By Steve Marsh

Consumers are incredibly impatient when searching for service providers. They want perfectly clear answers to two critical questions: “Does this company provide the service I need?” and “Does it provide the level of service I desire?” As I discussed in my October Cleanfax article, two distinct consumer groups with conflicting wants and needs browse web and print ads seeking cleaning. Effective advertising requires companies to make a choice as to which consumer group they want and then clearly let that group know they provide what they want with a targeted marketing message.

Both groups have the same need: Carpet cleaning and closely related services such as furniture cleaning. The huge divide comes in the amount of money these consumers are willing to pay and the level of expertise and service they expect to receive. Consumers who want only the basic-level service seek the lowest price for need-based cleaning. Full-service consumers are willing to pay more for a smooth experience and confidence in the results.

Wants of the ‘basic’ group

Five marketing themes are highly effective in persuading consumers looking for basic service. Including at least three of these themes in an ad or website homepage will signal to consumers they are in the right place.

Low price: These consumers are working with a limited budget and, therefore, want the most service they can get at a low price. Clearly stated specific prices, proclaiming special discounted offers or low prices grab their attention. Marketing copy should include words describing the price, such as:

  • Affordable,
  • Budget,
  • Discount,
  • Inexpensive,
  • Moderate,
  • Reduced.

Avoid words that reflect less quality including cheap, basic, or plain.

Big and powerful equipment: Maintenance cleaning is not generally the motivating factor for these consumers. In fact, they know their carpet is well beyond a little sprucing up. They are fully aware that major restoration is required and are looking
for companies prepared to tackle the biggest challenges. Effective terms include:

  • Deep clean,
  • Most powerful,
  • Scrubbing,
  • Most thorough,
  • State-of-the-art equipment.

Displaying pictures of equipment and scrubbing tools helps to convey the point.

Speedy service: Immediate need for service is commonly required. The reason for cleaning is often event motivated. They need it done now! If booking a service appointment requires them to look at a calendar, they will click right past. Persuasive phrases are:

  • Same-day service,
  • Fast,
  • Dry within an hour,
  • Extended hours,
  • We work weekends.

Big guarantees: In many cases these consumers are expecting to have to replace the carpet. Companies offering big, audacious guarantees are a dream come true. “Guaranteed stain removal,” “Best cleaning ever, or it’s free,” or “Guaranteed to look like new” will surely get their attention. These consumers will hold you to the guarantee, so be cautious with your offer.

Before and after photos: Pictures are high impact. These consumers can have filthy carpet, and dramatic before-and-after photos are great evidence that a company can work miracles. Seeing extremely trashed carpets become like new is persuasive. When consumers can think, “At least my carpets aren’t that bad,” the sale is almost a done deal.

‘Full-service’ consumer response

While consumers looking for basic service are thrilled with the above messages, they also serve to help the full-service consumer group get a clear signal that this is not the company for them. Here’s what these kinds of keywords say to them:

Low price: To consumers looking for quality and service, low price is a clear indicator that professional expertise and service are not to be expected. They know that you don’t get something for nothing. Low price signals that inconvenience should be expected.

Powerful equipment: Full-service consumers generally need only maintenance cleaning. They may need a few spots removed, and the high-traffic areas might need to be a little fluffier. They are aware that their jobs do not require the biggest equipment. The thought of a tech in their expensive and delicate home with giant equipment is not reassuring.

Speedy service: These customers are used to making reservations. Maintenance cleaning can be scheduled weeks in advance. The idea that a company could show up on the same day as called gets them wondering why they aren’t busier.

Big guarantees: All quality companies stand behind their work and should have guarantees. But highlighting guarantees in marketing suggests that consumers may have to worry that things could go wrong. Having to complain is the full-service customer’s worst nightmare. These consumers are looking for a flawless experience.

Before-and-after photos: Pictures are high-impact. Dramatic photos gross out this consumer group. They are shocked that anyone could allow their home to get that trashed. Their thoughts can jump to the conclusion that this company does not know how to work safely in a nice place. They can even wonder if the equipment will be sanitized before coming into their home.

What ‘full-service’ consumers want

In contrast, full-service consumers have an entirely different set of wants. They are willing to pay more for service, but their expectations are much higher.

Professional service: These consumers want their cleaning needs met with no inconvenience or grief. They expect a flawless execution of the job and customer service. Courtesy, promptness, and professionalism are demanded. They want an overall pleasant experience. Marketing copy should focus on the total professional cleaning experience and not on equipment or process.

Knowledge/Credentials: Incompetence is not tolerated. They expect their technician to be fully trained. Trial and error is not an acceptable problem-solving process. They want the best solutions and realistic appraisals of their situation. Certifications and association involvement provide confidence for these customers. Top ratings on social review sites and Google are important. List certifications, link to review sites, and include anything else that highlights your professional knowledge.

Expertise: This consumer group wants the people serving them to have years of experience. This is a powerful advantage for owner/operators. If the owner is doing the work, flaunt it! If you have been in business over seven years, highlight that fact.

Confidence: They want assurance that they are in good hands. If true, let the customers know that you have solved similar problems for hundreds or thousands of customers. Letting customers know their tech is master or journeyman certified conveys the idea they have hired the best. Eliminating fear is a powerful marketing tool for full-service customers.

Photos of nice homes: These people want lots of quality photos of your branded vehicle working in front of similar if not nicer homes than they have. They want pictures of techs working in expensive and delicate indoor situations where they’re providing the various services you offer. Photos are great evidence demonstrating that you can do work for customers like them.

‘Basic’ consumer response

Basic consumers would love all of these benefits. But they understand they come at a price they cannot afford. If your marketing is done correctly, they will quickly move on to a company more in line with their financial limitations.

Targeted marketing messages

Marketing targeted at one of the two consumer groups should create ads and webpages that have a completely different look, feel, and message from those targeted at the other group. Your target consumer should feel they are in the right place, while all others sense they need to look elsewhere. Clarifying your message will increase the power of your marketing efforts.


Steve Marsh is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor and a Senior Carpet Inspector. He helps home-service companies quickly establish profitable clienteles and then progress to serving higher-quality customers. To help companies achieve these goals, he created the step-by-step programs Single Truck Success and Be Competition Free. For more information, visit www.professional-carpet-cleaning-service.com.