Let’s talk about Louisa’s Lemons. I know it sounds corny but bear with me. Louisa was a client of ours struggling to break through as a green cleaning service in New York City. This is a story about how inexpensive marketing strategies and good branding based on a simple insight turned this business around.
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Louisa started a cleaning service in the city. She had been operating for a couple of years. She was getting gigs through the typical online platforms. But by using those platforms, clients tended to see her service as a commodity. Her service was as good as any other. She wasn’t breaking through or standing out from her competition. Growth had stalled. Louisa cares strongly about the environment, so she was emphatic about using only natural products. However, her audience had no idea of this.
When we met Louisa, we talked to her about who was her target. What did we know about them? How can take your benefit and make it more relevant and motivating? This was new for her. We spend a lot of time discussing and refining the target, which boiled down to:
Millennial, green-minded professionals in her neighborhood, who valued natural–based cleaning products and methods.
Why? By staying local, she kept her costs down (operational and marketing) and could offer services at a price that younger professionals could afford. Most importantly, they valued her approach to cleaning.
What’s all this about lemons?
What is the natural scent of clean? You guessed it. It’s citrus. It’s an effective cleaner, but also, it’s a green signature that she could own. It was a clear, simple, sensory cue to her client that she did a good job. We decided to leverage this in our positioning and marketing materials.
Inexpensive Marketing Strategies and Tactics
Cleaning businesses are not high-margin businesses, so we had to figure out the strategies to best market our message inexpensively. And if we wanted Louisa to grow, we would need to start small.
Updating our Marketing Material
We had to change Louisa’s site and business materials to reflect the new messaging. This included the site, brochures, etc. It also affected her keyword strategy as well.
X for Business
Google, Apple, and Bing all have their own version of Google My Business. All are free. Each is a little different, but they all basically do a similar thing. They allow you to control how your business appears across their platform. According to BrightLocal’s study “Local Consumer Review Survey 2019”
90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 33% looking every day.
Ranking on these sites requires a significant amount of reviews. We offered incentives to motivate participation. And it did succeed at getting us some new leads.
Reviews…Good, Bad, and Ugly
Online reviews are the fabric of our everyday lives. There are some data that they are beginning to carry less weight, but we don’t seem them lose prominence any time soon. In the same study, BrightLocal found:
- 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews
- The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business
- Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars
- Among consumers that read reviews, 97% read businesses’ responses to review
- 67% of consumers have now been asked to leave a review for a local business – with 24% of these being offered a discount, gift or cash in return
This is some compelling data about offer some incentive programs. They also highlight the importance of responding to reviews. A campaign promoting 10% off your next cleaning after leaving a review was very effective in generating reviews. It wasn’t costly, and it was highly effective. Business started to boom
Engaging with the Local Community
We are big proponents of local community involvement. If you are looking to cater to a small market and you have a high capacity for growth, it is usually beneficial to start by working with the people around you.
In the spring through the fall, the city has weekly street fairs. They generally occur once a month within a given neighborhood. We helped Louisa build a booth and register for event space, so she could participate in the events. We created a demo of natural vs. chemical cleaning to show how they were essentially equal. Our target loved it. They would interact with the demo, which gave us the opportunity to educate them on what we do.
Social media sites were also helpful to us. We could leverage those green communities online and add some cleaning expertise to the discussion. We also provided helpful natural cleaning solutions to common household stains. A video of the street fair demo was also a big hit. Providing the chemistry of cleaning connected the dots for people. This was more than just fun. Data have shown that people are more likely to buy from businesses they follow.
Down to the Dollars & Cents
None of these tactics required a lot of money. What they all required was time. That’s the tradeoff. Social media and review monitoring require a lot of people time. Many businesses only look at the dollars, not the labor. Louisa hired a part-time social media/marketing manager to tackle the job. So, this wasn’t free, but the return of the investment was well worth it.
A Lean, Green Cleaning Success
After adopting these changes, Louisa saw her business grow from flat to nearly doubling within a year. She went from worrying about laying people off to hiring new employees. Inexpensive marketing campaigns and strategies can make a huge difference. Louisa’s case is a great example of a strong customer insight, executed well, can help turn a struggling business into a growing one.
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