Living Up to Your Marketing Campaign
Five steps that'll help you.
"You were born an original. Don't die a copy." - John Mason
We live in the information age. This has enabled us to come full circle when dealing with customers. In the beginning, products and services were created to meet the needs of communities. Then communities grew and kept growing, and as they did, the amount of products and services grew as well. After a while, the communities outgrew their boundaries and splintered. As a result there were more products and services to choose from, but consumers felt that the companies offering these products and services didn't address their actual needs and wants. They also became more suspicious of the companies offering these products and services. It became a vicious cycle and then ... the information age dawned. Consumers were able to speak out, making their wishes known and demanding what they need and want.
While consumers are busy making their demands and their voices heard, we find that most independent automotive service and repair business owners are looking for that one silver bullet that will draw customers and prospects to them. They use words to try to set them apart from their competition but it isn't working because the competition is using the same words. Words like:
• Family owned and operated
• We do it right the first time
They are all good words and very descriptive but the sameness doesn't stir consumers to action. If they bother to read those words at all their brain translates them to "blah, blah, blah, blah and blah." They just look at those descriptions as the same ole, same ole. Yawn.
Why the disconnect from these words? Because we live in the information age, consumers are suffering from information overload. Consumers experience an average of 6,000 marketing messages bombarding them each and every day. They have become experts at tuning out most of them. This leaves business owners wondering how to send a message to them that gets their attention.
This is what consumers are looking for. They are looking for something that makes them feel rewarded because they paid attention to it!
1. They are looking for something that inspires them
2. They are looking for something that improves them
3. They are looking for something that entertains them
4. They are looking for something that provokes them
5. They are looking for something that eases their burden
Does your current marketing plan cover these five points? Does it cover any of these points? Do your customers feel rewarded because they took time from their information-overloaded lives to read the information you sent them? I'm going to tell you a story ... a success story and one that can easily become your own.
About three-and-a-half years ago we were asked to help an automotive service and repair shop in Florida. The owner had purchased the building from a relative who had just retired. The new owner came from the parts side of the automotive business and hadn't experienced everything about the service and repair side of vehicles. He was learning that part quickly but started noticing that something was missing - and that something was a steady supply of customers. We all know when a business changes hands you sometimes lose customers for whatever reason. We stepped in and assessed the situation. The shop was in an obscure location and although it was nice, it was nothing fancy. The shop owner quickly made his waiting room and bathrooms something to be proud of and meanwhile, we got busy on marketing. We decided to market him! Yes ... him.
We noticed right away that this shop owner has a very dry, witty, sometimes sarcastic sense of humor that people really enjoy. We decided to capitalize on this. We used his photo in a variety of ways. We have made him a Sherlock Holmes, a John Travolta/ Saturday Night Fever star and many other fun characters to get his message out. His customers can't wait to see what he will be next! What did this do? It made his marketing stand out in the crowd. He no longer has a car count problem ... even in Florida where the economy sent many small businesses into a downward spiral or out of business all together.
How exactly did this work? When the poor economy set in, consumers went into a state of shock initially. When they finally adjusted to "this is just the way it is now," they tightened their belts and decided they had no choice but to "hold on until things get better." They do appreciate a bright spot in their day, especially something involving humor and laughter. Seeing this shop owner as different character types entertains them. When his postcards or newsletters hit the mailboxes, his phone starts ringing even if they aren't due for service. The customers just feel the need to comment. That is entertainment! That is having connected customers. Of course his marketing also showcases his personality, so that entertains and provokes. The offer he uses inspires them to come in and ease their financial burden while improving their vehicle's health.
The important thing here is that he easily lives up to his marketing campaign because he is just being himself. Think of it from a consumer's point of view. Being "relevant" is no longer enough! Again, consumers are overwhelmed with information coming at them from all directions! They see it all around them. It comes to their inboxes, to their cell phones, to their televisions, magazines, on cars, buses, billboards, buildings, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media.
1. Consumers are no longer waiting to hear what you have to say about your business! They don't care about you; they care about themselves. In other words - what's in it for me?
2. You are not just competing with your competition down the street, you are competing for short attention spans that are overloaded with other messages.
3. Relevant information is not enough anymore; you have to also provoke and entertain, inspire them and ease their burden and promise to improve their life like the Florida shop owner has done so successfully.
When you send out your next advertising campaign - no matter what format or venue you use - live up to it! Don't try to be something you are not! Be you!
Now, more than ever, you can have fun with your marketing! Go for it! We know you are excellent at fixing and maintaining cars, and consumers expect that. Now, just add these five steps to your campaign and stand by for the results.
Editor's Note: This article is one of several management articles that will be contributed to AutoInc. this year by Automotive Management Institute (AMI) instructors. In 2011, AMI's knowledgeable instructors will continue covering a variety of topics designed to educate and train today's service and repair professional in AutoInc. To learn more about AMI, its courses and instructors, visit www.AMIonline.org. AMI administers the distinguished Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) program.
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