information. For example, does this person listen to the local radio, or does he or she only stream Apple Music? What motivates this person? Is it reviews online, or does that persona care more about price? See the example chart above to help yourself get started.

Persona profile, supplied by Katie Harris

Understanding the complex customer journey

Once you understand your customer, you can begin to construct his or her journey. Understanding your customer’s journey will ultimately allow you to deliver a better customer experience, which consumers are demanding. As your company decides to improve its customer experience, it will require raising the bar in terms of understanding the customer’s journey.

This ambition will drive a better experience from the beginning of the journey clear to purchase. In contrast to this, not taking time to understand your customer in a fast-paced, mobile-first and competitive environment can put you in a vulnerable situation where your competitors begin to connect better with customers, leaving you to play catch-up. You can lead the way in terms of customer experience when you know what they want and where they are.

The customer experience with your brand starts long before they ever decide to visit your operation. They may start by simply researching benefits of do-it-yourself services versus professional services. Then, they may move on to reviews to see what peers have to say or search for online offers. They may do a location search to find a “carwash near me” and prefer convenience.

The journey may be long and thoroughly researched, or it may be short and spontaneous — whatever road your customer is on, you need to be there. Understanding the path your customers are likely to take will help you determine where you focus your energy and budget.

Create your digital footprint

Now that you understand your customers, how can you reach them? Here are a list of marketing tactics that you should consider for the different personas you have created. You will find that some work well for different personalities while others may not be the best fit for the ideal customer you are trying to connect with.

Determine to use the marketing tools that make sense for your customers, and leave the rest alone for now. It is a common marketing misconception and mistake that you have to do everything and be everywhere.

Rule number one: Be where your customers are.

Social media

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest … the list is long. Rule number one definitely applies here. You don’t have to be everywhere, but almost without fail, Facebook should be one of your preferred platforms. According to Facebook, as of January 2018, the total Facebook audience in the U.S. was 214 million users. Combine video with Facebook and you almost can’t go wrong.

Related: Marketing your carwash through social media

Online reviews

What is popular in your area? Do people look at Yelp or Angie’s List, or are they paying attention to Google reviews? Ninety percent of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, such as a professional carwash, and online reviews have been shown to impact over 67 percent of purchasing decisions.

Google pay-per-click (PPC) ads

Want to be top of the page? The Google AdWords platform is powerful. The opportunities to create audiences to target, run ads for specific zip codes and take up room at the top of the page are abundant. PPC ad extensions will also allow for ads on the maps section, which can be a game changer.

Google display ads/Remarketing ads

Part of the Google AdWords platform are options to retarget people who have already visited your website as well as target people who have never been. These graphic ads occur when a cookie is placed on a user’s browser, allowing your ads to follow them around online. The Google Display Network covers over two million sites and reaches over 90 percent of people online.

Related: Wash Wisdom: Understanding the new Google search page

Google Maps

The maps, also referred to as the three-pack, are popular. They show up just under the PPC ads and before the organic listings in web searches. These listings allow people to get directions, check out your reviews and visit your website. Be sure to claim your free listing at www.google.com/business.

Search engine results

How well does your website rank organically? Are you a go-to source for information? Can people trust your website as a resource with good information? Does your site load quickly? These are a few things to consider when it comes to your website. It is also important to note that your website should be mobile-friendly and load in under three seconds for both the desktop and mobile version of your site. You can test how fast your site loads at https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights.

The days of running generic marketing campaigns to simply promote your brand or offer a weekly special that will cast a wide net are over, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The better you understand your customer’s journey, the better you will be able to connect and deliver an experience that puts you first.


Katie Harris is a founding partner at Spot On Solutions. Spot On Solutions specializes in digital marketing for the cleaning and restoration industry. Harris has a degree in advertising and public relations and worked as an award-winning journalist. However, she found her true passion in working directly with business owners to grow their companies. She can be reached by email at [email protected].