How to Market Your Automotive Shop, Part 2

Last week, we explored some of the more modern approaches to marketing for automotive shops. In today’s digital world, you absolutely need to have an online presence, dynamic web content and activity on social media. If not, your shop will quickly fall behind the times and become less relevant.

However, there are still plenty of “old school” methods that you can utilize in your marketing campaign. These are tried and true marketing strategies that are as valid now as they were in the past. The most successful shops are employing both new school and old school ideas in a prudent mix, which helps attract a wider audience across all the different platforms.

Here, we will discuss some of these more traditional marketing concepts that you can use to promote your automotive shop.

Branding

In all marketing that you do, consistent branding is vital. We’re talking about a nice logo and a slogan. We’re talking about a consistent brand message. If you want to be know as the friendly neighborhood family shop, center your marketing around that message. If you want to known as the modern, big shop in town, run with that concept. You can always work in other selling points and messages, but keep the central identity consistent throughout all forms of marketing.

Stationery

Make sure your logo and brand “look” is shown throughout any print materials that are seen by customers and other vendors. Examples include business cards, letterhead, envelopes, note pads, invoices, receipts, work orders, etc.

Brochures

Having a handout piece that you can give customers and vendors is a great idea. Tell the story and history of your shop. Share some of the key selling points that help make your shop different from others in town. Talk about the owners and workers to show the personality of the shop through its people. Use nice imagery, good branding and colorful graphics to catch the reader’s attention.

Direct Mail

Direct mail can still be very effective. These are flyers and postcards sent out to prospective customers in your area. Perhaps they offer a discount or promote specific shop services. It can make a difference to have a tangible piece of marketing that a person can receive, hold in their hands and possibly keep.

Outdoor Advertising

Billboards, bus benches and good signage can be very impactful. People are commuting across town in their cars, seeing your brand and key marketing messages to promote your shop. It’s a daily reminder of your local presence and if someone’s car happens to break down, the association between that person’s car and your shop is there in the back of his or her mind.

Print Advertising

Local magazines, newspapers and Yellow Pages are somewhat outdated in today’s society, where so much information is consumed online. However, these periodicals still exist and that means there are still plenty of consumers out there who prefer something printed they can hold in their hands. Look for opportunities to advertise in these publications (especially if the older generation is a primary source of business at your shop), but be warned that print advertising can still be very expensive. Make sure it fits in your budget. Otherwise, you may be able to get better bang for your buck elsewhere.

We hope you find this article helpful and informational. The point is, there are so many different methods—both new school and old school—that you can use to market your shop. The trick is finding the right balance for your budget. For more information or to set up a free marketing consultation, contact NextGear Marketing today.

How to Market Your Automotive Shop, Part 1

Let’s face it. Some automotive shop owners are more aggressive (and progressive) than others when it comes to marketing. The smaller the business, usually the less marketing is done. And that’s one of the reasons it stays a “small” business without much growth. This is true in almost any industry.

When it comes to marketing your shop, spending more money doesn’t always equate to more business. It is a factor, and the old adage of “you have to spend money to make money” is certainly true. However, it’s more about spending wisely on effective marketing rather than just throwing your money out there without a solid plan.

We can’t give away all the trade secrets here because we want automotive shops to turn to NextGear Marketing for help with marketing materials and strategies. Still, we’ll provide some basic concepts that you can consider when deciding to ramp up your marketing efforts in order to grow your shop’s business. In Part 1 of this article, we’ll focus on new school strategies for digital marketing. In Part 2 next week, we’ll talk about the more old school approaches that can still be very effective—print advertising, direct mail, outdoor, radio and television.

Online Presence

It’s hard for any business to grow (yet alone survive) these days without some sort of marketing presence on the Internet. If your shop doesn’t have a website, that needs to be your first step. Template design sites are okay to get started, as long as they are mobile-friendly.

Content is King

However your site is designed, put extra focus on the content to make it your own and incorporate key words to enhance SEO. Specifically mention all the cities you serve, each automotive repair service you provide and your shop’s contact information. Work in key words and phrases that customers might search for if looking for a shop like yours in the area.

Social Media

Establish pages for your shop and get involved on as many social media platforms as you can. Post regularly, share links and information, and do whatever you can to engage with your followers. Don’t be salesy, though. Be informative and/or conversational in tone. The more active you are on social media with engaging posts, the more positive word of mouth you will generate.

Blogging

Obviously, we’re big on blogging at NextGear Marketing. It is our most popular service. More and more automotive shop owners are realizing it is the best way to generate fresh content on their websites and help increase organic site traffic. If you have a regular blog with interesting content (informative articles, customer testimonials, employee profiles and other shop news), you will see a difference as your site rises up the search engine rankings.

Email Marketing

We’re not talking about “spam” sales emails to random lists. We’re talking about targeted emails to past customers and those who have signed up on your email list through your website. Send regular emails and aim for one specific action/result with each. Perhaps reach out to everyone and ask them to like your Facebook page or follow you on Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter. Send an email asking for any referrals they might have (offer incentives if it helps). Ask them to rate your service or write a review on your site or Yelp!

Advertising and Integration Packages

This is where online marketing can get expensive, so don’t just go into it without more research. If done right and strategically, you can get a great result. Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, Yelp! Business Integration Packages—these are some of the most popular ways to advertise online. Just be careful and set a firm budget before throwing a lot of money into any of these services. It can add up quickly and you have to make sure the returns are worth the investments.

Hopefully you find this information helpful. Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of this article. If you have any questions about online/social media marketing, blogging or email strategies, contact NextGear Marketing today for a free, no-obligation marketing consultation.

 

Create Better Word of Mouth for Your Business

Few things can be as powerful for your business as strong word of mouth. Just think about it. When someone you trust endorses a business, you are much more likely to use their products or services. Marketing can help you grow your brand awareness, but people still want to know what others think of it.

When some business owners hear the term “word of mouth,” their thinking is still old school. Thoughts come to mind of conversations around the old water cooler at work, or telephone conversations between friends. However, that is now how people really communicate anymore. The Internet and social media have changed the game, making the concept of word of mouth an infinitely more impactful form of marketing.

On one hand, you have review sites like Yelp! or Angie’s List, where consumers can share their opinions that will ultimately help others decide where to do business. You aren’t likely to know that person writing a review, but for some reason you trust their opinion.

On the other hand, you also have social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and ShapChat. Whether directly or indirectly, you are connecting with people that you are likely to know or trust in some way through these social platforms. If someone endorses a business here, it may mean even more to you.

A lot of business owners fear social media and online review sites because they think they have no control over the messages that are being shared. On some levels, that is true, but you have much more control than you think. Of course, if you provide high standards of products and services, there’s a good chance that positive things will be said. You can’t censor everything that is being said and you don’t want to. Authentic feedback is great for your business, just as long as the positive comments outweigh the negative ones.

At the same time, you can also make sure the positive message are being put out there. Use your blog, a customer testimonial page on your website and social media to share good stories about your business along with feedback from your happiest customers. When people say good things about you, share it in as many ways as you can.

Write a blog post featuring a story about a certain customer. Included testimonial quotes from them, along with details about the services/products that they purchased. Here’s another article that shows how to write an effective customer testimonial blog post.

Create a testimonial page on your website and a good way to collect testimonials from clients. Have them fill out a survey in person or send out an email survey afterwards. Take all those quotes and put them on your testimonial page. This is great for SEO because it also means that new content is constantly being added to your site.

Last but not least, take some of the best testimonial quotes and share them on any social media that you use. This is something you can do every day or at least a few times a week as long as the testimonials are coming in.

By sharing the positive feedback in a variety of ways, you can essentially control your online presence by making sure that there is much more positive content out there regarding your business. It can drown out whatever negative comments may have been shared. So, even though you can’t fully control everything that is said, you can certainly ensure there’s more good than bad. In addition, all that extra content will increase your website’s organic reach.

One other thing we’d like to add is what to do when you see negative comments online about your business. Customers have a right to be unhappy, so engage them publicly with response comments. Be friendly in tone and offer to help resolve their concerns. Show your concern for service and your desire to make them happy. You may never win over that unhappy customer, but it shows others you care and they may look past those initial negative comments.

You also have to be aware that your competitors may try to hurt you. They may say negative things pretending to be an unsatisfied customer. The more successful you are, the more likely this will happen at some point. Again, respond with a tone of wanting to please them and rectify any issues. If you know for a fact that it is probably a competitor wishing to do harm, find a clever way to call them out without being confrontational. “We’re sorry you feel that way. We don’t see your name listed in our customer database, but we always want to make sure our customers are taken care of. Whatever your problem, please let us know and we’ll handle it free of charge.” Odds are, there will be no further response and savvy customers will recognize it was an attempt at sabotage.

In conclusion, use whatever means you can to share positive messages about your company and promote customer satisfaction through authentic testimonial quotes. Put out a positive vibe wherever you can and you’ll see the dividends.

For more information about blogging and social media integration, contact NextGear Marketing for a free marketing consultation.

 

How to Write a Good Employee Profile Blog

Most business owners think their blog needs to just be informational in order to sell their specific services or promote how well they treat their customers. Indeed, those types of articles should make up the majority of your blog posts (just remember to personalize them as much as you can and include customer testimonials). However, you will also want to periodically include blogs about life around your company.

What we want to focus on here is how to present a good employee profile. These blog posts can generally come in two forms. First, is a new hire. Second, is an existing employee that is integral to your business’s success.

For a new hire blog post, it’s pretty simple. You’ll want to present it as an announcement. “Mechanic Joe Smith Joins the Team at Ferguson Automotive.” Talk about how excited you are for this new person to join your company and what their role will be.

An existing employee profile may be even more straightforward. “Ferguson Automotive Employee Profile: Mike Jones, Head Diagnostician.” (Blog Secret: always try and get your business’s name in the headline.) Again, talk about this person’s role within the company and how long they have worked there.

With either type of employee profile, there are certain key points that you will want to include:

  1. Title and Job Description – Telling readers what this employee does and providing details of key duties can be a subtle way of including keywords into your article.
  2. Photo – Provide a nice headshot or a picture of them “in action” at their work station.
  3. Experience – Talk about the employee’s educational background (industry training, college, special designations, etc.) and previous work experience. This is not a resume, though, so keep the tone light and sometimes a little vague.
  4. Personal Background – Share how long they’ve lived in your area, where they grew up, etc.
  5. Personal Interests – Talk about their life outside of work. Do they have a spouse? Kids? Grandkids? What are their personal interests and hobbies?

When it comes to an employee profile, make sure your employee is okay with sharing all this personal information online. You may even want to get an agreement in writing and assure them that you’ll remove the blog post if they ever leave the company. When it comes to things like family information, you don’t necessarily need to mention names of spouses and children. Make general references to family members. In other words, you don’t need to go TOO PERSONAL. Keep the information simple and friendly in tone and you’ll have a good employee profile blog.

We hope you find this information helpful. For more information about blogging for your business, contact NextGear Marketing today for a no-obligation marketing consultation. You can also follow us on Facebook to receive notifications every time a new blog post goes up.

It’s Time to Get Personal

We see it all the time. One big mistake many business bloggers make is being too general with their posts. Sure, you want to provide accurate and useful information. And, you definitely want the copy to include important key words and phrases to help with SEO. However, the more you can relate the article to your business, the better.

Let’s say you are writing what we would consider an “informational” blog article. You’re in the automotive repair industry and you put up a post about radiators. You include maintenance tips, problems to look out for and a layman’s explanation of how the key parts of radiators work.

It seems like pretty straightforward stuff about car parts. However, you can find similar articles all over the Internet. How can you make yours stand out? That’s where personalization can make a huge difference.

Frame the article from your shop’s/mechanic’s perspective. Talk about common problems that you see and why you want to share this information with consumers. Give real-life examples of customers who came in with a radiator problem. Tell them how you diagnosed the issues and how you made repairs or replaced parts to fix their radiator. Maybe even include a testimonial quote from that customer if they provided on at the end of the job.

You can also frame the article from the perspective of the average customer. Try to relate to their way of thinking. They are out on the road. The engine starts to overheat. Tap into that feeling of someone who realizes they may have a problem with their radiator. Show them common problems they can look for (low fluid, leaks, fan malfunctions). Then, talk about how they should take it to an expert for a proper diagnosis. Odds are, if you tell this story right, your shop will be the expert they turn to.

In other words, don’t just spout off information like you’re writing an encyclopedia. Tell stories, tap into the mindset of the average consumer who doesn’t understand that much about cars, and show how your shop deals with whatever specific service issues you are writing about. If you can do this, your blog posts will be that much more effective.

No matter how personal, we at NextGear Marketing recommend these “informational” style blog posts about every third or fourth article. The rest should be even more personal for your shop. Customer stories and testimonials, shop news, employee profiles, workshops/conferences attended, etc.—these are the best ways to connect with potential new customers while also enhancing your own brand message. Informational articles are great for SEO and should definitely be peppered in. It’s all about finding the right mix.

Regardless of what you are writing about, personalize it however you can.

For more information about blogging and what types of articles you can write to promote your business, contact NextGear Marketing today.