ICS Magazine

How Newsletter Marketing Can Stop the Bleeding - Part 1

May 14, 2007

The biggest marketing mistake of all is not marketing to your existing clients. Not staying in front of those who have already spent money with you, paid your price and who are the most likely to refer is the dumbest marketing mistake a carpet cleaner can make.

Did you know that it has been proven to cost 500 percent more to gain a new client than to keep an existing one? Did you also know that without consistent marketing, many of your clients will forget to call you and eventually end up using someone else? It’s a hard fact to swallow, but it’s true. If you aren’t marketing to them, someone else is!

A few years ago, I participated in a home show with some other carpet-cleaning companies. After surveying a good portion of attending homeowners, we discovered that they could not remember the name of the carpet cleaner that came to their home last – even when they were thrilled with the work, even when the cleaning had been two weeks prior! Even though the cleaner did a good job, he will never be in that home again – unless he changes his ways.

A multi-industry study by The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania revealed that companies that increased their customer retention rate by a mere 5 to 11 percentage points actually increased their profits by an astounding 25 to 75 percent depending on the industry.

It is my belief and experience that you can double your business in the next 12 months without actually adding a single customer. In 1999 I increased my mailing frequency from quarterly to monthly. Eight additional months of mailing to my clients over a one-year period cost my company $16,000 in printing and postage, but the return was over $200,000 in trackable, additional business. Mailing to your client base also generates client referrals, extra services, and gives you an opportunity to tell your clients anything you want them to know about your company.

If you aren’t tracking your marketing returns yet, you should. Every month you should know how much business is repeat, referral, or advertising. Simply ask each client who calls in to book a job how they found you, and note it in a format you can look at it at the end of the month.

Dos and Don’ts of Newsletter Marketing
  1. Don’t do your newsletter yourself. Don’t try to do it yourself. You won’t be consistent and you don’t know what works. Plus, it will end up costing you a great deal more than using a ready-made program.
  2. Don’t use cheap, one-color materials. Much of the direct marketing that is used in information marketing, and small, uninformed business owners do not work well in the high-end residential market. Therefore, the idea of using just words on cheap paper is not going to build the kind of brand you want to build as a high-end cleaner. Use at least two-color materials. A Mercedes dealership doesn’t use photocopies. Don’t get me wrong, the message is highly important, and image alone won’t get you anywhere, but an attractive piece is very important at the high end. The key is to have a great image and a great message.
  3. Do have your newsletters professionally printed. A high-end company has high-end materials, period. Anyone can tell if something has been printed off of a computer. What it says to me (as a Mercedes Client, and a consultant that is experienced in dealing with Mercedes Clients) is that you are too cheap to invest in quality materials. Therefore, you are probably too cheap to do my job right. Sensory experiences are very important in the high end. Work is theatre and every business is a stage. You must orchestrate and manage those sensory experiences. Everything your client sees, hears and feels must be planned in advance. Make a good impression. Another reason you don’t want to do your newsletters on your computer is the time it takes. You need to be doing what you are good at. Leave printing to a professional.
  4. Don’t use newsletters that aren’t carpet cleaning related. This is a touchy subject, because there are those who teach that a newsletter should simply entertain and get people emotionally charged rather than talking about carpet cleaning. After all, who wants to talk about carpet cleaning? Not so fast. Even though I understand the concept of giving people something irresistible to read, I don’t buy into this philosophy. Not because it doesn’t work, but because it doesn’t do everything you want it to.

If you want to deeply position yourself in the high-end market, you must become the expert in the mind of the client. By talking about issues that concern your industry, and giving your clients real world tips on keeping their homes clean and healthy, you will go a lot further in becoming the “consultant” than with four pages of trivia unrelated to your business.

Here’s an example. I got one of those types of newsletters from an auto repair shop our company uses. You could tell it was created by some newsletter shop that didn’t know a thing about auto repair. It was full of trivia, statistics, and tips that were not related to auto repair. Tips and stories I can get anywhere. I was disappointed as a client because I expected it to have useful information on maintaining our fleet, or driving tips for my employees.

Don’t do that to yourself. You need to build your reputation as the one that knows about carpet cleaning. Will people read about carpet cleaning? You bet they will, if you make it useful and not boring. You are the consultant. High-end people care about their carpet. I make these bold statements from experience, not just opinion.