It may seem obvious, but when you decide to begin a car wash marketing campaign, you need to have a plan. Because don’t forget: The only measure of a successful marketing campaign or ongoing marketing strategy is whether it converts sales.

Whether direct mail or social media, there are all kinds of directions a car wash business can take its campaign. Ultimately, the best choice comes from knowing who your customer base is and what you want to say. These are the first three questions you should ask yourself before making any decisions.

1. Why should people come to my car wash and not the car wash down the block?

More often than not, the answer to this question should not only be the focus of your marketing campaign, but the focus of everything you do. In such a highly competitive industry, car wash businesses have to work harder than many other small businesses to stand out and gain a competitive edge. In your marketing materials, consider whether you’re capitalizing on the message: We’re different and better, and you should trust us to wash your car.

2. Where is your customer base?

And we don’t mean what’s their home address (though that’s useful, and you should have obtained your customers’ addresses, home and email, by now). We mean where do they consume their information? Newspapers? Television? Facebook? Google? Often, companies ask their customers to fill out a brief questionnaire to determine these answers. And ultimately, this will help you decide which platform to channel your message through. Facebook and Google ads are relatively inexpensive compared with newspaper ads, and you can track their success to some extent. But if you’re located north of Tampa where the nearest 20-something is 20 miles away, you might actually have better success with that ad in the Times or a targeted direct mailing.

3. Can you handle this in house, or is your time better spent running your company?

This is an extremely important question. It goes along the same lines as: Should you run the cash register or focus on growing your business? The answer to that question is simple. Staffing a cash register is easy and cost-effective. In most cases, a car wash owner should focus on growing the business.

But when it comes to running a marketing campaign or handling ongoing marketing efforts, the answer isn’t so straightforward. Ultimately, no one understands your business as well as you do. You’ve been its best advocate from the very beginning, and you always will be. If you didn’t know how to sell something, you wouldn’t be a car wash business owner. On the other hand, you may not be the best writer or designer or have the time to print and distribute 5,000 letters or monitor an online advertising campaign. Though it’s true you know your business best, marketing professionals know what works when trying to connect with thousands of people at once. Plus, it’s always good to pump fresh ideas into your strategy.

Have you used any ideas like these for your car wash business? Did they work? Not work? Did you do something different? Let us know, and we’ll share your wisdom.