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Marketing Auto Service in the Coming Years

By Bob Cooper of Elite

For decades shop owners have had the luxury of being able to rely on a short list of traditional media to bring in new customers. They’ve primarily utilized directory ads, print media, radio and TV, and to some extent, local grassroots marketing programs. With rare exception, each of these advertising mediums has had a long-standing track record of performance (either good or bad), so you knew what you were getting when investing in these mediums. Today, we live in a completely different world, and how you go about marketing in the coming years will have an unparalleled impact on your auto service business. Here’s why…

First of all, with today’s ever-expanding technology, we will certainly see a continued growth in new and creative e-marketing channels. Just look at the amazing growth that we’ve seen over the past few years: we now have YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, social couponing, and cell phone offers, just to name a few. Not only will your number of choices in e-media continue to expand in the coming years, but with many of them, there will be little or no record of historical performance, so determining which mediums are best for your business will become increasingly difficult. So if you are not careful in the coming years when it comes to marketing your auto repair business, you will find yourself spending a fortune in dollars, time, and resources, only to fall short of the results that you are looking for.

So rather than jumping on the bandwagon with every new media that hits the market, you need to put first things first.

You can start by picking up a copy of Fortune Magazine and paging through it. You’ll see a lot of really great ads, but one company that will certainly be absent is Monster, the energy drink company. Regardless of whether or not you like their product, you have to admire them for their marketing genius. What Monster has done, as all great companies do, is identify its target customer, and invest wisely in the advertising mediums that best reach those customers. Monster’s target customers are the younger generations, so they spend their marketing dollars passing out samples on college campuses and hosting parties and events, not on ads in Fortune Magazine. In your business, it’s no different. You need to put first things first by identifying who your ideal customer is, and then pinpointing the campaigns that attract your ideal customer before you start throwing money at new marketing campaigns.

In every case, you should start by analyzing your existing customer base. Look for the commonalities in the customers who have generated your highest sales and profits. Beyond the type of vehicles they drive, and the type of services performed, you should look for commonalities in their age and gender. Once you have that list, you should then look for commonalities in their approximate income, their education, and their social behavior. For example, you may discover that your ideal customer is a 45-year-old male who has a college degree, goes to church on a regular basis, and is involved in his community. Once you have this information, it’s just a matter of finding the right advertising mediums to attract this target customer, and focusing on these mediums as the core of your marketing efforts. So before you invest in a new advertising medium, ask for a demographic breakdown of who the medium reaches. If you are confident that this medium is going to effectively reach your ideal customer, consider taking your research a step further by asking a handful of your long-time customers who meet your ideal customer criteria whether they are familiar with the medium, and if not, whether they can see themselves using it.

Can your target customer change over time? Of course, but if you take my recommendations, you’ll keep your service bays full in the coming years, because as the list of advertising options continues to grow year after year, you’ll know which ones are best for you. You see, with the right research and focus, you’ll know exactly who you are trying to reach, and best of all, you’ll know how to reach them.

Since 1990, Bob Cooper has been the president of Elite, a company that strives to help shop owners reach their goals and live happier lives, while having a positive impact on their employees, customers and communities. The company offers one-on-one coaching from the industry’s top shop owners, service advisor training, peer groups, along with sales, marketing and shop management courses. You can learn more about Elite by visiting www.EliteWorldwide.com.



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