Most of you have probably heard about Twitter, the social networking and micro-blogging service. It can be a great tool for building buzz, fostering community, connecting with customers… all that stuff businesses should be doing. But I’ve always thought it best suited to certain kinds of businesses over others.
Then, the other day, I got a notification from my own active Twitter account that @TheDryCleaner was now following me, at @marketingprofs. I found that a little curious. Wait a sec: What's a dry cleaner doing on Twitter?
I thought of the place where I take my own clothes, a tiny little outfit staffed only by its Korean owner. As social as she is, I still had a hard time picturing her on Twitter. What would she say? "Found some gum in a jacket pocket again -- EWW!" "Wondering whether I should tell his wife that I found another hotel receipt in his pants pocket? That scum!" "Wanna know the secret to removing that red wine stain? Ask me!" I think of dry cleaning as an inherently local thing, so I was intrigued by the notion of one on Twitter, a worldwide social network.
It turns out that @TheDryCleaner is Jerry Pozniak, owner of four dry-cleaning shops, and, according to his Twitter home page bio, "Dry cleaner to the stars." Jerry has ambitious plans for his business and himself, and he talks about how Twitter figures into both here. His advice is interesting for any small business owner wondering about Twitter or how to leverage the platform to accomplish specific goals.
What follows is the exchange Jerry and I had on Skype, via instant messaging.
[3:31:03 PM] Ann Handley says: So I was so surprised to see "TheDryCleaner" follow me on Twitter today! Are you the only dry cleaner on Twitter, do you know?
[3:32:33 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: I think so, I did a search and I did not see another.
[3:32:46 PM] Ann Handley says: What made you join?
[3:33:47 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: I am working on a buzz marketing campaign and I thought it would be best to get my name around on Twitter. I also search for "dry cleaning" and try to respond to some Tweets.
[3:34:33 PM] Ann Handley says: But isn't dry cleaning an inherently local thing? What's the advantage for your business, on Twitter?
[3:37:05 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: I am a bit of an authority on garment care, so national exposure is a good thing. My Jeeves of Belgravia brand does shipping throughout the US.
[3:38:41 PM] Ann Handley says: So you offer a sort of valet dry cleaning throughout the US?
[3:40:44 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: Jeeves has clients all over the US for its exclusive services. When a client has a "over the top" wardrobe and wants the best possible care for her clothes she'll ship her items to Jeeves for cleaning and return shipping. It is usually the client who cannot find that kind of garment care near where they reside.
[3:42:03 PM] Ann Handley says: Is that what you mean by "dry cleaner to the stars" (as it says in your Twitter profile)?
[3:43:45 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: Yes, I have take care of garments for Demi Moore, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tilda Swinton, Eva Longoria, Tony Parker, LIndsay Lohan and others.
[3:44:59 PM] Ann Handley says: But it sounds like you also want to be known as a sort of expert on garment care... not just a dry-cleaner. And Twitter helps you position yourself as that on a larger platform?
[3:47:01 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: Great choice of words! I do get calls from all over the US from my traditional public relations which has generated articles in magazines. Many times the calls are from retailers who have a garment issue and need to understand if the cleaning or the garment itself was at fault.
[3:47:33 PM] Ann Handley says: I see. And I'm guessing your business benefits -- because it raises your profile and increases the exposure for your business, as a result.
[3:50:34 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: Dry cleaning (or as I like to say, "garment care" is a very personal service for some. The higher the level of trust and credibility I have, the more it will benefit the company. Also a buzz about having your clothes taken care of by the same people who take care of Demi's and Lindsay's isn't bad either.
[3:52:41 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: I am kind of new to social networking and on line [Word of Mouth] so I am getting my feet wet. Traditional WOM has been very kind to my company. Also being very good at what we do also is a huge help.
[3:54:01 PM] Ann Handley says: It's interesting that you are really focusing on your customer in your marketing: You aren't just getting your name out there by talking about yourself, but you are asking: How can I help them? Essentially, you are positioning yourself as a trusted resource – so, bravo.
[3:55:03 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: It's not about what I want to say, but how it will benefit the client.
[3:56:48 PM] Ann Handley says: Exactly... so one last quesion, which I've always wondered about: Why is it that my shirts cost more to dry clean than my boyfriend's? It ticks me off. (Do you get that a lot?)
[3:57:21 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: Great question, what size shirt do you wear?
[3:58:01 PM] Ann Handley says: Size 2 or 4, depending. Or a women's Small. He's an L. What gives?
[3:59:59 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: You shouldn't pay more for dry cleaning. But more than likely he is having his shirt "laundered and machine pressed" for under $5 per shirt and it may be as low as $2. This service is done on automatic pressing equipment that produces about 75 shirts per hour. Small sized shirts (including boy's shirts) won't fit the equipment.
Your shirts are done by hand and thus cost more.
[4:00:33 PM] Jerry Pozniak says: It's a big problem, because most women see it has a gender issue, it's really a size issue.
[4:01:23 PM] Ann Handley says: Ahh… Mystery solved.
So what do you think of Jerry’s strategy? Are you on Twitter, or is your company using it to market to your customers and prospects? If so, how? I’d love to hear your thoughts.