We were so inspired by this revelation that we decided to put pen to paper and share our findings.
So, after much research… and even more coffee, we bring you Part 1 of our two-part series on the correlation between Seinfeld…and marketing a car wash.
The great thing about Seinfeld is the stories the characters find themselves in. They are completely random, but look deeper and you’ll see a similar pattern even as the supporting characters and specifics may change. Jerry is always dating someone who turns out to have some little quirk that he can’t get over. George is always scheming. Kramer always comes up with some crazy idea.
What, if anything, can these stories teach us about Car Wash Marketing?
The Soup Nazi had a few things going right for him, namely…great soup. What made his soup kitchen unique however, was the feeling of exclusivity. There was something unique about the experience, a sort of secret club where you had to know the rules in order to get the reward. It gave his customers a reason to talk about his kitchen (beyond just talking about the product), making a great product taste even better.
Car Wash Marketing Lesson: Create something exclusive for your monthly members only. Maybe it’s a polishing towel, or free dashboard wipes. When people ask “Where did you get that towel?”, the answer will create that aura of exclusivity with the non-member and will reinforce the decision of the member.
Airlines have this down to a science. Do we really care about boarding the plane 3 minutes earlier? You bet we do. Creating classes is a great way to boost brand loyalty.
We’ve all heard the phrase “fake it ’til you make it”, and sometimes that can be a viable approach. Tell the market what you are and look the part, but sooner or later you have to be able to deliver. This classic episode saw George pretending to be a Marine Biologist to impress a girl that Jerry set him up with. While walking together on the beach they encounter a crowd…and a beached whale. The crowd was calling for a Marine Biologist. George had no choice but to climb the whale and hope for the best. George was able to deliver, removing a golf ball from the whale’s blowhole (Earlier in the episode Kramer was using the ocean as his driving range).
Car Wash Marketing Lesson: It’s ok to use perception to attract customers, especially for new brands, but eventually you have to be able to deliver a great wash or eventually you’ll slowly lose your customers to the car wash that delivers a great experience AND a great wash.
When you improve your wash, use your success story as a marketing tool like George did and made it as dramatic as possible…”The sea was angry that day, my friends”. Let your customers know that you are listening to their feedback and have tools in place to communicate with your customers about site and equipment improvements.
This episode found all four main characters lost in a mall parking garage in New Jersey with Kramer carrying an AC unit he just purchased. The four of them wandered about the garage, but everything looked the same. Eventually Jerry and George were arrested for public urination. In terms of your customer’s user experience – how easy is it for your customers to find you? Is your website easy to navigate? Are your signs adequate to direct traffic and inform about additional amenities? Do you think Jerry and Kramer would shop at that mall again?
Car Wash Marketing Lesson: The easier your site is to navigate the better your chance of customer retention. The easier your website is to find, the more fringe customers you will attract. The easier it is for people to share specials and coupons, the more those will be redeemed. It’s impossible for you to think objectively about site layout when you already know where everything is. Get feedback from first-time visitors. Use surveys and incentivize customers for participating. Then, most importantly, incorporate the feedback into your plans to improve your customer experience.
After borrowing her boyfriend’s car, Elaine discovers that all of his radio presets were set to Christian Rock. She had been dating him for months and had no idea. When approached by Elaine, Puddy confirms that he is religious and is not concerned that Elaine isn’t, because as he puts it “I’m not the one going to hell.”
Car Wash Marketing Lesson: How well do you really know your customers? Are you targeting one group and attracting another? Dig deeper than just the last four digits of their credit card and get to know your customers better. Use surveys or small talk, make notes and look for patterns. You may be surprised what the information you collect tells you about your target. Use this information to make decisions relative to strategy and messaging. Seth Godin, author of The Purple Cow, said it best “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” To do this, however, you need to have a system in place to determine what your customers want…and be willing to make improvements.
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Elaine’s boss, J. Peterman, is writing an autobiography. The problem is that his stories aren’t that compelling, so he purchases Kramer’s stories for his own book. Peterman knew that for his business of hard-to-find clothing and accessories to grow, people needed to make an emotional connection with the brand’s spokesperson. Hard-to-find clothing needed hard-to-imagine content. Peterman didn’t have that type of content, so he purchased a series of Kramer’s stories for $750. Not everyone is blessed with the ability to write engaging content, but people that can are fairly easy to find and are in high demand. Don’t make up your stories or social posts, but do have an editor or a copy writer help polish your content. Good content gets shared, and when content is shared it is exponentially expanding your reach.
Car Wash Marketing Lesson: If you don’t have anyone in-house to create social posts, engaging content, and help with messaging, find someone who can. This company is pretty good.
Sometimes an idea seems so out there that we talk ourselves out of pursuing the idea by telling ourselves that there must be a reason why no one else has done it. Kramer had the idea to publish a coffee table book with pictures of coffee tables. The first person he talked to about it, Elaine, thought it was a terrible idea…but Kramer was persistent and eventually landed an interview with the Today Show. If the idea has “been done before” it is less risky; but, with risk comes reward.
Car Wash Marketing Lesson: Don’t be afraid to innovate with your marketing and think outside the “Car Wash Box”. If it’s a good idea – try it. It might fail…so, fail fast and fail cheap. You’ll be just fine if your campaigns are customer-centric, and you might just hit a home run.