Marketing Advice for House Cleaning Businesses

Avoid Ineffective Advertising

Let’s examine the target market for a house cleaning business. The majority of your prospective customers will be upper-middle class, middle age professionals who do not have the time to clean, but do have the financial resources to hire a cleaning company. Other prospects will fall into either the 30 – 40 age group with younger children at home, or the 60 – 80 age group. They are looking for a professionally run cleaning business which guarantees customer satisfaction, and stands behind that guarantee.

How do you advertise to such a broad age group? TV, Newspapers, Radio? Unfortunately, there is such a great variance in interests that it is impossible to reach all prospects with just one of these media. Therefore, an ongoing marketing strategy that incorporates all media sources is optimal.

By keeping your company continuously in front of the consumer you become known to them. When they receive your direct mail piece, notice your car signs in their neighborhood, see your TV ads, find you in the yellow pages and on the internet, you’ve hit all the bases. Chances are you’ll be the first company they consider when they need a cleaning service.


A “brand” is the memory created through a person’s collective experience of a company, product or service. Therefore, your logo; verbal and written promises; physical appearance of cleaning technicians, cleanliness of cars and equipment; customer testimonials — both verbal and written; and finally the personal experience in each home and on the phone “brands” your company image into the public’s mind. Every experience you provide must be consistent with the image you want to create. Branding is marketing, and marketing includes every aspect of public contact.


In order for your marketing to succeed your prospects must be exposed to it when they’re in a receptive frame of mind. You wouldn’t want your direct mail pieces to be delivered Monday through Thursday because some prospects are busy thinking about work and time management issues. Friday and Saturday are the days which your direct mail piece will have a more likely chance of being read.

Similarly, placing a newspaper ad in the Business section would be less likely to attract the attention you desire — your ads should be placed in the Home and Garden section to be read at a time that your prospects are focused on their home. Follow this same principle if you use local TV advertising by running your ads during programs which are geared toward upper-income viewers, at a time that they are relaxed and focused on home life, i.e. food, home, or travel shows.


Television is by far the most expensive form of marketing. Also, it provides the least amount of qualified leads. If you are determined to produce a TV commercial do some research first: Contact all of your local TV stations and ask for samples of commercials they have produced for local companies. Be aware that the stations will not send sample tapes without first determining if you are a valid prospect – you will have to meet with advertising salespeople. Set aside at least two hours each for the appointments and related phone calls from sales people. After you have met with a few salespeople you will know if your budget can handle TV advertising.

If you decide to continue with this venue ask each salesperson for samples of commercials their stations have produced, you may have to insist that this is a preliminary step to their gaining your business. When you view the commercials, note the names of the companies which are service oriented – then call each one and inquire about the results of their TV ad campaign. Ask the following questions:

o Were your ads run during programs that were geared toward upper income viewers?

o Were you certain that your ads did indeed run as scheduled, or were they “bumped” by higher dollar advertisers?

o If your ads were “bumped” from your desired spot, did the station run them during inappropriate programs and charge you anyway?

o After the commercial ran, did qualified prospects call for estimates?

o What was the ratio of qualified vs. unqualified prospects?

o Were the results worth the amount you spent on this form of advertising?

o What marketing vehicle have you found to be the most effective?

Be certain your contract states that if your ad is bumped from it’s spot you will NOT be charged if it is moved to programming you have not pre-approved. Be forewarned that your salesperson has no idea what is going on with your ad, and has no control over it once it has been sent to the lineup personnel. If at the last minute your ad is bumped, it may become a filler ad at 2am on a court-TV rerun.

Finally, record the time slots you have pre-approved so that you can determine if your advertising budget has been working for you or against you. If your ad did not run as specified in your contract, you have proof – use it! Call the salesperson, and if necessary speak to the station manager in order to have the ad run during appropriate programming – and if your contact states such, do not pay for ads which were not properly run.

Direct Mail

We have found that direct mail gives the highest return per dollar, and is guaranteed to reach all who you target — if your mail piece is cost effective and your mailing list is accurate. Your choices for direct mail are letters, brochures or postcards. Letters are most likely to be considered junk-mail and will be unopened, and brochures can be expensive to produce. Therefore, the most cost effective direct mail piece is a postcard. Postcards are non-invasive, quickly read, easily saved or carried to work, and are economical. Whether or not the cards are read, they display your logo on both sides; therefore, repetitively sending postcards instills name recognition.

Your postcard should state the customer satisfaction guarantee, services you offer, insurances carried, your website address, and phone numbers. You can have an advertising firm create a postcard for you, or save money by using the pre-formatted cards from MaidDocs.

Send your customers and dormant customers a marketing piece at least twice each year. During months that business is slow, offer discounts on deep cleaning services for your current customers. Spring cleaning and pre-holiday specials are the best vehicles to renew business with dormant customers and to reach new prospects.

Direct mail lists are available through a number of sources. The most economical lists we have found are the “City Search” discs offered by Hill-Donnelly. Telephone assistance is provided by Hill-Donnelly to teach you how to extract information from the discs and save it as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Other lists are available through many sources which you can locate on the internet. Also, most companies offer the information pre-sorted onto mailing labels, ready to peel-and-stick.

Visit your local post office and purchase a First Class pre-paid mailing permit. The USPS representative will provide instructions on how to set up the permit block. When your postcards are printed you simply count out the number to be mailed, and then deliver them to the bulk-mail representative at your local post office. This saves time (no applying stamps by hand) and looks more professional.


Door-knockers are marketing pieces that are pre-cut to hang on a door knob. Although they are inexpensive to produce, paying your employees to deliver them can be costly. Also, there is the chance that they will toss the door-knockers out and add delivery hours to their timesheet. Therefore, door knockers are not a cost effective means of advertising unless you plan to deliver them yourself, or have an effective tracking method for delivery.


Local service companies are often listed for free on community pages. Find them all and present them with your information. Many offer online submission forms – but if you need to call and personally ask to be listed, it is well worth the effort. Include your logo, website and email addresses in each listing.

Having your own website is desirable. Depending upon the area you are servicing, a percentage of your business will come directly from prospects surfing the web for cleaning service companies. Other prospects may receive a marketing piece or find your ad in the yellow pages, and visit the website before calling. Prospects who call but don’t book a service should be directed to the website as a means to reiterate your phone conversation and to view customer testimonials.

You should be able to find a local web developer in the yellow pages, or better yet, ask other small business owners for a reference. Once you have a few candidates ask them for the addresses of websites which they have developed. Log on to these sites and visit all of the pages to ascertain whether the design and visitor generated forms give an impression that is compatible with the branding you want for your company. When you determine which designs match your needs, send an e-mail to the business owners asking if they are satisfied with the knowledge and service provided by the webmaster.

Yellow Pages

Many prospects will search the yellow pages for service companies. Some will look you up in the yellow pages when they receive a direct mail piece – just to verify that you are a legitimate company. Most of the information which is on your postcard should be listed in the yellow pages ad. If this is cost prohibitive, then simply state “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and always list your website address.

When considering the type of ads to place, remember that your ad must stand out from the competition. Research all of your local phone books and notice which ads catch your eye. A good bet is a “knock-out” ad with at least 2 colors. The “knock-out” removes the yellow background and leaves a crisp, attention grabbing white field among all the yellow ads. For a lesser cost you may list your company in the yellow pages free listing column with a knock-out and color. Make this ad a minimum of four 4 lines, with color.

Be certain to call your local yellow pages to ascertain their deadlines for placing ads in the next edition. It would be a shame to miss this marketing vehicle and have to wait a full year to be listed.

White Pages

Yellow knock-outs can be incorporated into your white pages listing. Make this ad a minimum of four 4 lines, and add color if you can afford it. Remember to list your website address here also.


Newspapers are the second most used form of advertising for small businesses, following directly after the Yellow Pages. Your ads should be placed in Home and Garden section to be read at a time that your prospects are focused on their home. Of course Sunday is the ultimate day to advertise, but also the most expensive. Also, most papers publish special sections that may run only once per month or several times per year – budget extra advertising dollars to run your ad in all home or leisure specials.

Double check all written information from the sales department to assure that your ads will be run in the proper sections. Insist on viewing a “proof” of the ad and having a final approval before publishing. Keep in mind that you must accommodate the newspaper’s schedule – if you do not provide feedback in a timely manner your ad will either miss the print or it will proceed without your approval.

Finally — read the paper to be certain that your ad was properly printed and placed. If the paper made an error, you should insist on a reprint in the next comparable edition.

Measuring Success

You can measure the success of your marketing campaign by keeping a record of how many estimates are generated, and how many are converted to customers. By tracking all responses according to their sources, you can test individual ad campaigns to see which marketing approach and special offers produce the most profitable results for your cleaning business. Then focus your marketing budget on the avenues which are most productive.

Note: A further discussion of marketing can be found in the MaidDocs Business Owner’s Manual available at

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Investing Through Turmoil – Making Sense of Market Volatility

One day the stock markets soar, posting impressive gains and reassuring stockholders all is well. The very next day it slumps badly causing many investors to start losing sleep again. What is happening on Wall Street?Looking past the unimaginative talking heads on TV, professional investors know there is a tug or war going on between those who feel the economy is about to rebound and those believing we have yet to experience the full force of the credit crunch. The easy answer is to blame oil prices, and there is some validity to the theory – but only in the very short term. In other words, look past oil.Instead investors need to remember what really drives markets: corporate earnings. In the medium and longer terms, earnings will settle the battle over the market direction. And the main driver of earnings is consumer spending – the very reason you hear and see so much news about the all-important consumer.The state of the consumer is not particularly rosy. Inflation has already become a problem on top of a real, unending credit crunch. The stimulus checks have come and gone and the economy is no better for it. Jobless claims and unemployment are still trending higher while food and energy prices shrink disposable income. All of that is on top of household asset slumps – stocks are down significantly and houses are no longer ATM machines.For corporations that means a tough time keeping net income growing at a pace the markets find acceptable. The second quarter earnings numbers were not apocalyptic, but companies’ guidance for the third quarter should be a wake-up call to investors. Corporations are struggling under current conditions.So what are investors to do? First, they should do their homework. Yes, everyone says do your homework when it comes to investing, but not everyone tells you to do your economic homework. Find trusted sources of real economic analysis (not just bland, un-insightful TV regurgitations) and feel for yourself whether or not a recovery is coming soon.Second, and most importantly, evaluate whether or not you need cash in the near term. If you need to cash out some of your stocks for current expenses in the next year to 18 months, you need to seriously evaluate whether or not you should fund those expenses with stock sales right now. The worst investing mistake is being forced to sell stocks when the market is down.Finally, stay on top of economic events. Once you find trusted analysis, keep going back to it. Keeping current will allow you to make the right decisions at the right time. After all, market turmoil creates opportunities for the patient, informed investor.

How to Select the Right Marketing Strategy for Your Business

I’ve probably had more conversations about this topic with clients than any other: What marketing strategies should I use to market my professional services?

These days, there are more options to market yourself than ever before. And you may have a tendency to look for something quick and easy that will generate a never-ending stream of new prospective clients.

I wish that solution existed. Some of the newer methods of marketing, such as YouTube videos, are very powerful, but extremely difficult for the average person to pull off successfully.

Over the years, I’ve had tremendous success with three primary marketing activities. And I’ve also helped a whole lot of clients implement these strategies successfully as well. Nevertheless, for all of them it can take a tremendous amount of time and energy to get consistent results.

Here are the pros and cons of each strategy and my overall recommendations about how to integrate each one into your overall marketing plan.

Networking and Direct Outreach

This strategy about building relationships with others in your field who can connect you to prospective clients. This means having conversations, attending meetings (individually or in groups), and doing follow-up. Sometimes it means reaching out directly to those in your network (including LinkedIn), being proactive, and exploring possibilities for projects.

Pros: Networking is the most concentrated, focused, personal kind of marketing. And if you do it well and consistently it can be extremely effective in building strong relationships and trust with your business associates and prospects.

Cons: The downside of networking is that it can drain your energy. This is a particular issue for introverts like me. And networking only enables you to reach a limited number of people.

Recommendation: Start marketing your professional services by meeting as many people as you possibly can – face to face. Join organizations and associations and then learn how to use LinkedIn to connect with new prospects.

Speaking (Live and Webinars)

If you want to gain a reputation as an expert, nothing is better than speaking. And it combines the best of networking and writing, in that you are connecting with people directly and also sharing your valuable expertise.

Pros: Speaking can quickly establish you as an expert. And you can immediately follow up with those in your audience.

Cons: The downside of speaking is that, for many people, it comes with a high fear factor, therefore a lot of people avoid it.

Recommendation: As your network expands, start to find audiences to present your ideas through professional associations, chambers of commerce, and other groups both offline and online. Learn the skills of giving a great presentation and of following up with your audience members.


Publishing articles and books have always been a good way to market professional services. It establishes your credibility. And with the expansion of various platforms on the Internet, such as Medium, and tools such as WordPress, it’s easier than ever to put your ideas out there.

Pros: There is no better way to get your ideas out into the world and in front of a large number of people quickly and at virtually no cost.

Cons: The downside of writing is the sheer volume of online material. There are so many articles published online these days and sent out by email that it can be hard to break through. And yes, writing is a lot of work and takes lots of time.

Recommendations: You should publish an online newsletter and blog as soon as possible. Work at growing your list and you’ll expand both your reach and credibility. Note that this can take years, so you need to be patient.

This is the fifth of five articles about the 5 Pillars of Marketing, my marketing model that helps get your marketing on track. 5 Pillars article here.

Social Media (supplemental strategy)

For independent professionals, social media is a fast and easy way to communicate about what you’re up to in your business. It’s worth the time to set up LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Pros: It’s easy to set up social media accounts and start posting and linking almost immediately.

Cons: It can take a long time to gain traction that results in any new business. And it can also eat up a huge amount of time.

Recommendation: Think of social media as a supplement to networking, speaking, and writing. It can increase your visibility and credibility among those you already know.

All of these marketing strategies take time to master and don’t yield immediate results, but in my experience, the time and effort you put into them will reward your investment many times over.

Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make in marketing your professional services is implementing these activities randomly and superficially. For success, you need to do all of them regularly and frequently. And for that you need a solid, step-by-step plan.