Telling Investors: Put Your Money Where The Laundry Is
“We weren’t selling a product, we were selling a business investment.” That was the realization of the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial laundry when it was seeking to grow its laundromat business. To engage a global audience of entrepreneurs, we needed to appeal to the business-minded and demonstrate the ROI of owning a laundromat. Highly customized, event-centered campaigns spanning the globe focused on converting leads into laundromat owners. The ultimate sign of success? The campaign effectively introduced the concept of vended laundry – for the very first time – in markets where it simply did not exist before.
In an investment category dominated by food, retail and health and wellness, the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial laundry equipment introduced a new lucrative business model to the worldwide investor community. The company needed to invite entrepreneurial-minded investors across the globe to start their own self-service laundromat business.
However, this audience likely knew nothing about investing in laundromats and was instead considering less flexible options. Little did they know that the turnkey laundromat opportunity could be easily implemented and maintained, and the highly flexible concept could be scaled to fit nearly any financial or physical footprint. Speed Queen looked to Nelson Schmidt (NS) for a global marketing strategy to spread the word about this investment opportunity and therefore attract an audience of business investors around the world.
To help Speed Queen stand out as a leading option versus other investments, we first needed to gain an in-depth understanding of our target audience. From Beijing to Baltimore, an entrepreneurial business investment is a highly considered purchase with a complex sales cycle. We knew we couldn’t create a one-size-fits-all solution for the various target markets, so we dug into each region to get a better grasp on investor needs in all corners of the world.
In countries like China where the coin laundry concept did not yet exist, the challenge was to educate potential investors. Before they could recognize the profitability of the business model and brand, investors needed to believe in the concept. In more saturated markets, such as the U.S. and Italy, we needed to shift existing perceptions about the laundromat business. Modern laundromats are clean and safe environments, and we needed to communicate this to investors in a clear and simple way. And in developing markets like Colombia, the challenge was to apply a new format to the traditional business model by introducing the modular store concept.
When looking at entrepreneurial-minded business investors across the world, we saw that they had one thing in common: they were in business to build personal wealth. And Speed Queen was in the enviable competitive position of offering a new, lucrative investment.
To engage the global audience, we needed to speak the language of profitability via highly customized campaigns. We first generated awareness by demonstrating real success from the target audience’s like-minded peers. Video testimonials of successful Speed Queen investors were a key tactic to illustrate this once-in-a-lifetime, money-making opportunity, and we adapted this tactic across regions to ensure we had the right story to tell to attract the right investors. For example, in China, we discovered that the store itself served as the success story, so we generated a spectacle around each store opening to attract the attention of other potential investors.
Because vended laundry is a non-traditional investment, the next step was to educate the target audience. Thus, investor websites were developed, featuring proof points about the profitability and ease of investing in a laundromat. Like the video messaging, the websites were tailored to the investors in each region. Additionally, we designed media strategies around event-based marketing initiatives to drive potential investors to the microsites, and we further supported the campaign with print ads, online ads, direct mailers and PR.
The ultimate measure of the campaign’s success was the conversion of a qualified lead to a store owner. In other words, the goal was to get signed contracts for new store openings. On average, the goal was met in the targeted regions, and new Speed Queen laundromats started springing up all around the world—China opened their first 10 stores and the first ever modular store opened in Columbia.
Speed Queen has continued the campaign, seeing more and more success. In fact, an average of 100 new laundromats opens each year in North America. And with many of the original single-store owners becoming multi-store owners, the success of the campaign keeps growing.