What Bombs Did You Have In Your Dry Cleaning Advertising?

Thu, Jan 14, 2010


Did you have any dry cleaning advertising that didn’t work?

I’m sure you did. I’ve had a bunch. I’d like you to comment below and tell me what didn’t work for you.

I’ve tried those mailing packages, newspapers, flyers, door hangers, welcome wagon, Internet packages, and most everything. Most everything I tried bombed. The first dry cleaning advertising idea that worked for me was a bag drop. And that didn’t work right away, but with some testing, I made it work just wonderfully.

A bag drop is taking a custom printed garment bag, attaching a sales piece (I use a sales letter, NOT a brochure) and putting it on your prospects front door. When I first started dropping bags I followed up with a knock on their door. I got great results. I found out later, you could put anything on their door, follow up with a knock and you’d get good results. But that was not what I was looking for with this dry cleaning advertising idea. I didn’t want to knock on doors. I just wanted this dry cleaning advertising system to work on it’s own no matter who was running it. I didn’t want the results to depend on some persons selling ability.

I wanted to be able to do a bag drop and NOT knock on the door and get customers. I knew a few things before I started. I knew that brochures didn’t work. How? I’ve tried them in other businesses and they never worked. I knew that sales letters worked. So I wrote a 4 page sales letter, attached it to the bag and set out to get new route customers with my dry cleaning advertising idea.

I started with only dropping 50 bags. When you test something in advertising, you want to make your test small, so you don’t lose your shirt. So I dropped 50 bags and I got one (1) customer.  That’s not bad–2%, but here’s the kicker, I lost 40 bags.  I needed badly to get more bags bag because the cost per customer was very high.

The next bag drop I changed the headline in my sales letter (the headline is 90% if the sales letter, because if they like your headline, they’ll continue to read the rest) and I came up with a very simple way to let my prospect know when I’d be back without reading the whole sales letter.

Results on the next 50 bags dropped: 0 customer, 38 of the bags back.

I solved how to get a profitable number of bags back, but I did worse with zero customers.  My second headline was worse than the first one.

Over the next 18 months, I changed the sales letter 17 times and finally figured it out.

On average, for every 100 bags I drop, I get 8 customers and I get over 80% of my bags back. I’ve got 150+ members of my Colosi “NO Door Knocking” system doing this week in and week out. In the very competitive markets, they get only 3 customers for every 100 bags they drop and in the non-competitive markets, they get anywhere from 4-10 new route customers for every 100 bags they drop.

It’s been 3 1/2 years since that first “NO Door Knocking” bag drop. Over 50 changes have been made to make the system better with the last one being only a few days ago.  For example, we follow up with post-it notes now and we used to follow up with letters. Remember, the goal was to NOT knock on the doors.  We’ve figured out that the best day to drop is Friday and the most disastrous day to drop is Monday.  We also know that if you hang the garment bag on their mailbox, you’ll get no sales and you’ll really tick off your prospective customers.

I would like you to comment below and let me know about the your dry cleaning advertising disaster.   Please go ahead and do that right now. I will comment back. Thanks.

26 Responses to “What Bombs Did You Have In Your Dry Cleaning Advertising?”

  1. Gary Fine Says:

    Sending out time sensitive direct mail through the post office was my biggest bomb. The mailers were not delivered and we got zero responses for 5,000 pieces.

    Using the Colosi program, we deliver our message directly, and the colourful bag gets attention. We have picked up a number of excellent route customers.

  2. Greg Says:

    Gary–results like yours are typical in the dry cleaning advertising industry. I’m sure when you look at the direct mail piece now (and after being a member of the Colosi group), you can tell why it didn’t work. Keep dropping those bags. Best. Greg

  3. David Whitehurst Says:

    I tried a bag drop with my self-created sales material (brochure and flyer) plus a laundry bag. I ended up with an average cost of over $300 per account…and that was just for materials. I knew there had to be a better way.

  4. Jesse Zaragoza Says:

    Hi Greg,

    I never mentioned this one time Marketing Experience. I was receiving this hugh 6 X 11 postcard, advertising direct mail. After seeing it twice I figured that I would call the company to get more information. I was assigned an agent to answer any questions I had. I met with the gentleman and he told me that I would definetly get my return on my investment. The deal was to pick an area that I wanted to target and they would send the postcard directly to the potential customer.
    The deal was 5000 6 x 11 postcards printed, and mailed for $2350.00. Upon agreeing with their agent, He convinced me that I needed a professional picture to put in the front. He, also stated that he happened to be a professional photographer and he would take the pictures for only $200.00. He showed me his portfolio and a postcard of another cleaners that had used his services. It looked nice. So, I went for it…

    Long story short I got 2 customers. After which, I was getting calls from the marketing company trying to convince me that I needed to do the campaign again and that I would get better results. Their pitch was that this campaign only works with repetition. For me it was a no brainer–put my money in another type of marketing campaign.

    I wonder if you remember how I found you? I was listening on a call with Alan Katz of the Cleaners Marketing Company and He had you on as a guest. After checking you out, I decided to give it a try. What really sold me was your money back guarantee. I gave it a try and I have never been so excited or satisfied with any other campaign. Believe me I’ve tried many… I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support in our Group. Thanks for researching new ideas to get more customers. Since I’ve joined I have gotten 103 customers, one of which has spent more than $600.00 on drapery cleaning. Keep up the good work and keep the ideas coming.
    Thanks a Million,
    Jesse Zaragoza, Team Manager
    Valet Cleaners, Los Angeles

  5. Greg Says:

    Jesse–thank you for your kind words. You were absolutely right with your “no brainer” comment. I do mailings as small as 100 to test. If I do not get a customer, I stop doing it. So, any advertising sales rep that says that it will get better with repetition, is full of s%#t! That person does not know what they’re talking about. Go get ‘um Jesse!

  6. Andrea Says:

    My biggest bomb would have been a big ad I put in our local paper. I spent a ton of money on it and didn’t get one single customer out of it. Although that was my biggest bomb, I had several smaller bombs, too.

    Once I joined your the Colosi Group, things totally turned around. I get new customers regularly and at MUCH less cost than before. I went from being broke with maxed-out credit cards, to being completely debt free and highly profitable. Not bad for only a year and a half! Thanks Greg!

    Andrea Domanski
    Home Delivery Dry Cleaning
    Savannah, GA

  7. Greg Says:

    Thanks Andrea. Take little advertising steps before you jump in with both feet. This way if it doesn’t work out, you’ve only lost a little. You know this now. You’re a pro and it’s been a pleasure having you as a member of the Colosi Group.

  8. charlie onstead Says:

    hey, greg I had a major one last oct 09, did a 5,000 post card mail out, w/ cash discount on it w/ free delivery ect. to shorten this story up cost about 2m with about a response of 40 customers and only was able to keep about 10-12.

    Things are improving now with your bag drop program.. we started nov 09 w/ the bag drop and we’re picking up 20 – 25 customers a week.. your program [colosi no door knocking system] does work. thanks…

  9. Greg Says:

    Charlie–if you would of kept the 40 customers, it would of been a very good return. It looks like you attracted the mooches. You and I both know now how to stop the mooches from signing, don’t we? Congrat’s on your 20-25 new route customers every week.

  10. Slava Says:

    i send 10,000 flyers to houses and as a result i only got 5 costumers in a month.
    but when i bought five months ago the dry cleaning place already located, in the first three months i lost around 60 % of the old costumers.
    but i receive new costumers more than i lost.
    and i don’t do any pick up or delivery.
    thanks. montreal, canada

  11. Greg Says:

    Thanks Montreal. I hear stories like yours all the time. Flyers don’t work. Sales letters do. Thanks again.

  12. R Says:

    Hey Greg I have a dryclean plant and 6 stores with my family. Just wondering if I start bag dropping around my store will that kill the sale of the store because the stores are doing really well sales are around 10k a month, we are planning to franchise this business once more stores are opened.

  13. Greg Says:

    R–you must convert your counter sales to routes. Why? If you don’t, some dry cleaning delivery company will steal all your customers from you. Actually it’s a marketing technique that some dry cleaners use. They open a drop store and convert them all to the route and then close the store. By converting your counter customers the your route, you’re protecting your dry cleaning business from your potential competition. Thanks.

  14. R Says:

    Honestly the operation is huge and it is making crazy money the way it is right now, so much stuff is in place contracts, customers and effective systems, that would not be practical for me. Since we are the new owners I don’t really wan’t to change anything with the drop stores, they are positioned very carefully. I want to add this system to my business but I dont want to draw friendly fire, is it possible if I do it in another city or something? Thanks for your info.

  15. Grady Golden Says:

    Greg, I purchased Alan Katz’s marketing system several years ago and remained in contact with Alan on a limited basis over the years.
    In 2005, I began a relationship with a local Wedding Gown and Tuxedo retailer and in 2007 I purchased 3 other Tuxedo retail stores. Long story short: I have lost over 400K in the tux business and our Dry Cleaners has seen sales drop from just under 2 million to under 900k over the same time period. I really need help as I feel our bank is about to call in our collateral which is our land and building. I guess what I’m asking for is a chance to try your “No Knocking” program and to pay you out of profits! I know it is a lot to ask, however that is where we’re at.

  16. Greg Says:

    Call me at 888-661-7992.

  17. Jefferson Ciccarello Says:

    I very much enjoyed your blog. Really good content. Please keep posting such awesome cotent.

  18. Greg Says:

    You are very welcome!!

  19. abu Says:

    a new store, what will work now to bring customers?

  20. Greg Says:

    Abu–start a route. Get them in through Google Places and your website. Ask for referrals. Get my book and you’ll get a ton of ideas.

  21. Angie Says:

    Two weeks ago I sent out 500 postcards with a $5.00 coupon no response yet

  22. Greg Says:

    Did your postcard have a compelling headline? Something like, “$10 In FREE Dry Cleaning Just To Try My Dry Cleaning Delivery Service Out.” And did you have a deadline and a call to action. Did you tell them to pick up the phone and call you? These are the basics of a postcard mailing. And even with these, you gotta test to see what happens. I test every new advertisement before I roll it out and bet the farm. My members get tested postcard, sales letters, new mover letters and other advertising.

  23. Joan Says:


    I was convinced by 2 other shop owners to try the ValPak. Both said they had great results. We sent out 10,000 coupons at a cost of $550 and did not have one single response. I’m used to the 2% rule so we thought it would be worth it but it was a total loss. A colleague of mine said she would run an ad every 3-4 months and and get swamped. She’d pay out $1,200 and get $10,000 more in business. Those are nice returns.

    I also paid $50 on Facebook for 20% off coupons. I narrowed the viewing to our select market and I’ve used up my advertising credit. Supposedly, 34 people clicked on my coupon but no coupons have showed up in my store.

    We are in uptown San Francisco and we only get business from the immediate area. The only thing that seems to work for us is word-of-mouth—and that is slow.

  24. Greg Says:

    Joan–most all delivery systems work for advertising. It’s the design and structure of the advertising piece that determines whether it’s going to work or not. All advertising should start out with a compelling headline and then tell a story, have a deadline and then a call to action (ask them to respond in some way, whether it be a call, an opt-in, fill out a form, send an email or whatever). If you do these things correctly, you can make your message work in any advertising delivery medium. Getting it to work in another story. You must test in small quantities and when it works, roll it out. And usually what works in one delivery medium, works (with some tweaking) in others.

    When I first tested my “NO Door Knocking” bag drop system, I tested 17 different headlines over and 18 months period. I also tested 7 different offers. For example I tested giving $50 in FREE dry cleaning all the way down to $10 in ten dollar increments. You would think the $50 offer of FREE dry cleaning would do the the best–it didn’t. The $10 offer far out pulled all the others. We only found one place where another offer worked better than the $10 offer and that was in the new mover mailings.

    Most all delivery mediums work. You just gotta have all the right components of the advertising and then start testing.

    Hope this helped.

  25. willjb Says:


    I became a member back in 2009 when I first started my business and the results were nothing short of amazing. I went against your advice and didn’t use my picture, but I still garnered 3 new route customers for every 100 bags I droped; your program works plain and simple. Anyone who says otherwise either hasn’t correctly used the system or simply is a hater. The fact is with your program, customers are simple to get, but hard to keep once the honeymoon phase is over.

    I think what’s missing is a customer relations model that incorporates good analytic, forecasting, and marketing automation after getting the customer and it should be in place alongside with your current methods.

    In my area, Dry Cleaning delivery requires changing customer behavior which takes creating a perception of “added value” which is where I believe that follow up and maintenance is critical. As a result of the success I’ve had with your program, I am looking to purchase a my “first store” and would love a more comprehensive solution that’s scalable in order to address the issue of keeping customers once the sale is made especially when you have no control over production.

    Thank God for the your program.

  26. Greg Says:

    Dear Will–Thanks for your heartfelt comments. You’re in tough market and you still got good results. Congratulations on getting into a plant. We just released our POS software that will do what you’re talking about. Contact me at greg@drycleanerprofits.com and we can talk about it.

    Happy Holidays,

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