The marketing game has changed considerably for businesses over the last decade: tv and radio ads gave way to social media ads, direct mailers turned into emails, and now Google has to know who you are for customers to even know you exist. But in the auto repair world, it’s easy to look around at your competitors (and there are a lot of them, to be sure!) and see everyone still doing the same thing: direct mail, radio time, low-budget TV ads, billboard, or often, just word-of mouth advertising.
There’s a time and a place for these things, of course. And the saying goes, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” But there are ways for you to stand out from your competition and show your customers that you truly do care about them, and it involves meeting them where they’re at with new tools. Here are four must-have marketing strategies to use if you want your auto repair shop to rise above the competition:
1) Connect with your customers where they are. Your customers are likely to spend a good chunk of their day on both email and social media. Americans spend, on average, 40 minutes a day on Facebook, and over 6 hours a day on email. Most Americans don’t even watch TV without also searching the web. So ask yourself: What am I doing to get to these people while they’re online? You should begin by cultivating an email list of your current customers. You can send them discounts, reminders for service, and news about your business–send these things out periodically, but not so often that your customers get irritated by the frequency. Continue to grow that email list with each new customer–staying in front of your customers by sending them emails that have valuable information for them is a good way to ensure repeat business.
Also, start to develop your online presence. You’ll obviously need a website, but it is equally important to be connecting with your customers on social media. Most of them will spend time specifically on Facebook and Twitter, so you’ll want to start there. Share updates daily: news about your shop, contests you’re running, satisfied customer reviews, photos of your employees, and quality information about car repairs. Share links from the rest of the Internet that explain car repairs in a way they will understand. Give your customers engaging content, and they will start to interact and tell others about your business!
2) Seek to educate. Being in the automotive world means that you obviously know cars in a way that a lot of people don’t. If I don’t know why it’s important that I get my air filter changed, I’m less likely to do so. Also, many people have unfortunate experiences with mechanics who charged too much or diagnosed the problem incorrectly–show that you not only know your stuff, but you are honest and fair in your business. Share information on social media and in email about the importance of regular car maintenance and service. Talk about different problems that might arise in cars, what they mean, and what costs look like.
Customers want to be empowered when making decisions. By educating them on what you know, they will feel empowered enough to know that they can’t do it themselves, but they are happy to go to the person who taught them that!
3) Build your review base. Over 70% of Americans will hold off on making purchasing decisions until they’ve read reviews on the business they’re buying from. That’s a big number…and it’s one you can’t afford to miss. You need to have an abundance of reviews on your service, and you can do that by incentivizing customers to write them–maybe with a discount on next service–or simply by asking them. Akavit team member Enrique Jimenez recently covered the topic of getting more customer reviews on our blog–use those ideas as well! Also, don’t be afraid of negative reviews: they give you opportunities to turn the customer’s experience around, and show other people online that you are true to your word.
4) Turn your mailer discounts into social ads. If you’ve been sending a lot of direct mail, you should reconsider your marketing budget allocation. We receive, on average, 41 pounds of junk mail every year, and about 44% of it is thrown away without ever being read. Now, you may not think your mail is junk…but what do your customers or prospective customers think? Can you afford to fall into that 44%? Instead, why don’t you try turning that direct mail information into digital information? Take the discounts included in your direct mailers and turn them into email coupons or social media ads! Cut your direct mailer budget by even a small amount, and use that money to pay for a targeted Facebook ad. Instead of only hitting one neighborhood, you can select very specific demographics you’d like to reach: age, gender, location, income, hobbies, and more! If you know what kind of customer you have, you can literally tailor-make an ad suited just for them…money spent on the right people, instead of a massive group of people who don’t even fall into your customer base.
Marketing is a constantly changing game, and sometimes it can be hard to keep up. But many people inside the automotive world are stuck in their old ways–you can easily rise above your competition by making a couple new tweaks to your marketing budget and strategy, and show your customers that you’re in touch with their needs! For more help with digital marketing strategies, check out our blog, or drop us a line to see how Akavit can help take your business to the next level!