If you own a car wash or other business and lack a significant marketing budget, it’s possible to make a meaningful impact with limited funds. There are some businesses like Siracha and Chipotle that rarely advertise, but still pull in millions of dollars each year. It’s all about how you use the funds that you have, how you treat your customers and whether you offer a high quality service.
It’s awfully difficult to fully invest your time, effort and money into your business only to find out that nobody knows about your service. Word of mouth and social media advertising can only go so far. Eventually, you have to invest real dollars into marketing. While you might not have the funds to pay a full-time marketing person or a consultant, if you make prudent use of the advertising dollars that you do have, you can reach your audience and build a buzz.
Study Your Customers
The first step is to define your audience and establish goals. Figure out exactly who can benefit the most from your service and then think about what constitutes a “success” for your business. Only set goals that are measurable. Instead of saying that you want to build an multi-state business in two years, shoot for a certain percentage increase in visits within a certain time frame. Try to be realistic, so that the decisions that you make with your limited marketing budget can potentially lead to the attainment of your goals.
Zero in on Specific Target Audiences
Once you’ve defined your audience, narrow in on a specific cohort. It might be those who live within 20 miles of your car wash or parents who are always on the go and require frequent washes. If you limit your target audience, you’ll find that it is much easier to spend your marketing dollars in an effective manner and produce substantial sales. If possible, avoid crafting the same message in your marketing materials for each targeted group. Each cohort should be treated as a group of highly nuanced individuals who have different needs and desires than others.
Carefully Choose Your Outlet
It is imperative that you market your business in a space or medium where your customers will go or see. For example, using Pinterest to reach potential car wash customers isn’t a good idea. A better approach would be to market the car wash in areas of high traffic. For example, renting space on a billboard in a heavily trafficked part of town by retail outlets within the vicinity of the car wash would make more sense. Remember that free advertising on social media and other no-cost platforms is often tuned out by customers who are over-saturated with advertisements. Eventually you will have to spend your limited resources so that you can make meaningful a meaningful connection with your target audience.
It’s all About Engagement
When you engage a prospective customer with your advertisement, he’ll likely spend money at your business. Engagement causes people to remember the business as they connect to the message in the company’s advertisements. The truth is that the majority of advertisements fail to engage audiences and are quickly forgotten after viewing. Be creative in order to engage your potential customers. Consider offering a discount or collaborating with another business in your area that caters to the customers who you would like to recruit. No matter what, your message must be relevant to your target audience. If they can’t identify with your service, they won’t offer their business.
Be Patient and Listen
Once you spend your marketing dollars you’ll likely expect an immediate bump in sales. This isn’t always the result of a marketing effort. Sometimes it takes days, weeks or even months for the results to manifest. Business owners who pay close attention to customer feedback are successful in the long run. Be sure to monitor your company through Google Alerts, Twitter’s Tweetdeck and other social media channels for feedback. Listen to what customers say about your advertisements, your prices and the actual service. Then act on their words. If you play your cards right, you will build on what people say about your business and incorporate their feedback into your future marketing efforts. Remain patient and tinker with your marketing strategies until you find exactly the right formula.
Keep an Open Mind
Although you might be short on cash for marketing purposes, you likely have a good amount of time. This is especially true of business owners who own a single business. Once you’ve exhausted your marketing budget, go ahead and press the flesh. Go to industry events and socialize with industry leaders. Pick the minds of those who’ve had success in your line of business and ask them how they used their limited marketing dollars to hit a “critical mass”.