When the economic recession hit, many U.S. consumers cut back on their discretionary spending. Residential cleaning service Stanley Steemer was just one of many brands to feel the repercussion to the tune of a 6.8% drop in year-over-year revenue in 2008, followed by a 15.8% plummet in 2009.
“Usually when there’s a slight downturn in the economy, it can actually be better for the carpet cleaning industry because people tend to take care of what they have rather than replace and get [something] new,” says Justin Bates, president of Stanley Steemer. “[But] 2009 hit so deep that really any discretionary spending was shut off and carpet cleaning is a discretionary purchase.”
To get appointment bookings and sales back to where they were before the recession, and ultimately exceed those figures, Stanley Steemer re-evaluated its advertising and partnered with media services agency Horizon Media in spring 2012. Stanley Steemer had relied heavily on television to drive brand awareness for the past few decades. In fact, Bates says the cleaning service almost exclusively did television advertisements in its corporate-owned locations from 2002 to 2007. And while Stanley Steemer’s target consumer—women between the ages of 35 to 64—still watched television, they were also consuming media in digital channels, notes Heather Giudice, associate brand group director for Horizon Media.
Horizon used its proprietary media relevance tool to identify which channels were most relevant to Stanley Steemer’s target consumers. According to Horizon, Stanley Steemer’s target audience turned to digital channels to research cleaning services, compare prices, and seek out peer reviews. Hence, the segment was more open to hearing brand messages in these channels.
In October 2012 Stanley Steemer began targeting consumers via display, mobile, and social advertisements. These ads featured calls-to-actions that drove consumers to the Stanley Steemer site where they could book an appointment. After implementing these digital changes, Stanley Steemer’s website traffic increased 40%. In addition, approximately 38,000 booked appointed stemmed from Stanley Steemer’s digital efforts.
“Instead of casting a wider net and hoping to catch some fish, we wanted to make sure that we were reaching them in targeted channels where they’re consuming but they’re also receptive to hearing a message about Stanley Steemer,” Giudice says.
But Stanley Steemer didn’t abandon television advertising entirely. In addition to launching Stanley Steemer to digital initiatives, Horizon Media combined psychographic data with reviews to pinpoint more targeted cable networks. Horizon Media also introduced the idea of creating a direct response TV (DRTV) cable initiative to increase call center volume. Furthermore, Horizon used a “pulsing strategy” to adjust Stanley Steemer’s media spending so that it aligned with sales. This provided year-round funding instead of just focusing on peak seasons.
Stanley Steemer’s integrated marketing mix helped the brand see positive sales growth since Q4 2012. In fact, sales rose 3.5% in Q4 2012, 1.4% in Q1 2013 and 13.6% in Q2 2013. Bates adds that the first five months of 2013 have been “the best” in the brand’s history. He also says being able to conduct a national campaign gives the brand a leg up on its 52,000 competitors, which are primarily local and regional.