CHICAGO — Cleaners who still rely on traditional marketing methods — newspapers, television, radio, etc. – might miss their most valuable potential customers. Marketers today can find an incredible amount of consumer information and use it to create messages that resonate with their audience. By creating customer profiles, marketing can be much more targeted, effective and efficient.
In part 1 of this series, we looked at what customer profiles are and how they can be used by cleaners to reach their audience, and in part 2, we found ways to answer the question of who are their customers and what they want. Today, we’ll wrap up this series by seeing what goes into creating an effective customer profile.
Most cleaners already collect the data they need to start the profiling process, says Diana Vollmer, managing director of the San Francisco-based Ascend Consulting Group, so it’s a relatively simple thing to get started.
“It starts with any combination of names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses — whatever you already have in your data file,” she says. “Then this simple data set goes through the profiling process.”
Part of this process is done by online programs – called crawlers or spiders – that use data from Internet search engines to create a picture based on your customers’ behaviors. Other information may come from activities such as streaming media profiles. The information is heavily weighted towards spending routines, recreational activities and work habits.
“This information is aggregated, so you don’t see an individual’s exact profile,” says Vollmer. “What you see is an aggregated profile of your top customer or the group of customers you want to profile.”
These profiles are sometimes called “personas” or “lifestyles”, depending on the company collecting the information.
“It’s quite simple for the dyer to provide the raw data. And then the rest comes from profile providers,” says Vollmer. “The results are used to craft meaningful communication, offering something for everyone. Without it, you’re trying to offer something for everyone, and that doesn’t work as well as trying to offer the products that fit the lifestyle.
Customers Want to be targeted
Big retailers, such as Amazon and Apple, have trained entire generations of consumers to expect more from their interactions with businesses — and that behavior has trickled down from mega-corporations to Main Street.
Cleaners who are able to leverage this information to develop targeted marketing approaches will do more than grow their customer base, Vollmer says; they will build a loyal following.
“When a customer thinks you’re talking to them directly, that you know them, and that you can anticipate their needs and wants, they’ll be loyal to you,” she says. “And if you do a good job of providing them with the things they need, they don’t have time to look for someone else. So, out of habit, they become faithful.
The key, Vollmer says, is being able to target a customer based on their individual needs rather than as an anonymous group.
“Talking to them individually, knowing them as a friend or a family member, that’s where the power of profiling lies,” she says. “You know what they’re likely to do and how pressed for time they are, and what’s probably going to resonate with them. This is what this profiling offers. And so, you can talk to them in a way that sounds like “Cheers”, where everyone knows their name.
Starting the profiling process
While simple surveys can help get a feel for a customer base, marketing professionals can help dry cleaners come up with a really accurate and detailed breakdown of who will become their best customers. Although such an undertaking may seem overwhelming at first, Vollmer says there is nothing to be afraid of.
“It can be daunting, but it’s actually a relatively simple process,” she says. “Profile analysis – and how to integrate it into your business practices, once you have it – is the area where cleaners can get a little bogged down. There are companies that not only create the profiles, but also coach cleaners on how to use profiles and how best to put them to work.
The best place to start, Vollmer says, is determining how comfortable a dry cleaner is with managing their marketing efforts.
“A lot of big companies create profiles online, so if you’re technically qualified, you have a world of options,” she says. “If you are on the other end of the spectrum and need help, I would advise you to go to a small business that specializes in profiling, a marketing company that has access to the profile, or a consultant that specializes in this domain so they can really make their way to successful marketing.
When speaking with a marketing company, Vollmer thinks that if the subject of profiling is not addressed, a cleaner could be with the wrong company: “If the marketing company does not address profiling, they are not unaware of how to reach customers..”
For Part 1 of this series, click HERE. For part 2, click HERE.