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What's Your Most Effective Form of Advertising?


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When it comes to advertising, there is an endless list of strategies.  And, it appears, that everyone has a different strategy and opinion about what works and what doesn't.  

So, the question is: What's Your Most Effective Form of Advertising? 

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Flash Sale + Social Proof


Flash Sale + Social Proof


Flash Sale + Social Proof

15 hours ago, IMAGE ONE said:

I'll answer this first, with a story. It's a bit of a long read, but it will be worth it.

For my own shop 40 years ago, I took the "branding" approach for the first couple of years. This strategy was advised by my father, a lifelong ad man, as a way to build trust and name recognition with my local community. One of the best things we did was sponsorships. We sponsored a Little League team, softball team, peeWee football, church functions, local and school events, bicycle races, marathons, and children's charities. Sure, we started out small, but kept reinvesting in our community as we grew. We used banners, t-shirts, radio, car show booths and just about everything else promoters came to us for.

We had great looking business cards and eventually had brochures professionally done which we would give to EVERY person coming in for an estimate, and two to EVERY person that picked up their car after a repair, asking them to give them to pass them along to family members or friends. We had a professionally designed yellow pages ad (they were very relevant...back then). We did local radio commercials. I personally went to the local car dealers that didn't have a body shop, and talked up ours. Granted, we did excellent work at a fair price, but let's assume that's a baseline.

BRANDING, and participation in local events, got us off to a seriously great start. By the end of year three, we were one of the largest shops in Colorado, with 2 locations, a used car operation, a 2 acre junkyard and 7 figure sales...40 years ago. Body & paint labor was $16/hr and mechanical labor was $24/hr back then. I was 28. I listened to an ad man: "You need to establish a great brand, first and foremost." (He handled the XEROX account when they first got started.) "And be consistent with the way you show up (visually) to your local audience." It worked better than I could have hoped for. 

We ran ads in the local paper (yes, those still exist and it's still a great place to get your brand out there, which brings me to my next most effective strategy...POSTCARDS. Back then, we did a very early version of the postcards we make today for our design clients. Here's something to consider: There is more competition on the internet with google ads, social media paid ads, SEO and every other thing former yellow page salespeople can come up with. There is VERY LITTLE COMPETITION IN THE MAILBOX these days. With EDDM (Every Door Direct Marketing) and/or a good list of your potential customers this is a GREAT way to grow your business...quickly. That said, it's definitely not a one shot deal. You have to consistently mail to the same people numerous times before name recognition starts to take effect. That's called "loading your pipeline," and the magic starts really taking effect after month 3. Why? Because potential customers most likely are not in need of an immediate repair. You are building name recognition and trust BEFORE they need you so that when they do, YOUR business is front of mind. That said, the message and the design, or overall look and feel of the postcards must be consistent with a good looking brand. And here's a secret - The postcards should clearly say on them "If you don't need service or repair today, just keep this card in your glove compartment until you do." 

Here's another postcard secret - Do you know who in the family most often picks up the mail? The woman, because they're generally the most responsible, lol. So, if your brand or postcard is not attractive to them, you will not resonate, and you just wasted a mailing. So many shops will put exotic cars or hotrods in their brand or marketing pieces. Bad idea unless you are only catering to those type of car owners. For the largest audience, you want to appeal to women...because they're the ones picking up the mail most often, and making the majority of decisions when it comes to important things like family safety. We use cute kids in our marketing pieces because women like them and are more inclined to do business with a shop that makes them feel they can trust you. Cute kids will do that. Pets will do that. A picture of a Ferrari or Lamborghini will not. Got it? Good!

For branding, your cards, brochures, ads, banners and signage should always portray a clean, professional, trustworthy looking operation. Tacky cards or brochures actually turn people off. Don't do that.

Pic of my bodyshop location scanned from an old Kodak plastic film camera in 1982. Sadly, it's the only picture I have left after my storage got flooded years ago.

In full transparency, I lost that shop a few years later after a land lease deal went very badly. I was able to sell off the assets of the 2nd location, but at 32, I was done. I packed up and moved to sunny California and started an ad design company to help small businesses brand and grow quickly. Image One has been in business since 1988 and has created over 60,000 ad and marketing-piece designs for 6,000+ clients. 

I'm still a car guy though. It's in my blood. If I can help anyone else in the industry by sharing what I've learned, I can keep one foot in the car repair business and feel good. Thanks for reading! 

RedLacquerRoomLocation1-1982.thumb.jpg.9547ef1900ca3ddcd3e39e75f5afc5e0.jpg

 

 

Thanks for the brief Bio. And welcome to Auto Shop Owner. 

As a shop owner for 41 years, I agree that your client base must trust you. And that can only happen by building strong relationships. I also learned that I could not be everything to everyone, and early on focused on my ideal customer.  

I also agree with you about community involvement. That proved to be a gold mine for me.

Thanks again! 

 

 

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First, it begins with branding. I had my logo professionally designed as a unisex logo. It appeals to both men and women. The way we did it was to make the car have curves and although the logo is predominantly black and silver, a touch of blue was splattered in it to soften it.

Then it was about splattering it all over the community. We are on the carts at the local supermarket. We are in the church bulletins. We advertise on the local high school sports channel. Our banner is at most of the major sports fields and we advertise in various elementary school parent promos.

No postcards or mailers, no coupons, no gimmicks. We made ourselves part of the community and the community has responded in kind. I couldn’t take anymore work from coupons if I tried. And a side note, we are surrounded by dealerships, big franchises, and other independents. Giving back to your community will be your best advertising in my opinion. 

38CD24F9-EB92-4BB6-8492-F5DF26A208A3.jpeg

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The local auto mechanical repair shop I use now advertises on the local am & fm radio program. He rarely talks about his shop himself, but he does have his customers that are other business owners talk about who they are and why they found and use this shop. They say they are looking for quality, fair pricing and on time repairs, and hearing the actual owners talk about why this shop got theior business is a two fold winner. They both get positive review advertising and since this is not that big a community, between the 4 actual cities maybe 120,000 people chances are you either have been to the person talking or have heard about them.. This little shop is very busy and I have found the same positive response to the shop owner when we go in for service. He told me his thoughts were to let the happy folks tell others why they found him, not him telling you.  Seems to work well here.  

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On 6/19/2022 at 9:47 AM, tomkatv10 said:

First, it begins with branding. I had my logo professionally designed as a unisex logo. It appeals to both men and women. The way we did it was to make the car have curves and although the logo is predominantly black and silver, a touch of blue was splattered in it to soften it.

Then it was about splattering it all over the community. We are on the carts at the local supermarket. We are in the church bulletins. We advertise on the local high school sports channel. Our banner is at most of the major sports fields and we advertise in various elementary school parent promos.

No postcards or mailers, no coupons, no gimmicks. We made ourselves part of the community and the community has responded in kind. I couldn’t take anymore work from coupons if I tried. And a side note, we are surrounded by dealerships, big franchises, and other independents. Giving back to your community will be your best advertising in my opinion. 

38CD24F9-EB92-4BB6-8492-F5DF26A208A3.jpeg

Well said!  Branding is key. It's all about name awareness.  Obviously, you need to have a quality reputation, but branding in the long-term will give a shop a better ROI than lost leaders or discounting marketing.  And I agree with you, that community involvement is crucial these days. 

Nice Logo too! 

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19 minutes ago, Transmission Repair said:

Transmission repair is transaction-based.  Google PPC paid ads worked best for me.

Interesting. Do you think a lot has to do with the fact that you were in the transmission business, and needed to reach out to a different clientele than most traditional auto repair shops that tend to build long-term relationships? 

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2 hours ago, Transmission Repair said:

I don't know if PPC would work for G/R.  G/R is relationship based.  PPC worked like gangbusters for me.  I increase our sales $500K/yr. with PPC.  It cost me only 10% of my increase in sales, or $50K/yr.   I got addicted to it like a drug.  I would pause it to control customer flow.  If we started to get caught up, I would un-pause it.  If it got really slow I would increase the radius of PPC around the shop.  It allowed me to control the workflow in the shop.  I did all my own PPC advertising; I didn't pay anybody else.

Wow, amazing numbers! viewpoints That's the beauty of a forum like this, we get to hear all viewpoints, strategies, and opinions! 

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