ICS Magazine

Marketing is a Full-Time Job

September 15, 2003

Most cleaning-firm owners devote the bulk of the time marketing their business and services during certain times of the year. Specifically, the slow months known as winter.

This is all well and good, but how about the traditionally busy times of spring and fall? Many owners have taken the no-need-to-spend-time-and-money-now approach: “The phone will ring anyway,” “I’m busy enough,” and the timeless “I’ll promote my business when I’m slow.” Others feel that marketing during the slow months is a waste of time and money, that spring and fall are the ideal times to solicit new residential and commercial accounts.

Which approach is right? Both are right, and both are wrong. Marketing should be an owner’s part-time job that he works at 12 months a year.

Let’s face it. Regardless of how busy your phone or how full your schedule, you will certainly have the lull, that week where the phone goes on vacation along with the potential purchasers of your services. It happens to the most established businesses, and it is going to happen to you. The lull is a phenomenon that you can’t explain, but it is inevitable. This is why you should have a year-round marketing program or plan in place, one that you can implement every evening.

Set a goal. Resolve to send out at least 20 commercial solicitation letters every day. Target a specific segment, e.g. restaurants. Each and every evening, address 20 or more legal-size envelopes using the Yellow Pages as a mailing list. Place a small check mark next to each business as you address your letter to it. Do this every day without missing a beat until you have covered every restaurant in the book. Then pick up the phone book from an adjacent county and do the same.

You’ll quickly discover that there are a lot of restaurants in there. You’ve heard the old adage, “throw enough mud on the wall and some will eventually stick?” It’s true! If you mail 250 letters over a two-week period and you receive one estimate that leads to a new account, your investment of approximately $90 in stamps and paper will be well worth it.

Continue this process of targeting commercial prospects. Perhaps Realtors should be next? And as for mailings, you can certainly cut down on costs by using postcards, an invaluable tool for staying in touch with existing clients and accounts, and equally as valuable in soliciting new ones. However, these are more apt to get thrown away, intentionally or by mistake, so mailings in larger numbers are recommended.

Mailings aren’t the only thing you should be doing in your spare time. When visiting the local malls on shopping excursions, always keep an eye on the carpeting in the smaller stores. Many of these small shops are in desperate need of your services and they don’t even realize it. Visually estimate the cost and either leave a business card with the manager with a job cost on the back or develop a letter and mail it to the manager or district manager’s attention stating how they can benefit from your services and include the total price for the job. This way, there is no need to schedule an estimate.

If you consistently perform these simple marketing tasks every evening, you’ll not only fill in the gaps in your daily schedule during the spring and fall, you’ll develop some valuable commercial accounts for the upcoming slow winter months. Remember, if you throw enough mud (or marketing material) on the wall, some will eventually stick