The ‘Best of the Best’ from the Author’s Own Personal Business Library

I’ve had the same office in the same building for the last 15 years – from which my brother, Fred, and I run our laundry machinery distributorship.

As with most repetitive actions, when I arrive to my business each morning, I typically don’t pay very much attention to the books sitting on the bookshelf behind my desk. After all, I’ve already read each and every one of them.

Being a rather prolific reader, I own several books. However, those that I keep at the office are the ones I consider special – due to their content related to the field of marketing and how human behavior is positively influenced by psychologically valid marketing techniques.

I recently needed to refer to one of these books for a project I was working on – and that’s when this article idea struck me. I decided that I could extract one strong bit of information from each book on my bookshelf and adapt those nuggets into an article. In so many words, I could create a “best of the best” from my own personal business library. Since there are seven go-to tomes resting on my bookshelf, this article will contain seven outstanding marketing thoughts and ideas by seven great marketing minds.

Given that, let’s take a look at what’s on my bookshelf:

“The Road Less Traveled,” by M. Scott Peck, M.D.

Dr. Peck writes: “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.”

The Take-Away: When developing the marketing program for your laundromat, don’t expect it to be easy. It surely will be difficult to convince a lot of people to become your customers.

It will require hard, intellectual work on your part to understand the psychology of consumer buying behavior and to use it effectively. Nonetheless, just do it if you want to become the leader of the pack, rather than just one of the herd.

“Ogilvy on Advertising,” by David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy was an advertising genius and true pioneer in the field. He headed up the legendary firm Ogilvy & Mather, which grew into one of the leading advertising firms in the world and remains so today, years after Mr. Ogilvy’s passing.

He was famous for saying, “Tell the truth in your ads, but make the truth fascinating. You know you can’t bore people into buying you product, you can only interest them into buying it.”

The Take-Away: When composing advertising copy for your laundry business, don’t overstate the fine points of your laundromat. Tell it exactly like it is – but make your ads fascinating, unlike most (if not all) of your competitors’ promotional materials.

Fascinating can be defined as showing great photos, offering up testimonials, telling a riveting story or perhaps inserting a bit of humor.

“Swept Away,” by Dale Chimenti

I’m proud to say that Dale Chimenti is a friend of mine – as well as being a writer, a businessperson… and a very talented handball player. He is not a marketing guru in the true sense. However, he is the single bravest person I have ever known.

Long story short: while on vacation in Mexico, he was virtually swept about 300 miles into the Gulf of Mexico when his rented Jet Ski shut down and wouldn’t restart. He floated alone in shark-infested waters for three days before being rescued by a large freighter, which (fortunately for Dale) had strayed off its intended course.

During his three days alone at sea, Dale took the path of bravery and actually struck up a conversation with the sharks. He said it didn’t feel odd to him at the time.

He started his shark conversation with this phrase: “I’m here, fellas. And I know I’m in your backyard, and I’m here to tell you that you have nothing to fear from me.”

The sharks left him alone, and after his ordeal, Dale said that he never felt as much in control of his life as when he was floating helplessly in the Gulf.

The Take-Away: Successful laundry marketing requires bravery on your part, especially when the “sharks” are all around you competing for the same dollars. Pay them no attention, and put your advertisements together structured so creatively that they will never even think to attack you.

“Friction,” by Roger Dooley

Roger Dooley is a brilliant man. He originated the concept of “Friction,” as taken from the field of physics, and used this common term as a brilliant metaphor for how businesses inadvertently set up obstacles that potential customers must navigate in order to do business with them.

In physics, as we know, friction creates heat, which hinders the path of an object in motion.

In business, a 2016 study demonstrated that merchandise worth $4.6 trillion was left abandoned in ecommerce shopping carts. Much of this was abandoned due to “friction” – the transaction was perceived by the prospective customer to be too complicated or too difficult to complete. That’s friction, and by the way, the heat resulting from that kind of friction is the frustration and anger of an individual attempting to complete a purchase.

Friction is rampant in today’s world. Some common examples are companies placing you “on hold” for excessive periods of time when you call them, an insufficient amount of parking spaces provided by a store or restaurant you want to patronize, not enough cashiers at the local big-box retailer, not being able to schedule an appointment with your doctor for any time less than months in advance, and on and on. The list is endless.

The Take-Away: Laundromats also have friction points. Think about inadequate parking, trash in the parking lot, too many machines out of order, unfriendly attendants, no snacks or beverages available in the vending machines, an uncomfortable temperature inside the store, filthy restrooms, dirty floors and so on. The point is that, if you make your customers work harder than you, you’ve already taken the first step toward failure.

“Purple Cow,” by Seth Godin

This is another brilliant book that uses a cow as its central metaphoric theme. Godin says, in so many words, that if we take a drive through the countryside, we will likely pass by many cows grazing in the fields. These cows are usually black or brown or a combination of both colors. In fact, they are so much the same that we hardly pay attention to them at all. Essentially, they are unremarkable.

Then he raises the question, what if some of them were purple? In other words, it is extremely likely you would fix your gaze on these purple cows because they are so different. The analogy is that purple cows get your attention, while black and brown cows hardly draw a glance.

The Take-Away: Most laundromats are pretty much the same. Yes, the equipment brands can vary and the decors can be different, but essentially it’s still a room full of washers and dryers that’s open to the public so that people can do their laundry.

However, if your store was the “purple cow” of laundries, surely you would garner the most attention. Of course, in this sense, purple cow refers to the fact that your laundry business is outstanding in terms of service, décor, vended products, hours of operation and loyalty programs – to name just a few. I think you get the point.

“Influence People,” by Brian Ahearn

Ahearn is a very perceptive and creative individual. His book is based on valid psychological principles and is all about how to influence consumers in an ethical and lasting way to persuade them to patronize your particular business.

He explains how to give your target audience reasons to listen to you; how to boost the email response rate to your advertising; the correct ways to respond to “thank-you;” why people prefer to do business with those they like, and how to get people to like you; and how to under-promise and over-deliver.

The Take-Away: If you really want to understand the psychology of the sale and as a result acquire more customers, this is the book for you.

“Print Matters,” by Randall Hines and Robert Lauterborn

This is a practical book about exactly how to write great advertising. The authors cover the subject with simple, successful and easily applied methods that you can implement immediately.

Hines and Lauterborn discuss how to use headlines, how to write copy, how to design your ads, how to create a campaign and many other instructional points from which I’m truly convinced every laundromat owner can benefit.

The Take-Away: This paperback book will enable you to immediately begin creating usable, money-making advertising for your laundromat business. Using the plethora of instructional tips within its pages, “Print Matter” will save you a lot of money on advertising by improving the effectiveness of your ads. It’s just that simple.

So, there you have it. That’s what’s on the bookshelf at my office. And, over the years, each one of those books has contributed greatly to my marketing success in the laundry industry – and I’m sure they could instill you with the same infectious optimism when approaching your marketing and advertising challenges.

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