Today’s Technology Can Reach Out to Potential Wash-Dry-Fold Customers Even Before They Realize They Have a Need for Your Laundry Services

Last month, I used this space to discuss digital marketing and the need to develop an online presence in order to grow a wash-dry-fold business.

However, I need to clarify that I’ve never been a huge proponent of traditional online advertising – basically, buying ads on Google, Facebook or Yelp. Most of these companies now offer short-term, pay-per-click advertising plans, which can be tailored to specific demographic groups and geographic areas. You now can reach out to a certain gender, age group and so on – and only to those within, for example, a three-mile radius of your store’s location. You can drive your ad message directly to the people most likely to take advantage of your wash-dry-fold service.

With that said, I’ve tried online advertising here and there – with less-than-positive results. In fact, just last month, I finished up a two-month ad buy with Yelp in an effort to promote my business, and it was massively unsuccessful.

So, what would I recommend wash-dry-fold operators do to market their businesses? What’s the trend? What are the larger and more successful companies doing?

To answer that, let’s take a look back at the now-defunct on-demand laundry services provider Washio – which grew at a fantastic clip nearly from the moment they came onto the scene, and with a product that was not traditionally a service most people typically purchased. After all, laundry is not a spontaneous buy in the same way that going to dinner at a restaurant is. Nevertheless, in a very short period of time, Washio had converted many people from doing their own laundry to having it done for them.

How did they do it? Simply, they very effectively educated people about a product that was available. This created a trend. And that trend was created through social media.

Today, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter are all becoming more intuitive with regard to sharing with their users what they “think” those individuals want or need.

And this is where it gets interesting.

You’ve no doubt heard stories about our phones, tablets and other personal technology listening to us. The best, most obvious examples of this are the popular “digital assistants” Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

The technology we use to help run and organize our lives is always on and always listening to what we say, and it’s storing that information. For instance, your cell phone provider is collecting your smartphone data – and then Google and other companies are taking that data and disseminating it to the various social media platforms.

What does this mean? Here’s an example:

As a lot of vended laundry owners, I’m also in the real estate business. Last year, one of my buildings needed tuckpointing, so I had taken some photos of the side of the building of the work that was being done – and, within 12 hours of doing so, I was flipping through my Facebook feed and receiving suggestions for tools to more efficiently tuckpoint my building.

I never asked for tuckpointing information. I didn’t conduct a search for it. I didn’t buy anything related to tuckpointing on Amazon to imply that it might be subject in which I was interested. All I did was take some photos of the exterior of the building with my phone and share them via a text message.

That’s the power of the data being collected by our devices and analyzed by the large search engines like Google, and then being transferred to social media. And it’s incredible. 

Today’s social media platforms have the ability to communicate with and market to potential customers. And this, in and of itself, is a critical tool that all of the large and successful wash-dry-fold businesses are using to convert customers to the full-service laundry model.

As I noted at the outset, my belief is that – in most instances – promoting wash-dry-fold via traditional direct mail or even online advertising is not the most feasible way to create or grow a full-service laundry business. However, today’s technology has the ability to know who is considering laundry services to be a need in their lives, because these individuals have Googled it, mentioned it on social media, etc. These prospects can be targeted and sent suggestions as to some of the options that can make their lives easier. Of course, in our specific case, that would be a wash-dry-fold service.

This technology will change the game for full-service laundry in the future. This is what will get that 1 percent to 2 percent of the consumer population to change its behavior, thus converting home laundry loads into wash-dry-fold loads – and, in turn, revolutionizing our industry.

And it has already begun… in markets all across the country.