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.

 

How to Write a Great Customer Testimonial Blog Post

In today’s social media driven society, it’s more important than ever to share positive customer stories. So many consumers rely on sites/apps like Yelp! and word of mouth from their friends and family on Facebook and other social media. Hearing good things from other people about a particular company is ultimately a huge factor in deciding where to take their business.

This is especially true in the automotive industry. Consumers naturally have a distrust for those in our business. Pushy dealership salespeople turn them off, and they are trained not to trust mechanics because of horror stories they may have heard over the years. From the start, if you are promoting your automotive repair shop, you are fighting an uphill battle because of a negative industry image.

So, when people hear positive comments about an automotive repair shop, they feel better about taking their car there. It’s a simple philosophy.

One of the best posts you can do on your blog is to share positive stories about your customers. It starts by gathering testimonials. Have them fill out a survey after their service is complete. You can do this with automated emails that are sent out or you can give them a sheet to fill out while at the shop.

Next, have a dedicated page on your website where all the testimonials are displayed. This is a good way to continually add fresh content to your site and also it promotes a positive message. What someone else says about your business is infinitely more valuable than what you say about yourself in your marketing pieces.

Last but not least, take the best testimonials and expand them into a full blog article. Break up the quote within the story and then tell their full story. Include details about the services you provided them and walk the reader through the repair process. These details and specific repair services are great for SEO. The more detailed and specific, the better.

If you can get a photo with the customer after the work is complete, that is an added bonus. If you have a customer you are certain will write a great review, do what you can to take a photo with them (either by their repaired car or with the shop manager/service rep who helped them). Obviously, be sure and get their permission and let them know their photo may appear on your website, blog and social media. Some customers may be wary of this, but most people these days love having their pictures shared online. That’s what social media is all about!

By sharing positive testimonials from clients and writing effective blog posts about people you have served, it will be great content for your site. Most importantly, it’s positive content to build your online reputation and make other potential consumers feel good about your business.

6 Ways to Maximize Your Organic Website Traffic

The purpose of having a website is to get people to visit it. The more ways people have of finding your site, the more people will visit your site. And the more people who visit your site, the more business it will lead to. It’s a simple marketing equation.

There are all sorts of services out there where you can supposedly buy your way up the SEO ladder, and obviously there are plenty of pay-per-click advertising options like Google AdWords. There are other online marketing solutions such as ads/sponsored posts on social media, as well. Yes, these can be effective, and the more you do the better your search results will probably be. However, they can also be expensive. Before paying too much on online advertising, you have to set your budget and stick with it.

Then, monitor the results regularly. Is your site getting more traffic? Are those click-throughs turning into actual leads? Is your business improving? In other words, if spending $100 a month on online advertising is resulting in $200 more in business, then it’s well worth the investment. If it’s not measurably getting you back more than you paid, then it’s time to rethink your online marketing strategy.

Whether you are using paid online marketing techniques or not, there are still many other ways to boost your site traffic through organic means. In a basic sense, “organic” means through free resources. Free is a relative term because you are likely already paying someone to host your website. You may have an employee or outside company managing content on your site, writing blogs or posting on social media. Or, you can choose to do these tasks yourself.

No matter who is handling these tasks, the strategies below are affordable and effective ways to maximize your organic site traffic.

  1. Utilize Tags

You don’t want tags on your shirt, but you do want them on any web page or blog post that you create. Meta tags, page titles, meta descriptions, keywords—these are all vital back-end elements that can greatly impact search results. Be specific, unique and detailed for each page/post, think about what your consumers might be searching for, and take the time to think through what tags you are including.

  1. Think About Your Customers

To piggy-back on the last point, it’s important to think about your customers (or rather, try and think like your customers) when writing any content for your website/blog and preparing any tags/keywords. If you try too hard to load up your site with keywords you think search engines will value, you’ll end up with repetitive and non-reader-friendly content. Provide information your customers will want to have. Talk to them and not at them.

  1. Write Blogs

Writing regular blog posts is a very effective way to improve site traffic. It takes time to write quality content, but it’s worth it in the end. Blogging gives you an opportunity to write about an endless amount of different subjects relating to your business and your customers. The more specific you get, the better your search results will be.

For instance, say you are a transmission shop. Write a different blog for each specific service you provide—let’s say repairing and replacing differentials. Describe to the average consumer (write in layman’s terms, but don’t dumb it down too much) what a differential does. This is an example of an informative style blog post. Provide information about differentials, how they work and then subtly work in your own services and expertise in repairing differentials. If you had a customer recently get a differential repaired, tell their story and use quotes from them if they provided a review afterward. Do this for every type of service you offer and you’ll be amazed at how these specific blog posts will draw in people searching for specific things relating to your business.

  1. Create Inbound and Internal Links

Links are a fantastic way to increase click-throughs and ultimately boost site traffic. Your blog posts and web pages should include links to other posts and pages within your site. Don’t overdo it (typically, the recommendation is one link every 100 words) or it will turn off the reader. Likewise, work to get more inbound links to your site. Create a partner page on your site that includes links to other businesses and vendors in your area. Ask them to do the same, so that a link to your site shows up on theirs. This is beneficial for everyone involved!

  1. Ask for Customer Reviews

Another way to generate fresh content for your site with minimal effort is to ask each customer to provide feedback. Have them fill out a survey or send an email. Always leave space for them to write something open-ended. Take these positive quotes and put them on a testimonials page. This puts the power of review sites like Yelp! right on your own site.

  1. Increase Social Media Activity

Last but certainly not least, social media are amazing resources to organically increase your site traffic. Share a link to every blog post you write on every social media page you have (most blog portals will have a setting to do this automatically). This again will create more inbound links to your site and the click-through rate will be higher because these people are already fans of your business. Be active and look for ways to get more likes and followers on your pages. In other words, use social media as much as you can and you will definitely see better site traffic and search engine results.

We hope you find this article helpful. At NextGear Marketing, we’re all about using dynamic web content and blogging to boost site traffic for our customers. To learn more about our services or to schedule a no-obligation marketing consultation, contact us today.

The Power of Blogging

Many people have the wrong idea about blogging. So many individuals have their personal blogs about whatever is on their mind. Perhaps they are sharing travel stories, favorite restaurants or new music tastes. Blogging is great to share personal insights and information that others may be interested in.

However, blogging can also be a powerful business tool. As an automotive shop owner, there are so many different topics you can write about and share on your online blog. Did you get some new equipment in the shop? Did you hire a new employee? Did you attend a training seminar or industry conference? Are you advertising a service special or limited-time discount? Did a customer just give you a positive review? These are all great topics that will give potential customers a positive look into the way you do business.

In addition, you can provide helpful information about services you offer. For instance, say you are a paint and body shop. You can write an insightful article about how to achieve a smooth paint job, from the body prep work that goes in to the application of the paint. It may not seem exciting since it’s the kind of work you do everyday, but somebody out there may be interested and that somebody could be a customer someday. They might be looking for information about automotive paint and a Google search leads them to your blog post. That blog post intrigues the reader and they start following your blog. Pretty soon, you have a loyal customer even if he has yet to bring his car into the shop.

Even if readers aren’t reading every single one of your blogs, simply having an active blog will be a huge boost in your SEO (search engine optimization) appeal. The more content you have on your website, the better. And, the more fresh content you have (meaning new stuff that is added on a regular basis), the better your search results will be.

Blogs can and should be loaded with keywords and search terms, so that if someone is searching for information that may ultimately lead them to your shop, it improves your chances of your site (or a specific blog post) coming up on the search engines.

Another powerful aspect of regular blogging is what’s referred to as Online Reputation Management (ORM) in the field of public relations and marketing. The more positive content about yourself that you are putting out there through blogs, the more you can control how your business is perceived by potential customers. You can’t control what people might post on review sites like Yelp! However, if there are negative comments anywhere, you can essentially drown them out by putting more positive information out there.

In future articles, we’ll talk more about how to write effective blogs and delve deeper into bigger issues such as SEO and ORM. If you have any questions about blogging for your automotive shop, just contact NextGear Marketing for a free marketing and web content consultation.